Peter Brantley's listserv is all over this, as is Michael Cader. It's pretty huge.
The company said ALPSP members are invited “to contribute titles to an ALPSP-branded range of subject-based eBook collections which will be offered to libraries and other institutions” through its MyiLibrary content distribution partners including Swets. ALPSP members have access to all of Ingram Digital’s digital content solutions, like CoreSource for digital asset management, and member publishers can use Lightning Source Inc. to produce print-on-demand titles as well as enable digital content distribution to all markets and channels.
Cully's primary responsibilities include managing all merchandising and purchasing functions, managing BTMS, and managing Baker & Taylor's new Specialty Markets Group.
"Libraries everywhere will be the first important adopters of digital content...As librarians make the print-to-digital transition, we know we can be a valuable member of the team."
"During my career, I've seen the publishing industry evolve with the adoption of new book formats, business models, and sales channels," said Kirshbaum. "Today, eBooks, audio books, and digital media markets are exploding, and OverDrive is uniquely positioned as a global leader in the value-added distribution of digital books and other content."
The new "epub" standard for eBooks and other digital publications was developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (www.IDPF.org), a non-profit standards and trade association, and unanimously approved by IDPF member companies. Publishers benefit from "epub" as it allows them to produce a single digital publication for all distribution channels rather than producing multiple formats for competing reader applications. OverDrive, an IDPF member, joins Hachette Book Group USA, Adobe Systems, Sony, and others in actively supporting the new format.
At any rate, Don goes on to say "There are plenty of Muze personnel left". Indeed! But my question is...how much experience do they have in the particular market Muze addresses? How much institutional knowledge is left when so many of the folks who have been with the company for years have now left? What's to prevent Muze from making the same mistakes over and over again when that institutional knowledge is no longer there?
Since I left in November 2006, the company has been gutted. I'm sure many wonderful people have come in to replace those who have left or been laid off, but that kind of turnover has a profound effect on a place. It's not a question of moving bodies and minds around - when turnover is that high, there's a sacrifice in the organic growth and cohesion of a company. And I wonder if Muze can make up for that.
Muze has amazed me before. It began in 1990 (or thereabouts) in a warehouse in Williamsburg. I came on board in 1995, at the tail end of the warehouse phase - wires and cables draped from ceiling to floor; running the copy machine too long would blow a fuse that would take out the entire video department; it was a bizarre combination of old and new that was right out of a Terry Gilliam movie. In that environment, we played and learned and developed amazing applications. Moving to Soho in 1996, the Skunkworks mindset continued. It was a place of extraordinary inventiveness.
And yet...it wasn't sustainable. Through massive mismanagement, Muze lost several dozen people, many of whom flocked to Barnes & Noble.com. (I was one of them - I went in 1998.) The mismanagement continued - we'd hear things about one disasterous CEO after another. When I returned in 2006, it seemed that things had stabilized...but this was deceptive, obviously.
No one running the company has ever known quite what to do with it. It is such a promising enterprise - and it attracts extremely gifted people - but every single CEO it's had has wanted to turn it into something it isn't. This last round...turning it into a company that distributes actual content instead of simply catalog metadata and sound samples...was particularly ill-thought-out. Acquiring the Loudeye assets was a mistake. It diverted the company from its core business. Muze, I think, is not a company to be transformed. It's a company that needs to make the best of what it's got - and it's got quite a lot.
I'm interested in what Peter Krause and Paul Parreira at Tactic Company are going to do - I believe they have taken the best in what Muze has to offer (editorial and data creation) and are making a business of it.
"It is not that big of a cut," said Ho, who declined to disclose the number of employees at the company....Ho said the company is "right sizing" the digital media delivery group, which is based in Seattle.
Ho added (rather ominously) that in terms of severance packages, the laid-off employees were "taken care of". When Muze laid me off (at Thanksgiving of last year), I was taken care of, too - with a whole two weeks' severance.
Predicting that Muze strips the company of its assets and sells them off, and folds like a Japanese fan.
[The grant] will facilitate the completion of the long-awaited Sophie, a set of digital authoring tools. Stein told the LJ Academic Newswire that Sophie 1.0 could see a release as early as February '08. The grant continues the MacArthur Foundation's support of if:book. MacArthur helped found the institute with a 2004, $500,000 grant to its parent institution, the University of Southern California, Annenberg Center for Communication.
Sophie is designed to enable people to create "robust, elegant rich-media, networked" documents. "We have word processors, video, audio and photo editors but no viable options for assembling the parts into a complex whole except tools like Flash which are expensive, hard to use, and often create documents with closed proprietary file formats," notes a Sophie product description. "Sophie promises to open up the world of multimedia authoring to a wide range of creative people."
It's not hard to see how Kindle will take off. Business travelers, I predict, will be the first to embrace it. Having a device with multiple books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs to travel with, which also has a long battery life, beats wrangling a laptop, magazines, and papers in an airline seat. The next market will be university students, undergrad and grad. With such a nifty application and the tension over ridiculously high prices for textbooks, going digital is a brainy way to deliver textbooks to an audience that is already used to digital consumption.
Again I say, when I see it on the F train, I'll know it's getting somewhere.
So the idea of comfortably reading on a laptop with this technology appears to be still some ways off....We can add that to our list of "dream features" for a laptop/ebook-reader, then!
I do wonder, when the human race moved from papyrus scrolls to bound books, if anyone complained about having to turn pages instead of rolling them.
Amazon's Digital Text Platform is in beta, but it's an . Anyone can sign up. Anyone can be published. In fact, the only requirements to get an item listed on Kindle are a title, an author's name, and of course, content.Indeed. It disturbed me a bit that (a) it wasn't necessary for the ebook to have an ISBN (b) it didn't conform to the IDPF's .epub standard. And yet, if history is any guide, Amazon will set the de facto standard and all that .epub work will kind of fall by the wayside....
I wrote a cheesy coming-of-age novel called during my undergraduate days. It's not my best work. It might be my worst. I've let two people read it. OK, I've suckered two people into reading it. I had it lying around on my hard drive in MS Word, so I figured I'd serve it to Amazon's service as a guinea pig.
In seconds, Amazon chewed it up and spit it back out in Kindle's HTML-coded format. All that was left was to price the puppy, from $0.25 to $200. I chose the low end of that scale and clicked the Publish button.
Several hours later, it was up on the site, complete with an Amazon-assigned ASIN code. That was too easy.
However - and this is crucial - so many more people are doing self-publishing these days that this capability to upload and download and distribute your own titles is pretty amazing. I mean, just load your book up on Amazon for anyone to find in their web search. Jaw-dropping!
Meanwhile, Mike Pegan, former director of sales for Muze, is now back at AMG.
1. No ability to buy paper goods from Amazon through Kindle.
2. Usability sucks. They didn’t think about how people would hold this device.
3. UI sucks. Menus? Did they hire some out-of-work Microsoft employees?
4. No ability to send electronic goods to anyone else. I know Mike Arrington has one. I wanted to send him a gift through this of Alan Greenspan’s new book. I couldn’t. That’s lame.
5. No social network. Why don’t I have a list of all my friends who also have Kindles and let them see what I’m reading?
6. No touch screen. The iPhone has taught everyone that I’ve shown this to that screens are meant to be touched. Yet we’re stuck with a silly navigation system because the screen isn’t touchable.
And this curmudgeonly observation:
"Whoever designed this should be fired and the team should start over."
1. Content you currently read for free on your laptop, such as blogs and newspapers, you have to pay a subscription fee for on the Kindle.
2. It does not support PDF files, the de facto standard for documents.
3. It is ugly. It is, in fact, fugly.
4. The so-called "free" wireless subscription is actually subsidized by content subscriptions (see #1).
5. It doesn't do anything else. It's a dedicated reader and does not play video, MP3 files, download email (only attachments), or call your boyfriend to tell him you're running late. You can't even text your boyfriend from the Kindle. Or anyone else. (What if you want to pass along a quote from a book?)
It strikes me that smaller laptops will most likely be the reading device of choice, if we continue to go down this road. It also strikes me that we're developing a technology and then fishing around for a market for it - for the vast majority of us, books and magazines are just fine. Shoving ebook readers down our throats at a $400 price point (plus the cost of subscribing to content that is otherwise available for free) is...in the words of my 14-year-old..."teh crazy".
Following is a link roundup for Kindle, but I have to say that when Publisher's Lunch hit my inbox, I was sort of taken aback at this quote from OUP's Evan Schnittman:
The risk here isn’t just to Amazon. If Kindle fails, the ebook is over, the theory of the “iPod model” is wrong for eBooks, and publishing must face the reality that consumers just don’t want to read immersive content on electronic screens of any sort…
You know what? No. I just don't believe it's as drastic as all that. We've been living with books for 500 years, people! To expect us to wake up one day and start reading them on screens - or it's all over, we'll NEVER read them on screens - is a little much. The comparisons/expectations regarding the music business are just not apt here - in listening to music, we've been accustomed to changing devices every generation or so - from wax cylinders to wax records to vinyl to 8 tracks to cassettes to CDs to MP3s - and the history of listening to personal music (as opposed to the history of reading, for God's sake) is a lot shorter. Innovation is expected there. But the runway for changing reading formats is a lot longer. Longer than any of us can see. To say it's now or never is...hysteria.
Which means, of course, that Bezos wins, in terms of whipping some of us up into a frenzy.
- QWERTY keyboard (for making annotations)
- Proprietary wireless service (for easy downloads)
- 10.3 ounces
- Paper-like screen
- Built-in dictionary and access to Wikipedia
The wires are abuzz with Judith Regan, who has little to do with what we cover. Everything's more or less drowned out by the shocking accounts of how she was asked to withhold information from federal investigators about her affair with Bernie Kerik, in a Murdochian scheme to pump up Giuliani's credibility to take the Republican Party nomination. In addition to Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, all of Fox News, Jane Friedman, and a host of others, Sara Nelson of PW is also implicated, along with the writer Michael Wolff. She's not going down alone, people.
Of the skillions of blogs out there, most are gibberish, spam, or too personal to be useful. But the truth is, a lot of interesting research is also blogged about. People blog about medical issues. People blog about their hobbies - knitting, photography, painting. These kinds of blogs are tremendously useful in the same way journals are, or magazine articles, or memoirs. Parents of autistic children share their struggles and solutions; shoppers share online deals; researchers share findings. This stuff is all valuable, and libraries should make it easily find-able. That's what Bloggapedia does.
According to the press release:
"While we’ve created a lot of value, I’ve always believed our complexity and many mouthfuls of sentences to explain who we are and what our strategy is have hampered clarity and understanding with all our constituencies, particularly investors,” Mr. Diller, IAC’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
AuthorAssistant allows authors to create and post personalized information and gives readers a chance to learn more about their favorite authors....On the author pages, readers can see comprehensive biographical information, links to press and articles, author blogs and favorite websites, photo albums, news, essays and more.
Drop-in titles (also known as crash or add-in titles) continue to grow--and getting the word to booksellers and librarians about these sudden new books or titles with major last-minute changes is ever more problematic. Publishers send the information via reps, faxes and e-mail, a process many of them admit is cumbersome. Sometimes the message makes it through, but booksellers and librarians often feel deluged by the material and can't keep track of it all. Opportunities are lost.... For a small fee, announcements about drop-in titles will appear in the Shelf Awareness and Unshelved newsletters--and then reside in our drop-in title database web site. The web site is fully searchable and will archive all drop-in listings.
The Forbes 400 apparently had listed Ingram Books as having a pretty awful year - down 48% in book sales. However, John Ingram begged to differ, as PW reported:
He said that sales in the book division rose modestly in 2006 and are up significantly in 2007....“Not only is our core book wholesaling business steady, but our Lightning Source business continues to grow rapidly, and our Ingram Digital opportunities are extremely exciting,” John Ingram said.
MyiLibrary has added 12 new publishers to its program, bringing the total number of publishers working with MyiLibrary to 350. The new publishers are:
- Bit 10
- Council of Europe
- Eleven International Publishing
- G7 Books
- How to Books
- Insomniac Press
- M&M Scrivener
- Opera Journeys Publishing
- Scion Publishing
- Tottel Publishing
University of Calgary Press
Meanwhile, MyiLibrary (not to be confused with Google's My Library) has partnered with Swets, according to Information Today:
to enable customers to access ebooks and electronic journals from one easy-to-use and efficient point of access. The first offering of combined services between MyiLibrary and Swets is expected to launch this September...Combining the functionality of MyiLibrary with SwetsWise Subscriptions is designed to create a powerful platform that enables organizations to manage their journal subscriptions and ebooks from a single interface.
The textbook industry has long been pained with astronomically rising prices - $900/year on average - and a new company is trying to help students ameliorate this situation with a rental program. For half the cost of the textbooks, students can rent the books for anywhere between 30 and 125 days. According to their press release:
There are no monthly fees, and shipping is available in three methods: ground, 2 day and next day. After finals, students mail the book back in a pre-paid envelope, similar to online DVD rental programs. If a customer decides to keep a book, they simply pay the difference between the purchase price and rental cost.
With Amazon as a partner, students need not worry about limited inventory or selection. BookRenter.com boasts hundreds of thousands of titles, all searchable by title, author or ISBN number on its intuitive interface. In addition to book rental, customers can also choose to buy books outright.
Sounds pretty cool.