Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kindle News: What Apple's textbook revolution means + the Lawsuit against Apple and Big5 Publishers is modified. Update

I'm typing in the dark again
  Not only that -- after slowly typing a few things on Google's, with a wildly malfunctioning cursor on my 10" tablet, was itself down for over an hour and nothing I wrote had been saved or saveable. [End of sob story,  AKA the Power Dog ate my homework]

SOMEwhat undaunted, here's a bit of it anyway, that I could remember.  My power is still not back, so  these are the stories I remember finding.  [Later: I went to sleep without completing it as I wanted to add some detail, and finished the entry this morning on an old-fashioned computer.]

TechRadar leads off with the following headline about their new textbook authoring program:
  Apple iBooks Author ties your book to iBookstore You can't sell it anywhere else

It may not be as bad as some fear though, because the authors' "work" that can't ever be distributed except by Apple is defined as the "software" package completed by the author using the Author program and it doesn't appear to refer to the basic Content of the book.

  The larger story is Apple's attempt to bring sweeping changes to textbook publishing and the costs involved for students.  Basically, it could be seen as a good thing, as textbook costs have been outrageous for a long time.  Apple's pricing will generally be $14.99~ But as with everything else, a suspicion remains that Apple makes plans that are wholly Apple-centric.

  Current example:  Apple iBookStore books can't be read on anything but Apple devices.  As a result the language in the Agreement for Author software authors is disconcerting to some because of the reality of how closed Apple's system can be for its own books.  Since Apple's focus is on Apple hardware, it's of more interest to them that you be interested in buying more of that.

  E-Books sold at Amazon, B&N, Kobe, etc., are readable on Apple devices, Android, webOS, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry Mac and Windows machines.  In these cases, the book's the thing.

  The wording
  Per several stories yesterday, the actual wording by Apple for Author-generated interactive ebooks::
' IMPORTANT NOTE: If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple. ... '
  Today, all the google news stories on first reactions to this clause are seen in this google-news search on the clause.

So, it actually seems, to me,  to mean the package 'generated by their software' and not the contents of the basic book, and if you put your book into another e-format elsewhere,  it's fine as long as you don't use one generated by iAuthor,  That makes sense, if I'm reading that right.

I do think though that Apple's more-than-savvy lawyers were aware it could be interpreted the other way by some and probably felt that if an author chooses to not publish the book elsewhere in a form generated by another venduor's publishing mechanism, that would be fine by them.

Update - I just read Appside's take from the news-list link I gave, and it's one of the better ones, from his initial thoughts to another opinion he quotes after that. [End of Update]

  "The Truth about Apple's Textbooks Announcement"
That's the Business Insider's headline, or part of it.  They found the announcement "underwhelming" with the new items being an area for downloading textbooks and the iBooks Author software that makes it easy to make interactive textbooks.  Their take is that it's just a start.

  "Apple Kindles Textbook War" - Wall Street Journal's Rolfe Winkler writes:
"Electronic textbooks may look cool on Apple's iPad, but they are likely to end up selling more Amazon Kindles."

  His reasons? iTunes Store has "only a handful available to start" and publishers may limit supply because they're used to selling textbooks at more like $100+.  Amazon, Winkler argues, has the Kindle Fire at 60% less than an iPad 2 and there are "already far more textbook titles available for the Fire, direct from Amazon" or through CourseSmart.   He ends with, "The cool factor may mean kids prefer iPads. The price factor likely means more will be sent to class with Kindles."

AMENDED Lawsuit against Apple and the Big6 publishers
AppleInsider headlines: "Class-action lawsuit alleges Apple, publishers engaged in 'price-fixing conspiracy."

Hagens Berman modified the lawsuit to include new allegations as well as information that could support their case, including Walter Isaacson's description of Steve Jobs boasting about his known and reported leadership part in the Gentlemen's Agreement to raise ebook prices to fixed amounts that would be required to be the same between all --  to thwart Amazon's strategic low-ball pricing.  The interesting changes to the lawsuit include this wording:
' "The information we’ve included in this new filing shows the deep antagonism that publishers had toward Amazon for its consumer-friendly pricing," said Steve W. Berman, managing partner at the firm and lead counsel on the case.  "Since we began the action last August we’ve uncovered statements from executives at several publishers that demonstrate they viewed Amazon as a significant threat to the long-term survival of their profitability.” '
   In Steve Jobs' own words:
' Amazon screwed it up.  It paid the wholesale price for some books, but started selling them below cost at $9.99.  The publishers hated that -- they thought it would trash their ability to sell hard-cover books at $28.  So before Apple even got on the scene, some booksellers were starting to withhold their books from Amazon.

So we told the publishers, "We'll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30%, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway."   But we also asked for a guarantee that if anybody else is selling the books cheaper than we are, then we can sell them at the lower price too.  So they went to Amazon and said, "You're going to sign an agency contract or we're not going to give you the books."

Given the situation that existed, what was best for us was to do this aikido move and end up with the agency model.  And we pulled it off. '

As we've seen, the complaint's alleged increase in pricing, as a result, by 30 to 50 percent, is not exaggerated and,  the Complaiint continues,  "completely changed the competitive pricing landscape that had existed for decades in the industry." to the point that often the e-book price exceeds the sales price of the print book.

Also see: History of the Pricing Wars in News Articles, with Sourcing for details and sources

Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
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Check often: Temporarily-free recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. A couple of points: there are DRM free books in the iBookstore, and those can be read with any ePub reader. But I don't know if there is any way to identify when a book is DRM free or not, apart from buying it and trying it.

    The problem with 'thou shalt not sell thy books except through Apple' is not that you'd use them on something other than an iPad, but that Apple doesn't want alternate storefronts to be set up. That's technically possible, provided there are no DRM restrictions. But this is the United States, land of free enterprise. What right does Apple have to prevent such storefronts from appearing? I don't see a precedent for this. And I don't see much opportunity for independent publishers to get their camel's nose under the Apple tent. More likely, perhaps, is that Apple is going to pursue deals with their education reseller partners, and the content would be bundled. Sure, but anyone can purchase from iBookstore for $14.99 if they want to.

    I've seen some people compare XCode/App Store to iBooks/iBookstore in saying the 'iBookstore only' sales restriction is not any different. But I can side load purchased content to iBooks, but to side load apps, I have to jailbreak the device. Even to develop apps for private use, you need to purchase a developer's subscription so that you can 'authorize' your device ($99 per year). So yes, you can get XCode write apps for free but they'll only run in the device simulator, and you can't sell them anywhere but iTunes.


  3. When customers are putting out money to purchase something from the company, the company should say, but I suppose it's like advertising it's easily copyable.

    I think that Apple's thinking of both the alternate store fronts and selling their hardware, or they wouldn't be jumping all over Samsung and HTC as they are again, once Samsung's latest phone (which I have and really like) outtsold the iPhone 4S in GErmany.

    It's about the marbles, all of them. Mine mine mine!

    So the big lawsuit last week was in Germany but there are other places they're doing it again and with less justification than before when it comes to look and feel, which is already pretty weak as a case with current models.

    Some people (like Steve Wozniak) look at the functioning, how it's done, what else you can do with it yourself, etc., as important factors in what are claimed to be 'copied' ...

    As others have said, if a book is written with Microsoft Word and put together with Adobe, do they get an add'l cut for that and also sole distribution rights?

    But they're giving away the interactive book authoring tool -- maybe they could sell it in exchange for more freedom of distribution, as an alternate option. But control's the name of the game...

    Your points are good, as usual. Sorry I was not at the computer most of yesterday.

  4. Anonymous,
    I did read some of those earlier, and they're greaet articles. Thanks.


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