Monday News: Kobo buys Shelfie, Brexit and books, updated Passover stories, and this could be a Romance novel plot
Rakuten Kobo Acquires Shelfie Technology – Kobo continues to plug on, with a decent amount of side-loading from other sources. This time it’s Shelfie, the app that allowed readers get digital copies of their own print books, which shut down in January. Shelfie will ultimately be integrated into the Kobo app, where one assumes it will be set to compete with the likes of Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook.
Founded in 2013 by Peter Hudson and Marius Muja, as BitLit Media Inc., Shelfie grew to offer more than 450,000 eBooks and audiobooks that booklovers could purchase at a discount or download free of charge. Via any iOS or Android device, users snapped a photo of their bookshelf, and through patented technology, Shelfie scanned the spines of every book to identify titles and give readers a complete inventory of their collection, and served them the available equivalent titles in digital—free of charge or at a promotional price. The service also used the titles on the shelf as data, combined with digital reading data, to generate personalized recommendations.
“We know our best customers move fluidly between formats, reading digitally and in print, and we welcome this opportunity to bring their entire reading life together. People who come to Kobo already have a history of reading in print that we don’t want to ignore. This acquisition will allow us to expand our ecosystem by incorporating Shelfie’s innovative advances in book recommendation, discovery, and bundling, which is especially interesting considering our large network of bricks-and-mortar bookselling partners,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO, Rakuten Kobo Inc. – Kobo
Goodbye to all that – With Brexit now “under way,” according to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the publishing industry is facing a knew and not-yet-clear reality. While not all the current challenges stem from the Brexit vote, I think it’s fair to say that there are a number of global shifts in process contributing to a sense of insecure flux.
A number of publishers have told The Bookseller that they had seen an increase in books bought from the UK bound for the US, as a result of the fall in the value of sterling. For some, the US market has contracted, yet returns in the States have somewhat implausibly increased—in a few cases exceeding sales. The move—which makes tracking sales more difficult—impacts on everything from royalty payments, to marketing plans, to returns. It also raises a question over how territories—and local publishing—will be respected in the future, when distribution routes are globalised and currency changes are there to be taken advantage of.
Other changes may still be ameliorated. In Germany this week, Bertelsmann c.e.o. Thomas Rabe said that its use of the UK as the “hub” for its Intellectual Property business could be jeopardised if the regulatory environment changed. While Rabe did not add much detail, on one thing he was clear: the UK must remain open, with the costs of business not increasing. – The Bookseller
Amateur writers update age-old Passover story – I’m using the title for this piece that appears on my Washington Post app, rather than the click-bait title you will see behind the link. Passover, which begins tonight (Monday), is inspiring a number of Trump-focused stories this year, and more generally, a broad-based conversation about the current political landscape and its potential implications for members of Jewish communities. Amateur writers like Blair Levin have posted updated Passover stories online, reflecting a complex and vexing relationship between faith, politics, and the power of storytelling.
“As far as I can tell, the Seder is always political. … One of the things about the Passover story is: How do you deal with a powerful autocrat?,” said Levin, a former Federal Communications Commission official who initially published his Passover piece anonymously but was identified as the writer on Twitter. “There are many different messages that one can take from it. But one of them is: Do not oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I don’t know how you read the news without thinking about that message …. This is a moment that it struck me that the parallels are pretty obvious.” . . .
The Haggadah — the step-by-step guide through the Seder ritual — has been rewritten more than any other Jewish text. In 2017 alone, writers added to the proliferation a “Zombie Haggadah” and a “Hogwarts Haggadah;” humor writer Dave Barry published a new Haggadah, and comedian Sarah Silverman wrote for another one.
And many modern families choose to compile their very own Haggadah, often using online tools to drag and drop in their favorite prayers and readings. This year, they’re pasting references to Trump interspersed with the prayer. – Washington Post
Domestic abuse survivor marries the paramedic who saved her life – Note: this story contains graphic images of domestic abuse and a detailed description of the incident that led to the initial meeting of the survivor and the paramedic. For that reason, I’m not going to include a lot of details here, but as I was reading this, it was such a Romance novelesque HEA (and a really sweet, poignant story), I thought it was worth sharing.
“I told myself I was never going to date again,” Melissa said. “I had been through too much, but there was something irresistible about him.”
After they got engaged at a Tampa Bay Rays game in May 2015, a local wedding planner who knew their story offered to throw them a wedding at no cost. . . .
She has now dedicated her life to advocate for domestic violence prevention and works at Hands Across the Bay, a nonprofit that does just that. – Yahoo