Now if the DOJ would just pay attention, they would see how wrong they are. I’m an apple fan, I admit it, but even if I wasn’t, common sense kicks in from the retail and sales background I have. To put all the power in one companies hands, which is what the DOJ is trying to do, give amazon a chokehold on everyone, you will defeat everything that has been achieved for eBooks. As I have said before, hard to have collusion when everyone knows what you’re doing, so even going after apple for that, is ridiculous. Hell, publishers have discounts and better deals for certain vendors in certain markets, I don’t see any one being pissed about that. People buy where they want to buy, if it’s spendy, they shop for a deal or they don’t buy.

DOJ just needs to grow up and realize they have screwed up, put their tail between their legs and move on, you’ve done enough damage.

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Good start to some discussions, but as I commented, there is a lot more to this discussion, just read many of my posts or my own articles on GigaOM on the topic. It will be a long running topic of conversation for some time.


We’ve written before about how complicated the process of lending an e-book is, and how much of this is a result of conflicting DRM locks and platforms, as well as a reluctance on the part of publishers to allow their books to be loaned. But authors can also be a roadblock when it comes to lending, and we’ve just had a classic example of how that can happen with the brouhaha over LendInk, a service that allowed readers to connect with others in order to share e-books. The site has effectively been put out of business by a virtual lynch mob of authors claiming it breached their rights, even though what it was doing was perfectly legal.

Much of the negative response to LendInk came about because of a series of misunderstandings about how the service worked, and also a lack of knowledge about how Amazon (s…

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Now the debate will occur for what this really means for everyone else. Is it good, bad or somewhere in between? Yelp, foursquare may very well have a fight on their hands as well and google a new canyon of content to monetize.


And any publisher who isn’t paying attention is NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

Google just bought Frommer’s. They already own Zagat.

At which I sputter, “…what Brian O’Leary said.” And, “…what Brian O’Leary said Esther Dyson said.” If Frommer’s is made actionable with Google’s search, Google Travel will probably include not only Zagat, but Google Maps. And will be a force to be reckoned with in terms of local advertising and merchandising.

The Singularity just got one step closer. Maybe several. And travel content just left the container.

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Digital Supplement from ALA

ALA Digital Supplement – Check out the document to read more on eBooks in libraries, statistics, info and more… Good read, it’s a start for understanding challenges and seeing where things are at…

E-books, U.S. Public Libraries 2012 | American Library Association

E-books, U.S. Public Libraries 2012 | American Library Association.


Demand for better eBook Services

So over at the Digital Shift you can read the full article, I won’t bother to go through the whole thing. I think the whole idea is and will be a failure causing nothing more than larger rifts and a greater escalation of animosity between pubs and libs. Argue against if you want, but trust me, anyone who says they are both playing nice and really striving hasn’t heard of the cat and mouse approach to things.

What I want to do is look at the 4 demands the libraries are making, because some of them are just plain wonky, I’ll explain why.


1. Search and browse a single comprehensive catalog with all of a library’s offerings at once, including all e-books, physical collections, programs, blogs, and donor opportunities. Currently, content providers often only allow searches within the products they sell, depriving users of the comprehensive library experience.

  • To be honest a large chunk of this is the libraries responsibilities, not the pubs. If you own content in your library, your search portal should handle the searching across your collections and content you own, not the pub. If the pub wants to provide an api to allow for access into their catalog to find more content, great, but can your lib system handle it? Have you heard of patron drive acquisition, this same thing is accomplished somewhat with that. A large dump of records, users don’t know if you own them or not, but they are discoverable. Seems to be a mix of what a library is suppose to do and what a publisher does and what a vendor of services does.
 2. Place holds, check-out items, view availability, manage fines and receive communications within individual library catalogs or in the venue the library believes will serve them best, without having to visit separate websites (libraries, not distributors, should be enabled to manage all interactions with users).
  • This makes no sense in some respects this demands list is going back and forth with pubs and distributors. Some of these services are provided by ILS systems, some by distributors, but not all by one. There is a reason vendors of products focus on specific offerings and services, it’s what they do best and why get involved in everything, not a good business plan. 
 3. Seamlessly enjoy a variety of e-content. To do this, libraries must be able to choose content, devices and apps from any provider or from multiple providers, without bundling that limits a library’s ability to serve content they purchase on platforms of their choice.
  • This is more of a making sure the content is in either epub or mobi for kindles. Plus it brings up a whole issue of what is an eBook? Is it the pdf documents, is it website content that isn’t a database. You need to define these before you can say support this, we need it when you don’t really know what you need or want. PDF is horrible on small devices, so then does the vendor need to offer it in epub or mobi as well, if so, how does that figure into cost and backend systems and do they want to support a format not ideal for smaller mobile devices. Saying we want this is great, but does it make sense?
 4. Download e-books that are compatible with all readers, from the Kindle to the Nook to the iPad and so on.
  • This is really wonky and makes me think whomever wrote it didn’t bother to really think about it. If the eBook is in epub, it works on all readers, just to varying degrees depending on the device, app, etc. Kindle mobi files can be read on the ipad in the kindle app,plus kindle isn’t only the device but the platform, so a parameter needs to be set by what is meant. Therefore with the iPad alone, you would be covered for reading any formats. For the nook or fire to support different formats, well that’s the device manufacturers discretion, not something the pub forces or has a hand in. Plus all readers, seriously, know how many apps and devices that are out there, a pub nor vendor of eBooks will be able to supply a file that looks and acts exactly the same on each device, too much crap out there. 
The biggest problem I have with the overall demands aspect is that it is a gimme gimme gimme and no matter what side you fall on, we all know that it means failure. I’ve said it before, will say it again, both pub and libraries and vendors need to talk about what really matters and give up some and take some, no 100% satisfaction will bubble up, just not possible.
The other part of this is something I have thought about and come back to, the “we need to do x like we did with print.” To fully achieve eBooks in libraries, here’s what needs to be done, scrap every thought and model you have, especially for trade, academic and research is actually pretty good, then start over… Yep, DUMP IT ALL. The reason for this is simple, eBooks are not print, print titles are not eBooks, eBooks should, can and will be more then print. So the minute I hear eBooks are great, but with print…. I stop listening, Why? Because it doesn’t matter. Print is print and eBooks are eBooks, they are not the same and when we stop trying to stick things from print in eBooks we’ll be better off. Content wise, yes, let’s add or enhance in eBooks, Inter-library loans were meant for print, not eBooks, let it go. I don’t care the argument, they served a purpose in the print world and still do, but for eBooks, they make no sense.
Libraries want eBooks in the most widely used or offered format and that works well so they don’t have to deal with complaints or tech issues, makes sense, then demand that ePub and mobi are used for the eBook format, not pdf. How do you change this with pubs, stop buying the content. Realize that whatever you do, is for the patrons, not because of some cause or petition or something else, you are using taxpayer money for a lot of this, no matter how you slice it, somewhere, somehow tax money pays for it all, unless you have a wealthy benefactor. What this means is that boycotting because of usage, isn’t the answer. Yes, I said to not buy if not in the format, because that limits accessibility, etc. The usage models are something that need to be scrapped, we all know that, but at least people are trying with them.
There are vendors that will promise you the world, especially with trade titles, ed titles etc. Many of them don’t have a clue, they are simply a sell through for the pubs content and have no idea, there readers are skinned adobe digital editions and most don’t understand what an eBook is, does, how it is created or how it is used. I’ve worked with libraries for about 15 years, maybe longer in a variety of ways. Collection development, acquisitions, workflows, explaining what an eBook is when they hit in libraries and people started working with them. I can tell you that there are just as many pubs and distributors and vendors that have no clue as their are librarians. It’s not a slam, not by any chance, what it is is a reflection of poor information, or jumping on a bandwagon. ALA is no embraced with knowledge on eBooks then some of the average people on the street. Having worked with a variety of the vendors out there and many larger universities, public libraries, k12 systems, curriculum people, I can honestly say that many are still feeling around. It’s not a bad thing, admitting you don’t know is fine, better then just following the crowd when it doesn’t make sense.
These demands though, stating they must be followed to achieve such and such is ridiculous. If they do happen, it’ll only be to appease libraries for a short time while the next change in the eBook world takes place and we’ll be back to square one. I said this once before, to achieve anything of eBooks and libraries, they both need to come to the table, not ALA, but other librarians and people that actually know what they are talking about and bring your list of wants. Don’t call them must haves, or needs or any of that junk, say this is what we want, how do we get there? Then the pub has their same list of wants and then you both knock 50% off your lists and realize from that 50% remaining on each list, you’ll probably only get 50% of that, so 25% from each side…. It’s better then nothing and achieves more then ultimatums and demands…

Repost: The Business Rusch: Royalty Statement Update 2012 – The Digital Reader

Lots of buzz on this, even had the blog of the original author get hacked, so wanted to make sure and share.. Even if you disagree or agree, it’s a good read.


Repost: The Business Rusch: Royalty Statement Update 2012 – The Digital Reader.

Grab your ankles….

Ok, so we all have heard of the settlement between Hachette, S&S, & HarperCollins have settled with the DOJ, read here. Now many people don’t understand the agency model, the “most favored nation” part that has been brought up or other parts of the eBook business. It hasn’t stopped many from jumping on the DOJ to say way to go, vs the #dojfail twitter tag that people have started to express how bad the department of justice just screwed everybody.

Here’s a down and dirty on the models for eBooks, before agency and after.

  • Old model: retailers set the prices you pay (think of amazon saying we’ll buy your eBook from you, at a discount and then set the price we want to sell and screw you however we please)
  • New model: publishers set the prices you pay (amazon still takes or apple takes a 30% cut, not exactly sure what amzn is complaining about, they still have millions)

I know very simple, more to it, but to be honest, that’s the easy way to describe it. Now people call the agency model price fixing, or that publishers and Apple colluded on the prices, colluded meaning – a secret agreement, especially for fraudulent or treacherous purposes; conspiracy: (one definition of it). Problem here is that no collusion was done, it wasn’t a secret, everyone knew about it. So going after everyone like the DOJ based on that, they were wrong from the start. Now the price fixing comments, take a look here, I’ll wait for you to come back. Ok, now what Nate talks about over there and references what Mark from Smashwords, who I barely agree with on anything, is about how airlines prices were fixed. The interesting thing was that if the govt kept prices low, affordable and people were buying like crazy for airlines, why wasn’t that bad? I disagree with Nate on one thought and that is that I do think the companies should be competing on service and if possible, sure price. I’m unique though, I rarely shop amazon, maybe 5 times since the site was up, I don’t buy eBooks there either, I’m not alone, as we know they hold 60% of the marketshare, so 40% are buying from somewhere else. Let’s not get into the other parts of eBook market where amazon is doing nothing; education, comics, etc., that would just make to much sense to talk reality.

Back to the point though, is that if you have to lower your prices and sell at a loss, it is usually because you don’t have the service abilities, the better quality. It’s like saying K-mart rocks because they are cheap; sure and crappy and full of junk. For me and many others I know, they want quality, they want service, I’m willing to pay a higher price for a higher quality and service level, something I have never seen from amazon. It’s like buying made in America vs china, sure it might be cheaper, but in reality it’s usually lower quality, falls apart or some lead paint warning comes down the line. The point is that publishers saying we want the Agency model to price eBooks means that it’s their content, they want to price it. When I was in retail, it was common knowledge that retailers would buy up print titles at steep discounts from the pubs, then price however we wanted, then in 6 months return the print books for money back. Yeah, sounds like a great business plan, anyone seen a waldenbooks or borders around, oh yeah, they failed. Now this wasn’t the cause of the failure, but running a business like that, just dumb all around, it affects everyone and to be honest, many times our books were full price when we got a 55% discount, the books still didn’t sell. Where was the DOJ to look into that realizing customers were getting screwed.

For those that think this is good news, you will be sadly mistaken, because if it holds, which I don’t think it will, Amazon will screw you in the end. Prices will go up, for all you independent authors, do you think amazon will care? They won’t amazon is in this for money, they are no more a champion of books then walmart is a champion of well, anything.  What will happen is Apple, Penguin and Macmillan will fight, they will probably win and the other 3 will be happy to jump back on things. Because if it does move forward, more then likely amazon will form a monopoly on things, then you’ll have a lawsuit against them and I hope, if people are smart, a lawsuit against the DOJ for being the idiots who screwed this up.

Even the ABA is baffled by the decision and not sure why the DOJ is in bed with amazon, or basically what kind of back-alley handshake occurred, because it seems as though amazon wrote the settlement details for the DOJ, funny how that works to their benefit. You then have states trying to cash in on the settlement, which after reading that i had to laugh, millions of dollars to be returned to customers. Um, how did you get the number? Exactly what was overpriced, that $.99 eBook was too much, simple DON’T BUY IT. I hate when people whine about how expensive something is, like gas; yet they are the idiot driving down the road in a hummer h2 doing 85 or 90. Drive intelligently, buy intelligently, if you don’t like the price, don’t buy it. Nobody forces anyone to buy anything, last I looked, we all had free will.

The sad thing is in the end, the ones who will actually be hurt by this is the consumer, nothing was actually done to help them. Amazon has had the most favored nation clause in place well before Apple, yet DOJ didn’t say anything about that or the monopolistic stranglehold that amazon has had. Now I’m not just singling out Amazon, no more so then the DOJ did with the publishers and Apple. However, if you are going to say this is an issue and go after some, you can’t leave someone else out of the party you started because you like them.

One final thought on this, is that why eBooks? Is everything else the DOJ has to worry about less important? Maybe the true focus should be on the quality and business practices. People will buy what they like from whom they like, keeping the price the same does one thing, forces a company to step up quality in service and what they offer. If they don’t they go down, look at Sony and eBooks, who buys from them, hardly anyone, if any, why, they missed the boat, quality of devices went down, offering of titles is poor and just an overall bad experience with them. Let us the consumers decide what we want, I don’t need the DOJ telling me this or that, if I don’t like the price, I don’t buy it, plain and simple, or look for something else. Check out Laura Dawson’s blog for some great thoughts on this as well.  Now let the comments and I have a feeling the rants begin.

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