Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sony to Support ePub Format, Will Amazon Follow? by Richard Greenlee

Sony has recently announced that it will be converting ebooks sold in its ebook store to the ePub open format instead of its current proprietary BBeB LRF format. The ePub format is supported by an increasing number of publishers and ebook readers. This is good news in that hopefully someday we will have an open ebook format that will work across most or all ebook readers. In a perfect eworld any ebook we buy at any store would work on any ereader.

Unfortunately, it's not time to break out the Champaign just yet. Sony's ebooks will still have DRM, thanks to Adobe Content Server. Currently there are 17 ereaders that are compatible with Adobe's system. Something that is not compatible: Mobipocket DRM. Bebook owners who update to the August 2009 firmware which adds compatibility to Adobe Digital Editions are finding that they can no longer read Mobipocket DRM'ed files on their readers, rendering any previously purchased titles in that format useless. This is because Amazon, which owns Mobipocket, doesn't at this time permit Mobi DRM to co-exist on the same device with other DRM systems. Hopefully Amazon will change this.

Nevertheless, Sony's announcement is a direct shot over Amazon's bow, and a brilliant strategic move. Will Amazon maintain its current fortress mentality, locking Kindle users into buying their ebooks primarily from Amazon, and not opening the Kindle ebook store to users of ebook readers other than the Kindle? A couple of years ago when Amazon opened their music download store, they played the part of the liberator; so it is ironic that they now find themselves on the opposite side of a similar battle. In fact, Amazon's Jeff Bezos has dropped hints in the past that there are plans to make Kindle books available to other brands of ebook readers.

What would the effects be if Amazon decided tomorrow to match Sony's move? Personally, I think it would be beneficial for Amazon and the Kindle ebook store, and most definitely good for ereader owners of all stripes. Most of the negative comments that I've seen about the Kindle specifically (vs. ebook readers in general - i.e. people who can't imagine a device replacing a dead tree book) have to do with the closed format. I think Amazon would gain a lot of new converts if they made the Kindle more open.

If we were no longer forced to buy our ebooks from specific sellers, but could choose to purchase from any number of ebook stores and still expect the title to be readable from whichever device we happen to have, how would it change the way that ebook stores compete?

Brand Loyalty: Both Sony and Amazon have their devotees.

Price: Traditionally, product competition by price usually leads to price erosion - good for consumers in the short term, but maybe in the long run less product to choose from as producers go out of business or are consolidated. When it comes to ebooks though, the publishers will probably be able to draw the bottom line. What would happen to bestsellers for $9.99? Reportedly Amazon looses money on a lot of these, as they have to pay the publishers more than that. There would obviously be no reason for a loss leader program like this if you do not need to buy a Kindle to read them. Perhaps Amazon would continue to subsidize bestsellers for registered Kindle owners?

The Shopping Experience: Which ebook store is the easiest and most intuitive to use? I think Amazon is a clear winner here, but that's just my opinion.

Finally, where would a Sony matching move by Amazon leave Barnes & Noble? They are obviously hoping to position themselves as the main Kindle alternative when the Plastic Logic reader comes out early next year. I'm not sure at all if that boat would still float. B & N's ebook store is also built around a proprietary format and DRM; reportedly even DRM'ing free public domain books.

For more ebook reader news and reviews, please visit me at

Mediabistro.Com Announces eBookNewser, New Blog about Digital Publishing has launched eBookNewser, a blog covering eBooks, digital reading devices, publishing technology, smartphone reading applications, digital self-publishing, and the rapidly evolving future of digital publishing.

"eBookNewser is an exciting addition to the Mediabistro blog network," stated Alan Meckler, Chairman and CEO of WebMediaBrands. "Together with our upcoming eBook Summit tradeshow and GalleyCat, our blog about book publishing, eBookNewser will help publishers, writers, and readers map out the new frontiers of digital publishing."

The url for eBookNewser is:

Twitter: @ebooknewser

Bestselling Author Stephen Covey Now Offering E-Books Exclusively in the Kindle Store

Amazon and FranklinCovey Co. announced that electronic versions of Stephen Covey's bestselling books, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "Principle-Centered Leadership," are now available exclusively in the Amazon Kindle Store for $7.99 (

This is the first time these titles are available as e-books, and Kindle customers can expect to see more books by Covey available for download exclusively in the Kindle Store in the future, including the soon-to-be-released "Great Work, Great Career." Kindle is the most gifted, most wished for and the No. 1 bestselling product across all categories on—not just electronics. Customers can now download and start reading Covey's books on Kindle, Kindle DX, Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for PC in under 60 seconds.

"Our customers have long been fans of Stephen Covey, the 13th bestselling author of all time on," said Russ Grandinetti, vice president, Kindle Content. "We're thrilled to offer these titles to Kindle customers and hope we can help them reach an entirely new audience."

Despite being published 20 years ago, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is a perennial top 50 bestselling book on The author of several acclaimed books, Covey has also received numerous honors and awards, including being named one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans." The print versions of Covey's books are published by Simon & Schuster. These electronic versions of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "Principle-Centered Leadership" are being published through RosettaBooks. For more information about Stephen Covey, visit

"This is the first time these books have been available in a digital format, and I'm happy to be able to offer them exclusively on Kindle," said Covey. "With so many readers using Kindle, this is a very effective way to reach people who want to easily download the books and begin reading them instantly."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Looking for a Good Read? Try Book Publishing Industry Today

EIN News, an online leader in industry news monitoring and press syndication, helps its members keep their fingers on the pulse of the publishing industry with the new Book

Publishing Industry Today.

Located at, Book Publishing Industry Today gathers the latest news from around the world about authors, new releases, book deals, publishing houses, self-publishers and Google Books, giving subscribers cover-to-cover access to vital publishing industry information.

The site joins EIN News' growing list of media and entertainment industry news publications, which include Music Industry Today, Movie Industry Today and Media Industry Today. EIN News uses its unique, proprietary search technology, which combines news aggregation and the human editorial element, to gather for its members the latest, hard-to-find news from English-language news sources around the world.

If it happens in the publishing industry, it can be found on Book Publishing Industry Today. Thousands of industry professionals and government institutions rely on EIN News for their daily information needs, and each new membership to the EIN News service comes with a one-week, no-obligation free trial. To see a full list of EIN Publications, please visit

Scribd Signs eBook Deal With Top Global Publisher Wiley

Scribd, the world's largest social publishing company with more than 50 million readers each month, has entered an agreement with top global publisher John Wiley and Sons, Inc. to market and sell thousands of popular eBooks through the Scribd Store, Scribd's e-commerce marketplace. Wiley titles will include the For Dummies series, Frommer's travel guides and CliffsNotes study guides.

Scribd also recently signed agreements with Sterling Publishing, Chronicle Books and University of Chicago Press. They join the more than 150 professional publishers that are now selling in the Scribd Store. Sterling Publishing is a leading publisher of non-fiction books and a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble. Its multiple imprints include Hearst Books, which publishes popular brands Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Vogue.

In 2009 alone, the Scribd community uploaded and shared more than five million free and for-purchase works, ranging from research papers to storyboards. Books accounted for one of the fastest growing content categories; more than 200,000 books are published on Scribd annually at the current rate. That number is expected to more than quadruple in 2010. By comparison, the U.S. book industry published 275,232 books in 2008, or 3 percent less than the previous year. (source: Bowker)

Scribd launched its Scribd Store earlier this year to offer professional publishers and independent writers and artists an option for selling their works. Scribd users include tens of millions of avid readers and information-seekers, best-selling authors, media companies such as The New York Times and The Huffington Post and publishing companies such as Simon & Schuster, Random House, Workman Publishing Co., Harvard University Press and The MIT Press.

The Scribd Store service allows publishers to set their own prices and offers them a generous revenue share agreement that gives sellers 80 percent of revenue. All books and other written material added to the Scribd Store are automatically added to Scribd's Copyright Management System, an industry-leading technology and set of best practices designed to prevent the upload of unauthorized content.

For more information, please visit

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best Selling Twitter Book Author Deletes All His Followers

The author of the world's best-selling book on Twitter has publicly changed his Twitter strategy by purging his account and resetting the number of people he is following to zero.

Joel Comm, New York Times best-selling author of Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time and CEO of Loveland, Colorado-based InfoMedia, Inc., has posted a blog entry explaining his reasoning to stop following nearly 70,000 people on the popular social media site.

"Twitter has never been more relevant than now", say Comm. "But with explosive growth comes a need to evaluate strategy and chart a course that best fits in with how I want to use the site. This massive purge allows me to refocus on how I may most effectively give to the Twitter community and still enjoy being involved"

In his blog entry, Comm details the history of his Twitter use, interesting people he has met along the way, the use of automatic Twitter follow tools and methods and reasons for purging an account.

The complete blog entry can be read at:

Book Publishing - A World Market Analysis

Book publishing, a huge market worldwide, is chiefly fostered by voracious readers, who make up the general consumer base and specific consumers such as students and professionals, and institutional buyers such as libraries. The market would be driven by the government's rising emphasis on education, higher enrollment in schools/colleges, rise in readership, and growing number of professionals in the modern workforce. However, there are challenges too in the form of the advent of information technology, and shifts in consumer preferences and hobbies towards other electronic forms of entertainment.

Despite the challenges, the book publishing market will stand enthused by market fundamentals, such as, conducive demographics, such as, students seeking educational books, reference volumes and textbooks, parents and governments focusing more on the spend on education, increasing number of women and the middle aged continuing with and reviving their reading habits, professionals in various industries seeking books that help them with their professions, parents wanting to read out to their children from books, and individuals wanting books that assist in self-improvement.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dogs Who Rule the Literary World

From the adventures of the cute Vizsla puppy who grew into a 24-foot dog in Norman Bridwell's children's book series Clifford the Big Red Dog to Odysseus' faithful dog in Homer's Odyssey, young and old alike love to dive into stories about dogs. But which canine dog story ranks the highest?

In celebration of its 125 Anniversary, the American Kennel Club and AOL's ask America to weigh in on their favorite dog stories. The nominees for most famous dogs of literature are:

* Clifford The Big Red Dog -- The tiny Vizsla puppy who grew to 25 feet in the children's book series written by Norman Bridwell.

* Spot -- The black and white Cocker Spaniel pet featured in the Fun with Dick and Jane book series created to teach children how to read.

* Old Yeller -- The fictional story, based on the novel by Fred Gipson, of a Mountain Cur dog. The book was adapted in 1957 into a Disney movie.

* Marley & Me -- The New York Times bestselling autobiographical book by journalist John Grogan that portrays Grogan and his family's life during the 13 years that they lived with their rambunctious Labrador Retriever Marley, and the relationships and lessons from this period.

* My Dog Skip - An autobiographical book by Willie Morris that tells the tale of a boy and his Parson Russell Terrier dog in a small southern town that teaches about family, friendship, love, devotion and bravery.

* Big Red -- The story, based on the novel by Jim Kjelgaard, of an Irish Setter who would rather run through the woods than be the perfectly-trained and groomed show dog his sportsman owner wants and the ten-year-old orphan boy who cares for and helps Big Red rebel against his owner's strict discipline.

* Argos -- The faithful dog of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey.

* Cujo -- The Saint Bernard in the horror novel by Stephen King.

* White Fang -- The main character in Jack London's book of the same name. White Fang is the story of a wild Wolfdog's journey toward becoming civilized in Yukon Territory, Canada, during the Klondike Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century.

Which dog in literature will be victorious? Visit to cast your vote and make your “bark” heard.

Underscoring America's love affair with dogs and celebrating its 125th Anniversary, the American Kennel Club (AKC) collaborated with AOL's to compile a list of the Top 125 Dogs in Popular Culture. The list brings together canines from diverse backgrounds for a candid look at how dogs have been woven into the fabric of America. From movies and music, mascots and literature, to cartoons and TV characters, each week a new poll allows Americans to review the list, debate it with their friends and colleagues, and pick their favorites. Dog lovers can return each week to vote and have a final say to end the doggie debate and find who it the top dog. The AKC will tabulate results and unveil the final list of America's Top 125 Dogs in Pop Culture on December 7, 2009.

Christian Publishers Fight Over Kids' Books

Thomas Nelson, the world's largest publisher of English-language Bibles, accused its competitor, Evangelical publisher Zondervan, of copyright infringement, civil conspiracy and breach of contract for hiring the same children's book illustrator. Nelson claims that Zondervan's "Princess Twins" children's book series look an awful lot like Nelson's "Gigi, God's Little Princess" series, right down to the button noses, white cats and tea parties.

Meredith Johnson, the illustrator for both book series, is also a defendant in the federal complaint. Nelson says Johnson began working with it in October 2004 on its successful "Gigi" books.

In that series, Gigi and her friend Frances provide Christian lessons to girls between the ages of 4 and 8, who can also buy Gigi dolls, toys, stickers, dress-up kits and clothes.

"'Gigi's First Day of School' was the number one selling Christian DVD for at least two weeks in 2009," Nelson says in its complaint.

Nelson complains that soon after Gigi's debut, Zondervan hired Johnson to draw its "substantially similar" Princess Twins series.

Zondervan's Princess Emma and Nelson's Gigi "both have round faces, dark wavy hair, button noses, two prominent front teeth and virtually identical smiles," according to the complaint. It adds that several story lines are the same, and each girl has a white cat.

Johnson started working for Nelson on a work-for-hire basis and was "apparently remained disgruntled with the compensation," when she negotiated a deal with Zondervan, according to the complaint.

Nelson seeks damages for breach of contract, intentional interference with business relations, copyright infringement, unfair competition, violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and civil conspiracy.

Nelson is represented by John Jacobson and William Campbell Jr. with Riley Warnock & Jacobsen.