How the New York Public Library made ebooks open, and thus one trillion times better

Leonard Richardson isn't just the author of Constellation Games, one of the best debut novels I ever read and certainly one of the best books I read in 2013; he's also an extremely talented free/open source server-software developer who has been working for the New York Public Library on a software project that liberates every part of the electronic book lending system from any kind of proprietary lock-in, and, in the process, made reading library ebooks one trillion times better. Read the rest

Surprise revival in UK printed book sales, with ebooks dipping

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Ink on paper is a better product, at least for now, and it's showing at British tills. Sky UK's Lucy Cotter reports the first better year for print since 2007, and the worst one for ebooks since 2011.

Last year saw the first rise in sales since 2007, while digital book sales dropped for the first time since 2011.

Betsy Tobin, who runs the independent bookshop Ink@84 in Highbury, London, offers her customers a personalised service.

The bookshop offers coffee and alcohol and runs events and special author evenings.

Diversifying is part of her success but she says her customers also like buying in person rather than online.

They take pleasure from handling and owning books, she said.

I wonder if this has something to do with how well-run major UK bookstore chains are (small stores in high-traffic areas) compared to American ones (strip-mall big boxes, full of trashy ancillary merch and empty of foot traffic.) The literary retail culture there makes people want to drop in and fuss around with books, while the one here just means no-one is ever in a bookstore in the first place, so they just order stuff on Kindle. Read the rest

Crowdfunding a second anthology of great UK sf magazine Holdfast

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Laurel writes, "Holdfast is an award-winning free online speculative fiction magazine that celebrates all things fantastic. We are trying to raise enough money to pay our writers and artists for their valuable work and also print a beautiful paperback. After a successful campaign for anthology #1 and winning the British Fantasy Society award for best magazine 2015 - we're hoping to create an even bigger and better anthology this time." Read the rest

Marc "Half-Life" Laidlaw's gonzo cyberpunk is back in DRM-free ebooks

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Marc Laidlaw, the cyberpunk pioneer who went on to serve as writer on some of Valve's greatest video-game titles -- the Half-Life series, Portal -- has just posted his entire backlist to Amazon as $3, DRM-free ebooks, including his debut novel Dad's Nuke (think Fallout, but with religious extremist militants who subsist on "Host on a shingle," this being the cultured recovered foreskin tissue of Jesus Christ on fortified crackers) and Kalifornia, a brilliant and prescient novel about media, cultural disintegration, and celebrity. Read the rest

Class action: publishers paid writers "sale" royalties on ebooks whose fine-print says they're "licensed"

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When you sign a publishing deal, the contract spells out different royalty rates for different kinds of commercial activity; you get so much every time a copy is sold, and significantly more from every licensing deal for the book. Read the rest

Clicking "Buy now" doesn't "buy" anything, but people think it does

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In What We Buy When We "Buy Now", a paper forthcoming in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, respected copyright scholars Aaron Perzanowski and Chris Jay Hoofnagle report on an experiment they set up to test what people clicking the "buy now" button on stores selling digital things (ebooks, games, music, videos, etc) think they get for their money -- it's not what they think. Read the rest

Peace in Our Time: how publishers, libraries and writers could work together

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Publishing is in a weird place: ebook sales are stagnating; publishing has shrunk to five major publishers; libraries and publishers are at each others' throats over ebook pricing; and major writers' groups are up in arms over ebook royalties, and, of course, we only have one major book retailer left -- what is to be done? Read the rest

Kobo "upgrade" deprives readers of hundreds of DRM-locked ebooks

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Chris writes, "After a recent Kobo software upgrade, a number of Kobo customers have reported losing e-books from their libraries--notably, e-books that had been transferred to Kobo from their Sony Reader libraries when Sony left the consumer e-book business. One customer reported missing 460 e-books, and the only way to get them back in her library would be to search and re-add them one at a time! Customers who downloaded their e-books and illegally broke the DRM don't have this problem, of course." Read the rest

Barnes & Noble wipes out Nook ebook, replaces it with off-brand "study guide"

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Chris writes, "I bought my first e-book in 1998, before my e-reading hardware had even arrived yet. Yesterday I discovered that Barnes & Noble has effectively stolen that book from me, mistakenly replacing it it in my Nook library with another title I never bought." Read the rest

VanderMeer Storybundle: name your price for international fantasy, sf, and weird fiction

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Jeff VanderMeer sends us the latest Storybundle, which has "the DEBUT of Ann VanderMeer's BESTIARY, which features original fiction from China Mieville, Catherynne M. Valente, and many others--not available elsewhere." Read the rest

Springer Nature to release 100,000 titles as DRM-free bundles

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Peter from Shelfie writes, "In a press release on Digital Book World, Springer Nature has announced a partnership with Vancouver start-up Shelfie (BitLit) to offer digital bundles on over 100,000 titles from their catalog." Read the rest

Humble Bundle's Prime Sci-Fantasy Bundle

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The latest Humble Ebook Bundle features 15 DRM-free ebooks, with works by Fritz Leiber, Kelly Link, Mary Robinette Kowal, Neil Gaiman, Peter Beagle, Madeline L'Engle and many others -- name your price and how much you'd like to divert to charities, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Science Fiction Writers of America's Givers Fund, and Patrick Rothfuss's Worldbuilders. Read the rest

GIFs, texts, serials: new ebook frontiers

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In the decade since publishing embraced ebooks in earnest, we've seen a cornucopia of exciting and innovative ways technology is being used to enhance reading. By utilizing all the tricks at our Internet- and device-savvy disposal, publishing companies are creating stories that are manifested in and influenced by the digital platform. Read the rest

Make: Humble Bundle: name your price for books for makers

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The latest Humble Ebook Bundle features Make: books from "Planes, Gliders, and Paper Rockets" to "Bicycle Projects" to the "Illustrated Guide to Home Forensic Science Experiments" -- 17 titles in all, with more to come. Name your price and get $200+ worth of ebooks, with charitable donations to the Maker Ed projects. Read the rest

New $50 Kindle Fire won't recognize sideloaded ebooks on SD cards

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The Kindle Fire comes with a SDXC card slot that outclasses every other tablet in its price range, accommodating storage cards that can hold as much as 128GB of media -- but it won't read ebooks from the slot. Read the rest

Name your price for 11 (!) Philip K Dick award-winning novels

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The PKD Award is given for the best paperback original this year, and has been awarded to such classics as Neuromancer. Storybundle's DRM-free collection of name-your-price ebooks includes some of my favorite books of all time: Walter Jon Williams's Knight Moves, Kathe Koja's The Cipher, Lewis Shiner's Frontera, Lisa Mason's Summer of Love, Elizabeth Hand's Aestival Time, and more. Read the rest

Kickstarting an anthology of Hugo nominees

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David Steffen is raising $1250 to defray costs on a collection of 2014 Hugo Award-nominated short stories; one of his stretch goals is an audio edition produced by the excellent Skyboat Media studios (where Wil Wheaton recorded the audiobook editions of Homeland and Information Doesn't Want to Be Free). Read the rest

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