4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

E-Book / Digital Book History Timeline


1920 – 1930

The Contributions of Vannevar Bush to Analog Computing, Information Retrieval, and the Concept of Hypertext 1930 – June 1949

American engineer and information visionary Vannevar Bush's work related to the history of information began at MIT in 1930 with the differential analyzer, a large analog computer more accurate than previous devices of this type. Bush's primary paper about this machine was: Bush,V. & Hazen, H., "The Differential Analyzer. A New Machine for Solving Differential Equations," Journal of the Franklin Institute 212 (1931) 447-88. In July 2014 three-dimensional computer graphic images visualizing the Bush differential analyzer were available from the MIT website at this link.

By 1936 Bush was working on the Rapid Arithmetical Machine Project. In a paper called "Instrumental Analysis" publshed in Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society 42  (1936) pp. 649-69, he suggested how an electromechanical machine might be built to accomplish Charles Babbage’s goals for the Analytical Engine. This was almost exactly one hundred years after Babbage began designing his Analytical Engine. In the same paper Bush wrote that four billion punched cards were being used annually in electric tabulating machines. This amounted to ten thousand tons of punched cards.

On March 7, 1940 Bush wrote a memorandum entitled “Arithmetical Machine.” This memorandum, shows that the Rapid Arithmetical Machine Project begun conceptually in 1936 was already well-advanced. However, Bush continued to focus most of his computational energy on building the Rockefeller Differential Analyzer II, a 100 ton analog machine that included 2000 vacuum tubes and 150 electric motors that was more accurate and faster than the first Differential Analyzer. It contained two thousand vacuum tubes and weighed about one hundred thousand pounds. For security reasons its existence was not publicized until October 1945.

Bush published a popular description of the aims of his Rapid Selector information retrieval machine in his 1945 article, As We May Think, which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 176, No. 1 (1945) 641-49. This paper described the Memex, an electromechanical microfilm machine, which Bush began developing conceptually in 1938. As conceived, the Memex was capable of making permanent associative links in information. Features of the hypothetical Memex foreshadowed aspects of the personal computer and hyperlinks on the Internet. Bush was unable to patent his Rapid Selector because of its similarity to aspects of prior work on electronic document retrieval previously patented by Emanuel Goldberg.

On September 10, 1945 Bush published a condensed, illustrated version of "As We May Think" in Life magazine, 19, No. 11 (1945) 112-114, 116, 121, 123-24. Life's editors added the following subtitle: "A Top U.S. Scientist Foresees a Possible Future World in Which Man-Made Machines Will Start to Think." They also replaced the Atlantic Monthly's numbered sections with headings, and added illustrations of the "cyclops camera," the "supersecretary" and the "Memex" microfilm machine in the form of a desk. This was the first published illustration of what the Memex might look like. In From Memex to Hypertext: Vannever Bush and the Mind's Machine (1991) James Nyce and Paul Kahn published a version of "As We May Think" that shows the differences between the two different versions of Bush's essay published in 1945. Nyce and Kahn also developed a brief animated film showing how the Memex might have operated. Bush, himself, never seems to have developed a working version of the machine, though his group worked on a prototype.

In August 1947 Ralph R. Shaw, Director of Libraries for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with Engineering Research Associates of St. Paul, Minnesota, using funds provided by the Office of Technical Services of the Department of Commerce, began the development of the Rapid Selector machine for the electronic searching of information recorded in reels of microfilm. Shaw's device incorporated technology developed by Emanuel Goldberg in 1928-1931, and by Bush starting in 1938. Shaw's Rapid Selector was an attempt to realize goals described in Bush's 1945 publication, As We May Think. Shaw's machine

"was based on the earlier prototype developed from 1938 to 1940 by a team at MIT under Bush's direction. The project manager for the Bush prototype was John H. Howard and the research assistants were Russell C. Coile, John Coombs, Claude Shannon, and Lawrence Steinhardt. Eastman Kodak and National Cash Register each provided $10,000 funding. The project's objective was to develop, within two years, a prototype machine capable of selecting microfilmed business records from microfilm rapidly: A microfilm rapid selector. Bush's selector was indeed rapid because it took advantage of two new developments: Improved photoelectric cell technology; and the stroboscopic lamp pioneered by his colleague Harold E. Edgerton. By creating a bright flash of light lasting only one-millionth of a second, the stroboscopic lamp made it possible to copy a selected microfilm image "on the fly," without stopping the film (and the search) to make a copy. The Bush microfilm selector was never used operationally, except that it seems to have been used for cryptanalysis: It was, after all, designed to be effective at identifying (selecting) every occurrence of a specified code" (http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland/goldbush.html, accessed 02-20-2012).

Until December 2013 I was never able to find any truly detailed information on the version of the Rapid Selector built after World War II. I did learn that in 1951 physicist Louis N. Ridenour, librarian, inventor and publisher Ralph R. Shaw, and physicist Albert G. Hill published a thin volume entitled Bibliography in an Age of Science. This book included three lectures delivered at the University of Illinois the previous year, one of which described the Rapid Selector which had been built under Shaw's supervision, asserting that it did operate. This work I came across several years after publishing Origins of Cyberspace and From Gutenberg to the Internet. Shaw's chapter included illustrations on pp. 60-61 of the Rapid Selector prototype which was in operation at this time. This machine stored 72,000 frames of information on a 2,000 foot reel of film. The prototype could search through data at the rate of 78,000 "codes per minute." "Improvement of this searching speed to 120,000 codes per minute is now in sight."

However, further information about Shaw's Rapid Selector in use eluded me for several more years, and I wondered whether it really operated like Shaw claimed. In December 2011 I acquired a copy of Roberto Busa's Varia specimina condordantiarum (Milano, 1951). This bi-lingual work with texts in English and Italian was subtitled, "A First Example of Word Index Automatically Compiled and Printed by IBM Punched Card Machines." Before deciding to employ IBM electric punched card tabulators to produce his concordance Father Busa took the opportunity to see the Rapid Selector in operation at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. He wrote that he was able to see it operating in November 1949, and that:

"Its principal feature is the whirlwiind speed with which it explores the reels of microfilm— 10,000 photograms per minute— and instantaneously rephotographs on another microfilm strip all and only those photograms which bear a determined item.

"I shall not give a detailed description because I thought not suitable to apply this system to the composition of concordances; I will only say that, besides not allowing automatic printing of the concordances, such as can be done with the system hereunder, the rapid selector necessitates on the one hand that all the cards, to be made from the sorted microfilm, be of photosensitive paper, and on the other hand all the different words and forms of each word be previously coded, for the entire text must be translated into numerical symbols by hand" (Busa, op cit, 22.)

Then in December 2013 I discovered that the Hathi Trust had digitized and made available Report for the Microfilm Rapid Selector. Contract Cac-47-24. 20 June 1949 published by Engineering Research Associates. This 29-page report with 11 illustrations provided all the detail that one might desire concerning the design and characteristics of the machine, without providing information concerning its efficiency or utility. From the Foreword I quote:

"The incentive for this development arose form a basic need for a more efficient mechanism for organization and dissemination of scientific information. The facilities of the Department of Agriculture Library and the specialized experience of its Librarian and staff fitted the requirement for a testing agency equipped to handle varied categories of technical data in large volumes. Hence, the project developed cooperatively between the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and Engineering Research Associates, Inc.. Specifications for a system meeting the requirements were drawn up by ERA in August, 1947, under the title "General Description and Proposed Technical Specifications for Microfilm Selector'. In general, the machine developed meets the goals set up in that document.

"In brief, the system provides for microfilm storage of abstracts and corresponding code areas by which each abstract may be associated with six different fields of interest. The Microfilm Selector scans the film at the rate of more that 10,000 frames per minute which may correspond to as many as 60,000 subjects per minute. It selects all abstracts which are associated with an interest category specified by the operator, and recopies the selected items on a separate roll of 35mm film by the use of high-speed photoflash techniques. (p. ii)

"Report-Microfilm Rapid Selector

 "This machine is similar in basic concept to a prior experimental development known as the Bush Rapid Selector which was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940. Several memebers of the ERA staff were engaged in this earlier development, and it was possible to utilize their experience as a starting point in the present project.

"The intent of the original contract (which was to have been concluded by 30 June 1948) was toward the construction of a pilot machine to demonstrate the principles involved. In recognition of the immediate needs of the Department of Commerce Library, however, and as evidence of ERA's special interest in the development, it was decided to continue the work beyond the term and scope of the original contract, at the Contractor's own expense. Thus it was possible to complete a practical working machine which would fully demonstrate the possibilities of the system. The resulting Microfilm Selector (completed 25 January 1949) goes well beyond the requirements of an experimental model; it is, in fact, a close approach to an engineering model.

"At the present time, the Microfilm Selector has not yet been subjected to thorough performance tests. On the basis of preliminary tests, howover, it is considered that all of the important components have been proved fundamentally sound. It would be very surprising if the intitial period of use did not reveal some weaknesses in design and construction, but there is every reason to believe that such faults will be minor in character, and capable of correction without extensive rebuilding or further development." (p. iii).

Hook & Norman, Origins of Cyberspace (2002) no. 244, and other entries.

(This entry was last revised on 01-11-2015.)

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Bob Brown: Visionary of New Reading Machines and Changes in the Process of Reading 1930 – 1931

In 1930 prolific American avant-garde writer Bob Brown (Robert Carlton Brown), published an essay entitled "The Readies" in the international avant-garde journal transition issued from Paris, no. 19/20, 167-73, calling for a new reading machine, and new reading material for it called "The Readies."  Brown intended these innovations as ways for literature to keep up with the advanced reading practices of a cinema-viewing public, as epitomized in the then new expression for sound films, "the talkies." The first feature film originally presented as a talkie had been The Jazz Singer, released in October 1927. 

"The word 'readies' suggests to me a moving type spectacle, reading at the speed rate of the day with the aid of a machine, a method of enjoying literature in a manner as up-to-date as the lively talkes. In selecting the "The Readies' as title for what I have to say about modern reading and writing I hope to catch the reader in a receptive progressive mood. I ask him to forget for the moment the existing medievalism of the BOOK (God bless it, it's staggering on its last leg and about to fall) as a conveyer of reading matter. I request the reader to fix his mental eye for a moment on the ever-present future and contemplate a reading machine which will revitalize this interest in the Optical Art of Wrting.

"In our aeroplane age radio is rushing in television, tomorrow it will be commonplace. All the arts are having their faces lifted, painting (the moderns), sculpture (Brancusi), music (Antheil), architecture (zoning law), drama (Strange Interlude), dancing (just look around you tonight) writing (Joyce, Stein, Cummings, Hemingway, transition). Only the reading half of Literature lags behind, stays old-fashioned, frumpish, beskirted. Present-day reading methods are as cumbersone as they were in the time of Caxton and Jimmy-the-Ink. Though we have advanced from Gutenberg's movable type through the linotype and monotype to photo-composing we still consult the book in its original form as the only oracular means we know for carrying the word mystically to the eye. Writing as been bottled up in books since the start. It is time to pull out the stopper.

"To continue reading at today's speed I must have a machine. A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around and attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred thousand word novels in ten minutes if I want to, and I want to. A machine as handy as a portable phonograph, typewriter or radio, compact, minute operated by electricity, the printing done microscopically by the new photographic process on a transparent tough tissue roll which carries the contents of a book and is no bigger than a typewriter ribbon, a roll like a minature serpentine that can be put in a pill box. This reading film unrolls beneath a narrow magnifying glass four or give inches long set in a reading slit, the glass brings up the otherwise unreadable type to comfortable reading size, and the read is rid at last of the cumbersome book, the inconvenience of holding its bulk, turning its pages, keeping them clean, jiggling hs weary eyes back and forth in the awkward pursuit of words from the upper left hand corner to the lower right, all over the vast confusing reading surface of a page. . . .

"My machine is equipped with controls so the reading record can be turned back or shot ahead, a chapter read or the happy ending anticipated. The magnifying glass is so set that it can be moved nearer to or father from the type, so the reader may browse in 6 points, 8, 10, 12, 16 or any size that suits him. Many books remain unread today owing to the unsuitable size of type in which they are printed. A number of readers cannot stand the strain of small type and other intellectual prowlers are offended by Great Primer. The reading machine allows free choice in type-point, it is not a fixed arbitrary bound object but an adaptable carrier of flexible, flowing reading matter. . . .

"The machine is equipped with all modern improvements. By pressing a button the roll slows down so an interesting part can be read lesurely, over and over again if need be, or by speeding up, a dozen books can skimmed through in an afternoon without soiling the fingers or losing a dust wrapper. . . .

"The material advantages of my reading machine are obvious, paper saving by condensation and elimination of waste margin space which alone takes up a fifth or sixth of the bulk of the present-day book. Ink saving in proportion, a much smaller surface needs to be covered. . . Binding will be unnecessary, paper pill boxes are produced at the fraction of the cost of cloth cases. Manual labor will be minimized. Reading will be cheap and independent of advertising which today carries the cost of the cheap reading matter purveyed exclusively in the interests of the advertiser" (167-69).

Brown also intended his device as one way of achieving "The Revolution of the Word," as called for in the manifesto published in issue 16/17 of transition by its editor Eugene Jolas in 1929. Later in 1930 Brown privately published a 52-page pamphlet entitled The Readies in an edition of 150 or 300 copies. The imprint of the pamphlet read Bad Ems: Roving Eye Press. (It is possible that the publishing location was a joke.) The pamphlet represented an expansion with examples given, of Brown's essay from transition, a revised version of which it republished as chapter 3.

Written before anyone imagined electronic computers, and even longer before anyone imagined a hand-held electronic computer, one goal of Brown's vision of new media for reading was saving space, paper and ink through media more compact than traditional printed books. Though he could not foresee how the changes would actually occur, he was also an extremely early predictor of changes to the traditional codex book that would occur sixty years later with electronic publishing. In the pre-electronic computer era Brown, like Emanuel Goldberg and Vannevar Bush, saw the future of of information primarily in the context of film and microfilm, and in developing more verbally compact means of communication. While Goldberg and Bush were focussed on developing more efficient means of information storage and retrieval, Brown was focussed on the creative aspects of new writing and new forms of communication with the reader:

"This important manifesto, on a par with André Breton's Surrealist manifestos or Tristan Tzara's Dadaist declarations, includes plans for an electric reading machine and strategies for preparing the eye for mechanized reading. There are instructions for preparing texts as “readies” and detailed quantitative explanations about the invention and mechanisms involved in this peculiar machine.

"In the generic spirit of avant-garde manifestos, Brown writes with enthusiastic hyperbole about the machine's breathtaking potential to change how we read and learn. In 1930, the beaming out of printed text over radio waves or in televised images had a science fiction quality—or, for the avant-garde, a fanciful art-stunt feel. Today, Brown’s research on reading seems remarkably prescient in light of text-messaging (with its abbreviated language), electronic text readers, and even online books like the digital edition of this volume. Brown's practical plans for his reading machine, and his descriptions of its meaning and implications for reading in general, were at least fifty years ahead of their time.  . . .

"Brown’s reading machine was designed to 'unroll a televistic readie film' in the style of modernist experiments; the design also followed the changes in reading practices during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Gertrude Stein understood that Brown’s machine, as well as his processed texts for it, suggested a shift toward a different way to comprehend texts. That is, the mechanism of this book, a type of book explicitly built to resemble reading mechanisms like ticker-tape machines rather than a codex, produced—at least for Stein—specific changes in reading practices.  

"In Brown’s Readie, punctuation marks become visual analogies. For movement we see em-dashes (—) that also, by definition, indicate that the sentence was interrupted or cut short. These created a 'cinemovietone' shorthand system. The old uses of punctuation, such as employment of periods to mark the end of a sentence, disappear. Reading machine-mediated text becomes more like watching a continuous series of flickering frames become a movie" (Afterward from: The Readies, edited with an Afterward by Craig Saper, Houston: Rice University Press,[2009] accessed 05-23-2010).

After Brown published The Readies authors in the transition circle sent  him pieces intended for publication on the hypothetical machine. In 1931 he self-published these as a 208-page book, Readies for Bob Brown's Machine, in an edition of 300 copies also from the Roving Eye Press, but this time from Cagnes-sur-mer. That work, which contained contributions by 42 authors including Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and Paul Bowle's first appearance in a book, contained two crude illustrations of a prototype of Brown's reading machine — a wooden contraption that hardly embodied machine-age sleekness; part of it looked a bit like a waffle iron. It is unclear whether Brown's machine ever operated; probably it did not. What matters more are Brown's futuristic ideas.


♦ Following the "all digital" policy of Rice University Press since it was re-organized in 2006, the Rice edition of The Readies was available as a free download from their website, or as print-on-demand from QOOP.com. When I clicked on the purchase button on 05-23-2010, I was given the following purchase options at QOOP.com:

"+Hard Bound Laminate for $25.85

"+Hard Bound - Dust Jacket for $32.35

"+Wire-O for $16.00

"+eBook for $7.00."

♦ When I attempted to access QOOP.com in June 2013 it appeared that the site had closed down. An electronic version of Bob Brown's The Readies was then freely available at Connexions (cnx.org).

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1930 – 1940

Emanuel Goldberg Invents the First Successful Electronic Document Retrieval Device December 29, 1931

On December 29, 1931 Emanuel Goldberg of Zeiss Ikon in Dresden received U.S. Patent No. 1,838,389 for a photoelectric microfilm selector which he called "Statistical Machine." Goldberg designed the machine by May 1927. The patent, applied for in 1928, and similar patents Goldberg obtained in other countries, described an electromechanical machine for searching through data encoded on reels of film, using "radiating energy to actuate a recorder when the explored indications upon the search plate and record element are identical, the indications on one of said elements being penetrable by the rays and the indication on the other element being impenetrable by the rays."

"Two prototypes were built at Zeiss Ikon by 1931 and, perhaps, constitute the first successful electronic document retrieval. Microfilm selector technology was known in at least two leading research centers in the U.S.A. (Eastman Kodak and IBM) by 1931 or shortly thereafter and in both cases a direct connection to Goldberg can be shown. This technology was reported at international congresses in 1931 and 1935 and a number of U.S. inventors were working on it by 1938 (e.g. Bryce, H. Davis, Gould, and Morse)" (http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~buckland/goldbush.html, accessed 02-20-2012).

Vannevar Bush incorporated technology similar to this in the Rapid Selector machine on which he began development in 1938. The existence of Goldberg's patent prevented Bush from patenting his Rapid Selector, that came to be known as the Memex. Bush's Memex became famous conceptually after publication in 1945 of his article, "As We May Think." 

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1940 – 1950

An Antiquarian Bookseller Predicts an Alternative to the Printed Codex 1945

In June 2013 American antiquarian bookseller Donald "Rusty" Mott reminded our ABAA chatline that in 1945 the imaginative English antiquarian bookseller Percy H. Muir in his book, Book-Collecting as a Hobby, in a Series of Letters to Everyman (1945) predicted, in a somewhat dystopian fashion, the eventual development of an alternative to the printed codex. From the online version of Muir's book made available by Hathitrust.org, I quote the relevant passage on pp. 172-173:

"I have tried to show you that the first fifty years of printing established all the essentials of the craft, that the ensuing three hundred years or so were spent in perfecting and developing the potentialities of the invention, and that the last hundred years or so have revolutionized it out of all knowledge. Probably little remains to be done to the book as we know it beyond the perfection of detail. . . .

"Is there any future beyond that? Will the reading matter of the future resemble our printed books as little as they resemble the clay tablets of the Assyrians? Probably, and if so, it will be along the lines of greater portability and cheapness. These two things have dominated the evolution of books since the beginning, and it would be idle to suggest that the limits of that evolution have been reached.

"The flood of inventiveness that is already flowing will not leave books as they are. I will venture few predictions except to suggest that in the future books will remain largely visual. There is, in my opinion, no general future for the talking book. It may be, of course, that a new kind of conditioned reflex will arise as a result of broadcasting. More and more people seem to find a radio background essential to their daily lives. In many households the radio is switched on all day. People tend increasingly to overhear rather than to listen to radio programs. The housewife welcomes music while she works, and may equally welcome the reading aloud of a novel while she knits or sews—with headphones, we may hope. It may be, therefore, that a cheap method of supplying talking books with a circulating library as the obvious method of distributing the records will find a larger audience than I anticipate.

"But such a method would obviously supplement rather than supplant the printed book. It is much more likely that some development of photography will supplant typography in the production of at any rate some kinds of books. An extension of the use of microfilm with a simple miniature form of illumination, coupled with a magnifier and perhaps a 'proto-book' on to the blank pages of which the miniature slides would be projected may be already on the way.

"On the brink of such horrors I take my leave of you, dear Everyman, to plunge nostalgically into the pleasant waters of the past."

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Enciclopedia Mecanica, Forerunner of the Electronic Book December 7, 1949

In 1949 Angela Ruiz Robles, a teacher, writer, and inventor in Ferrol, Spain, patented an analog device called the Enciclopedia Mecánica. This is considered a fore-runner of the electronic book.

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1950 – 1960

Ray Bradbury's Early Dystopian View of Books: "Fahrenheit 451" 1953 – November 2011

Having written the entire book on a pay typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library, in 1953 Ray Bradbury published the dystopian science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, named after the temperature at which books are supposed to combust spontaneously. Besides the regular trade edition, the publisher, Ballantine Books, issued a limited edition of 200 copies signed by Bradbury and bound in white boards made of "Johns-Manville Quinterra," a fire-proof asbestos material.

"The novel presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic, and critical thought through reading is outlawed. The central character, Guy Montag, is employed is a 'fireman' (which, in this future, means 'book burner'). The number '451' refers to the temperature (in Fahrenheit) at which the books burn when the 'Firemen' burn them 'For the good of humanity'. Written in the early years of the Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as an increasingly dysfunctional American society.

Bradbury's original intention in writing Fahrenheit 451 was to show his great love for books and libraries. "He has often referred to Montag as an allusion to himself" (Wikipedia article on Fahrenheit 451).

François Truffaut and Jean-Louis Richard wrote a screenplay based on the novel, and Truffault directed a film, released in 1966, entitled Fahrenheit 451, starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner. The film was re-issued on DVD by Universal Studios in 2003.

♦ After publically opposing ebooks for several years, telling The New York Times in 2009 that "that the Internet is a big distraction," in November 2011, at the age of 91, Bradbury authorized an ebook edition of Fahrenheit 451, and several other of his best-selling books. By this date Fahrenheit 451 had sold more than 10 million copies in print, and had been translated into many languages. Also by this date, ebooks comprised 20% of the fiction book market in the U.S. 

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1960 – 1970

Licklider Issues "Libraries of the Future" 1965

In 1965 J.C.R. Licklider, Director of Project MAC (Machine-Aided Cognition and Multiple-Access Computers) at MIT and Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, published Libraries of the Future, a study of what libraries might be at the end of the twentieth century. Licklider's book reviewed systems for information storage, organization, and retrieval, use of computers in libraries, and library question-answering systems. In his discussion he was probably the first to raise general questions concerning the transition of the book from exclusively printing on paper to electronic form.

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Ted Nelson & Andries van Dam Develop the First Hypertext Editing System 1967

In 1967 Ted Nelson (Theodor Holm Nelson), Andries van Dam, and students at Brown University collaborated on the first hypertext editing system (HES) based on Nelson's concept of hypertext.

"HES organized data into two main types: links and branching text. The branching text could automatically be arranged into menus and a point within a given area could also have an assigned name, called a label, and be accessed later by that name from the screen. Although HES pioneered many modern hypertext concepts, its emphasis was on text formatting and printing.

"HES ran on an IBM System/360/50 mainframe computer, which was inefficient for the processing power required by the system. The program was used by NASA's Houston Manned Spacecraft Center for documentation on the Apollo space program. The project's research was funded by IBM but the program was stopped around 1969, and replaced by the FRESS (File Retrieval and Editing System) project" (Wikipedia article on Hypertext Editing System, accessed 11-08-2013).

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Andries van Dam Develops Probably the First Hypertext System Used in Education 1968

In 1968 Andries van Dam and his students at Brown University, including Bob Wallace, introduced The File Retrieval and Editing SyStem, or FRESS. FRESS was a continuation of work done on van Dam's previous hypertext system, HES, developed in 1967.

"FRESS ran on an IBM 360-series mainframe running VM/CMS. It implemented one of the first virtual-terminal interfaces, and could run on various terminals from dumb typewriters up to the Imlac PDS-1 graphical minicomputer. On the PDS-1, it supported multi-window WYSIWYG editing and graphics display. Notably, the PDS-1 used a lightpen rather than a mouse, and the lightpen could be "clicked" using a cathartic foot-pedal.

"FRESS improved on HES's capabilities in many ways. FRESS documents could be of arbitrary size, and (unlike prior systems) were not laid out in lines until the moment of display. FRESS users could insert a marker at any location within a text document and link the marked selection to any other point either in the same document or a different document.

"FRESS had two types of links: tags and "jumps". Tags were links to information such as references or footnotes, while "jumps" were links that could take the user through many separate but related documents, much like the World Wide Web of today. FRESS also had the ability to assign keywords to links or text blocks to assist with navigation. Keywords could be used to select which sections to display or print, which links would be available to the user, and so on. Multiple "spaces" were also automatically maintained, including an automatic table of contents and indexes to keywords, document structures, and so on.

"FRESS is also possibly the first computer-based system to have had an "undo" feature for quickly correcting small editing or navigational mistakes.

"FRESS was essentially a text-based system and editing links was a fairly complex task unless you had access to the PDS-1 terminal, in which case you could select each end with the lightpen and create a link with a couple of keystrokes. FRESS provided no method for knowing where the user was within a collection of documents.

"FRESS was used for instructional computing (probably being the first hypertext system used in education), particularly for teaching poetry, as well as typesetting many books, notably by philosopher Roderick Chisholm. For example, in the Preface to Person and Object Chisholm writes 'The book would not have been completed without the epoch-making File Retrieval and Editing System...'  FRESS was for many years the word processor of choice at Brown and a small number of other sites " (Wikipedia article on File Retrieval and Editing System, accessed 11-08-2013).

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1970 – 1980

Invention of eBooks: The First Digital Library July 4, 1971

On July 4, 1971 Michael S. Hart sent the digitized text of the American Declaration of Independence to everyone on a computer network at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This was the beginning of Project Gutenbergthe first digital library. Michael Hart has also been called the inventor of the ebook (e-book):

"Hart was best known for his 1971 invention of electronic books, or eBooks. He founded Project Gutenberg, which is recognized as one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. He often told this story of how he had the idea for eBooks. He had been granted access to significant computing power at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On July 4 1971, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on the computer network. From this beginning, the digitization and distribution of literature was to be Hart's life's work, spanning over 40 years" (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Michael_S._Hart, accessed 01-06-2012).

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Fictional Vision of the Electronic Book and the Internet 1978 – 1979

In March and April 1978 English writer Douglas Adams began a series for BBC Radio 4 entitled The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

This program, and the novel by Adams with the same name published in 1979, featured a fictional electronic reference book containing all knowledge in the galaxy, plus much more. As Adams conceived it, this vast amount of data could be fit into something the size of a large paperback book, with updates received over the "Sub-Etha"—possibly a play on ethernet, which in turn is a play on the concept of the aether. Adams's book and/or the radio series was adapted for television  broadcast in January and February 1981 on UK television station BBC Two:

"The Guide is described as resembling 'a small, thin, flexible lap computer' encased in a 'sturdy plastic cover' with the words 'Don't Panic' inscribed on it 'in large, friendly letters'. It is presumably of robust construction, making it able to withstand falling through time/space wormholes and being thrown into swamps, being rescued, and still operating. Arthur Dent's copy survived a spaceship crash which melted the ship into something unrecognizable yet the Guide (and on-board entertainment system) survived. Its entries are arranged alphabetically on the screen and accessed via typing entry codes on a keyboard; 'Earth' is on the same page as 'Eccentrica Gallumbits, the Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon 6.'

"In the film [2005] the Guide is depicted as a large metal book with a large screen instead of pages. Entries here are reached by voice activation (e.g. saying the word 'Vogon' will bring up the article on Vogons, etc.) The visual graphics of the guide entries here were animated by Shynola" (Wikipedia article on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (fictonal), accessed 11-08-2013).

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1980 – 1990

Possibly the Earliest Electronic Publication on Art 1983

National Gallery of Art, a laserdisc or videodisc issued by Videodisc Publishing in 1983, was one of the earliest electronic publications on art.  The disc contained 1,645 images of paintings, drawings and prints from the National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C., plus two films about the museum.

Thanks to John Waite for this reference.

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The Digital Domesday Project--Doomed to Early Digital Obsolescence 1984 – 1986

From 1984 to 1986 Acorn Computers Ltd, Philips, Logica and the BBC (with some funding from the European Commission's ESPRIT program) marked the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book—an 11th century census of England—with the multimedia BBC Domesday Project. This publication is frequently cited as an example of digital obsolescence.

The Project "included a new 'survey' of the United Kingdom, in which people, mostly school children, wrote about geography, history or social issues in their local area or just about their daily lives. This was linked with maps, and many colour photos, statistical data, video and 'virtual walks'. Over 1 million people participated in the project. The project also incorporated professionally-prepared video footage, virtual reality tours of major landmarks and other prepared datasets such as the 1981 census.

"The project was stored on adapted laserdiscs in the LaserVision Read Only Memory (LV-ROM) format, which contained not only analog video and still pictures, but also digital data, with 300 MB of storage space on each side of the disc. The discs were mastered, produced, and tested by Philips at their Eindhoven headquarters factory. Viewing the discs required an Acorn BBC Master expanded with an SCSI controller and an additional coprocessor controlled a Philips VP415 "Domesday Player", a specially-produced laserdisc player. The user interface consisted of the BBC Master's keyboard and a trackball (known at the time as a trackerball). The software for the project was written in BCPL (a precursor to C), to make cross platform porting easier, although BCPL never attained the popularity that its early promise suggested it might.

In 2002, there were great fears that the discs would become unreadable as computers capable of reading the format had become rare (and drives capable of accessing the discs even more rare). Aside from the difficulty of emulating the original code, a major issue was that the still images had been stored on the laserdisc as single-frame analogue video, which were overlaid by the computer system's graphical interface. The project had begun years before JPEG image compression and before truecolour computer video cards had become widely available.

"However, the BBC later announced that the CAMiLEON project (a partnership between the University of Leeds and University of Michigan) had developed a system capable of accessing the discs using emulation techniques. CAMiLEON copied the video footage from one of the extant Domesday laserdiscs. Another team, working for the UK National Archives (who hold the original Domesday Book) tracked down the original 1-inch videotape masters of the project. These were digitised and archived to Digital Betacam.

"A version of one of the discs was created that runs on a Windows PC. This version was reverse-engineered from an original Domesday Community disc and incorporates images from the videotape masters. It was initially available only via a terminal at the National Archives headquarters in Kew, Surrey but has been available since July 2004 on the web.

"The head of the Domesday Project, Mike Tibbets, has criticized the bodies to which the archive material was originally entrusted" (Wikipedia article on BBC Domesday Project, accessed 12-21-2008).

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The CD-ROM is Introduced 1985

In 1985 Sony, Tokyo, Japan and Philips, Eindhoven, Netherlands, developed the "Yellow Book" standard, allowing the compact disc (CD) to hold any form of binary data.

This resulted in the creation of Compact Disc-Read Only Memory or pre-pressed compact discs containing data readable by a computer for data storage, but not writable to by the computer.  The CD-ROM format was compatable with the CD format introduced for music in 1982-83.

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Probably the First Electronic Encyclopedia 1985

In 1985 Grolier published the text-only New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia on CD-ROM. This was the first CD-ROM product aimed at the "school market." Based on the Academic American Encyclopedia, it comprised 30,000 entries and 9 million words. Editions were updated quarterly—faster than the print edition, and the CD-ROM edition became significantly different from the print edition. The work was published under several different titles: The Electronic Encyclopedia (1986), The Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (1987), The New Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia (1988–91), The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1992). The 1990 edition was the first to feature pictures, and the 1992 edition was the first to deliver video and sound. The last edition published on CD-ROM was the 2003 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.

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The First Hand-Held Electronic Book, or e-Book 1986

In 1986 Franklin Computer Corporation, Burlington, New Jersey, introduced Spelling Ace, an electronic spelling corrector. This may be considered the first handheld electronic book or e-book (eBook).

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The First Hypertext Fiction: "Afternoon, a story" 1987 – 1990

In 1987 American author, critic, and professor of English and media studies at Vassar College Michael Joyce composed Afternoon, a story. This was first offered to the public as a demonstration of the hypertext authoring system Storyspace announced in 1987 at the first Association for Computing Machinery Hypertext conference in a paper by Michael Joyce and Jay David Bolter. In 1990, Afternoon, a story was published on diskette and distributed by Eastgate Systems, producers of Storyspace. 

Afternoon, a story is considered the first hypertext fiction (hyperfiction) a non-linear, interactive electronic literary form as compared to traditional linear fiction. Hypertext fiction was preceded by nonlinear printed narratives such as James Joyce's Ulysses (1922) in which a nonlinear narrative and interactive narrative was achieved through internal references within the printed text.

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1990 – 2000

DynaText, an Electronic Publishing Tool 1990

In 1990 Louis ReynoldsSteven DeRoseJeffrey Vogel, and Andries van Dam founded Electronic Book Technologies, Inc. (EBT) in Providence, Rhode Island to promote and sell DynaText, an electronic publishing tool. DynaText was the first system to handle arbitrarily large SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) documents, and to render them according to multiple style-sheets that could be switched at will.

"DynaText heavily influenced stylesheet technologies such as DSSSL and CSS, and XML chairman Jon Bosak cites EBT chief architect Steven DeRose as the origin of the notion of well-formedness formalized in XML, as well as DynaText for influencing the design of Web browsers in general" (Wikipedia article on DynaText, accessed 11-08-2013).

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The Data Discman Electronic Book Device 1992

In 1992 Sony Corporation introduced the Data Discman, an electronic book device marketed in the United States to college students and international travelers. The Data Discman had little success outside of Japan.

The Data Discman's purpose was quick access to electronic reference information on a pre-recorded disc. Searches for information on disc were entered using a QWERTY-style keyboard, and utilized the "Yes" and "No" keys. A typical Data Discman model had a low resolution small grayscale LCD, a CD drive unit, and a low-power computer. Early versions of the device were incapable of playing audio CDs. Software was prerecorded, and featured encyclopedias, foreign language dictionaries, novels, etc.  All Data Discmans had audio and video output capabilities.

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The First e-Book Reader 1992

in 1992 Franco Crugnola Varese and his wife Isabella Rigamonti designed and created the first e-book reader, called Incipit, as a thesis project in the school of architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. Numerous images and documentation of the device were available from la Repubblica Milano.it in October 2013. Others were available at europaconcoursi.com.  The project was never developed commercially.

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"The Book and Beyond" Exhibition Takes Place April 7 – October 1, 1995

In its Design Now Room, 20th Century Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London held the exhibition The Book and Beyond. Electronic publishing and the art of the book. To accompany the exhibition from April 7 to October 1, 1995 the museum published a pamphlet. In 2001 they incorporated material in the pamphlet into a website.

The exhibition was divided into five sections:

1. Introduction

2. Artists' books and books as art

3. Artists' books and books as art

4. Electronic publications

"Various forms of "electronic publishing" - including videodiscs, "floppy books", CD-ROMs, and the Internet - have become increasingly evident in the 1980s and 1990s. Some electronic publications are based upon information which was previously available in a linear form, and they represent a natural progression from computer typesetting or video. Others have been conceived specifically to exploit the potential offered by the new media. The method of presentation is crucial to the success (or otherwise) of these publications, and designers and publishers are still learning to use the new technology."

5. Artists, computers and publishing

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Brewster Kahle Founds the Internet Archive 1996

In 1996 computer engineer, Internet entrepreneur, activist, and digital librarian Brewster Kahle founded the Internet Archive in San Francisco.  After the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in 2002 the Internet Archive established a mirror site at that historic location.

This video embedded below was produced in 2012:

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An Online Textbook of Cyberpsychology is Published January 1996

In January 1996 Psychologist John Suler of Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, published The Psychology of Cyberspace as an online hypertext book. This early hypertext book has been cited as a founding work in the developing fields of cyberspychology and cybertherapy, in which avatars assist with treatment.

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Electronic Paper is Developed 1997

In 1997 physicist and inventor Joseph Jacobson of the MIT Media Lab founded E Ink Corporation to develop electrophoretic display technology, or electronic paper, (e-paper, epaper), which he invented.

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2000 – 2005

Stephen King's "Experiment in Alternate Forms of Distribution" 2000

After his problematic experience in earlier in 2000 with the electronic distribution of his e-book novella, Riding the Bullet, Stephen King decided to release serial installments of his epistolary novel, The Plant, directly from his website in Bangor, Maine, and unencrypted. 

"People could pay a one-dollar fee for each installment using the honor system. He threatened, however, to drop the project if the percentage of paying readers fell below 75 percent. He viewed the release as an experiment in alternate forms of distribution, writing on his website at the time, 'My friends, we have the chance to become Big Publishing's worst nightmare.' More than 200,000 customers downloaded free copies of the story in a 24-hour promotion through the Barnes and Noble book-selling site.

"The book received more than the desired 75 percent for its first installment, but it fell to 70 percent after installment two. With the third installment, the numbers surged back to 75 percent. All told, after six installments, King revealed that he'd made nearly half a million dollars from the release of The Plant in what has been called his e-book experiment. King decided to double the cost of the fourth part of the novel to $2, while at the same time doubling the number of pages to 54. He also promised to cap the cost of the entire book at a total of $13. Paying readers dropped to 46 percent of downloads. The number of downloads decreased overall as well.

"The last installment was published on December 18, 2000. The book is yet to be completed. The original installments are now available for free on Stephen King's official website" (Wikipedia article on The Plant, accessed 10-19-2013).

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The First Mass-Market E-Book + A Video Interview March 14, 2000 – 2010

On March 24, 2000 American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy Stephen King first published a novella entitled Riding the Bullet as an electronic book through Simon & Schuster, using technology by Softlock. Available for $2.50, it was the first mass-market e-book. However, there were technical problems with downloading, and hackers eventually cracked the encryption.

"During the first 24 hours, over 400,000 copies of 'Riding the Bullet' were downloaded, jamming SoftLock's server. Some Stephen King fans waited hours for the download.

"With over 500,000 downloads, Stephen King seemed to pave the way of the publishing future. The actual number of readers was unclear because the encryption caused countless computers to crash.

"The financial success of the electronic publication was doubtful. Initially offered at $2.50 by SoftLock and Simon & Schuster, Amazon and Barnes and Noble gave free downloads.

"A movie adaptation of the story, starring Jonathan Jackson and David Arquette, was released in 2004" (Wikipedia article on Riding the Bullet, accessed 10-19-2013).

♦In 2010 Stephen King was interviewed on CNN about the present state and future of books and ebooks:

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eBook Distributor is Acquired by Barnes & Noble June 5, 2000 – March 2009

On June 5, 2000 Steven Pendergast, and Mindwise Media LLC owned by Scott Pendergast founded Fictionwise.com. The company became one of the largest distributors of ebooks in North America, and was acquired by Barnes & Noble in March 2009.

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Somewhat Accelerated Prediction of the Future of eBooks May 3, 2001

The logo for the Women's National Book Association 

At the meeting of the San Francisco chapter of the Women's National Book Association on May 3, 2001 David Spiselman predicted that ebooks would be a 3.1 billion dollar business by 2004. He also predicted that by 2004 "screen quality will be superior to paper."

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The First Cell Phone Novel 2003

The codex form of a Japanese cell phone novel.

An example of cover art for Deep Love

Under the  pen name  "Yoshi," in 2003 a Tokyo man published the first cell phone novelDeep Love— the story of a teenage prostitute in Tokyo. Deep Love

"became so popular that it was published as an actual book, with 2.6 million copies sold in Japan, then spun off into a television series, a manga, and a movie. The cell phone novel became a hit mainly through word of mouth and gradually started to gain traction in China and South Korea among young adults. In Japan, several sites offer large prizes to authors (up to $100,000 US) and purchase the publishing rights to the novel."

"Cell phone or mobile phone novels called keitai shousetsu in Japanese, are the first literary genre to emerge from the cellular age via text messaging. Phone novels started out primarily read and authored by young Japanese women, on the subject of romantic fiction such as relationships, lovers, rape, love triangles, and pregnancy. However, mobile phone novels are trickling their way to a worldwide popularity on all subjects. Japanese ethos of the Internet regarding mobile phone novels are dominated by false names and forged identities. Therefore, identities of the Japanese authors of mobile phone novels are rarely disclosed. 'Net transvestites' are of the most extreme play actors of the sort. Differing from regular novels, mobile phone novels may be structured according to the author's preference. If a couple is fighting in the story, the author may choose to have the lines closely spaced and crowded. On the contrary, if the author writes a calm or soothing poem the line spacing may be further apart than normal. Overall, the line spacing of phone novels contains enough blank space for an easy read. Phone novels are meant to be read in 1,000 to 2,000-word (in China) or 70-word (in Japan) chapters via text message on mobile phones. They are downloaded in short installments and run on handsets as Java-based applications on a mobile phone. Cell phone novels often appear in three different formats: WMLD, JAVA and TXT. Maho i-Land is the largest cell phone novel site that carries more than a million titles, mainly novice writers, all which are available for free. Maho iLand provides templates for blogs and homepages. It is visited 3.5 billion times each month. In 2007 98 cell phone novels were published into books. "Love Sky" is a popular phone novel with approximately 12 million views on-line, written by "Mika", that was not only published but turned into a movie. www.textnovel.com is another popular mobile phone novel site, however, in English."

"Five out of the ten best selling novels in Japan in 2007 were originally cell phone novels" (Wikipedia article on Cell phone novel, accessed 08-23-2009).

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The Institute for the Future of the Book 2004

Robert (Bob) Stein

The Criterion Collection logo

In 2004 Bob Stein, pioneering commercial multi-media publisher and co-founder of the Voyager Company and The Criterion Collection, co-founded The Institute for the Future of the Book, "a small think-and-do tank investigating the evolution of intellectual discourse as it shifts from printed pages to networked screens."

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The Google Print Project is Announced October 2004

The Frankfurt Bookfair logo

The original Google Print homepage

The new Google Books homepage

At the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2004 Google announced the Google Print project to scan and make searchable on the Internet the texts of more than ten million books from the collections of the New York Public Library, and the libraries of Michigan, Stanford, Harvard and Oxford Universities.

The project was renamed Google Books in December 2005.

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2005 – 2010

A University Library Intended to Contain Very Few Physical Books September 6, 2005

Classes began at the University of California, Merced on September 6, 2005. At the opening of this new campus focused on math, science, and engineering the library included approximately 10,000 journal subscriptions—all available online, with no print journals. This "21st century research library" contained a limited collection of about 30,000 physical books, and offered interlibrary loans from other University of Calfornia libraries. It emphasized providing access to digital books and the "deep web"—databases available by subscription:

"The Internet is wide-ranging, but the bulk of the information needed for scholarly study and research is not freely available and cannot be found in a Google search. The UC Merced Library acquires and manages subscriptions to millions of scholarly articles in electronic journals, tens of thousands of electronic books, and hundreds of databases. Thanks to the Library, UC Merced students and faculty can access these scholarly electronic resources at any time with a connection to the Internet.

"The collection has what you want.

"The Library has many books and DVD movies on the shelves to support study in the areas of UC Merced specialization and to also provide a break from study with recreational reading and viewing. If what you need is not in the building, then use the University of California systemwide library catalog to request free, overnight courier delivery for any of the 32 million volumes at the other UC campuses" (UC Merced Library website, accessed 01-28-09).

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Google Books December 2005

The Google Books logo

The shift from Google Print to Google Books

In December 2005 the Google Print project morphed into Google Books.

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Springer Published 50,000 eBooks 2006 – January 19, 2012

The Springer logo

The SpringerLink website

Springer, which initiated its eBook program in 2006, announced the publication of its 50,000 eBook on January 19, 2012, available through SpringerLink.com.  Springer also stated that it would digitize nearly all books it had published since its foundation in 1842.  This would increase the number of titles to over 100,000. Based on the number of titles available in January 2012, Springer claimed to be the "largest eBook publisher."

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The Espresso "On Demand" Book Machine April 2006

The Espresso Book Machine

In April 2006 the first experimental beta Espresso Book Machine was installed at the World Bank InfoShop in Washington, D.C. to print and bind World Bank publications on demand.

"In September 2006 ODB installed a second beta machine at The Library of Alexandria, Egypt, to print books in Arabic. The first EBM Version 1.5 was introduced for ninety days at the New York Public Library during the summer of 2007."

In September 2008 the first Espresso Book Machine in a retail commercial setting was installed at Angus & Robertson in Melbourne, Australia.

Link to the PDF brochure for Espresso Book Machine 2.0 at ondemandbooks.com, accessed 08-31-2009.

♦ In November 2012 it was my pleasure to see the Espress Book Machine in operation at the privately owned Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Humorously nicknamed "Paige M. Gutenborg," the machine produced remarkably high quality paperback books at the speed of around 5 minutes per book. Customers supplied fully formatted black and white text as a PDF plus a separate PDF containing their design for a full color cover. The machine combined a double-sided xerographic laser printer with an ingenious binding and trimming mechanism. It printed the text on regular book paper and the color cover on coated cover stock. Since the binding machine was enclosed in plexiglass it was possible to observe the various binding processes, concluding with the machine dropping each finished copy out a small chute. When I watched the machine in operation it was being observed by a human operator.  My impression was that the machine required certain adjustments and worked best when "supervised" by a human.



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Reborn Digital: The First Fully Digital University Press: A 3 Year Experiment in the United States July 13, 2006 – September 30, 2010

The Rice University Press logo

The Connexions logo

Rice University Press, which shut down in 1996, announced that it was re-opening as an entirely digital operation:

"As money-strapped university presses shut down nationwide, Rice University is turning to technology to bring its press back to life as the first fully digital university press in the United States.  

"Using the open-source e-publishing platform Connexions, Rice University Press is returning from a decade-long hiatus to explore models of peer-reviewed scholarship for the 21st century. The technology offers authors a way to use multimedia -- audio files, live hyperlinks or moving images -- to craft dynamic scholarly arguments, and to publish on-demand original works in fields of study that are increasingly constrained by print publishing.  

" 'Rice University Press is using Rice's strength in technology to innovatively overcome increasingly common obstacles to publication of scholarly works,' Rice University President David Leebron said. 'The nation's first fully digital academic press provides not only a solution for scholars -- particularly those in the humanities -- who are limited by the dearth of university presses, but also a venue for publishing multimedia essays, articles, books and scholarly narratives.'

Charles Henry, Rice University vice provost, university librarian and publisher of Rice University Press during the startup phase, said, 'Our decision to revive Rice's press as a digital enterprise is based on both economics and on new ways of thinking about scholarly publishing. On the one hand, university presses are losing money at unprecedented rates, and technology offers us ways to decrease production costs and provide nearly ubiquitous delivery system, the Internet. We avoid costs associated with backlogs, large inventories and unsold physical volumes, and we greatly speed the editorial process.  

" 'We don't have a precise figure for our startup costs yet, but it's safe to say our startup costs and annual operating expenses will be at least 10 times less than what we'd expect to pay if we were using a traditional publishing model,' Henry said.  

"The digital press will operate just as a traditional press, up to a point. Manuscripts will be solicited, reviewed, edited and resubmitted for final approval by an editorial board of prominent scholars. But rather than waiting for months for a printer to make a bound book, Rice University Press's digital files will instead be run through Connexions for automatic formatting, indexing and population with high-resolution images, audio and video and Web links.  

" 'We don't print anything,' Henry explained. 'It will go online as a Rice University Press publication in a matter of days and be available for sale as a digital book.' Users will be able to view the content online for free or purchase a copy of the book for download through the Rice University Press Web site. Alternatively, thanks to Connexions' partnership with on-demand printer QOOP, users will be able to order printed books if they want, in every style from softbound black-and-white on inexpensive paper to leather-bound full-color hardbacks on high-gloss paper.  

"As with a traditional press, our publications will be peer-reviewed, professionally vetted and very high quality,' Henry said. 'But the choice to have a printed copy will be up to the customer.'

"Authors published by Rice University Press will retain the copyrights for their works, in accordance with Connexions' licensing agreement with Creative Commons. Additionally, because Connexions is open-source, authors will be able to update or amend their work, easily creating a revised edition of their book. W. Joseph King, executive director of Connexions and co-director of the Rice University Press project, said, 'Connexions' mission is to support open education in all forms, including the publication of original scholarly works. We believe that Connexions has the ability to change the university press at Rice and in general.'

"In the coming months, Rice University Press will name its board of directors and appoint an editorial board in one or two academic disciplines that are especially constrained by the current print model. Over time, Rice University Press will focus on:

"1. Putting out original scholarly work in fields particularly impacted by the high costs and distribution models of the printed book. One such field is art history, in which printing costs are exceptionally high. Over the years, many university presses have slashed the number of art history titles, severely limiting younger scholars' prospects of publication, Henry said. Rice University Press has identified art history as a field that would benefit immediately and therefore it will be the press's first area of major effort.  

"2. Fostering new models of scholarship: With the rise of digital environments, scholars are increasingly attempting to write book-length studies that use new media -- images, video, audio and Web links -- as part of their arguments. Rice University Press will easily accommodate these new forms of scholarship, Henry said.

"3. Providing more affordable publishing for scholarly societies and centers: Often disciplinary societies and smaller centers, especially in the humanities, publish annual reports, reflections on their field of study or original research resulting from grants. For smaller organizations, the printing costs of these publications are prohibitive. Rice University Press will partner with organizations to provide more affordable publishing.  

"4. Partnering with large university presses: In the wake of rising production costs and overhead, many university presses have closed or reduced the number of titles they publish, especially in the humanities and social sciences. As a result many peer-reviewed, high quality books are waiting on backlog. Rice University Press will work with selected university publishers to inexpensively publish approved works. Henry said two major university presses have already expressed an interest in working with Rice University Press to reduce backlogged titles. Rice University Press plans to partner with these and other presses to produce such works as dual publications.  

" 'Technological innovations suffuse academia, but institutional innovation often seems more challenging. The initiative to resuscitate Rice University Press as a fully digital university press is thus doubly exciting,' said Steve Wheatley, vice president of the American Council of Learned Societies, an umbrella organization of 70 scholarly societies in the humanities and social sciences. 'It is particularly encouraging to note that the revived press will give special attention to scholarship that is born digital. Equally commendable -- and perhaps even more important -- is the commitment of the university to support this initiative at this crucial phase for scholarly publishing " (http://media.rice.edu/media/NewsBot.asp?MODE=VIEW&ID=8654, accessed 05-23-2010)/

♦ "Rice University Press ceased operations on September 30, 2010. Certain publications continue to be available on Connexions."

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The Sony Reader PRS-500 is Introduced Circa September – October 2006

The Sony Reader PRS-500

In September or October 2006 Sony announced the Sony Reader PRS-500 — another attempt to provide an acceptable e-book (ebook; electronic book) reader. 

A feature of the PRS-500 was that it only used power when a page was turned. Thus, theoretically 7500 pages could be read on the device with one battery charge.

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Steve Jobs Introduces the iPhone June 29, 2007

The iPhone 3G

On June 29, 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone, an internet-connected multimedia smartphone with a virtual keypad and a virtual keyboard.

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The Amazon Kindle is Introduced November 19, 2007

The Amazon logo

A first generation Amazon Kindle

Amazon.com introduced the Kindle on November 19, 2007. This unconventionally-named ebook reader differed from other ebook readers because it incorporated a wireless service for purchasing and delivering electronic texts from Amazon.com without a computer. The 6 inch wide electronic-paper screen was limited to grayscale at 167ppi resolution. At its introduction 90,000 titles were available for download to the 10 oz. device. The first Kindle could store about 200 books.

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Kindle Direct Publishing Introduced November 19, 2007

Concurrently with the Kindle ebook reader, on November 19, 2007 Amazon launched Kindle Direct Publishing for authors and publishers to publish their books directly to Kindle and Kindle Apps worldwide. This publishing platform was in open beta testing as of late 2007.

"Authors can upload documents in several formats for delivery via Whispernet and charge between $0.99 and $200.00 per download.

"In a December 5, 2009 interview with The New York Times, CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that Amazon.com keeps 65% of the revenue from all ebook sales for the Kindle. The remaining 35% is split between the book author and publisher. After numerous commentators observed that Apple's popular App Store offers 70% of royalties to the publisher, Amazon began a program that offers 70% royalties to Kindle publishers who agree to certain conditions.

"Other criticisms involve the business model behind Amazon's implementation and distribution of e-books. Amazon introduced a software application allowing Kindle books to be read on an iPhone or iPod Touch. Amazon soon followed with an application called "Kindle for PCs" that can be run on a Windows PC. Due to the book publisher's DRM policies, Amazon claims that there is no right of first sale with e-books. Amazon states they are licensed, not purchased; so unlike paper books, buyers do not actually own their e-books according to Amazon. This has however never been tested in the courts and the outcome of any action by Amazon is by no means certain. The law is in a state of flux in jurisdictions around the world " (Wikipedia article on Amazon Kindle, accessed 12-29-2011).

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Over 5,000,000 Articles Posted on the HighWire Press e-Publishing Platform. December 2, 2008

On December 2, 2008 Stanford University Libraries' HighWire Press, announced over the DIGLIB newsgroup that it 

"reached a significant milestone this week with the posting of the five millionth article on its e-Publishing platform.  HighWire, a division of the Stanford University Libraries, provides technology and customized online services to 140 publishing partners ranging from independent non-profit societies and associations, to university presses and large commercial publishers.

"The milestone occurred while loading a substantial amount of journal backfiles on behalf of the American Medical Association. Bringing the HighWire total article count over the 5 million mark was an article dating from 1884, “Dermatitis Herpetiformis” by Louis A. Duhring, MD1, published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. The JAMA & Archives Journals Backfiles Collection will ensure that 125 years of high quality medical research will be available online at the journals’ Web sites on the HighWire platform."

At this time Highwire Press

"hosts the largest repository of high impact, peer-reviewed content, with 1186 journals and 5,006,835 full text articles from over 140 scholarly publishers. HighWire-hosted publishers have collectively made 2,015,269 articles free. With our partner publishers we produce 71 of the 200 most-frequently-cited journals."

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The World Digital Library Launches April 21, 2009

On April 21, 2009 UNESCO, Paris, France, and 32 partner institutions launched the World Digital Library, a web site that featured unique cultural materials from libraries and archives around the world. The site included manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, and prints and photographs.

"The WDL will function in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and will include content in a great many other languages. Browse and search features will facilitate cross-cultural and cross-temporal exploration on the site. Descriptions of each item and videos with expert curators speaking about selected items will provide context for users, and are intended to spark curiosity and encourage both students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries. The WDL was developed by a team at the Library of Congress. Technical assistance was provided by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria, Egypt. Institutions contributing content and expertise to the WDL include national libraries and cultural and educational institutions in Brazil, Egypt, China, France, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States" (http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=28484&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html)

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Increasing Sales of Digital Books (eBooks) May 5, 2009

In an article entitled "The Future of the Book Turns a Page" published on May 5, 2009 The Christian Science Monitor reported:

"By most measurements, digital books are a mere page in the novel of publishing, which hovers annually around $25 billion. But in the last year, what was a budding niche market has had a major growth spurt.

"The Association of American Publishers (AAP), the industry’s primary trade group, has tracked digital book sales since 2003, when wholesale revenues amounted to $20 million. By 2007, that number had ambled up to $67 million. But in 2008, the figure nearly doubled to some $113 million.

"This year is off to an equally heady start, says Ed McCoyd, director of digital policy for AAP, pointing to the whopping 173 percent jump in sales from January 2008."

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Larger Version of the Amazon Kindle Introduced May 6, 2009

On May 6, 2009 Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com unveiled a larger version of the Amazon Kindle called the Kindle DX (for Deluxe). The larger model had a 

"9.7-inch display with auto-rotation, high-speed wireless access to 275,000 books, 3.3 gigabytes of storage, or room for up to 3,500 books. Native support for PDF documents, with no panning, zooming or scrolling necessary" (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/live-blogging-the-kindle-fest/).

The initial list price of the DX was $489, or $130 more than the previous model, the Kindle 2. The DX was available for sale in the summer of 2009.

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Google Will Sell eBooks May 31, 2009

At the BookExpo convention in New York, on May 31, 2009 Google announced its intention to sell ebooks (e-books) directly to consumers through its Google Books service. In contrast to Amazon, which sold ebooks at the fixed price of $9.95 per title and only through its proprietary Kindle ebook reader, Google allowed publishers to set the price of ebook titles and make them available across browsers, cell phones, and other platforms.

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The First Magazine Cover Created as iPhone Art June 1, 2009

Artist Jorge Columbo's cover art for the New Yorker magazine of June 1, 2009 drawn entirely on an iPhone using the Brushes app was the first iPhone art published as the cover of a major magazine.

"It has been widely reported that my drawings are now made on an iPhone... Considering all the sketches and watercolors and photographs I have done in the USA for the past twenty years, my output in the Brushes app since I bought a G3 last February is still rather small. It has attracted more attention than anything else I have done: it seems people can't resist a nice tech story. But it's a happy affair. As much as I enjoy and admire other media, drawing on a screen that's always bright even on a dark street, with no paint to carry, no brushes to wash, and countless levels of "undo", seems to agree with me. I always work on location, drawing everything from scratch, with no use of photography whatsoever. (The app churns out Quicktime movies that detail each brushtroke, as seen in The New Yorker's website; it mercifully ignores all the trial-and-errors and failed attempts, making my progression look uncannily flawless. That's so not true.) I could carry a pad or even an easel around. But drawing on a phone is so discreet, so casual" (http://www.drawger.com/jorgecolombo/?section=articles&article_id=9154, accessed 01-07-2010).

♦ On January 07, 2010 you could watch a series of Quicktime movies of Jorge Columbo creating iPhone paintings on the New Yorker website at this link: http://www.newyorker.com/video?videoID=40951183001.

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Amazon Sends Orwell eBooks Down the "Memory Hole" July 16, 2009

"In George Orwell’s '1984,' government censors erase all traces of news articles embarrassing to Big Brother by sending them down an incineration chute called the 'memory hole.'

"On Friday, it was '1984' and another Orwell book, 'Animal Farm,' that were dropped down the memory hole — by Amazon.com.

"In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.

"An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. 'When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,' he said.

'Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. 'We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances,' Mr. Herdener said" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html, accessed 07-25-2009).

"Books in the real world are covered by a notion of copyright called the 'first sale' doctrine, which allows a purchaser to do pretty much whatever he or she wants with the book–including reselling it or lending it to a friend.

"But digital books–especially if they’re sold as part of access to a networked system such as Amazon’s Kindle Store and Google’s online books collection–don’t necessarily fall under those same rules. 'We have not matured our understanding of copyright to work in a digital environment in way that provides a set of protections and meets people’s expectations for how we use digital content,' said Brantley" (http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/07/17/an-orwellian-moment-for-amazons-kindle/, accessed 07-25-2009).

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USA Today Adds eBook Sales to its Bestsellers List July 22, 2009

On June 22, 2009 USA Today announced that it would add Amazon Kindle e-book (ebook) sales to its weekly Best-Selling Books list in its Best-Selling Books Database:

"Starting today, USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list becomes the first major list to include Amazon Kindle e-book sales. The move reflects both the growth of e-book sales and Kindle's role in that market. 'Since 1993, USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list has always evolved to reflect the ways our readers buy books,' says Susan Weiss, managing editor of the Life section. 'Adding Kindle to our group of contributors makes sense given the growth in the e-book platform.' E-books, for all devices, claimed 4.9% of sales in May, according to book audience research firm Codex-Group. That's up from 3.7% in March. This week, Barnes & Noble announced the launch of its own eBookstore with 700,000 titles."

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Darnton's Case for Books: Past, Present and Future September 14, 2009

"In The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future, Robert Darnton, a pioneer in the field of the history of the book, offers an in-depth examination of the book from its earliest beginnings to its changing—some even say threatened—place in culture, commerce and the academy. But to predict the death of the book is to ignore its centuries-long history of survival. The following are some of Darnton's observations.

"1. The Future. Whatever the future may be, it will be digital. The present is a time of transition, when printed and digital modes of communication coexist and new technology soon becomes obsolete. Already we are witnessing the disappearance of familiar objects: the typewriter, now consigned to antique shops; the postcard, a curiosity; the handwritten letter, beyond the capacity of most young people, who cannot write in cursive script; the daily newspaper, extinct in many cities; the local bookshop, replaced by chains, which themselves are threatened by Internet distributors like Amazon. And the library? It can look like the most archaic institution of all. Yet its past bodes well for its future, because libraries were never warehouses of books. They have always been and always will be centers of learning. Their central position in the world of learning makes them ideally suited to mediate between the printed and the digital modes of communication. Books, too, can accommodate both modes. Whether printed on paper or stored in servers, they embody knowledge, and their authority derives from a great deal more than the technology that went into them.

"2. Preservation. Bits become degraded over time. Documents may get lost in cyberspace, owing to the obsolescence of the medium in which they are encoded. Hardware and software become extinct at a distressing rate. Unless the vexatious problem of digital preservation is solved, all texts “born digital” belong to an endangered species. The obsession with developing new media has inhibited efforts to preserve the old. We have lost 80% of all silent films and 50% of all films made before World War II. Nothing preserves texts better than ink imbedded in paper, especially paper manufactured before the 19th century, except texts written in parchment or engraved in stone. The best preservation system ever invented was the old-fashioned, pre-modern book.

"3. Reading… and Writing. Time was when readers kept commonplace books. Whenever they came across a pithy passage, they copied it into a notebook under an appropriate heading, adding observations made in the course of daily life. The practice spread everywhere in early modern England, among ordinary readers as well as famous writers like Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, John Milton, and John Locke. It involved a special way of taking in the printed word. Unlike modern readers, who follow the flow of a narrative from beginning to end (unless they are digital natives and click through texts on machines), early modern Englishmen read in fits and starts and jumped from book to book. They broke texts into fragments and assembled them into new patterns by transcribing them in different sections of their notebooks. Then they reread the copies and rearranged the patterns while adding more excerpts. Reading and writing were therefore inseparable activities. They belonged to a continuous effort to make sense of things, for the world was full of signs: you could read your way through it, and by keeping an account of your readings, you made a book of your own, one stamped with your personality. 

"4. Piracy. Voltaire toyed with his texts so much that booksellers complained. As soon as they sold one edition of a work, another would appear, featuring additions and corrections by the author. Customers protested. Some even said that they would not buy an edition of Voltaire's complete works—and there were many, each different from the others—until he died, an event eagerly anticipated by retailers throughout the book trade. Piracy was so pervasive in early modern Europe that bestsellers could not be blockbusters as they are today. Instead of being produced in huge numbers by one publisher, they were printed simultaneously in many small editions by many publishers, each racing to make the most of a market unconstrained by copyright. Few pirates attempted to produce accurate counterfeits of the original editions. They abridged, expanded, and reworked texts as they pleased, without worrying about the authors' intentions. 

"5. E-Books. I want to write an electronic book. Here is how my fantasy takes shape. An “e-book,” unlike a printed codex, can contain many layers arranged in the shape of a pyramid. Readers can download the text and skim the topmost layer, which will be written like an ordinary monograph. If it satisfies them, they can print it out, bind it (binding machines can now be attached to computers and printers), and study it at their convenience in the form of a custom-made paperback. If they come upon something that especially interests them, they can click down a layer to a supplementary essay or appendix. They can continue deeper through the book, through bodies of documents, bibliography, historiography, iconography, background music, everything I can provide to give the fullest possible understanding of my subject. In the end, they will make the subject theirs, because they will find their own paths through it, reading horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, wherever the electronic links may lead. 

"6. Authorship. Despite the proliferation of biographies of great writers, the basic conditions of authorship remain obscure for most periods of history. At what point did writers free themselves from the patronage of wealthy noblemen and the state in order to live by their pens? What was the nature of a literary career, and how was it pursued? How did writers deal with publishers, printers, booksellers, reviewers, and one another? Until those questions are answered, we will not have a full understanding of the transmission of texts. Voltaire was able to manipulate secret alliances with pirate publishers because he did not depend on writing for a living. A century later, Zola proclaimed that a writer's independence came from selling his prose to the highest bidder. How did this transformation take place?

"7. The Book Trade. It may seem hopeless to conceive of book history as a single subject, to be studied from a comparative perspective across the whole range of historical disciplines. But books themselves do not respect limits either linguistic or national. They have often been written by authors who belonged to an international republic of letters, composed by printers who did not work in their native tongue, sold by booksellers who operated across national boundaries, and read in one language by readers who spoke another. Books also refuse to be contained within the confines of a single discipline when treated as objects of study. Neither history nor literature nor economics nor sociology nor bibliography can do justice to all aspects of the life of a book. By its very nature, therefore, the history of books must be international in scale and interdisciplinary in method. But it need not lack conceptual coherence, because books belong to circuits of communication that operate in consistent patterns, however complex they may be. By unearthing those circuits, historians can show that books do not merely recount history; they make it.(http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6696290.html)"

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eBook Sales Represent 1.6% of Book Sales October 7, 2009

"According to a report being released Wednesday by Forrester Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, e-reader sales will total an estimated 3 million this year, with Amazon selling 60 percent of them and Sony Corp. 35 percent."

"According to the Association of American Publishers, e-books accounted for just 1.6 percent of all book sales in the first half of the year. But the market is growing fast. E-book sales totaled $81.5 million in the first half, up from $29.8 million in the first six months of 2008.

"And [Jeff] Bezos said Amazon sells 48 Kindle copies for every 100 physical copies of books that it offers in both formats. Five months ago it was selling 35 Kindle copies per 100 physical versions.

"Bezos said that increase is happening faster than he expected.

" 'I think that ultimately we will sell more books in Kindle editions than we do in physical editions,' Bezos said in the interview, which was held in the Cupertino offices of Lab126, the Amazon subsidiary that developed the Kindle" (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/10/07/business/AP-US-TEC-Amazon-Kindle.html)

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A French Alternative to Google Books is Formed December 17, 2009

Jean-Pierre Gérault, president of i2S, Pessac, France, announced the formation of a French consortium to scan the contents of French libraries. The project is called "Polinum," a French acronym that stands for "Operating Platform for Digital Books."

"French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made catching up on France's digital delay one of the national priorities by earmarking euro750 million of a euro35 billion ($51 billion) spending plan announced earlier this week for digitizing France's libraries, film and music archives and other repositories of the nation's recorded heritage. These funds will mainly go to French libraries, universities and museums, who will use them to develop their own plans for digitizing their holdings.  

"The consortium, meanwhile, intends to be the technological choice for those institutions, Gerault said. He declined to estimate what part of the euro750 million the consortium thinks it can capture. 

"France's culture ministry has been in difficult negotiations with Google, which would like to help digitize France's archives but has met resistance in France over fears of giving the internet search giant too much control over the nation's cultural heritage, as well as over how it would protect the interests of authors and other copyright holders" (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9CL4M480.htm, accessed 12-17-2009).

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The Amazon Kindle is Hacked; eBook Digital Rights Management Cracked December 23, 2009

On December 23, 2009 it was announced that the Amazon Kindle was hacked, allowing for all purchased content to be transferred off the device via a PDF file. 

"Kindle e-books are sold as .AZW files which have DRM that stops users from transferring the purchased books to other devices that are not Kindles.

"That should no longer be a problem thanks to Israeli hacker "Labba" who has cracked the DRM. A second hacker, 'I

" 'Cabbages' did note that Amazon's DRM process was tough to crack, although ultimately Amazon's work was in vain. 'Amazon actually put a bit of effort behind the DRM obfuscation in their Kindle for PC application. And they seem to have done a reasonable job on the obfuscation. Way to go Amazon! It's good enough that I got bored unwinding it all and just got lazy with the Windows debugging APIs instead,' he said" (http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/20989.cfm#comments, accessed 01-02-2010).

Amusingly perhaps, or following the belief that all publicity is good publicity, Amazon.com had two advertisements for the Kindle on the web page publishing the above story.

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eBooks Begin to Outsell Physical Books; 1.49 Million Kindles Sold? December 27, 2009

According to an Amazon.com press release on December 27, 2009, the company sold more Kindle books (ebooks) for Christmas than physical books. At this time the company had over 390,000 titles available for wireless download on the Kindle. The Kindle 2, which weighed 10.2 ounces, could store up 1,500 books. The larger Kindle DX could store approximately 3500 non-illustrated books

Since the company did not give out specific statistics, except to state that the Kindle was their best-selling product in the 2009 Christmas season, it is unclear whether the number of books "sold" included the vast number of free titles available for the Kindle. it is also understandable, that since the Kindle was their best-selling product, that buyers would have ordered multiple titles for each Kindle.

"Two interesting factoids emerge from the marketing verbiage: First, Kindle books outsold paper books on Christmas Day, the first time that has ever happened; Second, the Kindle is the 'most gifted item ever in our history,' according to Bezos. The first may not mean much, since Christmas Day isn’t necessarily a normal shopping day, though the volume of Kindle books sold suggests that on that day a lot of new Kindle users started stocking up on e-books. The second, an aggregate figure that appears to reflect all gifted items over all time, may be very significant or mean absolutely nothing at all, as the increase in online shopping and gifting continues to dwarf previous 'record-setting' gift sales by the law of large(r) numbers.  

"Nevertheless, it is clear that this was the Kindle Christmas. During the third quarter of 2009, I estimated that Amazon sold 289,000 Kindles on sales growth of 60 percent year over year. We can assume, given the disappointing availability of most competitors, that Kindle grabbed a very large percentage of e-book reader sales this holiday season. However, it was also a poor Christmas overall, in terms of retails sales, even if Amazon did sell more stuff than ever before.  

"So, how many more Kindles sold between the end of the Q3 and Christmas Day? Extrapolating from previous quarters, and assuming this was a break-out sales season for Kindle, meaning that it more that doubled over the previous quarter, factoring in the sales of Kindle books versus paper books as Christmas gift cards were redeemed yesterday, I estimate Amazon sold 419,000 Kindles in the fourth quarter, or 145 percent of the sales in Q3.

"That would make the total number of Kindles sold to date 1,491,000. Kindle now represents approximately 65 percent of the hardware reader market despite the appearance of Barnes & Noble’s Nook, which may reach 30,000 units in the quarter because of delays" (http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ratcliffe/?p=486, accessed 12-0-2013).

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2010 – 2012

Steve Jobs Introduces the iPad, the First Widely Sold Tablet Computer January 27, 2010

On January 27, 2010 Steve Jobs of Apple introduced the iPad, the first widely sold tablet computer. The first iPad was one-half inch thick, with a 9.7 inch, high resolution color touchscreen (multi-touch) diagonal display, powered by a 1-gigahertz Apple A4 chip and 16 to 64 gigabytes of flash storage, weighing 1.5 pounds and capable of running all iPhone applications, except presumably, the phone. The battery life was supposed to be 10 hours, and the device was supposed to hold a charge for 1 month in standby. The price started at $499.00.

"The new device will have to be far better than the laptop and smartphone at doing important things: browsing the Web, doing e-mail, enjoying and sharing photographs, watching videos, enjoying your music collection, playing games, reading e-books. Otherwise, 'it has no reason for being.'" (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/live-blogging-the-apple-product-announcement/?hp, accessed 01-27-2010).

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Modifiable eBook Editions of Textbooks February 22, 2010

Macmillan announced on February 22, 2010 that it was introducing new software called DynamicBooks, which would let college professors curate ebooks for their own courses. They could add paragraphs, bring in extra sources, links, and updates—without having to consult with the original author.

According to the New York Times, students will be able to purchase the books at their local university stores, as well as dynamicbooks.com and through CourseSmart, an e-textbook seller. The company is also working with Apple so students can access the books on the iPad. In August, they will offer 100 titles.

"The modifiable e-book editions will be much cheaper than traditional print textbooks. “Psychology,” for example, which has a list price of $134.29 (available on Barnes & Noble’s Web site for $122.73), will sell for $48.76 in the DynamicBooks version. Macmillan is also offering print-on-demand versions of the customized books, which will be priced closer to traditional textbooks.  

"Fritz Foy, senior vice president for digital content at Macmillan, said the company expected e-book sales to replace the sales of used books. Part of the reason publishers charge high prices for traditional textbooks is that students usually resell them in the used market for several years before a new edition is released. DynamicBooks, Mr. Foy said, will be “semester and classroom specific,” and the lower price, he said, should attract students who might otherwise look for used or even pirated editions" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/business/media/22textbook.html?scp=1&sq=publishing%2002/22/2010&st=cse, accessed 02-23-2010).

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Probably the First Fully Visually Satisfying Interactive eBook April 5, 2010

On April 5, 2010 Theodore Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Research, makers of Mathematica, as well as a Popular Science columnist, and an element collector, issued the ebook version of his 2009 printed book, The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, for the Apple iPad.

Gray's ebook may have been the first interactive book to take full advantage of the features of the iPad, including splendid high resolution graphics, the ability to rotate objects, the ability to visualize objects in 3-dimensions using inexpensive 3-D glasses, and full connectivity to the Wolfram Alpha knowledge engine for additional data.

♦ In December 2013 a video which Gray discussed the features, design, and production of the ebook, The Elements was available from YouTube at this link

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Social Networking Added to Reading Electronic Books June 2010

The "popular highlights" feature of the Amazon Kindle ebook reader available in June 2010 enabled readers to see which portions of books other readers considered noteworthy. It also suggested that Amazon may be collecting this information as possible marketing information for publishers. This feature could  be disabled by Kindle users.

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Flipboard, "Your Personalized, Social Magazine" July 2010

In July 2010 the social-network aggregation, magazine-format application software Flipboard was launched for the iPad as "your personalized, social magazine" by Mike McCue and Evan Doll in Palo Alto, California.

The magazine collected the recommendations of user's friends on social network sites, and other websites and presented them in magazine format on the iPad. The application was designed specifically for the iPad's large touch screen and allowed users to "flip" through their social networking feeds and feeds from websites that partnered with Flipboard. The product was later ported to the iPhone.

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For the First Time E-books Outsell Digital Books on Amazon.com July 19, 2010

During the months of April, May, and June 2010 sales of ebooks (e-books) exceeded sales of hardcover physical books at Amazon.com. "In that time Amazon said, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition."

The New York Times online, which reported this information, did not compare Amazon's sales of e-books versus their sales of paperback books during the same period, but indicated that  "paperback sales are thought to still outnumber e-books."

"Book lovers mourning the demise of hardcover books with their heft and their musty smell need a reality check, said Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, which advises book publishers on digital change. 'This was a day that was going to come, a day that had to come,' he said. He predicts that within a decade, fewer than 25 percent of all books sold will be print versions.  

"Still, the hardcover book is far from extinct. Industrywide sales are up 22 percent this year, according to the American Publishers Association."

The shift at Amazon is "astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months," Amazon's chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, said in a news release, published in Amazon.com's Media Room.

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eBook Edition Released Prior to Hardcover Edition September 8, 2010

HarperCollins publishers released the ebook edition of Deepak Chopra's fictionalized biography of the Prophet Muhammed entititled Muhammad prior to the hardcover release on September 21.

This was the first time that HarperCollins released an ebook edition prior to a print edition.

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The Google eBookstore Opens December 6, 2010

On December 6, 2010 Google opened its online digital bookstore, Google ebooks.

"Google executives described the e-bookstore as an 'open ecosystem' that will offer more than three million books, including hundreds of thousands for sale and millions free.  

"More than 4,000 publishers, including large trade book companies like Random House, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, have made books available for sale through Google , many at prices that are identical to those of other e-bookstores.  

 " 'We really think it’s important that the book business have this open diversity of retail points, just like it does in print,' Tom Turvey, the director of strategic partnerships at Google, said in an interview. 'We want to make sure we maintain that and support that.' Customers can set up an account for buying books, store them in a central online, password-protected library and read them on personal computers, tablets, smartphones and e-readers. A Web connection will not be necessary to read a book, however; users can use a dedicated app that can be downloaded to an iPad, iPhone or Android phone.  

"A typical user could begin reading an e-book on an iPad at home, continue reading the same book on an Android phone on the subway and then pick it up again on a Web browser at the office, with the book opening each time to the place where the user left off.  

"The Google eBookstore could be a significant benefit to independent bookstores like Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., that have signed on to sell Google e-books on their Web sites through Google — the first significant entry for independents into the e-book business.  

" 'This levels the playing field,' said Oren Teicher, the chief executive of the American Booksellers Association. 'If you want to buy e-books, you don’t just have to buy them from the big national outlets' (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/business/media/07ebookstore.html?hp

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Bestsellers on eBook Readers: Romance Novels December 9, 2010

According to an article published in The New York Times, at the end of 2010 one of the hottest selling fields in ebooks was romance novels, which were also top-sellers in paperback. It turns out that many buyers preferred ordering romance novels online in privacy to buying them in public locations such as drug stores where they might run into people they knew. Many also preferred to read these on an ebook reader, especially in public places like buses or trains, so they didn't have to expose the racy nature of the novels, typically advertised in the graphics on the covers of paperback editions.

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An Interactive Pop-Up Children's Book App for the iPhone & iPad December 16, 2010

On December 16, 2010 GameCollage.com, based in Seattle, issued Three Little Pigs and the Secrets of a Popup Book for iPhone, iPod touch, and the iPad. The app, which cost $3.99, was an interactive children's book which allowed the reader to push, pull, spine, slide and explore interactive pages, and to see, in a virtual way, how the mechanism of the book would work if it were an actual paper pop-up book. The art was adapted from original illustrations by L. Leslie Brooke.  The app included a "whimsical sound track with colorful sound effects." When apples fell out of the tree, they fell in the direction the iPad was tipped. 

Unlike an actual popup book printed on paper, which might feature high quality paper, paper engineering, printing, and binding,  the app featured "silky smooth animation running at constant 60 frames per second," and a "highly polished user interface."

In December 2013 a video ad for the app was available from YouTube at this link

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The First Independently Published Magazine Exclusively for the iPad January 2011

London-based Remi Paringaux and his company, Meri Media, published the first issue of Post, the first independent magazine published exclusively for the iPad. It was offered for sale as an iPad app for $2.99.  

The New York Times characterized the publication as "A Magazine that Won't Smudge."

Postmatter.com described the project in this way:

"Post is a project born of love for magazines, and one dedicated to taking that love beyond paper and physical matter. A new frontier and paradigm in publishing, Post looks beyond the traditional rules of how and what magazines 'should be', in favour of speculating upon what magazines could be. It is about fashion, art, architecture, cinema, music, culture. It is about what's exciting now and tomorrow.

"Post is an only child, born of the iPad, with no printed sibling to imitate or be intimated by. Liberated from the imposing heritage of print culture, Post exists an entirely virtual realm, yet is intimately connected to material through the medium of touch. Inherently interactive Post presents a truly multimedia, mult-sensory journey from the first frame to the last, where the advertisements all built for Post by Post are immerse, tactile experiences.

"Post is not a thing. It is an idea. A non-surface whose pages dissolve and reform at your touch. It is material for the mind, the eyes, and sometimes the ears. An entire world existing only with a plane of smooth glass, tangibly alive, but cool to the touch. Let Post be your guide" (accessed 05-25-2011).

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Publishing Non-Fiction Exclusively for Cell Phones, eBook Readers and Tablet Computers January 28, 2011

Launching of Brooklyn, New York-based The Atavist, a publisher of non-fiction longer than magazine articles, but shorter than normal book-length, intended for ebook readers, cell phones, and tablet computers. Their first publication was Piano Demon

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The New York Times Begins Ranking eBook Best Sellers February 11, 2011

On February 11, 2011 The New York Times introduced best-seller lists including ebook (e-book) best sellers. They offered rankings of titles when print and e-book sales were combined, and also offered separate rankings for print and e-book titles in fiction and non-fiction categories, hardcover and paperback, etc.

"This week’s Book Review introduces revamped best-seller lists, the result of many months of planning, research and design.  

"On the Web, there are three entirely new lists. One consists of rankings for fiction and nonfiction that combine print and e-book sales; one is limited exclusively to e-book sales for fiction and nonfiction; and the third, Web-only list tracks combined print sales — of both hardcover and paperback editions — for fiction and nonfiction.

All the other lists, though presented in reworked formats, will be familiar to readers. The Book Review’s related columns — TBR: Inside the List, Editors’ Choice and Paperback Row, all written by Book Review editors — remain in their accustomed places in print and online. We continue to offer extended rankings, a full methodology and a list archive online.  

"As before, The Times’s News Surveys department, which directs the paper’s polling operations, including its political and election polls, will collect and analyze the data reflected in each list."

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The Second Best-Selling Book in America Priced Like an App (99 Cents) February 25, 2011

The second best-selling book in America, a thriller by Lisa Gardner called Alone, first published in hardback in 2005 at a list price of $25, was made available in February 2011 as an ebook for $0.99.  The ebook sales of this novel drove driven it to the top of bestseller lists. 

"There are a few things going on here that are notable:

"1. Lisa Gardner's latest thriller hits shelves on March 8, so it's clear that her publisher decided to release this older title at a steep discount in order to generate buzz around this author.

"2. Books, like other media, are suddenly being priced like apps. This has far-reaching implications for how all media will be priced in the future, and could indicate a race to the bottom as consumers become increasingly unwilling to pay a premium for new titles when classics come cheap" (http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/26437/?nlid=4177, accessed 02-28-2011).

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The Environmental Impacts of eBooks and eBook Readers March 2011

The Green Press Initiative issued a synthesis of various reports on The Environmental Impacts of eBooks and eBook Readers:

"Since the data suggests that sales of E-books are likely to increase while sales of printed books are likely to decrease, it is logical to question the environmental implications of this transition. In 2008 Green Press Initiative and the Book Industry Study Group commissioned a report on the environmental impacts of the U.S. book industry which included a lifecycle analysis of printed books. That report concluded that in 2006 the U.S. book industry consumed approximately 30 million trees and had a carbon footprint equivalent to 12.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 8.85 pounds per book sold.

"Determining the environmental impacts of an E-book presents a challenge that does not exist in estimating the impacts of a paper book. That challenge is the fact that user behavior will significantly influence the impact of an e-book. This is due to the fact that the manufacturing of the E-reader device accounts for the vast majority of an E-books environmental impact. Because of this, on a per book basis, a reader who reads 100 books on an e-reader will have almost 1/100th of the impact of someone who reads only one book on the same device. Additionally, two readers who each read the same number of books per year, can have a very different per-book environmental impact if one buys a new E-reader every year while the other keeps his for four years before replacing it. Because of the impact that user behavior can have on the environmental impact of E-books, any analysis will either have to make assumptions about the behavior of a “typical” reader of E-books, or else identify a break-even point in terms of the number of books that must be read on an E-reader to offset the environmental impacts of a corresponding number of paper books. However even this can be confused by the fact that it is not clear that reading one E-book offsets one paper book. For example, the ability to instantly download any book at any time may encourage E-reader owners to read more books in which case each e-book read would not necessarily correspond to a printed book that would have been read. Additionally someone who buys a printed book and later lends it to a friend to read would in effect halve the environmental impact of reading that book. As such any analysis should strive to account for this and determine a break-even point in terms of “printed books offset” rather than E-books read. Additional complexity is added by the fact that most E-readers can be used for a variety of tasks other than reading books. For example, most can read newspapers and magazines in addition to books and some E-readers can also read blogs and surf the internet. Tablet computers can allow a user to check e-mail, play games, view photos and videos, listen to music and surf the internet in addition to other things. Thus for the owner of a Tablet computer, who only spends 10% of his time using the tablet to read books, it would seem reasonable to assume that only 10% of the manufacturing impact of the tablet should be counted towards the impact of that users E-books. . . .

"As the number of printed books that the E-reader offsets increases, so do the benefits of that E-reader. At some point these gains offset the impact of manufacturing and using the E-reader. This “breakeven point” will be different for different metrics of environmental performance but for most it is likely somewhere between 30 and 70 printed books that are offset over the lifetime of the E-reader. For greenhouse gas emissions this number is probably between 20 and 35 books while for measures of human health impacts the number is probably closer to 70 books. In assessing the impact of an E-reader the idea of printed books offset must be carefully considered. As mentioned above, if the owner of an E-reader reads more books because of the ease and convenience of downloading a new title, then every book read on the device does not necessarily correspond to a printed book that is offset. Additionally the numbers in the figure above are based on a very simple comparison that is not likely to be replicated in the real world. The assumption is that the reader would either purchase a new printed book once and not share it with anyone else or that the reader would read the books on an E-reader and only use the E-reader for reading books. If a person would normally share a printed book with others, buy some used printed books, or borrow many of the printed books from the library then the numbers would need to be adjusted to account for that. Additionally, if the E-reader is used for other activities such as watching video, browsing the internet, checking email, or reading magazines and newspapers, it is unfair to assign the full impacts of producing the E-reader to E-books. More research is needed on typical user behavior in terms of time spent reading E-books verses other activities on E-readers and Tablet computers in order to make a more accurate comparison. If the trend of the iPad stealing market share from the Kindle continues, it seems likely that users will spend more time on the other activates that tablets like the iPad are optimized for. Additionally, if someone already owns a tablet computer or an E-reader, the marginal impact of downloading and reading an additional book is quite small. Thus for someone who already owns a device capable of reading E-books, the best choice from an environmental perspective would likely be to read a new book on that device."

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In its First Year Apple's iBookstore Sold 100,000,000 Books March 2, 2011

In March 2010 Steve Jobs announced that 100 million ibooks (ebooks) were downloaded since the company introduced its iBookstore in one year earlier.

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A Program for Signing and Inscribing Ebooks April 2011

Author and inventor T. J. Waters developed a program for signing and inscribing ebooks called autography.  Because the autography inscription is sent over the Internet the inscription can be done remotely or in person.

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Amazon to Launch Library Lending for eBooks on the Kindle Platform April 20, 2011

"Amazon today announced Kindle Library Lending, a new feature launching later this year that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps.  

" 'We're excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries,' said Jay Marine, Director, Amazon Kindle. 'Customers tell us they love Kindle for its Pearl e-ink display that is easy to read even in bright sunlight, up to a month of battery life, and Whispersync technology that synchronizes notes, highlights and last page read between their Kindle and free Kindle apps.'

"Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer's annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.  

" 'We're doing a little something extra here,' Marine continued. 'Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we're extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced.'

"With Kindle Library Lending, customers can take advantage of all of the unique features of Kindle and Kindle books, including: //Paper-like Pearl electronic-ink display

◊ No glare even in bright sunlight

◊ Lighter than a paperback - weighs just 8.5 ounces and holds up to 3,500 books

◊ Up to one month of battery life with wireless off Read everywhere with free Kindle apps for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry and Windows Phone Whispersync technology wirelessly sync your books, notes, highlights, and last page read across Kindle and free Kindle reading apps

◊ Real Page Numbers - easily reference passages with page numbers that correspond to actual print editions Amazon is working with OverDrive, the leading provider of digital content solutions for over 11,000 public and educational libraries in the United States, to bring a seamless library borrowing experience to Kindle customers.

"We are excited to be working with Amazon to offer Kindle Library Lending to the millions of customers who read on Kindle and Kindle apps," said Steve Potash, CEO, OverDrive. "We hear librarians and patrons rave about Kindle, so we are thrilled that we can be part of bringing library books to the unparalleled experience of reading on Kindle."  

"Kindle Library Lending will be available later this year for Kindle and free Kindle app users." (http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1552678&highlight, accessed 04-20-2011)

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The First Major Print Magazine Publisher to Offer iPad Subscriptions May 9, 2011

Condé Nast, publisher of The New Yorkerbecame the first major print magazine publisher to begin a subscription plan on the iPad for one of its magazines. Previously readers on the iPad had to download each issue separately.

"And the iPad subscription offer is quite aggressive: $5.99 for one month (for four issues) and $59.99 for a full year. But even more surprising, a bundled version of print and digital subscriptions, is available for $6.99 a month, or $69.99 a year. (Current print subscribers can sign in to the iPad version at no additional charge.)

"Subscriptions on the iPad to The New Yorker went on sale early Monday, and subscriptions for other Condé Nast magazines, including Vanity Fair, Glamour, Golf Digest, Allure, Wired, Self and GQ, will become available in the coming weeks. The Condé Nast-Apple deal was first reported in The New York Post last week."

"Condé Nast has traditionally gotten its magazines in the hands of consumers at a cheap price in the hopes of building up big rate bases, the number used to sell advertisers, and the deal with Apple is consistent with that advertising-first approach. Over time, the new tablet subscribers could be a boon to advertising now that the Audit Bureau of Circulations has ruled that digital subscribers can be counted toward the rate base. The bundled subscriptions could also help protect the legacy business by giving a boost to print subscriptions while selling many more digital ones — young people and international consumers are a particular target."

"It will come at a price. Although Condé Nast can sell digital subscriptions on its own Web sites, the vast majority of sales will take place in the Apple App Store, where nearly a third of the price will go to Apple (specific terms were not disclosed). In addition, the consumer data derived from app store sales will belong to Apple and shared as the company sees fit, although Mr. Cue said that “magazine publishers will know a lot more about subscribers on the iPad than they ever did about print subscribers.”  

"By teaming with Apple, Condé Nast and other publishers gain access to a database of 200 million credit card holders and a sales environment where billions of songs and millions of apps have already been sold. But the music industry lesson is one that is not lost on publishing. Apple may have “saved” the music industry, but it is a much smaller business with little control over its pricing" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/business/media/10conde.html?src=rechp, accessed 05-10-2011). 

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Ebooks Outsell Physical Books on Amazon.com May 19, 2011

Since April 1, 2011 Amazon reported that it sold 105 books for its Kindle ebook (e-book) reader for every 100 hardcover and paperback physical books.

At this time ebook sales represented 14% of of all general consumer fiction and nonfiction books sold, according to Forrester Research.

Amazon introduced the Kindle on November 19, 2007.

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"Physical Archiving is Still an Important Function in the Digital Era."The Internet Archive Builds an Archive of Physical Books June 6, 2011

In one of the more ironic developments since the Internet, the Internet Archive is creating a Physical Archive in Richmond, California, of all books they scanned that they did not have to return to institutional libraries, and of other physical books as well. Their goal is to collect "one coy of every book." Their purposes in doing this are that the physical books are authentic and original versions that can be used in the future, and "If there is ever a controversy about the digital version, the original can be examined." The physical books are being being stored in the most compact archival fashion in environmentally controlled shipping containers placed in warehouses—not in the way an institutional library would store them if they had to provide regular access.

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive explained the Physical Archive of the Internet Archive:

"Digital technologies are changing both how library materials are accessed and increasingly how library materials are preserved. After the Internet Archive digitizes a book from a library in order to provide free public access to people world-wide, these books go back on the shelves of the library. We noticed an increasing number of books from these libraries moving books to 'off site repositories'  to make space in central buildings for more meeting spaces and work spaces. These repositories have filled quickly and sometimes prompt the de-accessioning of books. A library that would prefer to not be named was found to be thinning their collections and throwing out books based on what had been digitized by Google. While we understand the need to manage physical holdings, we believe this should be done thoughtfully and well.  

"Two of the corporations involved in major book scanning have sawed off the bindings of modern books to speed the digitizing process. Many have a negative visceral reaction to the “butchering” of books, but is this a reasonable reaction?  

"A reason to preserve the physical book that has been digitized is that it is the authentic and original version that can be used as a reference in the future. If there is ever a controversy about the digital version, the original can be examined. A seed bank such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen as an authoritative and safe version of crops we are growing. Saving physical copies of digitized books might at least be seen in a similar light as an authoritative and safe copy that may be called upon in the future.  

"As the Internet Archive has digitized collections and placed them on our computer disks, we have found that the digital versions have more and more in common with physical versions. The computer hard disks, while holding digital data, are still physical objects. As such we archive them as they retire after their 3-5 year lifetime. Similarly, we also archive microfilm, which was a previous generation’s access format. So hard drives are just another physical format that stores information. This connection showed us that physical archiving is still an important function in a digital era.  

"There is also a connection between digitized collections and physical collections. The libraries we scan in, rarely want more digital books than the digital versions that we scan from their collections. This struck us as strange until we better understood the craftsmanship required in putting together great collections of books, whether physical or digital. As we are archiving the books, we are carefully recording with the physical book what the identifier for the virtual version, and attaching information to the digital version of where the physical version resides. 

"Therefore we have determined that we will keep a copy of the books we digitize if they are not returned to another library. Since we are interested in scanning one copy of every book ever published, we are starting to collect as many books as we can" (http://blog.archive.org/2011/06/06/why-preserve-books-the-new-physical-archive-of-the-internet-archive/, accessed 06-09-2011).

"Mr. Kahle had the idea for the physical archive while working on the Internet Archive, which has digitized two million books. With a deep dedication to traditional printing — one of his sons is named Caslon, after the 18th-century type designer — he abhorred the notion of throwing out a book once it had been scanned. The volume that yielded the digital copy was special.  

"And perhaps essential. What if, for example, digitization improves and we need to copy the books again?  

“ 'Microfilm and microfiche were once a utopian vision of access to all information,' Mr. Kahle noted, 'but it turned out we were very glad we kept the books' " (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/technology/internet-archives-repository-collects-thousands-of-books.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha25, accessed 03-30-2012).


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College Textbooks Make a Slower Transition from Print to Digital June 6, 2011

College textbooks are slower to make the transition from print to digital than autobiographies, murder mysteries, romance novels and self-help books.  

"Although sites like CourseSmart , a collective effort among the five biggest American academic publishers to offer digital content, have made e-textbooks widely available at prices that are as much as 60 percent lower than the print editions, sales have yet to catch up; e-textbooks made up only 2.8 percent of total U.S. textbook sales in 2010, according to the National Association of College Stores.  

"But a new study by the nonprofit arm of the Pearson Foundation shows that while 55 percent of students still prefer print over digital textbooks, among the 7 percent of students who own tablets devices like iPads, 73 percent prefer digital textbooks. With 70 percent of college students interested in owning a tablet, and 15 percent saying they plan to buy one in the next six months, the survey suggests that there may be a coming rise in the e-textbook market.  

"For the e-textbook market, the Pearson Foundation’s study represents an optimistic departure from data released in January by the Book Industry Study Group, or B.I.S.G., which concluded that 75 percent of students still prefer print textbooks to digital.  'Those B.I.S.G. statistics are really not surprising,' said Matt MacInnis, chief executive of Inkling, a San Francisco startup that has designed an application to help major academic publishers, like McGraw-Hill and Pearson, recreate their higher education textbooks for the iPad. In the process, Inkling has become the front-runner in the tablet-textbook market.  

“ 'Up until now, digital textbooks were a flat — no value-added PDF version of the print edition, so you’re basically asking students if they prefer an inferior product,' Mr. MacInnis said. 'So it’s no surprise students weren’t interested.' Inkling seeks to resolve the basic issues that many students have found problematic on PDF versions of textbooks, like the difficulty of highlighting and note-taking. The company’s textbooks also use audio, video and interactive features like quizzes and note-sharing tools to create content that Mr. MacInnis calls 'light years better than what you can get in print.'

"In the Inkling version of 'The Art of Public Speaking' by Stephen E. Lucas, students can listen to the top 100 American speeches, watch corresponding video, and follow along on a printed transcript. Students can zoom in on a photo in a biology textbook, and hit a play button to hear a symphony in a music textbook.  'We’re looking to redefine the medium – we’re rebuilding learning content from the ground up,' Mr. MacInnis said.  

"Inkling offers fewer than 30 titles, but by this autumn, Mr. MacInnis estimates that 100 titles will be ready for sale. Inkling’s titles are about 20 percent less expensive than a new edition of the print textbook, but they are also available by the chapter for $2.99.  

"As more companies enter the tablet textbook market, textbook prices will most likely decrease as competition heats up, said Osman Rashid, chief executive of Kno, a Silicon Valley startup that is to introduce a textbook application, also for the iPad, this week.  

“ 'We’re just at the beginning of this market’s potential,' he said. The company plans to expand its software soon to tablets powered by Android, the Google operating system.  

"Mr. Rashid, who was a co-founder of Chegg.com, the popular online textbook rental site, said he was unable to disclose details of the platform until its debut but said Kno has been working with the major academic publishers.  

"Whether publishers will distribute their top-selling titles to multiple tablet-textbook applications or whether it will be a winner-takes-all market remains to be seen. In the meantime, publishers are looking to enter the existing market.  

“ 'There’s really no telling where the market will go, or how this will play out — none of us know the answer, but the tablet is creating some really exciting opportunities,' said Jeff Shelstad, chief executive of Flat World Knowledge, a publisher of college textbooks.  

Under an open license model, Flat World’s textbooks can be edited by individual professors to fit a specific course. Flat World allows students to get the book online free, and offers other formats, like print and e-textbook for a fee. Flat World is now looking to redevelop their textbooks for the tablet market as well, and is in talks with Inkling.

“ 'In this industry, print has been the premium experience. In our model, it’s the degraded experience, and this means we’ll have an easier time translating into the tablet market,' Mr. Shelstad said.  

"Hal Plotkin, the senior policy advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, says he thinks that the tablet textbook market is raising some interesting possibilities.  

“ 'There’s a long way to go,' he said, 'but this is getting a discussion going, and it’s widening the playing field in terms of content providers.'

"Mr. Plotkin said he expected to see a complete overhaul in 'educational delivery systems' over the next 15 years. 'Affordable technologies,' he said, 'are coming together with ubiquitously available, high-quality, teaching and learning resources to create a real revolution.' "(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/business/media/06iht-EDUCSIDE06.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=digital%20textbooks%20slow%20to%20catch%20on&st=cse

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South Korea to Shift All Primary and High School Textbooks to Digital by 2015 July 2011

"South Korea’s Education Ministry announced last week that it plans to replace all printed textbooks with digital versions in the next four years. It’s part of a larger effort to integrate technology into all aspects of the South Korean education system, including moving all nationwide academic exams online and offering more online classes.  

"The Education Ministry says that it plans to have elementary-level content digitized by 2014, with high school level content ready by 2015.

"But making textbooks available in an electronic format isn’t a simple undertaking. Nor is it as easy as just offering digital versions of existing books. All of the supplementary material that often accompanies textbooks — handouts, quizzes, study guides, and so on — must also be digitized. A move to e-textbooks opens opportunities for new kinds of content as well, with more multimedia and interactivity available.  

"But there are also new challenges: how will this material be stored? Which format will it be offered? Will it be accessible to all students? What infrastructure needs to be in place — for schools, for teachers, and for students — to make sure that print textbooks really can be replaced? According to Chosunilbo, the government wants to build a cloud-based computing system for all schools that will store a massive database of all digital textbooks. It also plans to help boost the WiFi infrastructure there, so that students and teachers can all access and download the materials. Furthermore the government says it will give tablets to low-income students.  

" 'We don’t expect the shift to digital textbooks to be difficult as students today are very accustomed to the digital environment,”said an Education Ministry official in the Chosunilbo article.  

"As we covered on MindShift earlier this year, South Korea has been on the cutting edge with adoption of a number of educational technologies and is experimenting with telepresence and robot instructors. As e-schoolnews points out, students in South Korea have scored higher than those in any other country on the Digital Reading Assessment exam — part of the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. The Digital Reading Assessment exam measures students’ ability to use and critically evaluate Web-based sources.  

"The commitment on the part of South Korea to go digital with its textbooks is part of a growing trend. The State of Florida, for example, has also expressed its interest in moving to a paperless classroom, and California is moving in that direction, as are other states. The South Korean plan will involve some W2.2 trillion (approximately $2.1 billion) of investment — a hefty price tag for a school system that is already more 'wired' than many U.S. classrooms. That begs the question, of course, as to the realities of which education systems will be able to follow the South Korean initiative" (http://mindshift.kqed.org/2011/07/south-korean-schools-go-paperless-can-others-follow/, accessed 11-20-2011).

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Consumer Reports Begins Generating More Revenue from Digital Subscriptions than from Print August 2011

In August 2011, Consumer Reports (published by non-profit Consumers Union based in Yonkers, New York) which started its website in 1997, began generating more revenue from digital subscriptions than from print. Digital subscriptions grew from 557,000 in 2001 to 3.3 million in 2011.

Perhaps more remarkably, the digital success of Consumer Reports, did not come from cannibalizing its print subscriptions; print subscriptions held steady at about 4 million since 2001.

"Consumer Reports’ online success is not necessarily a bellwether for other Web sites seeking paying subscribers, says Bill Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and formerly managing editor of WSJ.com.

“ 'It isn’t much of a leap for people to pay $5.95 a month for access to a database that will help them make a wise purchase of a $500 dishwasher or a $25,000 car,' Mr. Grueskin says. 'It is much harder to get consumers — particularly those trained for the past 15 years to expect content for free — to pay for coverage of metro news, football games or politics' ” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/business/media/consumer-reports-going-strong-at-75-digital-domain.html?_r=1&src=rechp, accessed 12-11-2011).

(This entry was last revised on 10-18-2014.)

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Interactive Reading and Spelling on the iPad August 18, 2011

"Word Wizard ($3.99) turns your iPad into a talking typewriter, and a powerful language-learning tool that is ideal for a child learning to read.

"To build a word, you simply touch a letter and drag it next to another letter. It snaps into place and pronounces the result in clear speech. This is an important breakthrough in reading instruction, because it leverages the iPad’s size, powerful speech synthesis abilities and touchscreen, so that every letter can be a building block of phonetically accurate sound.

"There are two modes: Movable Alphabet, for free exploration of word combinations; and Spelling Quiz, a talking spelling test with 173 built-in word lists (e.g., nature words, or 1,000 most frequently used words). In the spelling tests, you hear the word, and must spell it using the same alphabet strip used in the Movable Alphabet. Because the letters are arranged alphabetically, this is not good for typing or fast text entry. There’s a British voice mode, plus the ability to change the speed or tone of the voice, uppercase or lowercase letters, and two backgrounds. And yes, even vulgarities are read out loud, in clear speech. Consider yourself warned" (http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/speak-n-spell-for-the-ipad-generation/?nl=technology&emc=cta3, accessed 08-18-2011).

"L'Escapadou is a family design studio dedicated to creating fun, creative and entertaining apps for iPad and iPhone, with a focus on educational apps for kids.  

"We are a homeschooling family, and watching our children - 4 and 7 years old - learn has always been a great inspiration for the educational tools we make. Most have also been inspired by the Montessori method. We also have a strong belief that creativity is essential to a kid’s development and well-being, which led us to create toys such as Draw with Stars !  

"All the family is working to create great user experience for kids. Design and graphics are done by Dad and Mum, Programming is done by Dad, and testing and feedback is done by our two daughters !  

"L'Escapadou was created after the launch of the iPad, with the belief that the iPad is a great tool for kids to learn and be creative. “Dad” has developped and designed applications on Apple computers since Apple IIe and holds a PhD in computer Science, and “Mom” is a translator currently busy home-educating her daughters" (http://lescapadou.com/LEscapadou_-_Fun_and_Educational_applications_for_iPad_and_IPhone/About.html, accessed 03-26-2012).

http://blog.lescapadou.com/2011/10/how-ive-made-200000-in-ios-education.html?spref=bl, accessed 03-26-2012.

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Michael Hart, Father of eBooks & Founder of Project Gutenberg, Dies September 6, 2011

"AMONG the episodes in his life that didn’t last, that were over almost before they began, including a spell in the army and a try at marriage, Michael Hart was a street musician in San Francisco. He made no money at it, but then he never bought into the money system much—garage-sale T-shirts, canned beans for supper, were his sort of thing. He gave the music away for nothing because he believed it should be as freely available as the air you breathed, or as the wild blackberries and raspberries he used to gorge on, growing up, in the woods near Tacoma in Washington state. All good things should be abundant, and they should be free.  

"He came to apply that principle to books, too. Everyone should have access to the great works of the world, whether heavy (Shakespeare, 'Moby-Dick', pi to 1m places), or light (Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, the 'Kama Sutra'). Everyone should have a free library of their own, the whole Library of Congress if they wanted, or some esoteric little subset; he liked Romanian poetry himself, and Herman Hesse’s 'Siddhartha'. The joy of e-books, which he invented, was that anyone could read those books anywhere, free, on any device, and every text could be replicated millions of times over. He dreamed that by 2021 he would have provided a million e-books each, a petabyte of information that could probably be held in one hand, to a billion people all over the globe—a quadrillion books, just given away. As powerful as the Bomb, but beneficial.

"That dream had grown from small beginnings: from him, a student at the University of Illinois in Urbana, hanging round a huge old mainframe computer on the night of the Fourth of July in 1971, with the sound of fireworks still in his ears. The engineers had given him by his reckoning $100m-worth of computer time, in those infant days of the internet. Wondering what to do, ferreting in his bag, he found a copy of the Declaration of Independence he had been given at the grocery store, and a light-bulb pinged on in his head. Slowly, on a 50-year-old Teletype machine with punched-paper tape, he began to bang out 'When in the Course of human events…'  

"This was the first free e-text, and none better as a declaration of freedom from the old-boy network of publishing. What he typed could not even be sent as an e-mail, in case it crashed the ancient Arpanet system; he had to send a message to say that it could be downloaded. Six people did, of perhaps 100 on the network. It was followed over years by the Gettysburg Address, the Constitution and the King James Bible, all arduously hand-typed, full of errors, by Mr Hart. No one particularly noticed. He mended people’s hi-fis to get by. Then from 1981, with a growing band of volunteer helpers scanning, rather than typing, a flood of e-texts gathered. By 2011 there were 33,000, accumulating at a rate of 200 a month, with translations into 60 languages, all given away free. No wonder money-oriented rivals such as Google and Yahoo! sprang up all round as the new century dawned, claiming to have invented e-books before him. He called his enterprise Project Gutenberg. This was partly because Gutenberg with his printing press had put wagonloads of books within the reach of people who had never read before; and also because printing had torn down the wall between haves and have-nots, literate and illiterate, rich and poor, until whole power-structures toppled. Mr Hart, for all his burly, hippy affability, was a cyber-revolutionary, with a snappy list of the effects he expected e-books to have:

Books prices plummet.

Literacy rates soar.

Education rates soar.

Old structures crumble, as did the Church.

Scientific Revolution.

Industrial Revolution.

Humanitarian Revolution.

"If all these upheavals were tardier than he hoped, it was because of the Mickey Mouse copyright laws. Every time men found a speedier way to spread information to each other, government made it illegal. During the lifetime of Project Gutenberg alone, the average time a book stayed in copyright in America rose from 30 to almost 100 years. Mr Hart tried to keep out of trouble, posting works that were safely in the public domain, but chafed at being unable to give away books that were new, and fought all copyright extensions like a tiger. “Unlimited distribution” was his mantra. Give everyone everything! Break the bars of ignorance down!

"The power of plain words

"He lived without a mobile phone, in a chaos of books and wiring. The computer hardware in his basement, from where he kept an unbossy watch over the whole project, often not bothering to pick up his monthly salary, was ten years old, and the software 20. Simple crowdsourcing was his management style, where people scanned or keyed in works they loved and sent them to him. Project Gutenberg books had a frugal look, with their Plain Vanilla ASCII format, which might have been produced on an old typewriter; but then it was content, not form, that mattered to Mr Hart. These were great thoughts, and he was sending them to people everywhere, available to read at the speed of light, and free as the air they breathed." (http://www.economist.com/node/21530075, accessed 09-27-2011).

♦ For another obituary of Michael Hart, of Urbana, Illinois, I recommend that in Brewster Kahle's Blog, post of September 7, 2011.

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Amazon Introduces the Kindle Fire September 28 – November 14, 2011

On September 28, 2011 Amazon announced the Kindle Fire, a tablet computer version of Amazon.com's Kindle e-book reader, with a  7" color multi-touch display with IPS technology, running a forked version of Google's Android operating system. The device, which included access to the Amazon Appstore, streaming movies and TV shows, and Kindle's e-books, was released on November 14, 2011 for $199.

In January 2012 Amazon advertised that there were 19 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books available for the Kindle Fire.

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What Would an Infinite Digital Bookcase Look Like? October 18, 2011

Digital information is not constrained by traditional limitations of cost and space, raising the possibility of collecting and presenting virtually unlimited numbers of books. What would an "infinite digital bookcase" look like and how would it work?

On October 18, 2011 Google demonstrated a spectacular design in the "Official Google Blog:

"As digital designers, we often think about how to translate traditional media into a virtual space. Recently, we thought about the bookcase. What would it look like if it was designed to hold digital books?

"A digital interface needs to be familiar enough to be intuitive, while simultaneously taking advantage of the lack of constraints in a virtual space. In this case, we imagined something that looks like the shelves in your living room, but is also capable of showcasing the huge number of titles available online—many more than fit on a traditional shelf. With this in mind, we designed a digital bookcase that’s an infinite 3D helix. You can spin it side-to-side and up and down with your mouse. It holds 3D models of more than 10,000 titles from Google Books.  

"The books are organized into 28 subjects. To choose a subject, click the subject button near the top of your screen when viewing the bookcase. The camera then flies to that subject. Clicking on a book pulls it off the shelf and brings it to the front and center of the screen. Click on the high-resolution cover and the book will open to a page with title and author information as well as a short synopsis, provided by the Google Books API. All of the visuals are rendered with WebGL, a technology in Google Chrome and other modern browsers that enables fast, hardware-accelerated 3D graphics right in the browser, without the need for a plug-in.  "If you’ve finished your browsing and find a book you want to read, you can click the “Get this book” button on the bottom right of the page, which will send you to that book’s page on books.google.com. Or, you can open the title on your phone or tablet via the QR code that’s in the bottom left corner of the page, using a QR code app like Google Goggles. You can also browse just free books by selecting the “Free Books” subject in the subject viewer.

"Bookworms using a modern browser can try the WebGL Bookcase today." 

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Digital Books Represent 25% of Sales of Some Categories of Books but Less than 5% of Childrens' Books November 20, 2011

An article entitled "For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper," published in The New York Times, suggested that many parents, including those highly sophisticated with computing and the Internet, believe that children learn to read most efficiently from physical books because interacting with the physical object continues to have value beyond content alone, especially, it is believed, in developmental stages of reading, and in learning the "reading habit." Electronic books and e-book readers, they believe, represent distractions for young children. 

"As the adult book world turns digital at a faster rate than publishers expected, sales of e-books for titles aimed at children under 8 have barely budged. They represent less than 5 percent of total annual sales of children’s books, several publishers estimated, compared with more than 25 percent in some categories of adult books" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/business/for-their-children-many-e-book-readers-insist-on-paper.html?hp, accessed 11-20-2011)

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Rapid Growth of the Digital Textbook Market in the U.S. November 23, 2011

"According to the Student Monitor, a private student market research company based in [Ridgewood] New Jersey, about 5 percent of all textbooks acquired in the autumn in the United States were digital textbooks. That is more than double the 2.1 percent of the spring semester.  

"Simba Information, a research company specializing in publishing, estimates that electronic textbooks will generate $267.3 million this year in sales in the United States. That is a rise of 44.3 percent over last year. The American Association of Publishers estimates that the college textbooks industry generated a total of $4.58 billion in sales last year.

"Kathy Micky, a senior analyst at Simba, said digital textbooks were expected 'to be the growth driver for the industry in the future.' Her company estimates that by 2013, digital textbooks will make up 11 percent of the textbook market revenue" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/world/americas/schoolwork-gets-swept-up-in-rush-to-go-digital.html?hpw, accessed 11-25-2011).

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Signalling the Shift from Print to Digital and to More Accurate Metrics of the Effectiveness of Advertising November 30, 2011

Time Warner hired Laura Lang, former CEO of Digitas, which characterized itself as the largest digital advertising agency, "with over 3000 employees in 32 offices across 19 countries," to run its Time, Inc. magazine division, signalling a shift in focus from print to digital at the largest magazine publisher in the United States, and a transition to more accurate metrics of the effectiveness of advertising.

"It’s a bold hire and Ms. Lang has an excellent reputation, but it’s a bracing moment for the print romantics among us. Time Inc., the home of Olympian brands like Time, People and Fortune, will be run by an executive who would not know a print run from a can of green beans.  

"As recently as, well, the day before Ms. Lang was hired, it would have been unthinkable that a large consumer magazine group would be run by someone with plenty of experience buying ads for clients, but with no experience selling them. But Ms. Lang knows other things that could come in handy, including how to use multimedia and social media to increase reader engagement in a way magazines rarely achieve.  

"As the head of Digitas, a unit of the Publicis Groupe, she was at the vanguard of a movement to direct advertising dollars toward specific audiences and away from big advertising buys adjacent to articles — in other words, away from businesses like Time Inc.  

"As far back as five years ago she articulated the shift.  

“ 'We’re seeing clients shift dollars into channels that can get a direct engagement, that can get a direct, accountable experience' she said in an interview with Direct, a marketing industry publication.  

"That doesn’t sound like a two-page ad spread in Fortune to me. 

"Traditional media has historically done well by selling inefficiency. In order to reach those among People magazine’s 3.5 million readers who were interested in buying a car or a coffeepot, you had to buy an ad that everyone else flipped past. As a serious practitioner of the science of audience-and-data-driven buys, Ms. Lang helped clients erase those inefficiencies through targeted buys, allowing them to get the milk without having to buy the whole cow.  

"A good magazine will do many things for a brand, including bestowing luster and creating awareness by osmosis. What magazines have not been able to do is to provide reliable measures of effectiveness. Part of the reason that magazine companies have so eagerly hopped on the iPad and other tablets is that those products will finally be able to provide data showing a return on the investment of advertising dollars. It isn’t a reach to bet that Ms. Lang will help magazine publishers be a part of a media age built on metrics" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/05/business/media/at-time-inc-a-leader-to-help-it-fit-the-new-digital-order.html?_r=1&src=dayp, accessed 12-11-2011).

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Amazon.com Sold More Than 4 Million Kindles in December 2011 December 2011

"SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 29, 2011-- (NASDAQ: AMZN) - Amazon.com, Inc. today announced that 2011 was the best holiday ever for the Kindle family as customers purchased millions of Kindle Fires and millions of Kindle e-readers. Authors also continue to benefit from the success of Kindle — the #1 and #4 best-selling Kindle books released in 2011 were both published independently by their authors using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)."

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Statistics on European and U.S. eBook Sales December 1, 2011

". . . Electronic book sales are growing quickly. The European Federation of Publishers, an industry group based in Brussels, estimated that e-book sales would rise 20 percent or more this year from an estimated €350 million, or $462 million, in 2010.  

"Sales of printed books, which account for more than 98 percent of all book purchases, are stagnating. Sales of all books reached €23.5 billion last year, down 2 percent after adjusting for currency fluctuations, from their level in 2007." 

"In 2010, U.S. e-book sales rose to $878 million, or 6.4 percent of the trade book market, according to BookStats, an annual survey of the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. In adult fiction, e-books accounted for 13.6 percent of all revenue in 2010, the group said" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/02/technology/eu-e-book-sales-hampered-by-tax-structure.html?_r=1&hpw, accessed 12-02-2011).

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2012 – 2016

Sales of eBook Readers in 2011 January 5, 2012

"In 2011, manufacturers shipped about 30 million e-book readers over all, up 108 percent from 2010. . . .  

"Then in 2015, the reader market will shrink to 38 million, presumably because consumers will be attracted to tablets.  

"Sales of touch-screen tablets have continued to be strong. Apple’s iPad shipped upward of 40 million units in 2011 alone, according to estimates by Forrester, a research firm.  

"Amazon and Barnes & Noble are blurring the lines between e-readers and tablets with the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet. Forrester Research estimates that in the fourth quarter of 2011, Amazon shipped about five million units of the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble shipped about two million Tablets" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/technology/nook-from-barnes-noble-gains-more-e-book-readers.html?src=rechp, accessed 01-05-2012).

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Apple Introduces iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and iTunes U January 19, 2012

Apple released iBooks 2, a free app to support digital textbooks that could display interactive diagrams, audio and video. At a news conference at the Guggenheim Museum in New York the company demonstrated a biology textbook featuring 3-D models, searchable text, photo galleries and flash cards for studying. Apple said high school textbooks from its initial publishing partners, including Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, would cost $15 or less.  

"Apple also announced a free tool called iBooks Author, a piece of Macintosh software that allows people to make these interactive textbooks. The tool includes templates designed by Apple, which publishers and authors can customize to suit their content. It requires no programming knowledge and will be available Thursday. 

"The company also unveiled the iTunes U app for the iPad, which allows teachers to build an interactive syllabus for their coursework. Students can load the syllabus in iTunes U and, for example, tap to open an electronic textbook and go directly to the assigned chapter. Teachers can use iTunes U to create full online courses with podcasts, video, documents and books" (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/apple-unveils-tools-for-digital-textbooks/?nl=technology&emc=cta4, accessed 01-19-2012). 

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After Digitizing Over 20 Million Books Expansion of the Google Books Project Begins to Slow March 9, 2012

"Google has been quietly slowing down its book-scanning work with partner libraries, according to librarians involved with the vast Google Books digitization project. But what that means for the company's long-term investment in the work remains unclear.  Google was not willing to say much about its plans. 'We've digitized more than 20 million books to date and continue to scan books with our library partners,' a Google spokeswoman told The Chronicle in an e-mailed statement.  

"Librarians at several of Google's partner institutions, including the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin systems, confirmed that the pace has slowed. 'They're still scanning. They're scanning at a lower rate than the peak,' said Paul N. Courant, Michigan's dean of libraries.  

"At Wisconsin, the scanning pace is 'something less than half of what it was' in 2006, the year the work started there, said Edward V. Van Gemert, the university's interim director of libraries.  

"Wisconsin's agreement with Google stipulated that the scanning would continue for at least six years or until half a million works had been digitized. 'We anticipated this slowdown,' he said (The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 9, 2012, accessed 01-27-2013).

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U.S. Justice Department Sues Major Publishers Over the Pricing of eBooks; Amazon Wins April 12, 2012

“ 'Amazon must be unbelievably happy today,' said Michael Norris, a book publishing analyst with Simba Information. 'Had they been puppeteering this whole play, it could not have worked out better for them.'

"Amazon, which already controls about 60 percent of the e-book market, can take a loss on every book it sells to gain market share for its Kindle devices. When it has enough competitive advantage, it can dictate its own terms, something publishers say is beginning to happen.  

"The online retailer declined to comment Wednesday beyond its statement about lowering prices. Asked last month if Amazon had been talking to the Justice Department about the investigation — a matter of intense speculation in the publishing industry — a spokesman, Craig Berman, said, 'I can’t comment.'  

"Traditional bookstores, which have been under pressure from the Internet for years, fear that the price gap between the physical books they sell and e-books from Amazon will now grow so wide they will lose what is left of their market. Barnes & Noble stores, whose Nook is one of the few popular e-readers that is not built by Amazon, could suffer the same fate, analysts say.  

“ 'To stay healthy, this industry needs a lot of retailers that have a stake in the future of the product,' Mr. Norris said. 'The bookstore up the street from my office is not trying to gain market share. They’re trying to make money by selling one book at a time to one person at a time.'

"Electronic books have been around for more than a decade, but took off only when Amazon introduced the first Kindle e-reader in 2007. It immediately built a commanding lead. The antitrust case had its origins in the leading publishers’ struggle to control the power of Amazon, which had one point had 90 percent of the market.  

"Apple’s introduction of the iPad in early 2010 seemed to offer a way to combat Amazon" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/business/media/amazon-to-cut-e-book-prices-shaking-rivals.html?_r=1&hp, accessed 04-12-2012).

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"Companies that have existed for centuries could be gone in a generation unless they make a single radical change." April 18, 2012

"Publishers who want to stay in business are going to have to start selling books without digital rights management, says science fiction author Charlie Stross. DRM locks customers into individual ebookstores and devices, which is the primary way that Amazon perpetuates its stranglehold on this market.

"For AMZN, the big six insistence on DRM on ebooks was a windfall: it made the huge investment in the Kindle platform worthwhile, and by 2010 Amazon had come close to an 85% market share in the ebook sector (which was growing at a dizzying compound rate of 100-200% per annum, albeit from a small base). And now we get to 2012, and ebooks are likely to hit 40% of total publishing sales by the end of this year, and are on the way to 60% within five years (per Tim Hely Hutchinson, CEO of Hachette UK). In five years, we've gone from <1% to >40%. That's disruption for you!  

"As an author, it's theoretically in Stross's interest to maintain the DRM business as usual. But he argues, and I think recent history is on his side, that "the real driver for piracy is the lack of convenient access to desirable content at a competitive price."  

" As one of only two publishers who have decided not to settle with the DOJ in its case against them (the other is Penguin), Macmillan is now in a unique position: It's a large, profitable company that is willing to experiment, but also inherently conservative precisely because of its success.  

"I single out Macmillan because -- full disclosure -- I collaborated on new projects with the then-head of Macmillan US when I was an editor at Scientific American. It strikes me as exactly the sort of organization that is teetering on the edge of being the first do do the radical thing that's required to save itself -- namely, eliminate DRM from its ebooks and therefore destroy the Monopsony that Amazon will otherwise cement.

"When I wrote last week that I didn't think it particularly mattered whether or not Amazon became an e-book monopoly, because straight text is the most platform-independent kind of content in existence, I forgot that we still live in a world in which books purchased from Amazon can only be read on Amazon's devices and apps.  

"It's abundantly clear that publishers that survive in an Amazon world will be those who disrupt Amazon itself. If Amazon's aim is to "cut out the middleman" then the next logical step is for publishers to cut out the middleman that is Amazon.

"Stross lays it out in stark terms: And so [publishers] will deep-six their existing commitment to DRM and use the terms of the DoJ-imposed settlement to wiggle out of the most-favoured-nation terms imposed by Amazon, in order to sell their wares as widely as possible.  

"If they don't, they're doomed.  

"There is one other outcome that is possible, and unfortunately for existing publishers, I think it's the most likely: New publishing companies will spring up that are willing to publish books sans DRM. This will lead to (some) piracy but will also return to these companies the power to price their wares as they see fit. These companies will also, incidentally, not be saddled by the legacy costs of existing publishers. And in this way companies that have existed for centuries will be radically transformed -- or else cease to exist" (http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/27769/?nlid=nldly&nld=2012-04-18, accessed 04-18-2012).

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Microsoft Invests in Barnes & Noble's Nook eBook Reader Division April 30, 2012

On April 30, 2012 Microsoft announced  that it would invest $300 million in Barnes & Noble’s Nook division for a 17.6 percent stake. The deal valued Barnes & Noble's eBook reader business at $1.7 billion.  Notably that is nearly double what Barnes & Noble’s entire market capitalization was on Friday, April 27, and more than what Barnes & Noble was valued at any time since mid-2008.

Barnes & Noble, the largest bookselling chain in the United States, wagered heavily on the Nook, competing against Amazon’s Kindle and Apple's iPad.

"The Nook division’s growth has come at enormous financial cost, weighing down on Barnes & Noble’s bottom line and prompting the strategic review. The retailer added on Monday that it was still weighing other options for the business.

"Through the deal, the two companies will settle their patent disputes, and Barnes & Noble will produce a Nook e-reading application for the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system, which will run on traditional computers and tablets.  

"The new division, which has yet to be renamed, will also include Barnes & Noble’s college business. It is meant to help the business compete in what many expect to be a growth area for e-books: the education market, something that Apple has already set its sights on.  

" The new company and 'our relationship with Microsoft are important parts of our strategy to capitalize on the rapid growth of the Nook business, and to solidify our position as a leader in the exploding market for digital content in the consumer and education segments,' William J. Lynch Jr., Barnes & Noble’s chief executive, said in a statement (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/microsoft-to-take-stake-in-barnes-nobles-nook-unit/?hp, accessed 04-30-2012).

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The First Annual Report Issued by a Museum in an eBook Format May 7, 2012

On May 7, 2012 the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) issued its report for its 2011 fiscal year as an iPad app.  Story of a Year was the first annual report issued by a museum in an eBook format.

"Covering the period from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011, Story of a Year lets users see the big picture or explore in depth with the touch of a finger complete details on all of the museum's exhibitions, programs, and acquisitions. Unlike a traditional paper or PDF annual report, the app takes full advantage of the iPad's intuitive interface to deliver an array of content that takes viewers behind the scenes at the museum—all without leaving the platform. Throughout, links within the app and to SFMOMA's website provide easy access to even more content and context" (http://www.sfmoma.org/about/press/press_news/releases/923, accessed 05-09-2012).

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How eBooks Are Changing Fiction Writing and Publishing May 12, 2012

"For years, it was a schedule as predictable as a calendar: novelists who specialized in mysteries, thrillers and romance would write one book a year, output that was considered not only sufficient, but productive.

"But the e-book age has accelerated the metabolism of book publishing. Authors are now pulling the literary equivalent of a double shift, churning out short stories, novellas or even an extra full-length book each year.  

"They are trying to satisfy impatient readers who have become used to downloading any e-book they want at the touch of a button, and the publishers who are nudging them toward greater productivity in the belief that the more their authors’ names are out in public, the bigger stars they will become. . . .

"The push for more material comes as publishers and booksellers are desperately looking for ways to hold onto readers being lured by other forms of entertainment, much of it available nonstop and almost instantaneously. Television shows are rushed online only hours after they are originally broadcast, and some movies are offered on demand at home before they have left theaters. In this environment, publishers say, producing one a book a year, and nothing else, is just not enough.  

"At the same time, the Internet has allowed readers to enjoy a more intimate relationship with their favorite authors, whom they now expect to be accessible online via blogs, Q. and A.’s on Twitter and updates on Facebook. . . .

"Publishers say that a carefully released short story, timed six to eight weeks before a big hardcover comes out, can entice new readers who might be willing to pay 99 cents for a story but reluctant to spend $14 for a new e-book or $26 for a hardcover.  

"That can translate into higher preorder sales for the novel and even a lift in sales of older books by the author, which are easily accessible as e-book impulse purchases for consumers with Nooks or Kindles" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/business/in-e-reader-age-of-writers-cramp-a-book-a-year-is-slacking.html, accessed 05-14-2012)

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Growing Adoption of the eBook Format in the U. S. May 29, 2012

"One thing, however, is certain, and about it publishers agree: e-book sales as a percentage of overall revenue are skyrocketing. Initially such sales were a tiny proportion of overall revenue; in 2008, for instance, they were under 1 percent. No more. The head of one major publisher told me that in 2010 e-book sales accounted for 11 percent of his house’s revenue. By the end of 2011 it had more than tripled to 36 percent for the year. As John Thompson reports in the revised 2012 edition of his authoritative Merchants of Culture, in 2011 e-book sales for most publishers were “between 18 and 22 percent (possibly even higher for some houses).” Hardcover sales, the foundation of the business, continue to decline, plunging 13 percent in 2008 and suffering similar declines in the years since. According to the Pew Research Center’s most recent e-reading survey, 21 percent of American adults report reading an e-book in the past year. Soon one out of every three sales of adult trade titles will be in the form of an e-book. Readers of e-books are especially drawn to escapist and overtly commercial genres (romance, mysteries and thrillers, science fiction), and in these categories e-book sales have bulked up to as large as 60 percent. E-book sales are making inroads even with so-called literary fiction. Thompson cites Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, one of America’s most distinguished houses and one of several American imprints now owned by the German conglomerate Holtzbrinck. Franzen’s novel sold three-quarters of a million hardcover copies and a quarter-million e-books in the first twelve months of publication. (Franzen, by the way, detests electronic books, and is also the guy who dissed Oprah when she had the gumption to pick his earlier novel, The Corrections, for her popular book club.) Did Franzen’s e-book sales depress his hardcover sales, or did the e-book iteration introduce new readers to his work? It’s hard to know, but it’s likely a bit of both" (http://www.thenation.com/article/168125/amazon-effect, accessed 06-03-2012).

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A 3D Virtual Reality Reader for eBooks October 2012

In October 2012 the Münchener Digitalisierungs Zentrum of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München (Munich Digitization Center of the Bavarian State Library in Munich) introduced the 3D-BSB Explorer, a gesture-controlled 3D Interactive Book Reader developed jointly by the center and the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute.

"For the first time ever, magnificent over one thousand year old books are also on view in a digital 3D format at the "Magnificent Manuscripts – Treasures of Book Illumination" exhibition at the Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation in Munich. The Interactive 3D BookReader forms part of the exhibition which opens on Friday, 19 October 2012 at the Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation in Munich.  

"Allowing visitors to leaf through volumes illuminated in gold and encrusted with precious stones is something that most museums simply cannot permit. Secure in their glass cases, these exhibits seem remote and untouchable. Yet with the Interactive 3D BookReader, developed by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute in partnership with the Bavarian State Library, visitors can now not only view digitalized books in 3D without any need for special glasses, but browse through them, enlarge them and rotate them as well. The Interactive 3D BookReader opens up virtual access to these magnificent treasures of the art of illumination. Visitors don’t even need to touch the screen as an infrared camera captures the movements of one or more of their fingers while image processing software identifies their position in space in real-time. This is how they can move, browse, rotate and scale the exhibits shown on the screen. Even the slightest of finger movements can be translated into movements of the cursor. The monitor screen of the Interactive 3D BookReader shows the user's right and left eye two slightly offset images which combine to give an in-depth impression. The two stereo views are adapted to correspond to the viewer's actual position. This means that visitors don't need special 3D glasses to view the books in three dimensions" (http://www.hhi.fraunhofer.de/media/press/experience-magnificent-books-in-digital-3d.html, accessed 02-23-2013).

In February 2013 a video demonstration of the 3D-BSB Explorer was available on YouTube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpSP2ojWtIs&feature=youtu.be

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Penguin to Merge with Random House October 29, 2012

On October 29, 2012 Bertelsmann, based in Gütersloh, Germany and Pearson, based in London, announced that they planned to combine their book publishing divisions, Random House and Penguin.  This merger, which could put as much as 25% of the American new book production in the hands of one company, was seen as the result of the growing power in the eBook market of dominant technology companies including Amazon, Apple and Google which pressured publishers to adjust their eBook strategy during a period in which traditional brick and mortar bookstores were disappearing.

"Under the agreement, Bertelsmann, which owns Random House, would control 53 percent of the merged publishers. Bertelsmann and Pearson would share executive oversight, with Markus Dohle of Random House serving as chief executive and John Makinson of Penguin becoming the chairman.  

"The deal would consolidate Random House’s position as the largest consumer book publisher in the English-language world, giving the combined companies greater scale to deal with the challenges arising from the growth of e-books and the rise of Internet retailers like Amazon.  

“ 'Together, the two publishers will be able to share a large part of their costs, to invest more for their author and reader constituencies and to be more adventurous in trying new models in this exciting, fast-moving world of digital books and digital readers,' said Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, which is based in London.  

"By taking control of the company, Bertelsmann . . . hopes to avoid the problems that plagued a 50-50 partnership with Sony of Japan, in which the two companies combined their music recording divisions. The venture, Sony BMG, was riven by management turmoil and differences over strategy, prompting Bertelsmann to sell its share to Sony eventually" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/business/global/random-house-and-penguin-to-be-combined.html, accessed 10-29-2012).

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eBooks Accounted for 22% of All Book Spending in Second Quarter of 2012 November 5, 2012

"E-books accounted for 22% of all book spending in the second quarter of 2012, only a one percentage point gain from the first quarter of the year, but up from 14% in the comparable period in 2011, according to new figures from Bowker Market Research. In the year-to-year comparison, the hardcover and trade paperback segments both lost two percentage points each to e-books, while mass market paperbacks’ share fell from 15% in the second quarter of 2011 to 12% in this year’s second period. 

"With the fall of Borders and the growth of e-books, Amazon increased its market share of consumer book spending between the second quarter of 2011 and 2012, although its growth slowed between the first quarter of 2012 and the second period. Still, the e-tailer was easily the largest single channel for book purchases in the second quarter, with an 11 percentage-point lead over Barnes & Noble. B&N’s share of unit purchases fell by two percentage points between June 2011 and June 2012, most likely due to sluggish sales of print content through BN.com. Independent booksellers managed to hold their own in the period, maintaining a 6% share of units" (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/retailing/article/54609-e-books-market-share-at-22-amazon-has-27.html, accessed 11-05-2012).

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Penguin Books Introduces a New eBook Lending Program November 19, 2012

On November 19, 2012 Penguin Books, one of the world's largest publishers, announced a new ebook lending program.  Because of concerns about the security of digital rights management (DRM)- technospeak for worries about copyright infringement by illegal copying- roughly a year ago, in October 2011 Penguin pulled all of its ebooks from a larger library lending program powered by Overdrive. Those ebooks were also available on Amazon Kindles, and the withdrawal of Penguin's titles from that Overdrive program may also have reflected a growing friction between the publisher and Amazon.com which was competing with publishers not only in distribution but also in the production of new titles.  

"Under the new lending program, Penguin will work with Baker & Tayler [book wholesalers and distributors to libraries] to provide its ebooks to libraries in Los Angeles and Cleveland, Ohio. The program allows library members to check out an ebook, for a limited time, six months after a book becomes available in retail stores. Libraries can only checkout one ebook per person (unless they buy multiple copies, and the library also has to purchase a new license for each ebook every year" (http://venturebeat.com/2012/11/19/penguin-rolling-out-new-ebook-library-lending-program/, accessed 11-19-2012).

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The CEO of Barnes & Noble No Longer Reads Physical Books November 20, 2012

Because in 2012 Barnes & Noble was by far the largest chain of brick and mortar bookstores in the U.S. and probably also in the world, the statement by its CEO that he no longer read physical books—the mainstay of Barnes & Noble—was particularly significant in confirming the direction in which the format of the book was evolving: 

"It's not everyday that the CEO of a major American company say he doesn't use his company's most important product, at least in terms of how much money that product rakes in. Which is probably why it's worth two minutes of your time to listen to Barnes & Noble CEO William J. Lynch, Jr. tell Bloomberg News' Nicole Lapin precisely that in an interview on Friday.  

" 'I don't really read physical books anymore,' Lynch told Lapin while apparently standing in a Barnes & Noble lined with paper books. 'I like to read digitally. My wife is reading a lot of physical books.' 

"We get it: Barnes & Noble, the legacy book seller that introduced its line of NOOK ereaders in 2009, is and has been for some time a digital-first company. It knows that every year a growing portion of the public is reading books on tablets in lieu of physical copies. And for its survival, it wants those tablets to be NOOKs.  

"But it's still a curious thing for Lynch to say, since the majority of B&N's business is still selling pulp and ink. Last quarter, the company made $1.1 billion in revenue from selling books in stores and at BN.com. NOOKs didn't fare as well. The tablet, along with all accessories and content sold on it, only made B&N $192 million, comparable to the same quarter the previous year ($191 million), around the time Amazon's Kindle started winning the hearts and minds of small-tablet buyers.  

"Whether it likes it or not, brick and mortars are still Barnes & Noble's bread and butter. In August, the company attributed that success to 'the liquidation of Borders’ bookstores in fiscal 2012 and strong sales of the Fifty Shades of Grey series,' paidContent's Laura Hazard Owen noted" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/20/william-j-lynch-jr-barnes-noble-ceo_n_2167662.html, accessed 11-22-2012).

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Silvia Hartmann's Novel, "Dragon Lords," Cloud-Sourced with 13,000 Collaborators December 2012

In December 2012 German born researcher, systems designer and author Silvia Hartmann issued The Dragon Lordsperhaps the first cloud-sourced novel. From her website, accessed 01-14-2015:

"In the Summer of 2012, Silvia Hartmann accepted the challenge to write a 'kick ass' fantasy-fiction novel live online on Google Drive as 'The Naked Writer,' trusting in her personal daemon to deliver not just the story, but the order and sequence of the words. Thousands of readers from around the world watched each letter appear on the screen in real time. The Dragon Lords was started on September 12th 2012 and, on November 11th 2012, the last chapter was written live in front of an audience of 150 delegates at the AMT Conference, Gatwick, England."

On December 17, 2012 Robert McCrum reviewed the work in theguardian.com, from which I quote:

"It worked like this. Hartmann's daily 90-minute composition sessions were overseen by hundreds of followers, who could put forward their ideas and influence the plot. Comments were added to the manuscript in real time, with Hartmann responding to them.

"Participants from the UK, US, Brazil, Malaysia, Russia, Australia and New Zealand took part in the project. Their input ranged from critiquing plotlines to actually naming the book. That bit of the process is probably a gimmick. At the end of the day, it's still Hartmann's novel. Indeed, one suspects that the "cloud-sourcing" element is really a new kind of global publicity under another name. I'm not sure that a serious writer, committed to self-expression, would want anything to do with this kind of collaboration. But I digress.

"Dragon Lords was completed between September and November, 2012, which is quick work, but not unseemly. Many famous novels have been written as fast as that. Faulkner famously wrote As I Lay Dying in just over a month. Georges Simenon routinely used to write a police "procedural" in a week.

"However, the making of Dragon Lords is unlike almost any previous English-language novel. More than thirteen thousand people are said to have "interacted" with the title. This is a step-change. (Many books would be grateful to have 1300 readers, let alone 13,000.)

"What's more, in this new world of creativity, all of them were hosted on Google Docs, a word processing tool that promotes and celebrates this kind of collaboration. No surprise, then, that Google is now actively puffing Dragon Lords, mostly as a new-book phenomenon. Everyone involved is being rather coy about its actual literary merit. And indeed, Alison Flood was not convinced by the work in progress. In truth, Dragon Lords is more significant as a technological, rather than a creative, feat." 

The novel was issued in both electronic and print.

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eBook Reading Jumps; Print Book Reading Declines December 17, 2012

"The population of e-book readers is growing. In the past year, the number of those who read e-books increased from 16% of all Americans ages 16 and older to 23%. At the same time, the number of those who read printed books in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population ages 16 and older to 67%.  

"Overall, the number of book readers in late 2012 was 75% of the population ages 16 and older, a small and statistically insignificant decline from 78% in late 2011.  

"The move toward e-book reading coincides with an increase in ownership of electronic book reading devices. In all, the number of owners of either a tablet computer or e-book reading device such as a Kindle or Nook grew from 18% in late 2011 to 33% in late 2012. As of November 2012, some 25% of Americans ages 16 and older own tablet computers such as iPads or Kindle Fires, up from 10% who owned tablets in late 2011. And in late 2012 19% of Americans ages 16 and older own e-book reading devices such as Kindles and Nooks, compared with 10% who owned such devices at the same time last year" (Pew Internet and American Life Project, 12-27-2012).

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The Bexar County, Texas BiblioTech: a Library Devoid of Physical Books January 14 – September 14, 2013

On January 14, 2013 Judge Nelson Wolff, inspired after having read Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, announced that Bexar County, Texas will open in Autumn 2013 a public library entirely devoid of any physical books to be called the BiblioTech

"Not all classic library features will be lost among the modern décor: Bexar County promised study spaces, meeting rooms, and a designated interactive children's area inside of the 4,989-square-foot space.

" 'Students who live in this area of Precinct 1 […] have limited resources to complete research, use a computer or simply read a book outside of their school facilities,' Commissioner Sergio Rodriguez said in a statement. 'Once we open BiblioTech this summer, they will have a world of learning available to them all the time.'

"Located inside the Precinct 1 Satellite Offices on Pleasanton Road, the center will be open seven days a week; the county expects a summer launch. The commissioners' proposal includes 100 e-readers for circulation, 50 pre-loaded enhanced e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops, and 25 tablets to use on-site. The collection will include 10,000 current titles to start" (Pcmag.com, accessed 01-14-2013).

Right on schedule, the BiblioTech opened on September 14, 2013.

"Staffers at San Antonio's BiblioTech say it's the first 'bookless library.' And in addition to its catalog of 10,000 e-books, this techy library also provides a digital lifeline to a low-income neighborhood that sorely needs it.

"BiblioTech opened its doors Sept. 14 on the south side of San Antonio, a mostly Hispanic neighborhood where 40% of households don't have a computer and half lack broadband Internet service.

"Although the library houses no printed books -- and members can even skip the visit by checking out its e-books online -- BiblioTech's staff says the library's physical presence is still key to its success.

" 'We're finding that you really have to get your head around a paradigm shift,' said Laura Cole, BiblioTech's special projects coordinator. 'Our digital library is stored in the cloud, so you don't have to come in to get a book. But we're a traditional library in that the building itself is an important community space.' " (http://money.cnn.com/2013/10/08/technology/innovation/bibliotech-ebook-library/, accessed 11-08-2013).

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The Pew Internet Report on Library Services in the Digital Age January 22, 2013

"Released: Janaury 22, 2013

"Patrons embrace new technologies – and would welcome more. But many still want printed books to hold their central place

"Summary of findings

"The internet has already had a major impact on how people find and access information, and now the rising popularity of e-books is helping transform Americans’ reading habits. In this changing landscape, public libraries are trying to adjust their services to these new realities while still serving the needs of patrons who rely on more traditional resources. In a new survey of Americans’ attitudes and expectations for public libraries, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that many library patrons are eager to see libraries’ digital services expand, yet also feel that print books remain important in the digital age.  

"The availability of free computers and internet access now rivals book lending and reference expertise as a vital service of libraries. In a national survey of Americans ages 16 and older:  

" • 80% of Americans say borrowing books is a “very important” service libraries provide.

" • 80% say reference librarians are a “very important” service of libraries.

" • 77% say free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service of libraries.

"Moreover, a notable share of Americans say they would embrace even wider uses of technology at libraries such as:  

" • Online research services allowing patrons to pose questions and get answers from librarians: 37% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use an “ask a librarian” type of service, and another 36% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

"• Apps-based access to library materials and programs: 35% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

" • Access to technology “petting zoos” to try out new devices: 35% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 34% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

" • GPS-navigation apps to help patrons locate material inside library buildings: 34% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

" • “Redbox”-style lending machines or kiosks located throughout the community where people can check out books, movies or music without having to go to the library itself: 33% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 30% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.

" • “Amazon”-style customized book/audio/video recommendation schemes that are based on patrons’ prior library behavior: 29% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 35% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so." (http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/01/22/library-services/, accessed 03-04-2013).

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Smartphone Interactive Reading Device Will Track Eyes to Scroll Pages March 4, 2013

A much-anticipated new smartphone by Samsung, the South Korean multinational conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul, purports to incorporate a radically new interactive reading device:

"Samsung’s next big smartphone, to be introduced this month, will have a strong focus on software. A person who has tried the phone, called the Galaxy S IV, described one feature as particularly new and exciting: Eye scrolling.

"The phone will track a user’s eyes to determine where to scroll, said a Samsung employee who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. For example, when users read articles and their eyes reach the bottom of the page, the software will automatically scroll down to reveal the next paragraphs of text.

"The source would not explain what technology was being used to track eye movements, nor did he say whether the feature would be demonstrated at the Galaxy S IV press conference, which will be held in New York on March 14. The Samsung employee said that over all, the software features of the new phone outweighed the importance of the hardware.

"Samsung’s booth at this year’s Mobile World Congress. Indeed, Samsung in January filed for a trademark in Europe for the name “Eye Scroll” (No. 011510674). It filed for the “Samsung Eye Scroll” trademark in the United States in February, where it described the service as “Computer application software having a feature of sensing eye movements and scrolling displays of mobile devices, namely, mobile phones, smartphones and tablet computers according to eye movements; digital cameras; mobile telephones; smartphones; tablet computers" (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/samsungs-new-smartphone-will-track-eyes-to-scroll-pages/?hp, accessed 03-05-2013).

When I wrote this entry in March 2013 the Wikipedia article on Samsung stated that Samsung Electronics was the "world's largest information technology company" measured by 2012 revenues. It had retained the number one position since 2009. It was also the world's largest producer of mobile phones, and the world's second largest semiconductor producer after Intel Corporation.

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eBooks Represented 22.55% of U.S. New Book Sales in 2012 March 28, 2013

According to the Association of American Publishers monthly StatShot issued on March 28, 2013, ebooks made up 22.55% of U.S. trade publishers' book sales in 2012—an increase from 17% in 2011 and just 3% of book sales in 2009. 

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"The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens" April 11, 2013

On April 11, 2013 scientificamerican.com, the online version of Scientific American magazine, published "The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens" by Ferris Jabr. From this I quote a portion:

"Before 1992 most studies concluded that people read slower, less accurately and less comprehensively on screens than on paper. Studies published since the early 1990s, however, have produced more inconsistent results: a slight majority has confirmed earlier conclusions, but almost as many have found few significant differences in reading speed or comprehension between paper and screens. And recent surveys suggest that although most people still prefer paper—especially when reading intensively—attitudes are changing as tablets and e-reading technology improve and reading digital books for facts and fun becomes more common. In the U.S., e-books currently make up between 15 and 20 percent of all trade book sales.

"Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people's attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.

" 'There is physicality in reading,' says developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University, 'maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading—as we move forward perhaps with too little reflection. I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms, but know when to use the new.' "

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The Digital Public Library of America is Launched April 18, 2013

On April 2, 2013 the Digital Library of America (DPLA) announced that it would would be launched on April 18, 2013. The vehicle for the announcement was an article by cultural historian and director of Harvard University Libraries Robert Darnton entitled "The National Digital Public Library is Launched!" published in The New York Review of Books.

Darton's article is of interest not only for what it says about the Digital Library of America but also for its comments on other digital libraries in the U.S. I quote representative selections:

"The Digital Public Library of America, to be launched on April 18, is a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans—and eventually to everyone in the world—online and free of charge. How is that possible? In order to answer that question, I would like to describe the first steps and immediate future of the DPLA. But before going into detail, I think it important to stand back and take a broad view of how such an ambitious undertaking fits into the development of what we commonly call an information society.  

"Speaking broadly, the DPLA represents the confluence of two currents that have shaped American civilization: utopianism and pragmatism. The utopian tendency marked the Republic at its birth, for the United States was produced by a revolution, and revolutions release utopian energy—that is, the conviction that the way things are is not the way they have to be. When things fall apart, violently and by collective action, they create the possibility of putting them back together in a new manner, according to higher principles.  

"The American revolutionaries drew their inspiration from the Enlightenment—and from other sources, too, including unorthodox varieties of religious experience and bloody-minded convictions about their birthright as free-born Englishmen. Take these ingredients, mix well, and you get the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights—radical assertions of principle that would never make it through Congress today.  

"Yet the revolutionaries were practical men who had a job to do. When the Articles of Confederation proved inadequate to get it done, they set out to build a more perfect union and began again with a Constitution designed to empower an effective state while at the same time keeping it in check. Checks and balances, the Federalist Papers, sharp elbows in a scramble for wealth and power, never mind about slavery and slave wages. The founders were tough and tough-minded.

"How do these two tendencies converge in the Digital Public Library of America? For all its futuristic technology, the DPLA harkens back to the eighteenth century. What could be more utopian than a project to make the cultural heritage of humanity available to all humans? What could be more pragmatic than the designing of a system to link up millions of megabytes and deliver them to readers in the form of easily accessible texts?  

"Above all, the DPLA expresses an Enlightenment faith in the power of communication. Jefferson and Franklin—the champion of the Library of Congress and the printer turned philosopher-statesman—shared a profound belief that the health of the Republic depended on the free flow of ideas. They knew that the diffusion of ideas depended on the printing press. Yet the technology of printing had hardly changed since the time of Gutenberg, and it was not powerful enough to spread the word throughout a society with a low rate of literacy and a high degree of poverty.  

"Thanks to the Internet and a pervasive if imperfect system of education, we now can realize the dream of Jefferson and Franklin. We have the technological and economic resources to make all the collections of all our libraries accessible to all our fellow citizens—and to everyone everywhere with access to the World Wide Web. That is the mission of the DPLA.

"Put so boldly, it sounds too grand. We can easily get carried away by utopian rhetoric about the library of libraries, the mother of all libraries, the modern Library of Alexandria. To build the DPLA, we must tap the can-do, hands-on, workaday pragmatism of the American tradition. Here I will describe what the DPLA is, what it will offer to the American public at the time of its launch, and what it will become in the near future.  

"How to think of it? Not as a great edifice topped with a dome and standing on a gigantic database. The DPLA will be a distributed system of electronic content that will make the holdings of public and research libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies available, effortlessly and free of charge, to readers located at every connecting point of the Web. To make it work, we must think big and begin small. At first, the DPLA’s offering will be limited to a rich variety of collections—books, manuscripts, and works of art—that have already been digitized in cultural institutions throughout the country. Around this core it will grow, gradually accumulating material of all kinds until it will function as a national digital library.  

"The trajectory of its development can be understood from the history of its origin—and it does have a history, although it is not yet three years old. It germinated from a conference held at Harvard on October 1, 2010, a small affair involving forty persons, most of them heads of foundations and libraries. In a letter of invitation, I included a one-page memo about the basic idea: “to make the bulk of world literature available to all citizens free of charge” by creating “a grand coalition of foundations and research libraries.” In retrospect, that sounds suspiciously utopian, but everyone at the meeting agreed that the job was worth doing and that we could get it done.  We also agreed on a short description of it, which by now has become a mission statement. The DPLA, we resolved, would be “an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that would draw on the nation’s living heritage from libraries, universities, archives, and museums in order to educate, inform, and empower everyone in the current and future generations.”  

"Sounds good, you might say, but wasn’t Google already providing this service? True, Google set out bravely to digitize all the books in the world, and it managed to create a gigantic database, which at last count includes 30 million volumes. But along the way it collided with copyright laws and a hostile suit by copyright holders. Google tried to win over the litigants by inviting them to become partners in an even larger project. They agreed on a settlement, which transformed Google’s original enterprise, a search service that would display only short snippets of the books, into a commercial library. By purchasing subscriptions, research libraries would gain access to Google’s database—that is, to digitized copies of the books that they had already provided to Google free of charge and that they now could make available to their readers at a price to be set by Google and its new partners. To some of us, Google Book Search looked like a new monopoly of access to knowledge. To the Southern Federal District Court of New York, it was riddled with so many unacceptable provisions that it could not stand up in law.  

"After the court’s decision on March 23, 2011, to reject the settlement,* Google’s digital library was effectively dead, although Google can continue to use its database for other purposes, such as agreements with publishers to provide digital copies of their books to customers. The DPLA was not designed to replace Google Book Search; in fact, the designing had begun long before the court’s decision. But the DPLA took inspiration from Google’s bold attempt to digitize entire libraries, and it still hopes to win Google over as an ally in working for the public good. Nonetheless, you might raise another objection: Who authorized this self-appointed group to undertake such an enterprise in the first place?  

"Answer: no one. We believed that it required private initiative and that it would never get off the ground if we waited for the government to act. Therefore, we appointed a steering committee, a secretariat located in the Berkman Center at Harvard, and six groups scattered around the country, which began to study and debate key issues: governance, finance, technological infrastructure, copyright, the scope and content of the collections, and the audience to be envisioned.  

"The groups grew and developed a momentum of their own, drawing on voluntary labor; crowdsourcing (the practice of appealing for contributions to an undefined group, usually an online community, as in the case of Wikipedia); and discussion through websites, listservs, open meetings, and highly focused workshops. Hundreds of people became actively involved, and thousands more participated through an endless, noisy debate conducted on the Internet. Plenary meetings in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Chicago drew large crowds and a much larger virtual audience, thanks to texting, tweeting, streaming, and other electronic connections. There gradually emerged a sense of community, twenty-first-century style—open, inchoate, virtual, yet real, because held together as a body by an electronic nervous system built into the Web.  

"This virtual and real discussion took place while groups got down to work. Forty volunteers submitted “betas”—prototypes of the software that the DPLA might use, which were then to be subjected to “beta testing,” a user-based form of review. After several rounds of testing and reworking, a platform was developed that will provide links to content from library collections throughout the country and that will aggregate their metadata—i.e., catalog-type information that identifies digital files and describes their content. The metadata will be aggregated in a repository located in what the designers call the “back end” of the platform, while an application programming interface (API) in the “front end” will make it possible for all kinds of software to transmit content in diverse ways to individual users.  

"The user-friendly interface will therefore enable any reader—say, a high school student in the Bronx—to consult works that used to be stored on inaccessible shelves or locked up in treasure rooms—say, pamphlets in the Huntington Library of Los Angeles about nullification and secession in the antebellum South. Readers will simply consult the DPLA through its URL, http://dp.la/. They will then be able to search records by entering a title or the name of an author, and they will be connected through the DPLA’s site to the book or other digital object at its home institution. The illustration on page 4 shows what will appear on the user’s screen, although it is just a trial mock-up. //Meanwhile, several of the country’s greatest libraries and museums—among them Harvard, the New York Public Library, and the Smithsonian—are prepared to make a selection of their collections available to the public through the DPLA. Those works will be accessible to everyone online at the launch on April 18, but they are only the beginning of aggregated offerings that will grow organically as far as the budget and copyright laws permit.  

"Of course, growth must be sustainable. But the greatest foundations in the country have expressed sympathy for the project. Several of them—the Sloan, Arcadia, Knight, and Soros foundations in addition to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—have financed the first three years of the DPLA’s existence. If a dozen foundations combined forces, allotting a set amount from each to an annual budget, they could create the digital equivalent of the Library of Congress within a decade. And the sponsors naturally hope that the Library of Congress also will participate in the DPLA. . . .

"Forty states have digital libraries, and the DPLA’s service hubs—seven are already being developed in different parts of the country—will contribute the data those digital libraries have already collected to the national network. Among other activities, these service hubs will help local libraries and historical societies to scan, curate, and preserve local materials—Civil War mementos, high school yearbooks, family correspondence, anything that they have in their collections or that their constituents want to fetch from trunks and attics. As it develops, digital empowerment at the grassroots level will reinforce the building of an integrated collection at the national level, and the national collection will be linked with those of other countries.  

"The DPLA has designed its infrastructure to be interoperable with that of Europeana, a super aggregator sponsored by the European Union, which coordinates linkages among the collections of twenty-seven European countries. Within a generation, there should be a worldwide network that will bring nearly all the holdings of all libraries and museums within the range of nearly everyone on the globe. To provide a glimpse into this future, Europeana and the DPLA have produced a joint digital exhibition about immigration from Europe to the US, which will be accessible online at the time of the April 18 launch.  

"Of course, expansion, at the local or global level, depends on the ability of libraries and other institutions to develop their own digital databases—a long-term, uneven process that requires infusions of money and energy. As it takes place, great stockpiles of digital riches will grow up in locations scattered across the map. Many already exist, because the largest research libraries have already digitized enormous sections of their collections, and they will become content hubs in themselves. . . .

"How will such material be put to use? I would like to end with a final example. About 14 million students are struggling to get an education in community colleges—at least as many as those enrolled in all the country’s four-year colleges and universities. But many of them—and many more students in high schools—do not have access to a decent library. The DPLA can provide them with a spectacular digital collection, and it can tailor its offering to their needs. Many primers and reference works on subjects such as mathematics and agronomy are still valuable, even though their copyrights have expired. With expert editing, they could be adapted to introductory courses and combined in a reference library for beginners."

On April 18 the founding Executive Director of the  DPLA, Dan Cohen, a history professor and formerly director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, posted a Welcome to the site.

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Flash Marketing of E-Books May 2013

In 2013 Flash Marketing was especially effective in selling e-books:

"One Sunday this month, the crime thriller 'Gone, Baby, Gone,' by Dennis Lehane, sold 23 e-book copies, a typically tiny number for a book that was originally published in 1998 but has faded into obscurity.

"The next day, boom: it sold 13,071 copies.  

'Gone, Baby, Gone' had been designated as a Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon, and hundreds of thousands of readers had received an e-mail notifying them of a 24-hour price cut, to $1.99 from $6.99. The instant bargain lit a fire under a dormant title.  

"Flash sales like that one have taken hold in the book business, a concept popularized by the designer fashion site Gilt.com. Consumers accustomed to snapping up instant deals for items like vintage glassware on One Kings Lane or baby clothes on Zulily are now buying books the same way — and helping older books soar from the backlist to the best-seller list.  

“ 'It’s the Groupon of books,' said Dominique Raccah, the publisher of Sourcebooks. 'For the consumer, it’s new, it’s interesting. It’s a deal and there isn’t much risk. And it works.'

"Finding a book used to mean scouring the shelves at a bookstore, asking a bookseller for guidance or relying on recommendations from friends.  

"But bookstores are dwindling, leaving publishers with a deep worry about the future of the business: with fewer brick-and-mortar options, how will readers discover books?  

"One-day discounts are part of the answer. Promotions like the Kindle Daily Deal from Amazon and the Nook Daily Find from Barnes & Noble have produced extraordinary sales bumps for e-books, the kind that usually happen as a result of glowing book reviews or an author’s prominent television appearances.  

"Web sites like BookBub.com, founded last year, track and aggregate bargain-basement deals on e-books, alerting consumers about temporary discounts from retailers like Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.  'It makes it almost irresistible,' said Liz Perl, Simon & Schuster’s senior vice president for marketing. 'We’re lowering the bar for you to sample somebody new.'

"E-books are especially ripe for price experimentation. Without the list price stamped on the flap like their print counterparts, e-books have freed publishers to mix up prices and change them frequently. Some newly released e-books cost $14.99, others $9.99 and still others $1.99.  

Consumers are flocking to flash sales, said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president for Kindle content, because the deals whittle down the vast number of choices for reading and other forms of entertainment.

" 'In a world of abundance and lots of choice, how do we help people cut through?' Mr. Grandinetti said. 'People are looking for ways to offer their authors a megaphone, and we’re looking to build more megaphones.'

"Mr. Grandinetti said one book, '1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die,' was selling, on average, less than one e-book a day on Amazon. After it was listed as a Kindle Daily Deal last year, it sold 10,000 copies in less than 24 hours.  

"Some titles have tripled that number: on a single day in December, nearly 30,000 people snapped up digital copies of “Under the Dome,” by Stephen King, a novel originally published in 2009 by Scribner. For publishers and authors, having a book chosen by a retailer as a daily deal can be like winning the lottery, an instant windfall of sales and exposure" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/business/media/daily-deals-propel-older-e-books-to-popularity.html?hp, accessed 05-27-2013).

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E-Books Account for About 20% of Trade Book Sales May 15, 2013

According to BookStats, the Center for Publishing Market Data:

"eBooks are now fully embedded in the format infrastructure of Trade book publishing. The consistent growth of eBooks demonstrates that publishers have successfully evolved the technology environment for their content – more so than other historically print-based content industries. eBooks grew 45% since 2011 and now constitute 20% of the Trade market, playing an integral role in 2012 Trade revenue. The most pivotal driver of eBooks remains Adult Fiction, with Children’s/Young Adult also showing strong numbers" (http://bookstats.org/pdf/BookStats-Press-Release-2013-highlights.pdf, accessed 11-08-2013)

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Apple Illegally Conspired to With Publishers to Try to Raise the Prices of eBooks July 10, 2013

Judge Denise L. Cote of United States District Court, Southern District of New York, ruled on July 10, 2013 that Apple Computer had illegally conspired with five of the six biggest book publishers to try to raise prices in the e-books (ebooks) market. This verdict, which was immediately perceived to benefit Amazon.com, was expected to cause further consolidation in the publishing industry

"The Apple case, which was brought by the Justice Department, will have little immediate impact on the selling of books. The publishers settled long ago, protesting they had done nothing wrong but saying they could not afford to fight the government. But it might be a long time before they try to take charge of their fate again in such a bold fashion. Drawing the attention of the government once was bad enough; twice could be a disaster.  

" 'The Department of Justice has unwittingly caused further consolidation in the industry at a time when consolidation is not necessarily a good thing,' said Mark Coker, the chief executive of Smashwords, an e-book distributor. 'If you want a vibrant ecosystem of multiple publishers, multiple publishing methods and multiple successful retailers in 5, 20 or 50 years, we took a step backwards this week.'

"Some in publishing suspected that Amazon had prompted the government to file its suit. The retailer has denied it, but it still emerged the big winner. While Apple will be punished — damages are yet to be decided — and the publishers were chastened, Amazon is left free to exert its dominance over e-books — even as it gains market share with physical books. The retailer declined to comment on Wednesday" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/business/e-book-ruling-gives-amazon-an-advantage.html?hp, accessed 07-11-2013).

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The Market for Very Young Children's Books Has Grown, Partly in Reaction to eBooks October 27, 2013

"While the publishing industry is still scraping through the digital revolution, children’s books have remained relatively untouched. Most parents are sticking to print for their young children even when there are e-book versions or apps available, and videos like the once ubiquitous “Baby Einstein,” founded in 1997 as a fast-track to infant genius, have fallen out of fashion.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that television should be avoided for children younger than 2 years old, and studies have suggested that babies and toddlers receive much greater benefit from real interactions than from experiences involving video screens.

“ 'There has been a proliferation of focus on early childhood development on the education side,' said John Mendelson, the sales director at Candlewick Press, 'as well as on the retail side.'

"Board books, traditionally for newborns to 3-year-olds, have always been a smaller and somewhat neglected category in the publishing business, compared with the larger and more expensive hardcover picture books designed for children of reading age.

But board books may be catching up. Libraries that used to shun the genre are now buying them from publishers. Bookstores are making more room for board books on their shelves. And while a board book might have once been too insubstantial a gift to bring to a child’s birthday party, the newer, highly stylized versions (that can run up to $15) would easily pass muster.

“ 'A board book was little more than a teething ring,' said Christopher Franceschelli, who directs Handprint Books, an imprint of Chronicle Books. 'I think as picture books have developed in the last 20 years, parents, librarians, teachers have thought, ‘Why should board books be any less than their older siblings?’ '

"In 2012, Abrams Books, the art-book publisher, created a new imprint, Abrams Appleseed, to focus on books for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Since then, it has published high-end books like “Pantone: Color Puzzles,” released this month, which uses intricate drawings and puzzle pieces to teach children the differences between colors like peacock blue and nighttime blue" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/books/a-library-of-classics-edited-for-the-teething-set.html?hp, accessed 10-27-2013). 

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Amazon Launches the Kindle MatchBook Service October 29, 2013

On October 29, 2013 Amazon officially launched its Kindle MatchBook service, allowing customers to buy a heavily discounted Kindle copy of physical books they had purchased from Amazon. Prices ranged between free and $2.99. The e-books could be read on Kindle, Android or iOS applications using the free Kindle app.

Amazon said that 70,000 books were enrolled in MatchBook at launch, that more books would be added to the program every day, and that book detail pages would list when specific titles will support MatchBook.

"Amazon combs through your entire order history going all the way back to 1995, so the initial list of ebooks offered to you may be longer than you'd expect. And since they're full-fledged Kindle copies, all of Amazon's signature features including Whispersync and X-Ray are included. To see which of your past purchases are eligible, head to Amazon now" (http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/29/5042058/amazon-launches-matchbook-offering-cheap-digital-copies-of-print-books, accessed 10-29-2013).

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"As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books are Reading You" December 24, 2013

On December 24, 2013 The New York Times published an article by David Streitfeld entitled, "As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books Are Reading You," from which I quote portions:

"Before the Internet, books were written — and published — blindly, hopefully. Sometimes they sold, usually they did not, but no one had a clue what readers did when they opened them up. Did they skip or skim? Slow down or speed up when the end was in sight? Linger over the sex scenes?

"A wave of start-ups is using technology to answer these questions — and help writers give readers more of what they want. The companies get reading data from subscribers who, for a flat monthly fee, buy access to an array of titles, which they can read on a variety of devices. The idea is to do for books what Netflix did for movies and Spotify for music." 

"Last week, Smashwords made a deal to put 225,000 books on Scribd, a digital library here that unveiled a reading subscription service in October. Many of Smashwords’ books are already on Oyster, a New York-based subscription start-up that also began in the fall.

"The move to exploit reading data is one aspect of how consumer analytics is making its way into every corner of the culture. Amazon and Barnes & Noble already collect vast amounts of information from their e-readers but keep it proprietary. Now the start-ups — which also include Entitle, a North Carolina-based company — are hoping to profit by telling all.

“ 'We’re going to be pretty open about sharing this data so people can use it to publish better books,' said Trip Adler, Scribd’s chief executive.

"Quinn Loftis, a writer of young adult paranormal romances who lives in western Arkansas, interacts extensively with her fans on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, Flickr and her own website. These efforts at community, most of which did not exist a decade ago, have already given the 33-year-old a six-figure annual income. But having actual data about how her books are being read would take her market research to the ultimate level.

“ 'What writer would pass up the opportunity to peer into the reader’s mind?' she asked.

"Scribd is just beginning to analyze the data from its subscribers. Some general insights: The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it. People are more likely to finish biographies than business titles, but a chapter of a yoga book is all they need. They speed through romances faster than religious titles, and erotica fastest of all.

"At Oyster, a top book is 'What Women Want,' promoted as a work that 'brings you inside a woman’s head so you can learn how to blow her mind.' Everyone who starts it finishes it. On the other hand, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s 'The Cycles of American History' blows no minds: fewer than 1 percent of the readers who start it get to the end.

"Oyster data shows that readers are 25 percent more likely to finish books that are broken up into shorter chapters. That is an inevitable consequence of people reading in short sessions during the day on an iPhone."


"Here is how Scribd and Oyster work: Readers pay about $10 a month for a library of about 100,000 books from traditional presses. They can read as many books as they want.

“ 'We love big readers,' said Eric Stromberg, Oyster’s chief executive. But Oyster, whose management includes two ex-Google engineers, cannot afford too many of them.... Only 2 percent of Scribd’s subscribers read more than 10 books a month, he said.


"These start-ups are being forced to define something that only academic theoreticians and high school English teachers used to wonder about: How much reading does it take to read a book? Because that is when the publisher, and the writer, get paid.

"The companies declined to outline their business model, but publishers said Scribd and Oyster offered slightly different deals. On Oyster, once a person reads more than 10 percent of the book, it is officially considered 'read.' Oyster then has to pay the publisher a standard wholesale fee. With Scribd, it is more complicated. If the reader reads more than 10 percent but less than 50 percent, it counts for a tenth of a sale. Above 50 percent, it is a full sale."

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Trends in Reading, Book Reviewing, Publishing and Writing as of the Beginning of 2014 January 4, 2014

On January 4, 2014 The New York Times published an opinion piece entitled "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader, by Colin Robinson, a veteran of traditional publishing who in 2009 founded a "digital upstart" company to attempt to adapt to the radical changes that occurred as a result of digital books and the Internet. This I quote in full:

“TO read a novel is a difficult and complex art,” Virginia Woolf wrote in a 1925 essay, “How to Read a Book.” Today, with our powers of concentration atrophied by the staccato communication of the Internet and attention easily diverted to addictive entertainment on our phones and tablets, book-length reading is harder still.

"It’s not just more difficult to find the time and focus that a book demands. Longstanding allies of the reader, professionals who have traditionally provided guidance for those picking up a book, are disappearing fast. The broad, inclusive conversation around interesting titles that such experts helped facilitate is likewise dissipating. Reading, always a solitary affair, is increasingly a lonely one.

"A range of related factors have brought this to a head. Start with the publishing companies: Overall book sales have been anemic in recent years, declining 6 percent in the first half of 2013 alone. But the profits of publishers have remained largely intact; in the same period only one of what were then still the “big six” trade houses reported a decline on its bottom line. This is partly because of the higher margins on e-books. But it has also been achieved by publishers cutting costs, especially for mid-list titles.

"The “mid-list” in trade publishing parlance is a bit like the middle class in American politics: Anything below it is rarely mentioned in polite company. It comprises pretty much all new titles that are not potential blockbusters. But it’s the space where interesting things happen in the book world, where the obscure or the offbeat can spring to prominence, where new writers can make their mark.

"Budgets have been trimmed in various ways: Author advances, except for the biggest names, have slumped sharply since the 2008 financial crash, declining by more than half, according to one recent survey. It’s hard to imagine that the quality of manuscripts from writers who have been forced either to eat less or write faster isn’t deteriorating. Meanwhile, spending on editing and promotion has also been pared away.

"Things don’t get better after the book leaves the publisher. Price cutting, led primarily by Amazon, has reduced many brick-and-mortar bookstores to rubble, depriving readers of direct interaction with booksellers. Despite some recent good news, the number of independents has been halved in the last two decades, and the chain stores that surviveincreasingly employ part-time, unskilled staff.

"The decline in libraries weakens another vital prop for readers. Librarians, described by the novelist Richard Powers as “gas attendant[s] of the mind,” saw a national decrease in their numbers of nearly 100,000 over the two decades to 2009. Two-thirds of public librariesreported flat or decreasing budgets in 2012.

"Then there is today’s increasingly rare bird, the professional book reviewer. Stand-alone book sections in major newspapers such as The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post have disappeared. The New York Times Book Review is now just a third of the length it was in its 1970s heyday. Online reviews like The Los Angeles Review of Books and The New Inquiry are striving to fill the gap. But their rates of pay, predictably, do not rival those at the more established publications they are replacing. Cyril Connolly caustically described the book reviewer as having “a whole-time job with a half-time salary,” a job “in which the best in him is generally expended on the mediocre in others.” Today, it’s more of a part-time job with no salary.

"This variety of channels for the expert appraisal of books has been replaced with recommendations thrown up by online retailers’ computers. But as with so much of the Internet, the nuance and enthusiasm of human encounters is poorly replicated by an algorithm. For more personal interactions, many have turned to social reading sites such as Goodreads or LibraryThing.

"The growth of these sites has been phenomenal. Shortly after its purchase by Amazon in the spring of last year, Goodreads announced it had 20 million users. Whether this is an amelioration or a reflection of an increasingly atomized culture is a question that can be filed in the same drawer as Facebook friending or dating on Match.com. Certainly the range of collective knowledge in pools of this size is incontestable. But it derives from self-selecting volunteers whose authority is hard to gauge. And though the overall network is vast, recommendations are generally exchanged within tight circles of friends. This results in another typical Internet characteristic: the “mirroring” of existing tastes at the expense of discovering anything new.

"THERE are many who will not mourn the displacement of literary culture’s traditional elite, dominated as it was by white, middle-aged men of comfortable means and conservative taste. Jeff Bezos, the C.E.O. of Amazon, aimed to exploit such disillusion with the old ways when announcing the launch of Kindle Direct. The self-publishing e-book program would, he claimed, produce “a more diverse book culture” with “no expert gatekeepers saying ‘sorry, that will never work.’ ” But to express discomfort at the attrition of expert opinion is not to defend the previous order’s prerogatives. Nor is it elitist to suggest that making the values and personnel of such professional hierarchies more representative is preferable to dispensing with them

"On the desolate beach that is the lot of the contemporary book reader, the footprints of one companion can still be found. They belong to the writer, who needs the reader not just to pay her or his wages but also to give meaning to their words. As John Cheever put it: “I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss — you can’t do it alone.”

"The troubling thought occurs, however, that this last remaining cohabitant may also be about to depart the island. With falling advances, writing is evermore dominated by people who don’t need it to earn a living: Tenured academics and celebrities spring to mind. For these groups, burnishing a résumé or marketing a brand is often as important as satisfying the reader.

"And then there are the hobbyists, those for whom writing is primarily an act of self-expression. This past November, National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) encouraged more than 300,000 participants to produce a novel in 30 days. It would be churlish to gainsay the right of the legions taking up “noveling,” as Nanowrimo describes it, to exercise their creative selves. But such endeavors are not much helping readers. Indeed, to the extent that they expand the mind-boggling proliferation of new titles being published (more than 300,000 in 2012), they are adding to the problem.

"Faced with a dizzying array of choices and receiving little by way of expert help in making selections, book buyers today are deciding to play it safe, opting to join either the ever-larger audiences for blockbusters or the minuscule readerships of a vast range of specialist titles. In this bifurcation, the mid-list, publishing’s experimental laboratory, is being abandoned."

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"Sensory Fiction": A Kind of Virtual Reality E-Book Reading Experience January 29, 2014

On January 29, 2014 Theguardian.com reported that scientists Felix Heibeck, Alexis Hope and Julie Legault at MIT's Media Lab created a "wearable book" that used temperature and lighting to mimic the experiences of the book's protagonist in a kind of augmented reading, virtual or partial virtual, reality. The e-book senses the page the reader is on, and changes ambient lighting and vibrations to "match the mood." A series of straps form a vest which contains a "heartbeat and shiver simulator," a body compression system, temperature controls and sound. 

The researchers used as prototype James Tiptree Jr's Hugo award-winning novella The Girl Who Was Plugged In, in which the protagonist P Burke – who is deformed by pituitary dystrophy and herself experiences life through an avatar – feels "both deep love and ultimate despair, the freedom of Barcelona sunshine and the captivity of a dark damp cellar."

" 'Changes in the protagonist's emotional or physical state trigger discrete feedback in the wearable [vest], whether by changing the heartbeat rate, creating constriction through air pressure bags, or causing localised temperature fluctuations,' say the academics.

 " 'Sensory fiction is about new ways of experiencing and creating stories,' they write. 'Traditionally, fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images. By using a combination of networked sensors and actuators, the sensory fiction author is provided with new means of conveying plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader's imagination. These tools can be wielded to create an immersive storytelling experience tailored to the reader.

" 'To explore this idea, we created a connected book and wearable [vest]. The 'augmented' book portrays the scenery and sets the mood, and the wearable allows the reader to experience the protagonist's physiological emotions' " (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/28/sensory-fiction-mit-technology-wearable-fiction-books?commentpage=1, accessed 01-29-2014).

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"Cheap Words. Amazon is good for consumers but is it good for books?" February 17, 2014

On February 10, 2014 I read an article in NewYorker.com by George Packer entitled "Cheap Words. Amazon is good for consumers but is it good for books?" The article was dated February 17, 2014. In my opinion the whole article was very much worth reading, but since I could not quote all of it, selections are quoted below:

"The combination of ceaseless innovation and low-wage drudgery makes Amazon the epitome of a successful New Economy company. It’s hiring as fast as it can—nearly thirty thousand employees last year. But its brand of creative destruction might be killing more jobs than it makes. According to a recent study of U.S. Census data by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, in Washington, brick-and-mortar retailers employ forty-seven people for every ten million dollars in revenue earned; Amazon employs fourteen.

"In the book industry, many of those formerly employed people staffed independent stores. Two decades ago, there were some four thousand in America, and many of them functioned as cultural centers where people browsed and exchanged ideas. Today, there are fewer than two thousand—although, with Borders dead and Barnes & Noble ailing, the indies are making a small comeback. Vivien Jennings, of Rainy Day Books, has been in business for thirty-eight years. “We know our customers, and the other independents are the same,” she said. “We know what they read better than any recommendation engine.”

After Amazon’s legal triumph, some publishing people were driven to the wild surmise that the company had colluded with the Justice Department, if not micromanaged the entire case. They grasped at the fact that Jamie Gorelick, a deputy attorney general in the Clinton Administration, and a friend of Attorney General Eric Holder, serves on Amazon’s board, and that three weeks after Judge Cote’s decision President Barack Obama appeared at an Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga—where workers earn, on average, eleven dollars an hour—to praise the company’s creation of good jobs. The coup de grâce came last November, when the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service announced a special partnership to deliver Amazon—and only Amazon—packages on Sundays, with the terms kept under official seal. To some people in the book world, Obama’s embrace of their nemesis felt like a betrayal. One literary agent said, “It’s strange that a President who’s an author, and whose primary income has come from being an author, was siding with a monopoly that wants to undercut publishers.”

Since the arrival of the Kindle, the tension between Amazon and the publishers has become an open battle. The conflict reflects not only business antagonism amid technological change but a division between the two coasts, with different cultural styles and a philosophical disagreement about what techies call “disruption.”

“Book publishing always has a rhetoric of the fallen age,” a senior editor at a major house told me. “It was always better before you got here. The tech guys—it’s always better if you just get out of my way and give me what I want. It’s always future-perfect.” He went on, “Their whole thing is ‘Let’s take somebody’s face and innovate on it. There’s an old lady—we don’t know we’re innovating unless she’s screaming.’ A lot of it is thoughtless innovation.” . . . .

"Book publishers’ dependence on Amazon, however unwilling, keeps growing. Amazon constitutes a third of one major house’s retail sales on a given week, with the growth chart pointing toward fifty per cent. By contrast, independents represent under ten per cent, and one New York editor said that only a third of the three thousand brick-and-mortar bookstores still in existence would remain financially healthy if publishers didn’t waive certain terms of payment. Jane Friedman, the former Random House and HarperCollins executive, who now runs a digital publisher called Open Road Integrated Media, told me, “If there wasn’t an Amazon today, there probably wouldn’t be a book business.” The senior editor who met Grandinetti said, “They’re our biggest customer, we want them to succeed. As I recover from being punched in the face by Amazon, I also worry: What if they are a bubble? What if the stock market suddenly says, ‘We want a profit’? You don’t want your father who abuses you physically to lose his job.”

"In 2009, after a career at publishers large and small, Robinson was laid off by Scribner, amid downsizing. Faced with his own professional extinction, and perhaps the industry’s, he co-founded a new company, OR Books, with a different business model. Robinson did research and found that fifty to sixty per cent of the list price of a book goes to Amazon or to another retailer. When he was starting out, in the eighties, that figure was more like thirty or forty per cent. A small-to-midsize publisher has to spend between ten and fifteen per cent on sales, warehousing, and shipping. This leaves little more than twenty-five per cent of the book’s price for editorial counsel, production costs, publicity, paying the author, and whatever profit might be left over. A shared sensibility for a certain kind of fiction or nonfiction writing unites everyone along the way: authors, agents, editors, designers, marketers, reviewers, readers. “The only point at which Bezos enters that chain is to take all the money and the e-mail address of the buyer,” Robinson said. “There’s an entire community of people, and Bezos stands in the middle of it and collects the money.”

"Instead of going through Amazon, OR Books sells directly to customers, using printers in Minnesota and the U.K. It pays about fifteen per cent to the printer and keeps the rest. “After four years, we’re just profitable,” Robinson told me. “It works.”

"To the Big Five, locked in a death struggle with Amazon and the distracted American reader, this kind of experimentation might seem unrealistic. To survive, they are trying to broaden their distribution channels, not narrow them. But Andrew Wylie thinks that it’s exactly what a giant like Penguin Random House should do. “If they did, in my opinion they would save the industry. They’d lose thirty per cent of their sales, but they would have an additional thirty per cent for every copy they sold, because they’d be selling directly to consumers. The industry thinks of itself as Proctor & Gamble. What gave publishers the idea that this was some big goddam business? It’s not—it’s a tiny little business, selling to a bunch of odd people who read."

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Amazon States its Economic Position on the Sale of E-Books in the "Amazon/Hachette Business Interruption" July 29, 2014

On July 29, 2014 in its Kindle forum blog Amazon.com, which probably controlled more than one-third of the book trade in the United States, stated its position on the very public dispute between Amazon and Hachette publishers over the terms of e-book sales. Amazon believed that the price of $9.99 was the optimal price at which sales of most e-book titles would be maximized. They also believed that 35% of the revenue gained from e-book sales should go to the author, 35% to the publisher, and 30% to Amazon. This global proposal for e-book distribution and income sharing represented a huge sea change in the traditional economics of printed book publishing, under which publishers set retail prices on a title by title basis, authors rarely received more than 10% of revenue received from printed books, and trade discounts were negotiated between the publisher and distributors and book stores. The Amazon Books team wrote:

"A key objective is lower e-book prices. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market -- e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can be and should be less expensive.

"It's also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000.

"The important thing to note here is that at the lower price, total revenue increases 16%. This is good for all the parties involved:

* The customer is paying 33% less.

* The author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that's 74% larger. And that 74% increase in copies sold makes it much more likely that the title will make it onto the national bestseller lists. (Any author who's trying to get on one of the national bestseller lists should insist to their publisher that their e-book be priced at $9.99 or lower.)

* Likewise, the higher total revenue generated at $9.99 is also good for the publisher and the retailer. At $9.99, even though the customer is paying less, the total pie is bigger and there is more to share amongst the parties.

"Keep in mind that books don't just compete against books. Books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

"So, at $9.99, the total pie is bigger - how does Amazon propose to share that revenue pie? We believe 35% should go to the author, 35% to the publisher and 30% to Amazon. Is 30% reasonable? Yes. In fact, the 30% share of total revenue is what Hachette forced us to take in 2010 when they illegally colluded with their competitors to raise e-book prices. We had no problem with the 30% -- we did have a big problem with the price increases.

"Is it Amazon's position that all e-books should be $9.99 or less? No, we accept that there will be legitimate reasons for a small number of specialized titles to be above $9.99. 

"One more note on our proposal for how the total revenue should be shared. While we believe 35% should go to the author and 35% to Hachette, the way this would actually work is that we would send 70% of the total revenue to Hachette, and they would decide how much to share with the author. We believe Hachette is sharing too small a portion with the author today, but ultimately that is not our call."

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As E-Books Gain Market Share Traditional Roles of Publisher and Bookseller Change July 30, 2014

An article by Jason Abbruzzese and Katie Nelson entitled "How Amazon Brought Publishing to its Knees — and Why Authors Might be Next" published on Mashable.com on July 30, 2014 stated that, according to the Codex Group, by this date Amazon controlled more than two-thirds of the U.S. online book market. It controlled 67% of the sale of e-books, 41% of all new book purchases (print and digital) and 65% of online book purchases (print and digital). From it I quote:

"As other media industries like music and magazine/newspaper publishing suffered from declines, e-books took hold quickly as a revenue source, particularly after Amazon introduced the Kindle in 2007.

"Other media segments were not so lucky. The music industry suffered a revenue decline of more than 50% from a high of $14.6 billion in 1999 to $6.3 billion in 2009. Book publishing has not had to endure any such contraction.

" 'We have to give a tremendous amount of credit to Amazon and Jeff Bezos and his team for the investment that they were willing to make in those years,' Entrekin said. 'They did it in an orderly manner, in a way you could trust, and it's helped us.'

"There was a time when e-books were just a small part of the overall market, but now e-books are reaching parity with print. In 2013, some 457 million e-books were sold vs. 557 million hardcovers, according to the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. (Paperbacks were not included in that estimate.)

"The sales growth magnifies publishers' unease with the with the $9.99 price point that CEO Jeff Bezos had decided on — a number that had no basis in economics but rather in psychological pricing, according to Brad Stone's defining book on Amazon, The Everything Store. Amazon recently defended that price in a blog post, claiming it is better for consumers, publishers and authors.

"The $9.99 e-book introduction came after publishers had already seen the prices of books fall as chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders drove out independent sellers through lower pricing.

"Publishers accepted that, said David Vandagriff, an attorney who has spent decades representing both authors and publishers, but they never quite cottoned to the $9.99 e-book. That price point continues to cause problems and is believed to be the primary sticking point between Amazon and Hachette.

" 'The publishers, they had to resign themselves to Barnes & Noble, but they didn't go through that process quite as well or quite as thoroughly with Amazon," he said. 'They always thought Amazon was underpricing.' "

The article went on to present a chart predicting that e-books would surpass the sale of printed books in 2017.  It also pointed to the increasing trend of authors self-publishing their books so that they effectively received 70% of the proceeds with Amazon taking 30%. This left out the traditional roles of publishers and booksellers altogether. 

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What Would George Orwell Think About the Amazon versus Hachette Dispute? August 14, 2014

On August 14, 2014 The New Yorker published an insightful commentary by American journalist, novelist and playwright George Packer on the Amazon.com dispute with Hachette publishers over e-books. The article, entitled "Amazon vs. Hachette: What Would Orwell Think?", framed the dispute in the context of George Orwell's ideas about changes in the publishing industry during the 1930s. From it I quote the first few paragraphs:

“ 'Review of Penguin Books' might qualify as the single most obscure thing that George Orwell ever wrote. It was published in the March 5, 1936, issue of New English Weekly, when the writer was thirty-two years old. Like other struggling novelists, Orwell was doing a lot of reviewing to get his name in print, and, in this case, he’d undertaken the thankless task of reviewing a batch of ten Penguin paperbacks, sold at sixpence apiece, including such immortal titles as The Owls’ House,' by Crosbie Garstin, and “Dr. Serocold,” by Helen Ashton. A few years ago, when I was compiling a two-volume edition of Orwell’s essays, 'Review of Penguin Books' would not have made the long list even if I’d remembered that it existed. All the stranger, then, that this eight-decade-old trifle surfaced last weekend in the business dispute between Amazon and Hachette and, from there, moved onto Twitter and into theTimes.

 "For the past four months, Amazon has been making it hard for customers to buy Hachette books while the two companies fight over e-book terms. A group of nine hundred writers signed an open letter that appeared in Sunday’s [New York] Times, calling on Amazon to leave authors out of the contract dispute. The Amazon Books Team preëmptively replied by creating a Web site called readersunited.com. (In politics, this is known as “grasstops”—a fake-grassroots campaign created by special interests.) The Web site provided Kindle customers with talking points to help convince the C.E.O. of Hachette to 'stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks.'

"Members of the Amazon Books Team—they aren’t stupid—unearthed Orwell’s 'Review of Penguin Books' and quoted its first sentence: 'The Penguin Books are splendid value for sixpence, so splendid that if the other publishers had any sense they would combine against them and suppress them.' In 1936, mass-market paperbacks were a new technological innovation, as e-books are now. Orwell thought that cheaper books would not lead to higher revenues, because buyers would spend less money on books and more 'on seats at the ‘movies.’ ' Readers might benefit—publishers, booksellers, and authors wouldn’t. Amazon chided Orwell for his shortsightedness: '[W]hen a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books—he was wrong about that.' No one could miss the analogy to the e-book revolution and its critics.

"The Times jumped in to mock Amazon for missing the note of irony in Orwell’s words. He wasn’t actually urging the formation of a publishing cartel, just pointing out the danger that cheap paperbacks posed for “the publisher, the compositor, the author and the bookseller.” In fact, the advent of paperbacks left Orwell ambivalent. “In my capacity as reader I applaud the Penguin Books; in my capacity as writer I pronounce them anathema,” he wrote. Orwell didn’t have much of a head for business, and his powers of prediction sometimes failed him. In another 1936 piece, “Bookshop Memories,” he wrote, “The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman.” Around the same time, he argued that the Nazi threat wasn’t as dangerous as a war of the “imperialist powers.” (He changed his mind about that.) So maybe Orwell was wrong about paperbacks, too. But then, so is Amazon."

Reading Packer's complete article is highly recommended.

Ironically, in 2009 Amazon had previous run-in with Orwellian concepts when Amazon sent Orwell's e-books down the "memory hole." 

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The Entirely Digital Main Library at Florida Polytechnic University Begins Operation August 16, 2014

On August 16, 2014 the entirely new Florida Polytechnic University opened for classes at its new campus in Lakeland, Florida, designed by Santiago Calatrava. Its new library housed no physical books, but instead opened with a virtual collection of around 135,000 ebooks. As far as I knew at the time, this was the first main library at a university to open with no physical books. Previously, in 2005 the main library at the University of California, Merced, opened with only a small collection of physical books.

According to an article published in The Guardian on August 29, 2014 by Alison Flood, the director of libraries at Florida Polytechnic, Kathryn Miller said, "We have access to print books through the state university system's interlibrary loan program. However, we strongly encourage our students to read and work with information digitally."

Alison Flood continued: 

"A budget of $60,000 (£36,000) has also been set aside for students to read ebooks that the library doesn't already own. Once a book has been viewed twice on this system, it will be automatically purchased. The set-up, said Miller, 'allows for many more books to be available for the students, and the university only has to pay when the student or faculty member uses the book', allowing students 'to make direct choices regarding the books they want to read and have available in the library'.

"The new university offers courses exclusively in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Miller said that one of its objectives was to 'prepare students for the high-tech workforce by giving them hands-on experience with advanced technology'. 

" 'The ability to read, absorb, manage and search digital documents and conduct digital research are skills of growing importance in industry,' she said, with the new digital-only library 'designed to help students become better technology users and learners' ".

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Indexing and Sharing 2.6 Million Images from eBooks in the Internet Archive August 29, 2014

On August 29, 2014 the Internet Archive announced that data mining and visualization expert Kalev Leetaru, Yahoo Fellow at Georgetown University, extracted over 14 million images from two million Internet Archive public domain eBooks spanning over 500 years of content. Of the 14 million images, 2.6 million were uploaded to Flickr, the image-sharing site owned by Yahoo, with a plan to upload more in the near future. 

Also on August 29, 2014 BBC.com carried a story entitled "Millions of historic images posted to Flickr," by Leo Kelion, Technology desk editor, from which I quote:

"Mr Leetaru said digitisation projects had so far focused on words and ignored pictures.

" 'For all these years all the libraries have been digitising their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text searchable works,' he told the BBC.

"They have been focusing on the books as a collection of words. This inverts that. . . .

"To achieve his goal, Mr Leetaru wrote his own software to work around the way the books had originally been digitised.

"The Internet Archive had used an optical character recognition (OCR) program to analyse each of its 600 million scanned pages in order to convert the image of each word into searchable text.

"As part of the process, the software recognised which parts of a page were pictures in order to discard them.

"Mr Leetaru's code used this information to go back to the original scans, extract the regions the OCR program had ignored, and then save each one as a separate file in the Jpeg picture format.

"The software also copied the caption for each image and the text from the paragraphs immediately preceding and following it in the book.

"Each Jpeg and its associated text was then posted to a new Flickr page, allowing the public to hunt through the vast catalogue using the site's search tool. . . ."

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"The Hidden Cost of E-Books at University Libraries" September 29, 2014

On September 29, 2014 Peter C. Herman, of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University, published an article entitled "The Hidden Costs of E-books at University Libraries" in TimesofSanDiego.com. It was widely understood at the time that economic forces were driving libraries in the California State University and University of California systems to replace physical books with e-books (ebooks) or digital books when budgets for university libraries were being cut. It was also understood that downloading an ebook was more convenient and more efficient than having to borrow a physical book from a physical library. What was not widely understood was that substituting e-books for physical books involved other costs, both financial and qualitative with respect to the reading and educational experience:

"For the past few years, both the California State University and the University of California libraries have been experimenting with packages that replace paper books with e-books. The advantages are obvious. With e-books, you no longer have to schlep to a library to take out a book. You just log on from whatever device connects you to the web, at whatever time and in whatever state of dress, and voila! the book appears on your screen.

"But the real attraction is price. Library budgets, along with university budgets, have been slashed, and such companies as Pearson and Elsevier offer e-book packages that make it possible to gain access (I’ll explain the awkward syntax in a moment) to lots of books at what seems like a minimal cost. The savings are multiplied when the package serves the entire system. So instead of each campus buying a paper book, all 23 CSU’s, for instance, share a single e-book. That’s the theory, at least. The reality is very different.

"In ancient days of yore, a library bought a book from either the publisher or a vendor, and then did with it whatever it wanted. Patrons could borrow the book, read it at leisure, renew it, or copy excerpts. Libraries shared books they didn’t own through interlibrary loan. But that’s not how e-books operate.

"Instead, a library pays to access a data file by one of two routes: “PDA,” or “Patron-Driven Acquisition,” in which a vendor makes available a variety of e-books, and a certain number of “uses” (the definition varies) triggers a purchase, or a subscription to an e-library that does not involve any mechanism for buying the e-book. Both avenues come loaded with all sorts of problems.

"First, reading an e-book is a different, and lesser, experience that reading a paper book, just as watching a movie at home differs from watching one in a theatre.

"There’s a huge difference between casual and college reading, and recent studies prove beyond doubt that while e-books are perfectly fine for the latest John Grisham or Fifty Shades of Grey, they actively discourage intense reading and deep learning.

"For example, a 2007 study concluded that “screen-based reading can dull comprehension because it is more mentally taxing and even physically tiring than reading on paper.” And a 2005 study by a professor at San Jose State University proved that online reading encourages skimming while discouraging in-depth or concentrated reading.

"The solution might be to print out the chapters you want to read. But e-book packages intentionally make that as difficult as possible.

"Paper books have no limitations since the library owns the book. But as Clifford Lynch recently put it, “nobody buys an e-book: one licenses it under typically very complex terms that constrain what you are allowed to do with it.” For example, at UCSD, Ebrary (now owned by Proquest), limits e-books to one user at a time, allows users to save a maximum of 30 percent of a book, “though some publishers have set more restrictive limits,” and allows you to copy only 15 percent of a book, text only, no illustrations.

"At SDSU, Ebrary also limits the number of pages you can download. The amount varies by publisher. One book allows up to 89 pages, but with another, Victoria Kahn’s The Crisis of Political Obligation in England, an especially complex work with very long chapters, you get only 19 pages, and the printout comes defaced with a code plastered across the page.  There’s also a limit to how many pages you can download per session, and the total is not large. I downloaded less than 20 pages before I exceeded my quota.

"E-books also do not circulate beyond the institution, which effectively kills interlibrary loan. As for one book serving the entire CSU or UC systems, many come with one-user restrictions, which means that only one user at a time in the CSU or the UC can read the book. Of course, Ebrary might say that the publisher imposes these restrictions. And that’s the point:publishers do not impose restrictions on paper books. E-book packages also compromise the stability of the library’s collection since the vendor can remove one at their discretion, without notice. So one day you can access a book, the next day, it has disappeared.

"E-books prevent deep reading, their use is highly restricted, and they can vanish without notice, so why are the CSU and the UC libraries experimenting with replacing paper with computer files? Is the e-book phenomenon yet another example of university administrators chasing after the latest e-fad? Like MOOCs (which even Sebastian Thrun of Udacity called “a lousy product”), e-books trade something that works for something that doesn’t, and even worse, threaten to destroy the very notion of a library. What’s the attraction?

"The answer is that e-books seem like a cheap way to access hundreds, if not thousands, of expensive books essential for research and teaching. Right now, the subscription packages Proquest and Ebsco offer may sound like they cost a lot (between $500-$800,000 a year), but the price is “extremely low relative to the number of books acquired,” to quote the CSU report on the e-book pilot project.  The average cost per book for Ebrary’s package is between $5 and $9, a spectacular savings given that the average price for a hardcover scholarly book in the humanities is around $100, and many are much more expensive.

"Then again, payday loans also seem like a cheap way to deal with, shall we say, a period of financial embarrassment. But the long-term costs of these loans can be ruinous, and the same goes of e-journal article packages. In the beginning they too were priced “extremely low relative to the number” of journals acquired.  But they did not stay “extremely low” for long. Today, the exorbitant amounts such companies as Elsevier and Springer charge eat up a greater and greater percentage of library budgets, and their contracts usually last for three to five years with built-in increases of 6 percent per year, well above inflation.

"Lured by the initial low price and the promise of convenience, university libraries are now trapped, since they cannot risk losing access to all the major journals.  As prices rise and budgets either stay the same or drop, a greater and greater percentage goes toward servicing the package journal subscription, less and less toward staffing, hours, and the like.

"The same thing will happen with e-book packages. In the past, once the library purchased the book, that was the end of the transaction. The library didn’t have to keep sending the publisher money to keep the book in circulation. No matter what happened, no matter how great the budget cut, the book stayed in the library, because the library owned it.

"But that is not the case with an e-book subscription. Right now, prices seem entirely reasonable, but once a library or a library system gets hooked, then they must continually pay the rising subscription fee or else a huge number of books will just disappear. With a traditional book, the costs end once the purchase is complete. But with e-book packages, the costs never end. They just keep rising.

"Even worse, by replacing paper books with e-book packages, university libraries will have outsourced the collection of knowledge to multinational, private corporations whose primary goal is not advancing knowledge, but profits. E-book packages are another step in transforming libraries from centers of scholarship, teaching and research into cash cows for Proquest’s bottom line.

"Why would libraries even consider such a Faustian deal? Simple: they are trying to make the best of a very bad situation. University budgets have in no way recovered from the financial crash, which reduced funding by two billion dollars. True, some money has been restored, but the CSU’s budget now matches what we had in 2007, and we have to teach 90,000 more students. If e-book packages sound like a poor idea, then the answer is to restore higher education funding to a level where we don’t have to make such terrible decisions." 

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eBooks May Track Reading Habits December 10, 2014

Historically solitude was an essential component of reading, with many children becoming readers in part to enjoy the privacy it offers. By 2104 when we had become accustomed to the possibility that emails and Facebook posts could be surveiled by government security agencies, reading physical books continued to maintain that privacy. However, it became evident that reading eBooks was a less private experience, at least from the marketing point of view. On December 10, 2014 Alison Flood published an article in The Guardian entitled "Ebooks can tell which novels you didn't finish." in which she reported that ebook retailers could tell which books were finished or not finished, how fast they were read, and precisely where readers stopped reading a particular ebook and moved on to something else. According to her article, only 44.4 percent of British readers who used a Kobo eReader made it all the way through Donna Tartt’s international bestselling Pulitizer Prize winning novel The Goldfinch, while a mere 28.2 percent reached the end of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave (1853), from which the Oscar winning film was adapted. Yet both these books appeared—and remained for some time—on the British bestseller lists.

 “After collecting data between January and November 2014 from more than 21m[illion] users, in countries including Canada, the US, the UK, France, Italy and the Netherlands, Kobo found that its most completed book of 2014 in the UK was not a Man Booker or Baileys prize winner. Instead, readers were most keen to finish Casey Kelleher’s self-published thriller Rotten to the Core, which doesn’t even feature on the overall bestseller list…Kobo also revealed that the people of Britain were most likely to finish a romance novel, with 62% completion, followed by crime and thrillers (61%) and fantasy (60%). Italians were also most engaged by romance (74% completion), while the French preferred mysteries, with 70% completion.”

“A book’s position on the bestseller list may indicate it’s bought, but that isn’t the same as it being read or finished,” said Michael Tamblyn, president and chief content officer at Kobo. “A lot of readers have multiple novels on the go at any given time, which means they may not always read one book from start to finish before jumping into the next great story. People may wait days, months, or even until the following year to finish certain titles. And many exercise that inalienable reader’s right to set down a book if it doesn’t hold their interest.”

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Amazon's Research in the Reading Process & its Introduction of the Ability with its E-Readers to Switch Back and Forth Between the Written and Audible Versions of a Book December 17, 2014

On December 17, 2014 The Verge.com issued "The Everything Book: Reading in the Age of Amazon" by Casey Newton. This excellent article discussed Amazon.com's product development in e-readers and audible books.

Among the take-away ideas from the article that particularly caught my attention, it is likely that at its Lab126 in Sunnyvale, CA, Amazon has spent more time studying the physical act of reading than any company before it:

" 'When you're reading, you want to fall down the rabbit hole' . . . Amazon has actually built a rabbit hole, of sorts: a reading room somewhere at Lab126, stuffed with comfortable chairs, where pinhole cameras study the way people really read. (Because test subjects are in there using prototype devices, I am not allowed inside.)

"It’s in this room that Amazon learned people switch hands on a book roughly every two minutes, even though in surveys they claimed not to. (This is why the Voyage has identical page-turn buttons on both left and right.) The Voyage’s page-forward button is much bigger than page-back, because Amazon’s data showed 80 percent of all page flips are forward. As Green describes research like this, it seems likely that Amazon has spent more time studying the physical act of reading than any company before it.

Amazon's Audible division, headquartered in Newark, NJ,  had a catalogue of more than 180,000 audiobooks in December 2014, with countless more in rapid development. In 2012 Amazon introduced a feature that let you switch back forth easily between the written and audio versions of a book. In December 2014 there were 55,000 books which could be read on an Amazon Kindle in this way.

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