Monthly Archives: June 2008

Ebook Reading Device Momentum Picking up

Thanks to Publishers Lunch we have news of advances in handhelds:

Reminiscent of the proposal for the second-generation “one laptop per
child” concept, researchers at the University of Maryland and UC
Berkeley have developed an early prototype of an ereader with two sides
that emulate a natural page turning. In a demonstration video, they say
it will “better support the navigation tasks associated with the

New Scientist notes: “The two leaves can be opened and closed to
simulate turning pages, or even separated to pass round or compare
documents. When the two leaves are folded back, the device shows one
display on each side. Simply turning it over reveals a new page.”
New Scientist
Separately, the NYT has a brief look at miBook, a seven-inch e-reader
with a color screen. “Meant to work more like a media player than a real
e-book reader, the $130 device also displays multimedia content like
step-by-step recipe instructions, and can play back music through the
built-in speakers…. Add-on titles cost about $20, and some electronics
stores, like Circuit City, will offer models complete with one or two
books built in.”

– Richard


Publishers Weekly Features E-Reads

A very nice bit of exposure for E-Reads today!

Publishers Weekly, the bible of the publishing industry, carries a story by Craig Teicher in the June 23rd 2008 issue about E-Reads.

The reporter takes note of E-Reads’ longevity and persistence in the field of e-book and print on demand publishing, evaluates our unique niche and business model and also highlights some of our recently announced deals.

We’re very pleased that the mainstream publishing trade press has taken notice of what we’re up to. Big publishers beware! We may be small but we are mighty and we are growing.

— John


E-Reads to Partner with Mobile Phone Giant

E-Reads is happy to announce a partnership with Toronto-based MPA Mobile’s Global Reader. Global Reader will be posting all of E-Reads titles, currently exceeding 800, on its Global Reader site for purchase by consumers.


Books will be uploaded as a whole or in chapter format with chapter purchases being credited toward ownership of a full book.

Global Reader is available on over 75 Mobile Carriers worldwide in over 160 countries supporting material in a variety of languages. Mobile phone users can receive it on any Internet enabled mobile device including the iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericksson Smart phones as well as over 800 other devices worldwide. Find it now by going to on your mobile device.

MPS Mobile is a wholly owned subsidiary of Macmillan Publishing Solutions (MPS). MPS has been in the business of providing a variety of publishing services to international publishing and media companies for over 30 years and has earned a strong reputation as a leader in the industry. MPS Mobile is our Global Platform; a software solution enabling content providers to reach mobile phone audiences anywhere and everywhere in the world.

Founded in 2000 by literary agent Richard Curtis, E-Reads offers hundreds of previously published works of fiction and nonfiction in such genres as Fantasy, Science Fiction, War Fiction, Romance and Mystery.

“We are very excited to be providing the kind of legacy of genre fiction that E-Reads offers, giving established authors yet another way to earn income from their work,” says MPS Mobile Sales Director, Robert Kasher. Genres include Fantasy, Science Fiction, War Fiction, Romance and Mystery titles that have gone out of print but have been revived by E-Reads. Best selling work from authors like John Norman, Greg Bear and Janet Dailey have been repackaged and repurposed and include new original work by many of these award-winning, internationally acclaimed writers.

E-Reads founder Richard Curtis says, “Of all the platforms envisioned by e-book pioneers, the mobile phone is closest to the all-in-one device. This is the fulfillment of a long cherished dream.”


Amazon Throws Another Elbow at a Major British Publisher

In April we reported that Bloomsbury, a division of PenguinUK, feared retaliation for daring to price some titles competitively with online behemoth

Yesterday a major American author received an email from Tim Hely Hutchinson, Group Chief Executive of Hachette in London, informing him that Amazon was “removing the ‘buy button’ from some of our books and also removing some of our titles from promotional positions such as ‘Perfect Partner’, in order to apply pressure on us to give Amazon even better commercial terms than it presently receives.”

Hutchinson’s letter details Amazon’s tactics as an effort to bully publishers into giving Amazon such favorable discounts that bookstores and bookstore chains would be unable to compete, thus accelerating the demise of the traditional book retailing business.

Some highlights of his letter are reproduced below.

Larger British book retailers already receive the most generous terms in the English-language world from publishers including ourselves. Of the “cake” represented by the recommended retail price of a general book, major retailers including Amazon already receive on average well over 50%. Despite these advantageous terms, Amazon seems each year to go from one publisher to another making increasing demands in order to achieve richer terms at our expense and sometimes at yours… If this continued, it would not be long before Amazon got virtually all of the revenue that is presently shared between author, publisher, retailer, printer and other parties… We are politely but firmly saying that these encroachments need to stop now.

Amazon has grown very rapidly since it launched and it now makes some 16% of all book sales in Britain. We respect the creativity, the value and range offered and the standards of service that have made Amazon so successful. At its present rate of growth, which was 30% last year, Amazon would become the largest bookseller in Britain in about three years. You will be aware that the retail market for book is not increasing and therefore much of this growth would inevitably come at the expense of “bricks and mortar” booksellers. This is of course not a criticism of Amazon, and no publisher can or should tell the public where to shop. However, we are concerned that more and more traditional booksellers are having to close their doors, with skilled individual booksellers losing their jobs, and this is due in part to Amazon’s aggressively low pricing on prominent titles. Therefore, despite our limited role in respect of these changes in the retail landscape, we are determined not to provide Amazon with further ammunition with which it could damage booksellers who offer a personal service, browsing facilities and other valuable benefits to the reading public…


Publishers Finally Acknowledge the Nine Gazillion Pound Gorilla in the Room

At Book Expo America, the publishing industry’s annual trade fair and self-celebration, attention focused on the fact that one of the few areas that is growing at a double digit — indeed, at an exponential — rate is e-book sales on the Kindle. And, according to the New York Times, the publishers are genuinely nervous. The Times pointed out that “…excitement about the Kindle, which was introduced in November, also worries some publishing executives, who fear Amazon’s still-growing power as a bookseller.”
Worried they should be. Surprised they should not. They have had ten years to ponder the meaning of the soaring growth of e-book sales and spent half of that decade deriding the trend as a flash in the pan. Now they’re rushing to put their backlists into e-book format even as they are haunted by the prospect that e-book sales undercut the profits they make from sales of traditional printed books. Publishing executives, the Times reports, “anticipate that it will not be long before Amazon begins using the Kindle’s popularity as a lever to demand that publishers cut prices.”

But publishers are still missing the point, which is that profits from printed books are hamstrung by a wasteful retail system that takes back one copy for every two distributed. The beauty of e-books is minimal distribution costs and zero returns. Barnes & Noble CEO Stephen Riggio finally acknowledged the insanity of the system, but, as we pointed out here, it’s just too late.

– Richard Curtis