Archive for the ‘The Year in E-Books’ Category

The Year in E-Books 2013

December 30, 2013

The Year in E-Books 2013

I’m going to look at some of the big things that happened this year (so far…you never know what Amazon will do in the last days of the year). If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category. For a more numerical comparison between 2013 and previous years, I’ll be doing my Annual Snapshot in the next several days.

New programs from Amazon

This year has seen the biggest innovation not in hardware, or even in software, but in programs from Amazon.

While they are much more than that, you can think of them as ideas. It’s not even so much the implementation of them, but new ways of doing things.

  • Kindle Matchbook (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*): people had been talking about something like this since the Kindle was first introduced. You can get a reduced price (sometimes free) e-book if you bought certain p-books (paperbooks) from Amazon. One major publisher (HarperCollins) was onboard at the beginning. Has it worked? Well, it launched with about 75,000 titles, and there are almost 100,000 titles now. My impression is that the concept was well-received by customers, although they may have been a bit disappointed as to how many titles were available to them…in a poll I conducted, almost 60% of respondents had 1 to 10 titles on their list. For more information, see Kindle Matchbook has launched!
  • Kindle First (at AmazonSmile): Amazon Prime members can select one of a small set (it’s been four each month so far) of upcoming books…for free. This is yet another perk for Prime members. No way to judge the success of this, really, but why not? More information: Round up #217: Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, Kindle First
  • Kindle Worlds (at AmazonSmile): I think Amazon has started doing what Disney was known for doing…looking around for what is working, and then stepping into that market…hard. In this case, the success was “fanfic” (fan fiction), although Amazon is doing it differently. They license the properties from the rightsholders, and then anybody can write works in it (following certain guidelines), and the author, the rightsholder, and Amazon all get cuts. The most popular title is in the top 20,000 at the Kindle store right now (top 1 percent, roughly), so this seems to be working. More information: Kindle Worlds: Amazon mainstreams fanfic
  • Kindle Countdown Deals (at AmazonSmile): this is yet another way that Amazon gives us discounted books. These Kindle books go on sale for a limited time, and there is a countdown clock as to when they will go back up. There are about 2,500 titles in the program right now. This may be working: the most popular book in it right now is #218 paid in the Kindle store, and has nearly 900 reviews: More information: Kindle Countdown Deals
  • AmazonSource: this program encourages bookstores and, importantly, other brick-and-mortar stores, to sell Kindles and Kindle books. I get the impression that there was a widespread enrollment, although I don’t know. More information: Amazon saves brick-and-mortars? AmazonSource
  • AmazonSmile: this may be the biggest move for Amazon. They created a mirror site, where shopping is just like shopping at Amazon.com…except that you pick a non-profit, and half a percent of your purchase price of eligible items goes to support that charity. My guess is that we are going to hear some very positive news out of this within Q1 of 2014, especially from smaller, more obscure non-profits. More information: Smile.Amazon: support your favorite charity by shopping

Legal Actions: The Defeat of the Agency Model

There is a reason why there are lawyers who specialize in intellectual property. The publishing business is, well, a business…and legal actions are a part of that.

Macmillan became the last of the publishers to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice over the Agency Model’s use in raising e-book prices. Apple chose to fight on, and Judge Denise Cote eventually ruled against the technology giant. A separate action brought by states Attorneys general also prevailed, which will result in payments to e-book purchasers. There are still some loose ends to tie up, and Apple could appeal (and regardless, the Agency Model could return in the future), but this does feel like the end of an era.

Another important decision was made, arguably to the benefit of e-book readers, that Google’s scanning of p-books in libraries falls under Fair Use. It had taken years for that one finish, and it was good to see Judge Denny Chin make a ruling.

The shifting EBR (E-Book Reader) landscape

Sony, which had led the way with EBRs in the USA, quietly effectively withdrew from the market. Kobo, on the other hand, introduced the well-received Aura HD. Amazon updated the Paperwhite, and Barnes & Noble revamped the NOOK line…but the latter was a drag on the already vulnerable chain.

Tablets showed very strong growth, although I think support of non-backlit devices will continue at Amazon in 2014.

Update problems

There was a lot of buzz in the Kindle community about some updates that got a backlash. Cloud Collections were something people had wanted for a long time, but the way they were implemented on the Paperwhite seemed confusing and clunky to many. Similarly, an update to the new Kindle Fires apparently caused connectivity problems and freezing, at least for some. We look forward to solutions to these issues in the coming weeks.

Books about Jeff Bezos and Amazon were in the zeitgeist

Amazon CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Jeff Bezos has become much more visible, and that has led to more coverage.

Three of the big books were:

There was a bit of controversy when the first of those books got its first 1-star review…and it was from Mackenzie Bezos, Jeff Bezos’ Significant Other.

The success of these books, and the buzz they got outside the immediate Kindle community, suggested to me a generally higher awareness of the topic. I think Apple losing in court had something to do with it becoming of broader interest. That buzziness in turn probably contributed to all the coverage of Jeff Bezos announcing in an interview with Charlie Rose a possible “deliver by drone” program in a few years.

Those were some of my highlights for what was overall a very positive year. Feel free to share others, or your reactions to these, with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The Year in E-Books 2012

December 29, 2012

The Year in E-Books 2012

I’m going to look at some of the big things that happened this year (so far…you never know what Amazon will do in the last days of the year). If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category. For a more numerical comparison between 2012 and previous years, I’ll be doing my Annual Snapshot in the next several days.

Legal Actions

The US Department of Justice got settlements from four publishers (Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin) in an Agency Model case this year (with one publisher, Macmillan, and Apple still fighting it). The  European Union’s European Commission got agreements. An action brought by the vast majority of US states was approved. The publishers spent so much money fighting the legal fights that it actually affected their quarterly reports. There will be more of this in 2013, and we should see the wrap up of the Agency Model in the USA (although class action suits might not be settled in 2013).

Library battles

There were a lot of news stories this year about publishers limiting the e-books that public libraries can license. It got pretty public and pretty ugly. There appears to me to be some weakening on the publishers’ side. I think this will continue to be a story, though. The very purpose of public libraries is now being debated: should they loan popular books to people who can afford them anyway? Should they focus on other functions? Is some sort of needs testing in the future? This will be a story still in 2013.

Amazon’s Global Expansion

Kindles and/or Kindle content expanded significantly in 2012. China got a store for Kindle e-books, Canada did, Brazil did, the Kindle Fire went international…this is only going to continue. When Britain’s Waterstones chose to go with Kindle, that was a blow for Barnes & Noble.

End of print editions

The Encyclopaedia Britannica and Newsweek both announced that they were going all digital. I expect we’ll see more of that in 2013.

Expanding availability

The Harry Potter books came to e-form, through a different sort of distribution model. Amazon acquired the Ian Fleming backlist of James Bond books. We continued to see more and more well-known backlist books make the jump. That will happen a lot more in 2013, partially due to an element of copyright law in the USA which will return rights to authors in some cases.

Team ups

Microsoft invested a ton of money in Barnes & Noble. Right at the end of the year, so did Pearson, the textbook publisher (although not nearly as much ,and just in the NOOK business…thanks to a reader for heads up in a private e-mail about that. Random House and Penguin have submitted merger plans to regulatory agencies. We may continue to see conglomeration in 2013, and people try to deal with Amazon’s size in the e-book world.

Hardware

Frontlit devices were one of the real stories. Barnes & Noble introduced the Glowlight in April, and Amazon followed with the Paperwhite in September. This suggested continued support for E Ink devices. There were conflicting analyses about whether E Ink was doomed or flourishing. Eventually, I think we’ll get devices which can switch back and forth (what I call “dualume”). My guess is that we’ll continue to see E Ink supported for the near future. Tablets, of course, were everywhere. Barnes & Noble and Amazon both introduced new models, and Apple did the mini. I think there’s quite a bit of room for the market to expand still, and yes, that will cannibalize some sales from reflective screen devices (like E Ink) in the next few years.

Game Changers?

Amazon introduced two new features which have the potential to really change the game, although they may not be there yet. One is Whispercast, which enables large groups of devices on the same account to be managed more easily. I think that’s got to expand, and could really give Amazon a leg up in the enterprise market. We need to have it come to personal accounts as well, though. The other one is Kindle Freetime Unlimited, and “all you can eat” subscription service for kids. Pay a monthly fee, get unlimited access to a curated selection. That’s just opening the door to what could be really interesting business models in the future.

There were a lot of other interesting stories, not the least of which was the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, which had started out as self-published fan fiction (fanfic). The fact that it went to a major publisher and was so successful suggests, as I’ve said before, a very different “farm system” for the tradpubs (traditional publishers). The rise of the indies, even if it means they get co-opted, is a large part of the future, especially if other traditional publishers merge. What do you think? Have I missed listing anything really important here? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

In the next few days, I’ll look ahead to 2013 in a separate post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

The Year in E-Books 2011

December 23, 2011

The Year in E-Books 2011

Once again, a remarkable year!

Eventually, this may all slow down, but we are definitely still in the Big Bang of E-Books.

I’m going to look at some of the big things that happened this year (so far…you never know what Amazon will do in the last days of the year). If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category.

Special Offers

April 11 saw the release of the first Kindle with Special Offers. In exchange for agreeing to see ads on the “screensavers” and a small ad on the homescreen, purchasers could get a Kindle at a discount. While initially greeted with some vehement skepticism, the ad-supported models proved to be more popular than their non-ad supported equivalents. Later on, Amazon will even give people who bought the more expensive version the ability to opt-in to receiving the ads and special offers.

Kindle Public Library Lending

Announced on April 20th as coming “this year”, borrowing books from the public library was enabled for Kindle users on September 21st. In November, there was a big buzz when the publisher Penguin has Overdrive disable the Kindle editions.  Some access was later restored.

Kindle World Expansion

Throughout the year, Amazon expands the Kindle to additional Amazon sites in more countries: Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. When the new low-cost Kindle was introduced, it gave users the choice of several languages for the menus. Amazon also opened Kindle Direct Publishing to these other countries.

Legal Challenges to the Agency Model

When the Agency Model came into play for e-books on April 1, 2010, some people thought that the idea of publishers setting the prices that consumers pay might be open to legal challenge. There have been investigations in the European Union, and class action lawsuits in the USA. Random House joined the other five largest US trade publishers in using the Agency Model in March of 2011.

Amazon Introduces the Cloud Reader

Following Google’s lead with web-e-books, Amazon introduced its Cloud Reader on August 10th. This let people read Kindle book through a browser, expanding their reach.  It launched for Safari and Chrome, and expanded to Firefox before the end of the year.

The Year of the Tablet…and the Touchscreen

On September 28, Amazon announced the new Kindle family. It kept the reflective screen, physical keyboard model, and introduced a touchscreen line. It also brought out an inexpensive, stripped down version. The big news, though, was the introduction of the Kindle Fire, a media tablet. Barnes & Noble and Kobo also introduce tablets (Barnes &  Noble already had the NOOKColor “Reader’s Tablet”, but they introduce a NOOK Tablet as well). Before the end of the year, Amazon will report having sold millions of Kindle Fires, as well as a million combined Kindle units a week for at least three weeks.

Equal Collection Legislation

States continued to pass so-called “Amazon laws”, designed to redefine what “doing business in a state” means in order to compel Amazon and other online retailers to collect sales tax at the time of sale. One particularly famous battle was in California (a temporary compromise was worked out in that state).  Paul Misener of Amazon testified before Congress in support of a national policy.

E-Book Market Continues to Expand…and with it, Independent Publishing

As sales of e-books continued to multiply (and mass market paperback sales retracted), independently published books rose on the bestseller lists. Two of Amazon’s top ten best-selling books of the year (combining e-book and physical book sales) were independently published. Some indie authors joined the Kindle Million Club, having at least a million sales of their titles at Amazon. In a related development, Amazon expanded its own publishing. Kindle Singles became bestsellers, and Amazon introduced new imprints, including one for science fiction/fantasy/horror.

A Special In Memoriam: Michael S. Hart

The mainstream media (and the specialty media) rightfully focused on the loss of Steve Jobs, a true innovator who affected the way we read e-books. Less covered was the loss on September 6, 2011, of Michael S. Hart, who was essentially the inventor of e-books. Hart’s organization, Project Gutenberg, utilized volunteers to digitize some of the world’s great (public domain) literature…and make it available to anyone for free.

Those are what I consider the top stories. In a later post, I’ll make my predictions for 2012…and look back at my predictions for 2011.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

The Year in E-Books 2010

December 19, 2010

The Year in E-Books 2010

The e-book world is still moving incredibly quickly.  As I look back over the events of 2010, I’m amazed at how much things have changed.  There are changes (at least one we know about…lending of Kindle books) still to come before January 1, and I’ll update this later.

Where were we on December 31st of 2009?

The Kindle 2 International has been released, but the Kindle DX is only available with US wireless.  The NOOK has been out for about a month.

Apple hasn’t entered the game yet (although there are rumors of an iTablet or iSlate).  Amazon is still able to discount e-books, even from all of the major pubishers in the US.

There are about 400,000 titles available in the Kindle store.

What happened in 2010?

I’m going to list some of the most significant events below.  For more detail, see

The ILMK E-Books Timeline

  • January 6: The Kindle DX International is announced
  • January 11: The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind announce a settlement in a lawsuit against Arizona State University, severely hampering Amazon’s attempts to get the DX accepted by colleges for textbook use
  • January 27: Apple announces the iPad
  • January 28: Amazon announces that for every 10 paperbooks sold, six Kindle books are sold (when books are available in both formats)
  • January 29: Amazon stop selliing all Macmillan books in a dispute over pricing and release dates
  • February: Beta of Kindle Development Kit ships, to enable a Kindle apps store later
  • February 17: Kindle for Blackberry app is released
  • February 18: rescheduled Google settlement fairness hearing…no decision is announced by the judge
  • February 22: Spring Design’s Alex EBR (E-Book Reader) is released
  • March 17: Kindle for Mac is released
  • April 1: the Agency Model goes into effect for some major publishers, ending e-book discounting by retailers for many titles
  • April 3: Apple wifi iPads begin shipping
  • April 25: Kindle begin selling in the first brick-and-mortar stores (Target)
  • June 14: Update 2.5 for the Kindle is available for manual download.  It enables Collections, social network updates, and more 
  • June 17: Borders begins selling the Kobo EBR
  • June 21: Barnes & Noble lowers the original NOOK price $60 and releases the wifi only model for $149
  • June 21: Following the NOOK price drop, Amazon lowers the 6″ Kindle to $189
  • June 27: Amazon releases free reader apps for the iPad, iPhone, and iPad touch
  • June 30: Amazon launches a new 70% royalty option for publishers using its Digital Text Platform
  • July 7: the Kindle DX Graphite (with new screen technology) begins shipping
  • July 7: Borders opens its eBookstore
  • July 19: Amazon ann0unces that Kindle books outsold hardbacks at Amazon.com
  • July 22: Amazon announces exclusive Kindle deal for some A-list backlist titles, including Lolita, The Naked and the Dead, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Portnoy’s Complaint, and John Updike’s Rabbit series
  • August 3: Amazon releases Every Word and Shuffled Row, the first active content games for the Kindle
  • August 5: the Kindle UK store opens
  • August 25: the Kindle 3s start shipping
  • September 8: Amazon does an early releases of software update 3.03 for Kindle 3s
  • October 25: Amazon announces that Kindle books outsold hardbacks and paperbacks combined on the top 1000 books…2 to 1 on the top ten
  • November 16: the NOOKcolor “reader’s tablet” is released
  • November 18: Barnes & Noble announces NOOKbooks en español
  • November 19: Amazon enables the gifting of Kindle books
  • November 22: Amazon has its biggest sales day for Kindles to date
  • November 26, 2010: Amazon sells thousands of new Kindle 2s for $89 apparently in under five minutes in a Black Friday deal
  • December 6, 2010: Google opens it ebookstore
  • December 30, 2010: Amazon enables Kindle book lending

So, in one year, we went from three major EBRs to many, including backlit models.  The number of titles in the Kindle store came close to doubling

Does that seem like a lot of changes?  Compare it to The Year in E-Books I did for 2009 in this earlier post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. 

The year in e-books (so far)

December 19, 2009

Think back, way back.

Back before a golfer hit a tree…with a car.

Back before a couple plus eight became eight plus 1, 1.

Back before a singer’s make-up created some controversy, and he came in second.

It’s January 1, 2009.

What is the state of e-bookery?

There is one Kindle.  There have been three Sony Readers, and the PRS-700 has only been out for a couple of months.  It has a touchscreen and a built-in front light.   There are other e-books around, including the Irex ILiad, and LCD models, including the inexpensive EBookwise. 

Amazon, though, has ignited the market like never before.  Major publishers are releasing e-books. 

E-book news is in this style.

Related news is italicized like this.

News related to my own works is bold like this.

February 2, 2009: The Kindle Nation Daily by Stephen Windwalker begins publication as a blog

February 9, 2009: Jeff Bezos holds an event to introduce the Kindle 2.  The flashiest new feature is text-to-speech.  The press conference also reveals that when a book is available in both Kindle and paper, 35% of the sales are in Kindle format

February 12, 2009: The Authors Guild releases a memo claiming that the text-to-speech “…presents a significant challenge to the publishing industry” (statement)

February 12, 2009: The National Federation of the Blind condemns the Authors Guild statement

February 12, 2009: Stephen King’s Kindle exclusive URis released

February 27, 2009: Amazon announces that for the “comfort” of the rightsholders, they will allow them to block the text-to-speech (article)

March 4, 2009: the Kindle apps for the iPhone and the iPod touch are announced

March 19, 2009: A Kindle World blog begins

March 20, 2009: A character makes a Kindle reference on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse

April 7, 2009: A protest is held outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City over the text-to-speech issue (article)

May 6, 2009: Amazon introduces the Kindle DX, with a larger 9.7″ screen.  They also announce a deal with some textbook publishers, and a pilot program at some colleges

May 13, 2009: Amazon introduces Kindle Publishing for Blogs…by the end of the year, there will be more than 7,500 available

June 8, 2009: Amazon announces the Your Amazon Ad contest, having customer submit their own videos of commercials for Amazon

June 20, 2009: Frequently Asked Kindle Questions is published

July 14, 2009: A lawsuit is filed over covers from Amazon cracking the Kindles

July 16, 2009: Amazon removes copies of a George Orwell book from purchasers’ Kindles, creating a major news flap

July 20, 2009: Barnes and Noble begins selling e-books in a new online store for that purpose

July 23, 2009: Jeff Bezos apologizes for the Orwell removal, including directly in the Amazon Kindle community, calling it “stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles.” (Amazon thread)

July 23, 2009:  The USA Today begins including e-books in its bestseller list calculations

August 14, 2009: Red Adept’s Kindle Book Review blog  begins publication

August 28, 2009: The first post in the I Love My Kindle blog appears

August 28, 2009: Bufo appears on Len Edgerly’s podcast, The Kindle Chronicles

September 2009: Amazon implements a change in its quality control for Digital Text Platform books.  Free Books for Your Kindle is temporarily removed, then restored

September 3, 2009: Amazon offers consumers from whom it deleted the Orwell book $30

September 9, 2009: The Ted Kennedy memoir, True Compass, gets a staggered release…seen by some as a setback

September 15, 2009: The biggest book of the year is released, and e-book readers cheer the simultaneous release of e-book and p-book.  Stephen Windwalker of The Kindle Nation discovers that, at least at first, the e-book outsells to p-book.  One negative: text-to-speech is blocked in the edition

September 15, 2009: The APA (American Psychological Association) lists a guideline for citing a Kindle edition…the first of the big authorities to do so

September 18, 2009: The Department of Justice issues a statement expressing concerns about the Google Settlement.  Shortly thereafter, the parties ask for an extension to rewrite it

September 21, 2009: Leonard mentions the Kindle on The Big Bang Theory

September 22, 2009: The winner of the Your Amazon Ad contest is announced…the commercial (featuring stop-motion animation over a song, and focusing on the Kindle) will be seen frequently later in the year

September 25, 2009: Amazon settles a lawsuit over deleting the Orwell book for $150,000

September 29, 2009: It’s announced that Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue, will get a staggered release

October  2009: The Stephen King book, Under the Dome gets a staggered release (with the e-book being released after the p-book).  This is seen by some as a setback after the simultaneous release of the biggest book of the year.  King approves of the move

October 7, 2009: Amazon introduces the Kindle 2 international, and drops the price on the Kindle 2 US

October 13 2009: The New York Times writes about Open Road Media, a well-financed company that will seek to obtain e-book rights for older books.  In the article, it’s stated that they have already gotten the rights to Catch-22

October 22, 2009: The Kindle for PC app is announced, allowing users to buy and read Kindle books on a computer (without needing to own a Kindle)

November 2009: the Kindle has its best sales month ever

November 2, 2009: Spring Design announces that it has filed a lawsuit against the nook

November 5, 2009: Borders announces it will close 200 WaldenBooks stores in 2010 (story) 

November 5, 2009: The Kindle store begins exclusively selling the Choose Your Own Adventure books

November 13, 2009: The Authors Guild (sic) reports filing the amended settlement in the Google case

November 17, 2009: The Kindle launches in Canada, with over 300,000 titles available

November 19, 2009: The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1 is published

November 25, 2009: Amazon releases software update 2.3 for the Kindle, bringing native pdf support and landscape display to the Kindle 2

November 30, 2009: Barnes and Noble introduces the nook

December 9 (?), 2009:  Amazon enables permanent delete from Kindle archives

December 9, 2009: The Wall Street Journal reports that Simon and Schuster and the Hachette group will release some e-books after their paper counterparts in 2010 by three to four months.

December 11 (?), 2009: Amazon puts an “Add to Wishlist” button on Kindle book product pages

December 11, 2009: Random House sends a letter asserting that contracts that don’t specifically mention e-books or electronic books still grant Random House those rights if it says “in book form”

December 14, 2009: The Kindle for iPhone app goes international

December 14, 2009: Amazon announces an exclusive deal for e-book versions of some of Stephen Covey’s books

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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