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Weekly Tech RoundUp

Rupert Murdoch, losing money on his print publications, is turning his eyes toward Google, accusing the search engine of stealing copyrights. (I’m guessing that Murdoch isn’t a big fan of the fair use doctrine). It’s pretty easy to exclude your material from Google and I would think that Murdoch could afford to hire a tech team to keep the material the search engine but excluding your information from Google means excluding your content from the millions who use Google. The article posits that Murdoch’s comments are a prelude to a lawsuit. Also, Rupert is looking into charging for his content after saying the WSJ should be free online.

And in my last Rupert Murdoch piece, apparently he is also thinking that he needs his own ebook reading device. He apparently is investing in a large screen device in four-color. Note to Rupert Murdoch, commercial fiction readers don’t want to lug around a device too big hence the popularity of the netbook. Just thought you might want a heads up about that.

Amazon customers are boycotting books over $9.99. In principle, this is a nice idea. After all, I do think that there are publishers that are outrageous in their pricing of ebooks. For example, St. Martin’s Press is pricing the digital equivalents of its mass market books at $9.99 up to $14.00. Simon & Schuster has upped all its pricing for digital mass markets to $9.99. I feel those prices are totally out of line and actually serve to suppress ebook growth, at least legitimate ebook growth. But Amazon, a retailer, isn’t really responsible for the pricing at this point. I believe that the $9.99 pricing is a “loss leader.” Essentially, they are selling books at a loss in order to gain something such as encouraging you to buy a Kindle over another product as well as increasing market share of book purchases (and also your heart, soul and mind). The entities readers need to protest/boycott are the publishers themselves. (Thanks to JMC for the link).

Verizon is talking to “five different e-reading device makers” to provide wireless service for the ebook readers. Everyone (including me) suspects that this is a way to compete with the Kindle-buy-through-your-device feature. Sony is presumed to be one of the five. AT&T is apparently in the hunt as well. There is appears to be a lot of interest (by whom I am not sure) but I think this is exciting for ebook readers.

Speaking of AT&T, they are predicting that by the end of this year, we consumers are going to see laptops the size of paperbacks with slide out keyboards/touchscreens that can run all day on a single charge. I believe everything but the “run all day on a single charge” bit.

Finally, some sad news about Ars Technica, one of the best tech sites on the internet. Apparently the Conde Nast subsidiary suffered a huge loss of its workforce when 7 of its 17 employees were given the ax. Ars is a site I would pay to have access to.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. DS
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 08:17:38

    $9.99 is the break point for me on a Kindle book currently in hardback or trade paperback. I didn’t know about the boycott. But if the Kindle edition price is too high I usually just buy a cheap used copy and resell it if I don’t want to keep it.

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  2. spyscribbler
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 08:57:57

    Well, I just bought a netbook, really a computer, for the same price as my Kindle cost. It runs for 9.5 hours on battery, with Windows XP and 2GB RAM and 160GB hard drive.

    It’s the size of a hardback book. Won’t take much to whittle it down to paperback size!

    I don’t buy books for more than $9.99 either. Amazon trained me well.

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  3. DS
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 09:29:54

    Does it have the six cell battery? I bought a Samsung NC10-14GB 10.2-Inch Netbook as my Christmas present to myself. It’s advertized as 8 hours but I get about 7.5 hours on a charge.

    I’ve tried to read on it, but I just don’t like the experience all that much. It’s great for web surfing in bed though.

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  4. TerryS
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 11:13:42

    I’ve had my MSI Wind netbook for about 9 months now and read ebooks on it all the time. There is a free program (I learned about it here on Dear Author) which allows me to rotate the screen orientation from landscape to portrait. While I don’t like reading ebooks in the landscape mode either, rotating to portrait mode really does simulate reading a hard cover book. The program is called eeeRotate.v1.1. It took just a quick Google search to find the download. This download was my best find of 2008!

    All of the ebooks I buy cost less than the lowest price I can find for the paper copy of the same book (new) available at the bookstore…and the larger bookstores have sales and discounts all the time further lowering prices from their cover prices. Any publisher who raises/keeps ebook prices above that price line simply doesn’t get my business at all no matter how much I may like an author or want any particular book. The bottom line is there are too many publishers who meet my personal price criteria for me to waste my dollars on those who are trying to take advantage of readers who prefer ebooks to print. Personally, my print book purchases have dropped to less than 2% of my total book purchases yet my total dollars spent on books has not dropped at all.

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  5. Bonnie
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 16:10:55

    Ah… that Amazon thing is disturbing. They can’t continue to sell ebooks at a loss. What a fucking drag.

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  6. Chrissy
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 16:54:46

    Boston Globe is going under. Sign of the times, I fear.

    But 10 bucks for an ebook is highway robbery.

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  7. jmc
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 18:41:20

    Generally, I feel ambivalent about the Amazon $9.99 price point for books, but not enough to boycott, given the steep discount on books that are otherwise only available in hardback. $9.99 for a book that is out in paperback? I’m not so devoted to e-versions that I’m willing to pay more for them — if the e-version is more expensive than the bound version, I’ll go with the bound version every time. Even if it means that my bookshelves are bowing under the weight of the books.

    Today I went looking for a copy of Maya Banks’ Be With Me, which came to my attention courtesy of DABWAHA. Bound price (on sale, original price $15): $9.75. Kindle price: $9.75. If I buy the Kindle version, I can have it on my reader and download it to my computer. But I can’t transfer it, lend it, swap it, whatever. Is the immediate gratification of being able to read it NOW worth it? For some books/authors, it might be. But since I’ve never read Banks before, I’m not sure it is. So I’ll either order the bound version, which I can sell or trade later if it isn’t a keeper, or wait to borrow a copy from the library. Shame. I was looking forward to reading the book this evening.

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  8. whey
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 19:13:23

    Rupert Murdoch is a tool. And that is much suckage regarding Ars Technica (and Wired.com).

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  9. Keishon
    Apr 05, 2009 @ 20:11:33

    I refuse to pay for the high cost and refuse to buy paper unless the book is by Karin Slaughter, Penelope Williamson, Roberta Gellis, Catherine Asaro, you get my drift. Refuse to buy paper if the ebook cost is steep. Prefer hardcover if I buy at all anymore.

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  10. ReacherFan
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 09:39:20

    It’s not just Amazon that’s ripping people off. The small publishing houses that do erotic and mainstream romance are doing the same thing, they’re just disguising it as “multi-part stories”. I’ve complain it several times in the past few days on my blog. Once about Tymber Dalton’s Triple Trouble series, about Anne Douglas’ Accidentally Were? and Witch, Vamp, Were? and also on The Starlight Chronicles by Annabel Wolfe. Siren does the Dalton and Wolfe books. Loose-ID did the Anne Douglas books. Despite loving the Anne Douglas ones and at least liking the others, I am offended and alarmed by the pricing. It is ridiculously high. I find myself ranting about again and again.

    What is the point in investing in an ebook reader if the books aren’t cheaper than the far more versatile PRINT BOOK? Everything said about the Amazon boycott is dead nuts on and what I’ve ranted about. I read my ebooks on my laptop. I recognize the convenience and ease of a reader, but I’d rather have a real book I can resell or give away than another electronic device that can break or be stolen and take a fortune in ebooks with it.

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  11. Leah Hultenschmidt
    Apr 07, 2009 @ 15:05:17

    I think the reason that you’re seeing publishers increase pricing on ebooks is because of the 40-60% discount the online retailers are taking right off the top. You take out the author’s standard (if also published in print) 15% and factor in the costs of creating all the ebook formats, and there’s not much left over. The e-reading audience isn’t quite big enough yet to bring in big profits with the retailers (Fictionwise, Amazon, etc.) taking such a large percentage.

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