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OPLIN 4Cast #200: E-book Developments

Posted in 4cast

open book with digitsWe’ve done three OPLIN 4cast posts about e-books in the last six months, and this one makes four. We try to mix our topics and avoid repeating ourselves, but last week there was just too much e-book news to ignore. This time the news items that caught our eye were not necessarily the stories about e-book sales or marketing, but the stories about significant changes to e-book content. These changes are certainly food for thought; for example, will libraries have any way to offer patrons new types of “books” designed from the ground up for digital distribution? (While you’re thinking about that, you might enjoy Eli Neiburger’s presentation—part 1 and part 2—from the September 29 LJ/SLJ “ebooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point” virtual summit.)

  • Amazon to publish “Kindle Singles” (Ars Technica/Jacqui Cheng) “Amazon is rolling out a separate section of its Kindle store meant for shorter content—meatier than long-form journalism, but shorter than a typical book. Called ‘Kindle Singles,’ the content will be distributed like other Kindle books but will likely fall between 10,000 and 30,000 words, or the equivalent of a few chapters from a novel.”
  • Amazon introduces a format for shorter e-books (New York Times/Nick Bilton) “This medium-length format has traditionally been difficult for writers to sell to publishers as it doesn’t fit into the mold of a printing-press distribution model. In a digital distribution system, those pricing structures no longer exist, and a digital price can be adjusted accordingly.”
  • Borders partners with BookBrewer to turn blogs into eBooks (ReadWriteWeb/Audrey Watters) “While there is a lot of competition in the eBook and self-publishing space, one of the key features of BookBrewer is the ability to turn an RSS feed into a book. This will have appeal not simply for independent authors, but for bloggers and for educators.”
  • Feds give $1.1 million for e-textbooks for vision-impaired students (Chronicle of Higher Education/Travis Kaya) “Typically, college students who have trouble with standard book formats could only turn to their disabled student-services offices to have textbooks translated into braille or scanned with rudimentary text-to-speech computer software. […] With more advanced technology, […] developers are digitally reformatting hundreds of books that can be rented online at a much lower cost to the students and the institutions.”

Young Reader Fact:
A study conducted this summer by Scholastic Corporation found that a third of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had access to e-books on an electronic device; however, two-thirds of the children also agreed with the statement, “I’ll always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available.”