Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday News: A Tale of Sony and Kobo

Sony faces stiff competition from the likes of Kobo and Amazon’s Kindle in Australia, not to mention Google and Apple. In the US it also has to fend off giants like Barnes & Noble. It’s a tough market and it remains to be seen if the Sony Reader and its store can fare better here than in North America.
–The Sydney Morning Herald

As I’m posting these links today, I can’t help but think about the research on whether those who purchase digital books are loyal to specific vendors and formats. With Adobe’s new DRM plans, and the closure of Sony Reader stores in the US and Canada, I’m not sure how readers of epub books could do anything but break DRM in order to survive the next year of the Sony-Kobo-Abode ménage à trios. Which makes the new Adobe DRM issue even more ironic.

The companies revealed today (6th February) they had struck a deal for Kobo to provide e-books to Sony e-reader and tablet customers. From now on, an app will come pre-loaded on select Sony tablets in the two countries. Sony said that its Reader Store customers and their current e-book libraries will transfer to the Kobo ecosystem starting in late March. –The Bookseller

This could be a good model for Nook, which many in the publishing industry expect to be shuttered or sold before the end of 2014. Nook is Barnes & Noble’s device and ebook business and it has been faltering badly for nearly two years. While it still brings in over $100 million in revenue every quarter, it loses much more than that and revenues have been shrinking rather than growing.–Forbes

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

26 Comments

  1. Nate
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 04:53:11

    I don’t think anyone wants B&N to simply walk away from the Nook platform (like Sony did with the US Reader Store). That would be a disaster:
    http://ebookne.ws/1iwreXw

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  2. mari
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 06:32:47

    Can someone tell me how to strip DRM from all my Sony books? I have about a hundred of them. What happens after DRM has been stripped, how do you read them?

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  3. Jane
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 07:08:32

    @mari: You need to download Calibre. Then google “Apprentice Alf” to find a set of tools including Calibre plugins. Install the plugins. Then re-download your Sony books. They should go into a folder called “My Documents -> Reader -> Books”. Drag all the ebooks onto Calibre and then Calibre should automatically strip the DRM.

    You can then read these books on ANY device and app that views ePubs.

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  4. CK
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 08:16:34

    I think you are right, Jane. After I got the Sony email yesterday, I went straight home and said to my husband. We have to strip the DRM off my books and get them in Calibre before this nightmare happens. I’ve been putting it off and avoiding because I could, frankly. No more. As a longtime epub reader I feel I have no other choice in order to protect the purchases I’ve made over the last four five years!

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  5. autonomous
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 08:29:00

    @mari, I’m in the same boat. I have around 100 books I purchased several years ago. My Sony device is an old, wireless model I don’t use anymore but at least the books are stored on it as a backup. I’ve been using the iPhone/iPad reader app to access my Sony ebooks. I think the books are already on my hardrive but not stripped of DRM. I guess this is the final shove to get me to use Calibre to back everything up. I have technology fatigue and am really tired of having to use multiple packages and apps to retain/track everything.

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  6. JJPP
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 08:48:37

    Thanks for all the news this morning! I just want to mention (with apologies if it’s been said before), that it’s rather hard to tell what’s a quote and what’s DA commentary in the new blog format. I know proper attribution is important to you — it’s very unclear.

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  7. Jane
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 09:45:41

    @JJPP: Thanks for the heads up. I’ve fixed some of that.

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  8. Monique D
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 10:03:50

    This ain’t gonna be pretty if it’s Kobo that takes care of it. I had issues with Kobo books disappearing from my own library for about a year before the problem was fixed. If I understand correctly, our Sony Library is going to be transferred to the Kobo library (unless Kobo doesn’t have said ebooks). This is scary…

    I wonder if someone could help me with something, because I never found any place to contact Adobe on their site. If/when I get a new computer, are the downloads on my computer only or are they in my Adobe account ? I’m not sure I want to know the answer…

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  9. Darlynne
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 10:40:46

    To those of you looking into Calibre, etc.: Just do it. Take a few hours. The worries of losing or being locked out of your paid-for-but-not-completely-yours books will be gone.

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  10. Lada
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 11:25:40

    For anyone fearful or just tired of jumping through hoops to manage your ebook library, I agree with others here that taking a day to figure out the Calibre software will be well worth your time and effort. Above and beyond the helpful Apprentice Alf’s blog, Jane has provided some pretty clear instruction on linking your Calibre library to a cloud storage service.

    I started with the free Dropbox and SugarSync offers and was able to store hundreds of books without upgrading. I ended up upgrading my Dropbox storage for other reasons but I highly recommend storing your books this way. I now sideload books onto my ereader via Calibre or easily access them via apps on my iPad, android phone and tablet. It took some effort but I’m no longer worried about my ebook library.

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  11. samantha
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 11:38:56

    I have a Sony ereader but because of some issues I had years ago with the Sony reader store I never bought much from them. I have always used Kobo for my ebook purchases. I had even tried to buy a Kobo tablet at Christmas time but they were having trouble with their payment system so I never made the purchase. I was so frustrated with them but continued to purchase books for my Sony from their store. So many things about ebooks are appealing to me but when so many of the retailers can’t get their shit together I thank gawd that I still have so many paper books.

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  12. Courtney
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 13:17:17

    Having never dealt with Sony’s e-reading store, I can’t say much there, but I have had a Kobo reader for about a year now and I am not impressed with the software/store. I love my e-reader, simply because of its size–Kobo was the only company with a under-7 inch-reader.
    After fighting with Kobo’s software for about a week after purchase- wireless sync will not work for me at all- I have been solely using calibre to manage my library and add the books to my reader. It works wonderfully and allows you to add books from any e-book provider.
    I can’t recommend calibre enough for protecting the investment I’ve made on e-books, just make sure you keep an updated backup of your library!

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  13. Lindsay
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 13:49:48

    Oh hey, I know that guy. As CEOs go, Mike Serbinis has been fairly cool and accessible, and as our bookstore is in Toronto and has been the alpha-test store for everything Kobo I’ve met him a number of times in my bookseller days. He was even in this holiday season manning the e-reader station like any other employee, and it was nice to see he was not completely out-of-touch with his user base, and was just as interested in asking customers questions about Kobo/e-reading as selling people things. I hope he has luck where he goes next, he struck me as someone who is happiest doing entrepreneurial stuff.

    I’ve been using Calibre and Dropbox for my family’s e-reading as we’re all on the same Kindle and Kobo accounts anyhow, but I like being able to buy from different places if there’s a sale or I can use a good Kobo coupon or whatnot (I’m the designated buyer, mostly because people like what I read, hah!). We all have Kindles, and even my mom’s able to drag and drop from Dropbox to Calibre now.

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  14. Emily E
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 13:57:08

    Adobe thinks that publishers are it’s customers, not readers. It’s website is very hard to find any directions on. That said, you need to register every device and every computer to your account. That should unlock your DRM. The books will be locked until your device is registered.

    No wonder I’m such a huge fan of Calibre. It’s really worth the time to set up. I import everything into it before backing up.

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  15. Christine
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 16:10:39

    I have a Sony PRS-T2 ereader. Currently I buy books from the Sony store and download them directly to my reader (soon to be extinct), the Kobo store (where I open the book which is in epub format either in Adobe Digital Editions or Sony’s Reader for PC program and then transfer it onto my reader) or Amazon, where I upload them to Calibre, use the plug in from Apprentice Alf (which I downloaded and installed myself, I found the instructions were clear) to strip the DRM if it exists (some books don’t have it, such as those from Smashwords), and convert the book to epub format, then load it on my reader. So I can buy books at Sony, Kobo or Amazon. The only hiccup I have encountered is with itunes – if it is a “protected book” I have not yet been able to figure out how to remove the DRM and put it on the Sony e-reader (not a problem if it has no DRM as it is epub format and easily transferable). So I have a few books that I bought with an itunes gift card that I can only read on my ipod, which is obviously not ideal, and prevents me from using itunes to purchase books in the future unless I know for sure it is DRM-free. The best thing for me has been being able to purchase and convert books from Amazon – I have never had an issue with the formatting when converting to epub, and the selection of books is fantastic of course. I have not yet looked into stripping DRM from all my books, as I really like the Sony ereader, and it is what I would purchase again in the future (especially since my library doesn’t support the Kindle for ebooks).

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  16. library addict
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 17:05:37

    For anyone new to Calibre and wanting to use the cloud to automatically sync your Calibre library folder, if you use Windows be sure to pause syncing while using Calibre and only turn it back on once you have closed Calibre. Per Kovid (Calibre’s creator) having two programs (in this case Calibre itself and the sync program) accessing the library at the same time can cause problems including your library to become corrupted. See Here

    I have a backup copy of my library with Copy.com but the original version is no longer auto-synced.

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  17. Janhavi
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 18:00:22

    Jane, thanks for all your posts on Calibre- I have read several of them.

    I do have a question though. Since I basically only read Kindle books (on an iPad), I am mainly interested in using Calibre to backup my library so that I have a non-Amazon and DRM-free backup.

    This is probably a stupid question, but will this in any way affect my use of Amazon Kindle Collections, Cloud, etc? I don’t actually want to *use* the DRM-free backup or Calibre’s library service- I am happy to keep reading via the Kindle app, and making use of Kindle highlights and Kindle cloud library and so on. I just want to have a backup that doesn’t depend on Amazon.

    Thanks :)

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  18. JJPP
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 18:50:49

    @Lada: Lada, what Android app(s) do you like to use to access your books from Dropbox on your phone or tablet? I’ve gotten everything organized and saved to Dropbox (quite a project, but definitely worth it!), but for now it’s just for peace of mind — I still only use my kindle app on my phone. Would be interested to hear any recommended apps!

    Thanks!

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  19. JJPP
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 18:58:29

    @Janhavi: Janhavi, backing up your books on Calibre won’t affect your Kindle collections. What you do is basically download all your Kindle books (and/or books from other sources), load them into Calibre, and save them to Dropbox. Everything you have on your Kindle will still be on your Kindle.

    Now, whether you can use Calibre to create new collections or sync with the collections you have on Kindle… That, I don’t know. You probably can, but I have no idea how. :)

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  20. Debbie F.
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 06:06:25

    I don’t know much about ebook technology, so I hope all of you more knowledgeable folks can help me out.

    First, I have all if my books, either purchased from Sony, Books on Board (RIP), Kobo, or other sources downloaded on my laptop and backed up by Carbonite, and also loaded onto my Sony T2. Should I still go the DMR stripping route?

    I ask because while I had no trouble downloading calibre, my virus protection screamed at me when I attempted to download the plug in at Apprentice Alf. Did anyone else have this issue? Now I am nervous about corrupting my computer.

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  21. Christine
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 08:56:11

    @DebbieF @Debbie F.: I don’t think you need to go the DRM stripping route if you are sticking with Sony and epub books. I had to do it because I decided to buy books from Amazon and you have to strip the DRM in order to convert them to epub for the Sony reader. Yes, the virus protection will yell at you to download the plug in but I did it anyway. I only downloaded the plug-in for stripping DRM from kindle books though, I didn’t bother stripping the DRM from my epub books. It didn’t cause me any problems. It’s the nature of proprietary software to be leery of outside intervention so any addition to it’s software it will say it’s not happy with. But it doesn’t mean that it is corrupt. So in a nutshell, you can use Calibre for you library and putting books on your device and you don’t need to strip the DRM if you plan to stick with epub books.

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  22. Janhavi
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 16:25:46

    @JJPP:
    Thank you! I shall give it a try :)

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  23. Debbie F.
    Feb 10, 2014 @ 15:20:49

    @Christine, thanks for your help. I did decide to strip the DRM in case it ever becomes a problem. I appreciate that you assured me that I was not the only one having virus protection issues. I finally just turned it off long enough to install the plugin. I have loaded all my books and the process appears to have been successful.

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  24. Christine
    Feb 10, 2014 @ 16:34:29

    @Debbie F.: You are welcome! I’ve been debating stripping the DRM from my epub books since this discussion (since as mentioned I already have the DRM stripped from my amazon books so I can convert them to epub and read them on my Sony e-reader). I may just do it yet to save myself further problems down the road in case I switch to a new type of reader. I definitely have found Calibre easier to use in general for transferring books to my e-reader – almost every time I tried to use Sony’s Reader for PC software it would crash while trying to sync once I had more than 50 books on my reader (and I have 800 now – my TBR list is stupefying long! Not all of those are paid for books, many are free or I would be broke!) Happy Reading :-)

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  25. Christine
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 07:17:54

    @Christine: @Debbie F.: On further investigation I realized that the calibre drm removal tool is removing the drm from all my purchased books from amazon, kobo and sony store. For some reason I thought I had specified just the kindle books so I went back in to look at it, and realized it was doing them all anyway. Yay! So now I re-downloaded all my sony estore books into Adobe digital editions and then pulled them into calibre (I wasn’t sure which ones I had in Calibre before or after the plug in, and which ones I had in the Reader for pc program when I was still using it). Then I saved them all to a folder on my backup hard drive entitled DRM-free purchased books. Enjoy buying amazon books! There are always good sales there, and calibre’s convert function is super easy and holds up the formatting well.

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  26. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity for linkity’s sake
    Feb 14, 2014 @ 07:42:32

    […] Book and publishing news from Dear Author. […]

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