Why Some People Hate Ebooks; and Why I Love Them by 

Whether you love ebooks or hate them, they’re the future of the book publishing business. Don’t get left behind. Attend Digital Book World 2013. Learn more about the exciting agenda here.

There are some people out there who are frustrated with ebooks. Dylan Love of Business Insider, for one, who published an article yesterday titled “Why I Hate E-Books“.

The ebook revolution is exciting and certainly has been profitable for the book business as a whole, but publishers and booksellers should hear what Love (and others like him) has to say. Here’s why he hates ebooks:

1. “E-books cost too much.” In his piece, he pointed out an example of how an ebook edition of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (Random House) is more expensive than a paperback edition — when you order it with Amazon Prime, which offers free shipping, that is.

This is a gripe that should be familiar to the ebook business. Love isn’t alone. I spoke with a number of consumers in April who were mostly upset about the price of ebooks because the perception was that they cost little to produce and distribute. There have been other media reports that point out similar price discrepancies to what Love pointed out, citing consumer dissatisfaction and confusion. [Read more...]

Blogroll: LA Times | Books

Why is Amazon deleting writers’ reviews of other authors’ books? by By Carolyn Kellogg

If emails from Amazon’s customer service team are a fair indicator, it appears the online retailer considers authors to be direct competitors of other authors. And email chains are all we have to go on, as Amazon did not respond to our request for comment.

On Wednesday, Steve Weddle, an author of crime fiction, blogged about how he had tried repeatedly to leave a nice review for “Karma Backlash,” a pulpy e-book by his friend Chad Rohrbacher, on its sales page on Amazon. Weddle’s review was received but never posted.

When he asked Amazon what was happening, Weddle got this an email reply that explained, “We have removed your review from Karma Backlash. We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product. As a result, we’ve removed your reviews for this title.”

It is certainly possible that some authors consider other writers rivals. In September, prize-winning English crime writer R.J. Ellory admitted to having written negative reviews of other writers’ books under a pseudonym. The furor that erupted over his “sock puppet” reviews, however, was just as heated around the positive pseudonymous reviews Ellory had written,. which were for his own books. Ellory, who has since apologized, called one of his own books “a modern masterpiece.”

This is the conundrum of reviews on Amazon: For the most part, they’re not actually reviews. In terms of books, they’re often reactions, thoughts, comments, recommendations — but not book reviews in the classic sense. Book reviewers are supposed to steer clear of work by friends and enemies. That kind of thing has never been the rule at Amazon.

Is it the rule now?

That’s what Weddle wanted to know. He followed up, stating that he had no financial interest in the book. The response reiterated what Amazon had already stated, using the same language as before. “We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product,” Amazon repeated. The company added a new closing: “We have removed your reviews as they are in violation of our guidelines. We will not be able to go into further detail about our research.”

Weddle believes his review may not have posted because he was doing it in conjunction with his Author Central account at Amazon — something that has never been disallowed but which tells Amazon that he is a writer leaving a review.

And it’s not just Weddle; other authors saw reviews that they had previously posted disappear. Amazon booster J.A. Konrath has too, and he says he’s heard from about 20 other authors that their Amazon reviews had been deleted. Konrath writes that many of the reviews he’d written had been deleted: “more than fifty of them had been removed, namely reviews I did of my peers.”

Writing nice things about peers’ work in Amazon’s review system has been something authors do for one another. Part of this is timing: Frequently, peers are among the first to get a chance to read the books. In some cases, the reviews on Amazon function like blurbs; readers may recognize the name of an author they like praising a book, and that can inform them about an author they don’t yet know.

Whatever you think of the practice, which can look a lot like back-scratching, it’s not at all uncommon — and it’s never been discouraged. As Weddle told Amazon, “I do personally know the author of the book, so if that prevents me from reviewing the book, please let me know.” He then added, “I also know other people who write books.”

That is hardly a rarity; most authors know other people who write books. They’re all in the same relatively small business. This may be a problem if Amazon assumes that authors are rivals of one another; if they are all “directly competing,” no writer will be eligible to write reviews of anothers’ works.

Or maybe it’s no problem at all. Writer Sean Creagan, skeptical of the dust-up, notes that author-on-author reviews comprise so little of Amazon’s overall site content as to be nothing more than a “sparrow’s fart.”


An ebook enigma: here one day, gone the next by Linda Morris

BUYERS of ebooks may have no greater legal rights than ”tenant farmers” it has emerged following the case of a Kindle user whose digital library was wiped by Amazon.

The fine print in online agreements inserted at the behest of publishers to protect authors’ copyright, licences readers to the digital files but does not grant ”tangible” ownership, as with any hard-copy book.

These conditional ebook licences are policed and can be revoked at the discretion of the ebook retailer, as a Norwegian Kindle customer discovered when in October they allegedly violated Amazon’s terms and conditions and had their digital library deleted, then reinstated.

Additionally readers are physically prevented from transferring content to friends and immediate family, or between devices, by encryption software called Digital Rights Management, devised to protect a creator’s copyright from piracy and prevent buyers from on-selling the digital file for profit. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Kobo Launches in South Africa

Kobo takes eReading to New Continent—
World-Class Platform now Available to South African Consumers


Award-winning Kobo Touch eReader now on sale at Pick n Pay in-store and online for only R995 Toronto, Canada – October 30, 2012 – Kobo, a global leader in eReading, today announced a partnership with Pick n Pay, one of South Africa’s largest and most successful retailers. This partnership brings the world-class Kobo eReading platform to people in South Africa with the award-winning Kobo Touch™ eReader, one of the largest content catalogues in the world, and a localized online customer experience.  The Kobo website offers popular literature by notable local authors and books in both English and Afrikaans—available at

The award-winning Kobo Touch, named Wired Magazine’s 2012 Editor’s Pick for Best eReader, is now available for sale at select Pick n Pay Hyper stores and Supermarkets as well as online at for the low introductory price of R995. In addition, customers can earn Pick n Pay Smart Shopper points when they buy the Kobo Touch. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Digital Book World

Advertiser-Supported E-Books


Would you rather get e-books for free but have to look at ads between chapters, or would you rather pay for e-books that are ad-free?

If you answered “free,” you’re like nearly half of Americans, according to a survey that came out yesterday. (The survey itself was conducted by a start-up, eBookPlus, that hopes to pioneer in-book advertising and the

methodology was quite opaque, so make of it what you will. Still, it’s an interesting issue to ponder.)

In our own unscientific survey on Twitter, many found the idea of ads in books quite abhorrent, while others liked the free price point.

Meanwhile, about one in seven said they’d prefer to pirate the book with the remainder (about 35%) saying they’d prefer to pay some price: from $0.99 to $19.90.


A new month, a new partnership – Ciao, Italy!  by Sharon Fernandes on October 1, 2012

In early July we announced that Kobo was partnering with Italy’s leading retailer and publisher of books and magazines, the Mondadori Group. To start the month off with a bang Kobo is excited to announce our award winning Kobo Touch™ will be available at Mondadori stores and online as of tomorrow!

The Mondadori Group has most extensive network of bookshops and one of the largest online media stores in Italy. We’re excited to make that even larger with our library of eBooks! Italian readers will have access to Kobo’s library of 3 million titles directly on their Kobo eReader or through

Mondadori is excited to have the Kobo Touch in their network to distribute eReading content. They believe the Kobo Touch will compliment and strengthen their editorial resources, chain of bookshops and online services. Mondadori realizes that technology is changing and the way content is consumed by readers needs to be through multiple channels, both physical and online. Partnering with Kobo was a move to keep up with consumers needs,  provide Italian readers with new and exciting content as well as experience Kobo’s devices and the social activities they offer.  Maurizio Costa, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of the Mondadori Group believes that the Kobo Touch will bring “content to an even wider audience”

Kobo is equally excited to welcome Italian readers to our community. Kobo CEO Mike Serbinis believes “through our partnership with Mondadori, we are offering the Italian consumer a new and truly exciting way to read.” [Read more...]

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