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Friday Midday Links: It’s All About the Ebook Reader

First, Microsoft has little interest in the ebook world. CEO Steve Ballmer thinks that the best gear to use to read an ebook is the PC.

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The Times has an article on the numerous ebook readers that are on or soon to enter the market and notes at the end that the tablet computers might threaten the dedicated reading device market.

And there’s the looming threat posed by next-generation tablet computers. Apple, the king of cool handheld devices, is rumored to be readying a tablet computer with all the functions of a laptop as well as iPhone-like touch capabilities for release early next year. Microsoft has been secretive about its plans for a tablet, but a video making the rounds of the blogosphere show a dual-LCD-screen prototype that closes like a book. “E-readers are a transitional technology,” says Rotman Epps of Forrester Research. Which means that just when the e-reader is taking off, it may be becoming obsolete.

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The publisher of Winnie the Pooh has agreed to allow Winnie the Pooh and other children’s classics to be digitized. The deal was struck with Nintendo and the companies plan to launch a digital Winnie the Pooh for Nintendo DS.

However, the Danish publisher now faces its biggest challenge yet as it attempts to move into the digital age. While there will “always be a market for traditional books and magazines”, according to Mr McMenemy, he says the children’s publishing industry needs to better embrace digital methods. The group will today announce one of its most significant digital deals yet: an agreement – which it says also involves Penguin -with EA Games to create ebooks for children for use on the Nintendo DS games console.

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Kristen Nelson reports that she is seeing huge increases in ebook sales on the royalty statements of her authors. Where she used to see 50 copies, she is now seeing 500 to 1,000 copies of ebooks sold. She refers to it a “tectonic shift.” Hopefully RWA will be providing digital publishing and digital promotion panels for next year’s RWA.

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Jeff Bezos is claiming that sales of Kindle books is creeping even higher.

As proof of the way that the Kindle has changed reader habits, Bezos brings up an amazing statistic. Earlier this year, he startled people by revealing that of books available on both Kindle and paper versions, 35 percent of copies sold by Amazon were Kindle versions. Now, he says, the number is up to 48 percent. This means that a lot of people have bought Kindles (Amazon won’t reveal the figures) and that Kindle owners buy a lot of books.

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COOL-er eBook Reader is bringing a wireless device to the market and plans to partner with QVC to offer one over its home shopping network. COOL-er is the company that employs Booth Babes to sell its devices. I wonder if that will carry over to QVC.

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Barnes and Noble is not content to rely on iRex to provide an ebook reader for Barnes and Noble customers. Instead, it will offer its own device. They intend to roll out a different device to consumers in time for the holiday.

The eReader will reportedly have a 6-inch touchscreen with a virtual keyboard, contrasting it immediately with the Kindle’s physical buttons and QWERTY input system. The WSJ claims the screen will be E-Ink, but a Barnes & Noble representative in the video below told us explicitly that the screen will be in color, unlike the Kindle. A color screen makes it very unlikely the reader will be E-Ink based, and much more likely to be an LCD or even OLED device.

Others claim that the Barnes and Noble device won’t come out until next Spring. Who knows!\

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Richard Cleland is probably tired of fielding complaints from bloggers because in his most recent statements he explicitly excludes bloggers from enforcement of the regulations.

If people think that the FTC is going to issue them a citation for $11,000 because they failed to disclose that they got a free box of Pampers,” Cleland says, “that’s not true.”

“We have never brought a case against a consumer endorser and we’ve never brought a case against somebody simply for failure to disclose a material connection,” he explains. “Where we have brought cases, there are other issues involved, not only failing to disclose a material connection but also making other misrepresentations about a product, a serious product like a health product or something like that. We have brought those cases but not against the consumer endorser, we have brought those cases against the advertiser that was behind it.”

I wish the regulations would have excluded blogger liability if the FTC had no intention of enforcing the rules against us. I’ll still be disclaiming.

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

10 Comments

  1. RStewie
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 11:51:24

    Ohh, I love the dividers! That’s a great improvement.

    And I’m with you about the disclaimers…just because Cleland is saying something doesn’t change the interpretation of the regulation. He’s not the FCC God, and his words don’t change legal interpretations. Nor does prior policy (only fining for egregarious endorsement claims, etc) determine future policy application–granted, there are such things as precedence, but in this case, an interpretation of policy should be based originally on the regulation’s verbiage, and not necessarily on prior unstated and unofficial procedures.

    I’m holding out for the Microsoft dual-screen device instead of an ereader, personally…I would LOVE an organizer/planner/notebook that I can also read my books on–and the dual screens seems designed for just such an application.

  2. joanne
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 12:39:36

    @RStewie: It does seem like he is saying that just so the traffic to his door dies down a bit. I wouldn’t trust that statement anymore than I would trust that someone will not try a test case if they are carrying some big bags full of grudge against a reviewer or review site.

    Anyway, a nice round of applause for Richard Cleland as he beats a hasty retreat from Romancelandia.

  3. RStewie
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 13:12:21

    @joanne: Obviously he is not the hero we were looking for.

    /golf clap–better luck next time, Cleland.

  4. senetra
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 13:43:47

    eHarlequin has this free mini ebook listed.

    Divine Beginnings from PC Cast

  5. Jody
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 14:20:44

    As one who felt the beginnings of excitement by news of a new e-reader entering the fray market, I did some research.

    The US dollars prices in the Cool-er bookstore (it’s UK based) are way more than dead tree prices at Amazon, B & N and Borders, though the site claims they’re 20% off retail. The Lost Symbol, for example, was $22 and change. At my local Walmart, the hardback is around $18.

    Cool-er has entered into a partnership with Google for free books, but there’s no browsing. It’s only possible to search by title.

    Good luck to Cool-er on cracking the e-reader market.

  6. Anne Douglas
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 14:46:30

    The deal was struck with Nintendo and the companies plan to launch a digital Winnie the Pooh for Nintendo DS.

    Been saying this for ages – well, that pubs need to get savvy and start marketing kids books for the DS/DSi. They are the ones we need to win over for the future of eBooks. And frankly, my kiddo would think it coolest of the cool to read a CURRENT and age appropriate book on his device. He’s always nagging for me to find books ‘like you read on the ‘puter ‘ for him to read.

  7. rowan
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 08:16:12

    @Anne Douglas: my game-addicted/book-glutton kids would eat this up

    The DS is almost surgically attached as it is. *sigh*

  8. Caligi
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 09:53:23

    Ugh, the Winnie the Pooh deal sounded awesome, until EA was mentioned. I hate EA very much. Between their labor practices and their awful DRM, there’s little to recommend them.

    Hopefully a marriage of children’s books and game systems takes off and other game publishers get in on it. It seems a good combination, since both are generally visual, and it would be a fun thing for families to do together, now that the Wii has made gaming a lot less solitary.

  9. Estara
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 10:21:25

    the tablet computers might threaten the dedicated reading device market.

    As long as there isn’t the same reading experience as a paper full-colour magazine to be had with the tablet pcs, there ought to be a market for ebook readers.

    Personally I can no longer read for hours on a normal pc screen since my trouble with my right cornea began.

    But my Sony PRS gives me the same experience as a book in the number of hours I can read and the lack of strain AND when my eye is doing badly I can increase the size of the font (which a book doesn’t allow) and not have to pay for my reading afterwards with increased problems.

    In conclusion, tablet pc + eINK screen in colour for reading and watching moving content > eReader

    … but not before that, not for me anyway.

  10. Stumbling Over Chaos :: In which you can discover sordid details about my past if you follow the (in)correct link
    Oct 14, 2009 @ 02:05:33

    [...] always, Dear Author has great links to all sorts of ebook news, including to an article about upcoming ebook [...]

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