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Wired on ebook challenges for the visually impaired

Wired reported on December 15 about the challenges and opportunities that ebooks and ereading present for the visually impaired. The article primarily focuses on the issues with Kindle:

“When the Kindle 2 was released in 2009, it came with TTS functions that could be used across all Kindle ebooks. Publishers balked. They argued that TTS would negatively impact the audiobook market, and that a computer reading an ebook aloud constituted a violation of copyright. Amazon conceded.” The article goes on to discuss the related legislation:

“If a tablet doesn’t have a text-to-speech feature, you can modify it. Root the tablet and install a TTS app not sanctioned by the manufacturer. More commonly, though, people just strip the DRM off ebooks they buy. Then, the ebook can be uploaded to and read through an e-reader’s existing TTS feature. The problem is, both those workarounds are technically illegal under an esoteric clause in US copyright law.

Here’s why: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a 1998 law designed to protect digital content from infringement. Under Section 1201, it’s illegal to break a technological lock that protects copyrighted content—like an encryption over a tablet or DRM over an ebook. So, it’s not just a voided warranty that would-be readers have to worry about: Web-connected e-readers are essentially tablets, and you can’t legally root or jailbreak a tablet. Even if you just want to trick it out with a cool app that extends the device’s accessibility or functionality.

Breaking the DRM on an ebook is also technically a violation—-but the Librarian of Congress granted an exemption for people who are visually-impaired or have a print impairment. But the ruling is interestingly idiosyncratic: it’s legal for someone with a disability to strip DRM from ebooks, but it’s not legal for developers to create programs or apps that strip DRM.”

Posted in Publishers, Retail.

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Teen reading choices (US)

Nielsen has published a study reporting that 20% of teens buy ebooks, compared to 23% of 18-29 year olds and 25% of 30-44 year olds in the United States. The study notes that many teens tend to borrow and share reading material, and that they also learn about new books from social media.

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ALA meets with New York publishers

ALA met with multinational publishers in New York in early December. From the American Libraries magazine’s site:

“Two of the critical issues that we discussed with the publishers are pricing models and digital preservation. Each publisher has a different pricing model, but no single model will suit all libraries—libraries and librarians need choice. Digital preservation was acknowledged as an important issue, with diverse responses from among the companies. With both issues, ALA was invited to further engage with these publishers.” Other key issues, such as accommodations for people with disabilities and privacy, were also discussed.

“The DCWG will be focusing on the development of specific proposals in the next few months,” said Erika Linke. “We will draw upon the full membership and staff of the DCWG, and look to receiving input from ALA members and the library community at large. Thoughtful and strategic ideas, yet practical and realistic for both the publishing and library communities, are needed. We will also consider how ALA can help libraries improve the effectiveness of their engagement with publishers, such as hosting author events.”

Posted in Libraries, Publishers.

Kobo reports on reading trends

Kobo published its inaugural reading report, including the most popular books that are actually finished by Canadians:

“Overall, Canadians find romance to be the most engaging genre, with 62 per cent completion, followed by fantasy (60 per cent) and mystery (59 per cent).”

They also note that “self-improvement books, including cookbooks, health, and self-help books, are more popular during the month of January than at any other time of year. More self-improvement books and books overall were downloaded in January than any other month, likely to kick-off some New Year’s resolutions.”

EBOOK MUST HAVES – 2014’s Bestsellers

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
Insurgent – Veronica Roth
Allegiant – Veronica Roth
Divergent – Veronica Roth
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood – Diana Gabaldon
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty
Philomena – Martin Sixsmith

CANADA’S TOP PAGE-TURNERS – The Most Completed Books of 2014

Lover Awakened – J.R. Ward
Eleven on Top – Janet Evanovich
K is for Killer – Sue Grafton
Iron Kissed – Patricia Briggs
F is for Fugitive – Sue Grafton
Sweet Possession – Maya Banks
C is for Corpse – Sue Grafton
Chasing Perfect – Susan Mallery
Plum Spooky – Janet Evanovich
The Janus Stone – Elly Griffiths

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Publishers recognize ALA and Digital Content working group

In their “Notable Publishing People of 2014” article published November 28, Publishers Weekly recognizes Sari Feldman and Robert Woolven, co-chairs of the Digital Content Working Group for their work with publishers since 2011, saying “their work over the last three years has helped redefine library-publisher relations for the digital age.” The article continues “Publishers say discussions with ALA leaders and
the DCWG have been instrumental in moving their e-book programs forward. And more importantly, direct lines of communication are now established between publishing executives and library leaders—which Feldman says is unprecedented—and those open lines will prove vital as the digital discussion moves beyond questions of basic access to e-books.”

Posted in Libraries, Publishers.

Simon & Schuster now available in OverDrive for Canadian libraries

Simon & Schuster content became available to Canadian public libraries late yesterday through OverDrive. About 5,300 eBook titles are showing in the content marketplace this morning, however, many current bestsellers do not yet appear. The license term is 12 months, and displayed prices currently range from $2.20 to $129.99. Popular trade titles appear to be mainly in the $20-$30 range, with lower prices for romance.

Update from OverDrive: Titles are being added in increments of 4000-5000. There will be 16,000 frontlist and backlist titles with Canadian rights when all are loaded, which will take a couple of days.

Posted in Libraries, Publishers.

Simon & Schuster drops buy button requirement for libraries

Simon & Schuster announced today that it will no longer require that libraries implement a buy button to make Simon & Schuster content available for lending. Simon & Schuster eBooks have been available to all US public libraries through OverDrive, 3M and Baker & Taylor Axis 360 since June 2014. In Canada, they are currently available via a pilot through Bibliocommons at Edmonton Public Library, which began in December 2013. Broader Canadian availability is expected soon.

Posted in Libraries, Publishers, Vendors.

Is e-reading to your toddler story time?

The New York Times reported recently on studies about reading and screen time for infants and toddlers. The main conclusion is that since devices are new, it’s too early to be sure whether reading on a device has the same benefits as reading in print – more data is needed, and the studies need to be conducted over long periods.

The article covers research from several studies that have found less language learning takes place with ebooks and educational games due to missing live social interaction, and includes the comment “…perhaps the biggest threat posed by e-books that read themselves to children, or engage them with games, is that they could lull parents into abdicating their educational responsibilities.”

Posted in Devices, Libraries.

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ALA responds to Adobe update

On Tuesday, ALA responded to the Adobe update, urging further action to address user privacy concerns and data collected by all vendors:

“”Beyond data transmission, ALA continues to be concerned about the amount of data collected and retained by all vendors within the e-book ecosystem. Transparency to users is one important step, but we all must work to help ensure that only data necessary for user functionality are collected, are properly protected, are not sold for profit or used for other secondary purposes, and are deleted as soon as possible.

Working with ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and others, the DCWG will continue to investigate these issues, advocate with publishers and distributors, establish best practices to protect reader privacy, and secure the best possible licensing terms for libraries and our readers. We’re pleased that Adobe promised a continuing dialogue with ALA.””

Posted in Devices, Libraries, Retail, Vendors.

Adobe posts update for security breach

On Friday, Adobe posted an update for Adobe Digital Editions 4 to remedy the problem of transmitting data in plain text. The update is available here. They’ve also advised that “Adobe Digital Editions 4 users are receiving an update notification via the auto-update mechanism built into the product.”

Adobe has also noted that prior to the update, “the user ID and device ID were obfuscated by assigning unique values (“GUIDs”), which were collected and stored in place of the user ID and device ID.”

Adobe has added information to their privacy policy to clarify what they are collecting. The updates and correspondence do not address the fact that Adobe is collecting more information than necessary when library eBooks are being used, as no library eBook licensing models use percentage of book read or duration that the book was read. These licensing models exist for consumer subscription services, such as Scribd and Oyster. For example, most sources report that rightsholders are compensated by Scribd after 30% of the book is read, and for Oyster after 10%.

Posted in Devices, Publishers.