There’s an interesting BBC Radio 4 documentary on the history of audio books, currently available on “Listen Again”.
Wikipedia has enabled a new ePub format ebook export option.
The UK is set to get a new Kindle on 25th October. The £109 Paperwhite is Amazon’s first backlit Kindle, and is a proper ebook ereader rather than a tablet. Looks good, and will be on my Wish List as a replacement for my existing Kindle 3.
ACX, a new (to me) Amazon/Audible service and marketplace for audiobook creation. Looks interesting, but I’d like to see it expand to the level of individual stories.
New USA statistics on ebook use, from Simba…
“24.5% of U.S. adults consider themselves to be e-book users, up from about 17.2% the year before”
That doesn’t mean they’re ebook purchasers, or even device users, since using searching Google Books via a Web browser could lead someone to consider themselves an ebook user.
Good news for Kindle authors. Amazon is now selling Kindle ebooks in the massive market of India, with that nation’s many English-reading people, and the sales go through the .com section of your dashboard.
Some important news for ebooks from European Court of Justice…
“The ECJ said that software owners exhaust their rights to control the sale of their copyrighted products when they first sell them within the EU, regardless of whether the sale concerns a physical product or one downloaded from the internet.”
This means that…
“Users of digitally downloaded software can sell it on secondhand, providing they deactivate or delete the original copy from their hard drive, the European Court of Justice has ruled.”
Since an ebook is software, these can also presumably be resold. Amazon authors who ticked “use DRM” when you uploaded a Kindle book will probably not have to worry about this, Because “cracking” the book in order to resell it would be illegal. If the book is out in the open, though, it looks like your EU buyers can now legally put it on a memory card and resell it. One time only. This may have implications for the more expensive types of books such as textbooks, perhaps especially in relation to medical and engineering students who sell off their textbooks at the end of the academic year. Users would not have to crack the DRM on these, they would just legally sell the entire device they used to read them, complete with their entire collection of texts.
Today I had a frozen Kindle, for the first time since it arrived. The device’s charge was half full, but nothing would wake it from sleep mode. One of the screensavers was frozen on the e-ink screen. Anyway, here’s the secret sauce for restarting it:
1. Find a good watch or clock, that has a seconds hand.
2. Take your Kindle to the clock or watch. At the exact point when the seconds hand clicks to “noon” on the dial, press the power switch on the Kindle.
3. Hold the power switch to the right for exactly 15 seconds, then release it at the exact moment that the seconds hand ticks to 15 seconds past the noon position.
4. The Kindle will remain dead for a few seconds more. Then it will come to life and start rebooting.
5. You will see a “progress bar” on the screen, as the device reboots. When this finishes you can then use the Kindle normally. You may want to then apply a firmware upgrade, since the Kindle is presumably rebooting using a stored on-device operating system — one that’s older than the OS currently available from Amazon.
Peter Brantley reports on the future of ebooks for Publishers Weekly, A Soft Landing on Normandy…
“Almost every single startup that is delivering authoring tools — either for designing and producing content, maintaining a full-bore content management system, or simply supporting an interim level of annotations or fragmentation — is building their own proprietary web-based layer that is largely HTML5-based yet also capable of linking to software development kits and libraries needed to support the export of rich app experiences. In other words, everything is baroque, and nothing in the standards space works well enough across the range of possible uses to be a default rendering environment. It is very much as if we are back in the Middle Ages scribbling on parchment, whittling our own quills from feathers we have on hand, drawing up whatever ink we have available. Our 21st Century parchment is a world-wide digital canvas, but our quills are hand-crafted.”
That can potentially make sense for presenting high quality specialist non-fiction/textbooks with complex layouts, which I’d suggest is where these startups are going with these tools. If they can create something that is easy enough for publishers to use, but which can produce good looking easy-to-update expensive non-fiction in iPad editions, then they stand a chance of a buyout by a major publisher.
Unsurprisingly, it’s said that Kindle sales dropped off a cliff after the Christmas / New Year period — at least according to one canny business analyst who has been tracking e-ink manufacturer inventories and sales…
“he estimates that Amazon was selling around 7 million Kindles per quarter last year. In Q1, he thinks they sold only 1.75 million.”
Actually, only 1.75 million doesn’t sound that bad. Cliff…? or speed bump?
I guess the real figures should be about how many of those holiday season Kindles are gathering dust on a shelf or in a drawer, and how many are in active use. My own Jan-May experience on sales suggests that UK users may have gifted Kindles in bulk, but those Kindles are seeing little use for ebook purchases. Meanwhile, the USA sales are doing well.