What’s the future of e-book pricing? | Internet & Media – CNET News

What's the future of e-book pricing? | Internet & Media – CNET News.

from David Carnoy:

“In case you missed it, the U.S. government recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of this country’s largest publishers, alleging they conspired to limit competition for the pricing of e-books. Three of the five — HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster — opted to settle the case, while Penguin, Macmillan, and Apple didn’t.
So where does that leave us?”

An interesting article that explains more about the e-book pricing situation as it stands, as opposed to just trying to predict where it might be going. Click on the link above for more.

New tools make self-publishing e-books easier – USATODAY.com

Many new authors have found most of their success online, selling self-published books at Amazon for the Kindle and other e-readers.

They handle the entire process themselves — from downloading stock photos at $4 to $5 a pop and making covers in Gimp, a free photo software tool, to converting the manuscripts into formats compatible for the e-readers.

“If I can do it, anyone can,” says Nicholson, 49, who writes four novels a year from his home in Boone, N.C. He won’t say how much he makes, but it’s a “comfortable living,” solely on e-book royalties. “I’m self-taught on every part of this.”

From New tools make self-publishing e-books easier – USATODAY.com.

Everything they said it would and wouldn’t be: iPad review

The title says it all, but if you want to keep reading, I’ll happily babble about the iPad a bit more.

They said it would be magical and revolutionary, and in a lot of ways it is. I’d been somewhat worried about the size — I hate clunky heavy devices. It’s shockingly thin. And fits nicely in the hands. The touchscreen is responsive as all get-out, and the color, brightness, clarity is lovely. My photos look quite nice. Video is clear. Everything we were lead to expect.

In one area, the iPad is surpassing expectations. Steve Jobs talked about 10 hours of battery life, which everyone (myself included) heard as “10 means 6 or 7, maybe”). But apparently, for once, Jobs was giving a low estimate — users are reporting almost 12 hours of battery life with heavy use. That’s impressive. Heck, I was tickled that it came out of the box with a full charge (how do they do that?).

George is apparently impressed, but Fred just wants to lick his brother's ear. An unsurprising response.

Speaking of the out-of-box experience, it’s minimal. iPad, USB dock connector, power adaptor, booklet with very little instructional information. Typical. I would have appreciated a little wipe cloth, because the iPad picks up fingerprints like a CSI unit on speed, but I had some lying around already. As for accessories, they’re still coming off the production line; the keyboard isn’t available for a few months, but to be frank I won’t be buying it. Typing with the on-screen keyboard in landscape mode is easy and fast. I’ve never had much use for docks. I will absolutely buy a protective cover/case, but the pickings were too slim right now (I thought Apple’s case was, to be blunt, an overpriced piece of flimsy junk). Most importantly, though, I find that I want a second cable. I don’t know if the iPhone/iPod cables are supposed to be interchangeable; it works, but it’s not a smooth fit. And as some users are discovering, the iPad doesn’t seem to charge when it’s connected to your computer; you have to use the wall charger for that, and then sync on your computer. That’s fine, but I don’t feel like moving the cable around every time. Otherwise, setup is a snap. You plug it in, it starts, you give it a name and sync. Connecting to WiFi is easy, as usual, as well.

I spent most of  yesterday looking for interesting iPad apps and setting up iBooks. Apple was very proud of the fact that iPhone apps will work on the iPad, just scaled down or magnified. Yeah, not so much. Oh, they work, but they look terrible, and aren’t able to take advantage of the iPad on-screen keyboard. It’s not a fun experience. Luckily, there are some terrific new iPad apps (the Netflix app for your Watch Instantly queue is fantastic, as is the ABC app, with full episodes of all your favorite shows, both for free). And a few front-runners have updated their apps, including Amazon’s Kindle reader and IMDB. But a few others need to get with the program.

iBooks is a beautiful application; the iBookstore just needs more content. I’ll post more about e-reading on the iPad in a few days, once I’ve had more time to explore.

A lot of noise is being made by the lack of support for Flash on the iPad, just as with the iPhone. I think the amount of complaining is disproportionate to how important it really is, to be frank. Sure, you find flash on a lot of sites. Most of the time, though, isn’t it stuff you don’t really need to see? You’re all set for YouTube with an app, and ditto for Netflix, and we all know Hulu is working on an app as well. Let’s cut to the chase: no, you can’t play Farmville on your iPad. It’s a travesty, I know.

The bigger omission, in my opinion, is the lack of a camera. I didn’t think I’d care — I’ve got several cameras, and the one on my iPhone, who needs another? Except, argh, it’s already aggravated me twice in 24 hours that I have to take a picture with another device, sync that to my computer and then the iPad, or upload it online, or email it to myself, or something, and *then* use it for whatever I wanted it for. If they’d just included the most basic little camera into the iPad, it would have been so much more convenient.

Otherwise… I have no complaints. The iPad does exactly what I thought it would do, and does it nicely. I really think this is a device where your satisfaction with it will depend on whether you want to use it for what it does, or whether you’re disappointed it doesn’t do something else entirely. I’m in the first category. I like having portable video. I love surfing from anywhere, in the house, out. I read a lot of sites, and this makes it easy. I look forward to e-reading. iTunes works just the same as it does anywhere else; I didn’t load most of my music onto the iPad, though, because that’s not something I’d use it for. I have an iPod set up as a stereo in my house, and a dock at work for my iPhone, and I don’t need it on the iPad as well. I did, however, load all 8 GB of my photographs, and I love being able to look through them, and presented so nicely. Multi-tasking? I really only do one thing at a time, anyhow; I never understand why that’s much of an issue. And Flash, pfft, I don’t much care. The camera part is a pain, but I’ll survive, believe me. (serious hint for iPad 2.0, though, Apple. Come on.)

Mostly, for me, it’s the touchscreen that makes it all work, because while you can do pretty much everything I’m talking about on a laptop, I’ve hated laptop navigation for years. The touchpad is awkward and annoying, and hooking up a mouse defeats the purpose of portability, or is at least as awkward. I probably should have gotten a tablet computer ages ago, but they’ve had a tendency to be a tad pricey, and no one’s done it as prettily as Apple has with the iPad.

iPad launch day

I’m not even going to try to pretend I’m doing anything today other than messing around with my iPad. 🙂 I’ll post something more of a review tomorrow, but suffice to say, I warn you, it’s going to be quite positive.

I didn’t intend to wait in line and figured I’d just cruise by the store around noon and pick up my reserved iPad. Ha. As if I’d really just wait around until then. I showed up at the Apple Store at 9 am (which is when the doors opened) and found a big ol huge line. Awesomely, though, it was the fastest line I ever stood in, for this kind of thing. 45 minutes later I was back in my car, headed home.

More tomorrow.

eBook sellers will have to compete on the iPad

Terrific article in the New York Times today mapping out e-book retailer competition on the iPad:

From the start, no one bookstore will come with an advantage: No matter which bookstore application iPad owners choose, they will have to download it first. Even the iBookstore, as Apple writes on its Web site, won’t come preloaded on the device. iPad owners will be asked to “Download the iBooks app free from the App Store.”

It sounds obvious, but I didn’t quite process it until I read it today. In fact, the other day I was Googling around about methods for importing Banes & Noble e-book purchases onto an iPad (this isn’t a good one, for this very reason). The answer is that I won’t. I’ll just download the B&N e-reader app to my iPad and read them there, easy peesy. And that’s *why* there’s a Kindle App for the iPad, and one from B&N, and so on. They want to keep you buying their product, wherever you’re reading it.

Of course I did

iPafWas there really any doubt I was going to preorder an iPad? Apple has their hooks in me. It’s the shinyness. The clean white stores, the sleekness, the form over factor, I freely admit it all. I’m brainwashed. But also, in this particular instance, I fit their niche. I’ve always wanted a more portable computer for web access and for reading, plus other things. I hate laptops: too big. The netbook: too limited in capability, no touch screen (and thank you, eBay). My iPhone: wondrous, and useful, but a bit small. I’m their target market for the iPad. I don’t care that it doesn’t have a camera, as I had no intention of taking pictures with it. I don’t need 3G, b/c I’m mostly going to use it in my own house, where there’s WiFi. It looks like a good size for reading. Touchscreen yay. On Project Runway, Michael Kors likes to talk about “the right girl, in the right dress, with the right styling”, and that’s what the  iPad is for me, the right girl in the right dress. For someone else, of course, it will not be. Chacun à son goût. I begrudge no one their disinterest in Apple and their wares. I expect others not to begrudge mine.

From the e-reader standpoint, I’m eager to hear more details about iBooks. What most people want to know is, will we and how will we be able to import other e-books we already own into iBooks, onto our iPads? I don’t own many e-books right now, but I do have a few. And I might want to shop elsewhere, in the future, but still read on my iPad. Barnes and Noble has announced that they’ll have an e-reader app specifically for the iPad ready on April 3rd. It might seem like they’re fraternizing with the competition — should B&N just want you to buy a Nook? — but quite the opposite: they’re keeping their fingers in the pie. It’s not about selling Nooks, or Kindles, or maybe even iPads, and it never has been. It’s about selling e-books, music, movies. Since the iPad will use the ePub standard that Barnes and Noble does, it shouldn’t be a problem. After all, we can import mp3s and other music files into iTunes with no great difficulty; hopefully, with iBooks, it’ll be the same.

iPad on sale April 3rd

Just a quick update to say — the iPad will be available on April 3rd, which is a week later than the rumors. From Apple:

Apple® today announced that its magical and revolutionary iPad will be available in the US on Saturday, April 3, for Wi-Fi models and in late April for Wi-Fi + 3G models. In addition, all models of iPad will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April.

Beginning a week from today, on March 12, US customers can pre-order both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models from Apple’s online store (www.apple.com) or reserve a Wi-Fi model to pick up on Saturday, April 3, at an Apple retail store.

I’m happy there’s a pre-order option. I can see how it might be fun to camp out in line, but personally I want mine reserved for me.

(thanks to Steph for the info!)

iPad may go on sale March 26th — getting ready for iBooks

I’m a junkie: pretty much every day now I’m Googling “ipad release date”, looking for news — finally, this morning, MacRumors.com says there are “whispers” that the iPad will go on sale March 26, at 6 PM.

The iPad is getting a lot of pre-release criticism, and I’m sure it’s not for everyone. I don’t recommend it, I don’t dis-recommend it — but I know I, personally, want one. I use a desktop for all my heavy computing. I use (and love) my iPhone for my mobile needs. But there’s a niche that’s missing for me. I bought a netbook a few months ago, mostly to fill in while the desktop (“Stan the Man”, I call it — yes, I name my computers) was out getting repairs. I have nothing positive to say about netbooks. Steve Job is right: it really is just a crappy laptop. I need the touchscreen, the media capabilities. And I’ve grown very curious about e-reading. I’ve done a bit of it on my iPhone; it’s not bad, but the screen is a little small. I’ve been curious about the Kindle and the Nook, but just couldn’t stomach the price tag, for a one-purpose device. As Roger Stewart, editorial director of McGraw-Hill Professional, put it:

“The reason publishers have long believed the iPad would have the potential to be a game changer is not because it was designed to be an e-book reader,” he said. “It’s a game changer because it does everything else well and, by the way, it also happens to be a great e-book reader. Most people are reluctant to pay $300 for an e-book reader, but if the reader is just part of the device that you bought for all those other reasons the barrier goes away.”

Exactly.

So, I’m still Googling, and watching the news. I seriously doubt I’ll camp out for the iPad. I didn’t for the iPhone, and instead just walked into an Apple Store the next day and bought one in five minutes. But I’ll be tempted.

Why buy the cow when you can read the milk for free?

E-books have been the story for 2010 so far — who’s reading them, who’s not, how much they should sell for, and what you should read them on.

Publishers have objected to lowering the cost of e-books, and in a much-publicized dispute between Amazon and MacMillan, so far the publishers are winning. On one hand, I, too, agree that we shouldn’t devalue books, that artificially low costs give the impression that books are cheap and not worth spending money on. On the other hand, as a consumer, I’m still saying that if you want me to boy an e-book instead of a paper book, you’ve got to give me big incentives — especially a lower price. Why would I pay $15 dollars for a book I’ll be able to buy in paperback for that much in a few months? And I’m not the only reader who feels that way. Those of us who “value” books the most are the same people who consume more of them than anyone else, and we can’t afford not to be price-conscious. At the same time, we’re well aware of our options for reading. There is, after all, always the library. 🙂

Then there are all the free e-books out there, which is the big story, really, as to what’s driving the rise in e-book popularity this year, in my opinion. It’s not just books in the public domain — new authors and old have found that giving away books can actually help their sales in the long run. More than half of the “best-selling” e-books on the Kindle, Amazon.com’s e-reader, are available at no charge. Sometimes it’s a new author with a new series: they’ll give away the first book for free in hopes you’ll get hooked and buy the second. And sometimes it’s an older author with a new release, hoping to cash in on the same ploy. Whatever it is, it seems to be working. Publishers, of course, are less than thrilled.

Similarly, a spokesman for Penguin Group USA said: “Penguin has not and does not give away books for free. We feel that the value of the book is too important to do that.”

Of course, that’s not at all true. Penguin gives review copies for free, I’m sure, and one might argue that this new e-book business model isn’t completely different from that.

I can’t help but feel that publishing companies are going to have to come to grips with that new model whether they want to or not. More and more people are cottoning on to the idea of e-readers; even I plan on buying an iPad this spring and giving it a whirl, in addition to already reading on my phone, from time to time. I don’t think bookstores are going to go away, not entirely (though I’m a little more worried about the traditional public library). But just as the music industry has had to adapt to digital music and find a way to make it profitable (and they have), publishers are going to have to do the same to incorporate digital reading into their framework.