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Dear Jane:  What’s Coming Next for eBooks?

Dear Jane: What’s Coming Next for eBooks?

This post is inspired by Mike Cane’s post about what we are waiting for in ebooks.


Blio:   Blio is the brain child of Ray Kurzweil and everyone was super excited about it when it was first announced.   I had my own ebook tingles which waned as the software platform became more nebulous and when I actually saw the demo of Blio.   Blio is probably going to be good for educational purposes and non fiction but honestly, it is only going to work for those books that are specially made for this platform.   In other words, readers of long narrative fiction won’t find Blio compelling enough to move to its new platform and new DRM scheme.   Blio is supposed to be released this Thursday, September 28.   No Mac release, however.

Copia:   Copia has a lot to offer readers such as an integrated social network and a new way of shopping but the benefits of Copia, that make it worthwhile to move to Copia, really depends on how many of your ebook reading friends are going to buy books from Copia.   I sat through an hour presentation on Copia and one of the neatest features was the ability to read a book and see your friends’ notes and comments.   I would love that, particularly for a book chat.   But Copia’s social network of books that allows you to see what your friends’ think, intertextually, about a book only exists if all of you and your friends buy your books through Copia’s store.   I love a lot of the features Copia is going to offer, such as customized bookshelves (kind of like more visually oriented lists that Amazon allows you to create) with multiple levels of privacy but as an existing Goodreads user, I can’t see myself moving over to the Copia platform unless a lot of my online reading friends are there.   Copia is currently in beta testing.   No word on the release date.

Google Editions:   I keep reading that Google Editions will be the savior of everyone.   That independent bookstores will be saved; that publishers will be thrilled; and that consumers will win.   I don’t really get how all these magical things will happen with Google Editions.   What we know about GE is that your content will exist in the cloud.

Google Editions will be able to function on any device with an Internet connection. Once a user purchases, it will be stored in their collection when users sign in to their Google account, a type of freedom that eludes both Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad.   (Jane’s note: GE will likely not work on the Kindle even though Kindle has a browser and an internet connection and truthfully, we don’t know whether GE will function on a connected nook or a connected Sony Reader).

and it will have Adobe DRM

Google will support Adobe ACS4 as its current provider of an industry-standard digital rights management (DRM) solution for downloaded files of Google Editions. Google will require users to link the Adobe DRM software in their Google Editions via a one-time authentication per reading system. These devices may then request ACS4 encrypted EPUB or PDF files via a Google-provided API.

Now, Adobe DRM is flash based as far as I know so in order to have downloaded, offline access for Google Edition books, you will need to be able to authenticate your reading system through Adobe.   This currently is not possible under Apple’s operating system, as far as I know. (Hence the need for reading apps from Google for the iThing).   How this system is different than say Kobo is beyond me.   Richard Curtis claims that GE will “unchain” books, but offline downloading happens one book at a time.   What happens when you are done reading that one book?   There are a lot of offline devices out there, not the least being the 45 million iTouches out there. Further, while publishers get to set prices, the GE FAQ says that pricing is ultimately determined by the retailer.   This was confirmed in an interview with Debbie Stier from HarperCollins.   Confused yet? Me too.

Dear Author

Wednesday Midday Links: NJRW Axes Finalist

I’m not sure if I blogged about this or not but Best Buy will be ereader central.   The Kindle, nook, Sony eink devices will be sold in store as well as iPads.   If you have a Best Buy close, this is a great opportunity to take a look at these devices and compare and contrast them.   According to Barnes and Noble, 80% of the nook sales take place in the store (SEC report).


Patricia Ryan, author of the Nell Sweeney mysteries that we’ve recommended here on Dear Author, and historical romances, has partnered with a number of other print published authors to form a cooperative of sorts called Backlist eBooks.   This cooperative’s home is on Facebook and you can read the announcements of releases and the list of the authors who are currently participating in the cooperative on Facebook.   There is a resources tab for those authors who might be interested in joining the cooperative.

I noticed that Patricia Rice was on the list. I want to put my vote in for Blue Clouds to be digitized.   I loved that book.    (Thanks MaryKat for the heads up).


Someone tweeted this link to an article on a study of brain activity during orgasm.   Apparently women can actually think their way to an orgasm but once they have one, there is absolutely no brain activity.   “Struck dumb” has real meaning here.


Blio, Ray Kurzweil’s ebook reading platform, is finally going to be released in September. It’s not epub but XPS.   The press release doesn’t say, but given what I’ve read in the past, it looks like the DRM will be Microsoft run.   There are no current dates for the release of any MAC related software for the Blio.


After four? years, the Eloisa James and Julia Quinn message board is shutting down.   I’ve heard its due to the authors wanting to spend more time with Facebook and in other social media environments.


Christa McHugh wrote a work   (A Soul for Trouble) and submitted it for the “Put Your Heart in a Book” New Jersey Romance Writers’ chapter contest.   It finaled.   McHugh then received a phone call from the contest coordinator stating that the president, Mo Boylan, had told the contest coordinator to disqualify McHugh’s work on the basis that Samhain designated her previously published works as novels.   McHugh’s Samhain works are both under 40,000 words, the cut off line that the national RWA organization uses to define book length fiction.   Book length are the words used by NJRW to define the terms of the contest:

Entrant must be a member of RWA in good standing, unpublished, and not contracted in  book-length romantic fiction at the contest deadline by  any publisher and  in any format within the last five years."

NJRW did not define what book length romantic fiction was and it did not deem the national RWA definition suitable for their purposes.   It is unknown what book length is in the eyes of NRWA.

When questioned by McHugh regarding this, Ms. Moylan replied back:

“Fact remains that, by your own publisher’s definition, you are considered to be published in book length and not as a novella. You signed THEIR contract. Our rules stipulate book or novel length.   This contest is not RWA’s contest but ours so you assumed wrongly that we would use RWA’s definition. Please read the rules where it states that the decision of the Contest Chair is final.”

Fortunately, McHugh’s entry fee was refunded but unfortunately, her work won’t be seen by those who judge the finalists entries.   A finalist will sometimes find an agent or editor through these book contests.

A look through the NJRW conference page, shows a paucity of digital publishing people despite the fact that it had once been considered a very forward thinking chapter.   Lindsey Faber from Samhain stated that Samhain was not invited and Angela James from Carina Press stated that she was not either, for the first time in 5 years.

I asked the President about the chapter’s stance on digital publishing and Christa McHugh’s situation, particularly:

In regard to McHugh’s disqualification, Boylan maintained it was a private matter and she woul dnot comment on it.   As for the chapter’s current stance on digital publishing, Boylan claimed that the NJRW was “proud to be inclusive of our members’ accomplishments in romance publishing” and that the committee did their best to “present the best workshops that address the needs of romance writers in all levels of writing skills.”   There is one digital publishing workshop being offered which I believe is from Bob Mayer, “Bob Mayer -’ E-Pub and Everything Else”.