Tag Archives: ebooks

ebooks are from mars, libraries are from….

Whenever anyone thinks they know what they’re talking about regarding ebooks and the future of libraries they should be kindly directed to shut their hole and read this from Librarian in Black:

eBooks totally ignores everything you say. We in libraries have not been included at the table for negotiations on digital copyright, terms of service, licensing conditions, technology integration, none of it. And yes, that stinks. And yes, we’ve complained about it enough. We haven’t been heard largely because we’ve been too polite and too quiet for too long. It’s our fault. We removed ourselves from the equation by not being more proactive as a profession through the professional organizations and lobbyists we expect to speak for us. But even now that some of us are getting louder and angrier, we’re still being ignored by the entire eBooks industry, with very few exceptions (hi Gluejar, you guys rock). So my opinion is that we should walk away and take our fuck-me heels with us. That’s what our moms would tell us to do.

eBooks drew you in with wine and roses, but now makes you fetch him beer and Cheetos
Remember how tantalizing eBooks seemed several years ago? How sexy, how intoxicating? Everything seemed perfect because we were caught up in the glossy image of our desires…not the reality standing in front of us. eBooks…in…the…library! Holy ceiling cat!!!11one! We were like kids on our first trip to the candy store.

Now, eBooks’ idea of a date is ordering a cheese pizza from the cardboard pizza joint down the street. Maybe he’ll turn on some bromance comedy on Netflix, but more than likely he’ll play Skyrim by himself for hours, ask for a beer, and tell you to get lost. For your birthday eBooks might actually put toppings on the pizza (think Penguin’s misguided experiment at NYPL with embargoed popular titles) and buy a bottle of $5 wine. And he expects you to be grateful…after all, hey…toppings! For libraries, our crappy pizza is our crappy eBooks selection. We can’t buy from most of the major publishers, and even for those we can buy from we have extreme restrictions or highly inflated costs. And our attention negligent boyfriend’s actions, in eBooks’ case, are the lack of development of usable download processes, fair-use-friendly terms of use, and privacy options in keeping with libraries’ professional values and ethics. In short–dude…the dates are terrible and yet we keep going on them, hoping that maybe we’ll go somewhere nice eventually. Please, darling. We know better.

Too much good stuff (and more importantly accurate stuff) to quote. It’s the hard truth, or should I say the flaccid truth.

review – greensleeves

As brief as Greensleeves is, page for digital page it stands alongside the finest that Jeff VanderMeer has been consistently offering in his sublime satchel of strange.

It is a touching story of wearied librarian Mary Colquhoun in her comfortable complacency in life. Sequestered from the world, she surrounds herself with books, the occasional second floor cadre of drifters, and the solace of the library’s nearly intact stained glass canopy, in favor of the quiet consolation from her youthful impetuousness.

Until the day the eccentrically bedizened Cedric arrives, enlisting her assistance to locate his giant frog run roughshod in her library. I’ll say no more, other than note her bittersweet rejuvenation in the pursuit of said quarry.

Greensleeves is exquisitely written. VanderMeer’s tale floats about the reader like an early winter zephyr, carrying both the beauty and chill of the coming snow, each rapping about our ears, reminding us to savor it before it turns to memory. Thankfully, this story can be savored with a well timed rereading before that happens.

review – cardanica

Reading Dario Tonani’s Cardanica has been a pleasantly unsettling experience. This novella is a perfect choice for those wishing for a greater daily dosage of pulpy gore in their literary diet, especially if read in the claustrophobic confines of an airport or plane.

It’s the story of a cargo ship’s crew inching through a harsh and remote desert world with little to control save their own psyches. Not much is known of their purpose except their eventual progression across the uneven sands, powered by a lumbering mechanical caterpillar of a vessel.  Conjoined with the vehicle is a semi-sentient, self-sustaining and incessantly oiled “pneumoarc”, the driving force behind an inevitable and undesirable turn of events.

Cardanica is a meaty however brief story containing a good mix of sci-fi, horror, and steampunk imaginings. It’s definitely more than a work of simple shock value; rather, the story is a well-conceived peep into a dissolution of desperate events facing an unequipped crew. While leaving a fair amount of questions at its conclusion, the work justifies further exposition, perhaps best as a graphic novel, requiring a greater sense of closure. It’s hard not to think of Cardanica as an overly oozing, anachronistic offshoot of Kubrick-inspired space drama, but is there anything wrong with that?

free stuff sells best

What with the Kindle being the super number 1 product on Amazon, it initially appears that the clamour of preferring ebooks over their physical counterpart is slightly a bit disingenuous or at least misguided.  After all, it appears that of the titles bought for the Kindle, more often than naught are, shall we say, priceless:

And how much money is Amazon making? How much money are authors and publishers making? When GalleyCat examined the Kindle Store bestsellers, they found that 64 of the 100 bestselling eBooks, the majority, were, in fact, free, including the number one bestseller, “Midnight in Madrid”, by Noel Hynd.

It’s question of cost, and the chilly reception from publishers who probably never thought the iTunes effect would be superimposed at great length upon their industry:

But publishers have ignored this demand. In response, several conglomerates have aggressively moved to protect their legacy. Macmillan recently announced a plan to delay the publication of e-books and offer enhancements that will justify a higher price. This tactic is aimed at Amazon’s policy of trying to set $9.99 as the expected price for an e-book. Most are priced much higher — but that’s beside the point. Amazon and publishers are fighting over this fiction, not the reality. Because Amazon’s customers have made it clear that $9.99 is still too high for their taste. Most titles in the company’s list of top 100 Kindle bestsellers are priced below $9.99, and the most popular price point is $0.00. But publishers can’t hear this, because they’re a little distracted right now.

All this is coinciding with imminent launch of the super secret Apple Tablet so achingly soon. And it’s no coincidence, since I feel that while Amazon has successfully developed and marketed its own niche in the book industry with the Kindle, consciously or not, they are following the Apple iTunes model of providing a platform for cheaper, more widely disseminated content.  That is what consumers want.  That is what authors, especially new aspiring authors, want.

why the e-book orgasm is not mutual

Or, why e-books are so “popular”. Random House shrieks “all mine”:

On Friday, Markus Dohle, chief executive of Random House, sent a letter to dozens of literary agents, writing that the company’s older agreements gave it “the exclusive right to publish in electronic book publishing formats.”

Backlist titles, which continue to be reprinted long after their initial release, are crucial to publishing houses because of their promise of lucrative revenue year after year. But authors and agents are particularly concerned that traditional publishers are not offering sufficient royalties on e-book editions, which they point out are cheaper for publishers to produce. Some are considering taking their digital rights elsewhere, which could deal a financial blow to the hobbled publishing industry.

It would seem that e-books are the literary equivalent to reality TV shows: cheap to produce, and therefore generating higher stream of revenues to distribute. But for whom is the question worth asking. Never mind if the reader prefers the physical book.  This is why amazon and such are promoting the hell out of their devices.

Apple setting sights on kindle

Perhaps Apple’s subtle emergence into the ebook market will drive Amazon’s incentive to make a more functional, and less expensive reader.

The talks come as Apple is separately racing to offer a portable, full-featured, tablet-sized computer in time for the Christmas shopping season, in what the entertainment industry hopes will be a new revolution. The device could be launched alongside the new content deals, including those aimed at stimulating sales of CD-length music, according to people briefed on the project.

Book publishers have been in talks with Apple and are optimistic about their services being offered with the new computer, which could provide an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle.

Exciting times.