ebooks Stories August 22, 2018

New York Public Library is turning the Instagram app into an ebook reader

If you’re a parent wondering how you get your kids to read books when they’d far rather be using Instagram, the New York Public Library thinks it may have the answer …

ebooks Stories May 1, 2017

US eBook sales fell by 18.7% in the first nine months of 2016, while UK sales dropped 17% across the year, reports CNN. There appears to have been a resurgence in reading physical books, where sales grew during the same period.

In the UK, sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children’s books surged 16%. The same trend is on display in the U.S., where […] paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%.

The popularity of print format books is not necessarily very literary in nature, however …

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ebooks Stories March 8, 2016

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Well, the e-book case that began in 2012 when the US government accused Apple of price-fixing finally ended yesterday  when the Supreme Court declined to hear Apple’s appeal. That left the original ruling intact, meaning that Apple is officially guilty of anti-competitive behavior and will have to fork out $450M in compensation.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the correct result was reached in law. Apple did deliberately set out to fix prices, it did strike secret deals, and it did intend to manipulate the e-book market. Emails from Steve Jobs confirmed the government’s claim that Apple struck the deals in the belief that consumers would end up paying more for e-books.

Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99. [Up from the typical $9.99 at the time.]

So far, so good. If you’d brought that evidence to me at the time Apple did the deals, I’d have agreed with the government that the company’s behavior was both illegal and morally wrong. But I’d argue that by the time the case was finally brought to court, it was already abundantly clear that it was not in the public interest to pursue it …

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ebooks Stories December 3, 2015

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While the ebook trial may seem like old news now, the case is not yet finally settled. Apple was found guilty of anticompetitive behavior in its ebooks pricing and practices back in 2013, and lost a subsequent federal court appeal – despite some judges expressing sympathy with Apple’s position.

Apple then decided to take the case to the Supreme Court, and today got the backing of both authors and distributors, reports The Bookseller.

A group of authors and booksellers have filed a motion in the US asking for the […] decision against Apple’s role in a 2010 conspiracy to fix the price of e-books to be overturned […]

The Authors Guild, along with Authors United, the American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble filed an “amicus brief” in the US which asserts that the government’s focus on Apple’s “allegedly anti-competitive activities” was “misplaced” … 

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ebooks Stories November 16, 2015

Apple and Amazon under investigation by German antitrust body over audiobook deal

Reuters reports that the Germany antitrust body the Federal Cartel Office has opened an investigation into the arrangement by which Apple purchases audiobooks from Amazon subsidiary Audible for sale in iTunes.

“The two companies have a strong position in the digital offering of audiobooks in Germany. Therefore, we feel compelled to examine the agreement between these two competitors in the audiobooks in more detail,” cartel office chief Andreas Mundt said in a statement.

The piece notes that Apple declined to comment, while Amazon could not be reached for comment.

Apple lost a separate U.S. case in which it was found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour in its ebook sales.  The U.S. Justice Department recently agreed that Apple had now properly addressed the issues, though this may not be the end of the battle: Apple is appealing that case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

ebooks Stories October 13, 2015

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The U.S. Justice Department has said that is now satisfied with Apple’s measures to guard against any repetition of the type of anti-competitive behaviour ruled illegal in the long-running ebooks trialBloomberg reports that the department has recommended that the court-appointed monitor is no longer necessary.

In a letter to the Manhattan federal judge who found in 2013 that Apple illegally conspired with publishers to set e-book prices, the U.S. said Apple has “now implemented meaningful antitrust policies, procedures, and training programs that were obviously lacking at the time Apple participated in and facilitated the horizontal price-fixing conspiracy found by this court.”

The letter did, however, note that Apple “never embraced a cooperative working relationship with the monitor” …  expand full story

ebooks Stories September 18, 2015

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Apple has scored a belated additional victory against Samsung in its endless patent trial battle with the smartphone rival. Apple had originally asked the court for two remedies: financial compensation, and an injunction forbidding Samsung from continuing to sell devices which infringed its patents. The court said yes to the first, no to the second.

As the WSJ reports, a federal appeals court judge has ruled that the court should have also granted the injunction.

“Samsung’s infringement harmed Apple by causing lost market share and lost downstream sales and by forcing Apple to compete against its own patented invention,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said[…]

The appeals court [ruled that] a California trial court that previously denied Apple’s request “abused its discretion when it did not enjoin Samsung’s infringement” … 

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ebooks Stories August 11, 2015

ibooks-v-kindle

I love the Apple ecosystem. It’s not perfect, and the gap between it and the Google alternative isn’t as great as it used to be, but to my mind it’s still by far the best solution for anyone looking to have all their data and content available across both desktop and mobile devices.

But there’s one notable gap in my own use of the Apple system: books. Despite the fact that my iPad is my primary ebook reader, I still use the Kindle app and buy my books from Amazon rather than Apple …  expand full story

ebooks Stories May 27, 2015

Want to read ebooks on your Apple Watch one word at a time? Of course you don’t.

There are apps that make a lot of sense for the smaller display and the quick access that Apple Watch provides, but this ebook reader certainly doesn’t hit that sweet spot. Perhaps some people are interested in reading books on their wrist one word at a time, but for others (most?), this new Wear Reader app is a great example of what not to do with Apple Watch apps: expand full story

ebooks Stories March 24, 2015

vellum

One of the great things about technology is the way it has democratized the publishing world. Today, anyone can publish an ebook on iBooks and Amazon, whether as a freebie or a commercial book.

Creating an ebook isn’t difficult. If you’ve written your book in Pages, you can export to EPUB–the format needed for iBooks–direct from the app. There is also the excellent Calibre app (featured in our How-to guide), which will convert just about any file format to any type of ebook. There’s also iBooks Author, but that has the disadvantage that if you use it to create your book, you’re not allowed to sell the iBooks version through other channels.

But as I found out when I came to create my own ebook, generating an ebook that looks attractive on all of the different devices available is a rather tougher challenge. That’s the job the Mac app Vellum claims to do, so I put it to the test …  expand full story

ebooks Stories March 5, 2015

EU court says ebooks aren’t books, must be subject to higher tax rates

Europe’s top court has declared that ebooks are ‘services’ rather than books, and that European countries are not allowed to give them the same favorable tax treatment as paper books. The reasoning, such as it is, is that ebooks cannot be used without a physical device, and ebooks are a service provided to those devices.

Both France and Luxembourg have applied to ebooks the same reduced rate of VAT (sales tax) enjoyed by books made from crushed trees. The WSJ reports that the EU has ruled that this is illegal.

Since 2012, France has applied a 5.5% VAT rate and Luxembourg a 3% VAT rate on e-books, the same rate as for paper books. The European Court of Justice said both countries must apply their normal VAT rate, which for France is 20% and for Luxembourg is 17%.

Europe already closed one ebook-related tax loophole: Amazon used to use its Luxembourg base as a reason to charge just 3% on ebook sales throughout Europe, but a change in the law forced it to apply the VAT rate applicable to the customer’s own country.

There is some small hope that sanity may prevail in future. The European Commission has said that there may be legal mechanisms through which countries can in future define their own policies, with an “extensive overhaul” of VAT rules to be completed next year. However, don’t be surprised if ‘harmonization’ of tax rates for paper and digital books results in higher taxes on the former to pay for lower taxes on the latter …

Apple of course had its own legal troubles around ebooks, with its pricing model found to amount to anti-competitive practices.

Via Engadget

ebooks Stories December 15, 2014

Amazon pushed out an updated version of its Kindle for iOS app today bringing a list of new features to the reading app.

Kindle for iOS now includes integration with Goodreads, the social cataloging service it bought last year, allowing readers users to share book progress and completion status, quotes, and more Kindle to Goodreads. iPad Kindle app users now have access to Amazon’s Book Browser to view book descriptions and customer ratings; Kindle Unlimited customers (30-day free trial) can download books directly from the Book Browser. The new version also adds a feature called Audible Progressive Play, which allows audiobook listeners using the Amazon-owned Audible service to play content as it downloads.

The update also adds new ways for users to access information and details about Kindle books. Check the extensive change log of the latest version below for more information: expand full story

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Apple is having a busy time in court at the moment. Not only is it defending the iPod DRM class action, but is this morning beginning its appeal of the verdict of last year’s ebook trial.

The court ruled that Apple was guilty of anti-competitive practices in two ways. First, the company asked publishers to switch from wholesale pricing – where publishers sold in bulk to retailers, who set their own prices – to an agency model, where publishers set retail prices and retailers took a commission. The court ruled that this reduced price competition …  expand full story

ebooks Stories December 2, 2014

Apple SVP Eddy Cue with Beats founders Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine

Apple SVP Eddy Cue with Beats founders Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine

In a new interview with Fortune, Apple’s SVP of Internet and Software Services Eddy Cue opened up about Apple’s ongoing ebooks litigation ahead of the company’s December 15th appearance before a federal appeals court. Apple formally appealed the ebooks antitrust ruling earlier this year after a judge ruled in favor of the Department of Justice in 2013 claiming that Apple conspired with ebook publishers to raise prices.

“We feel we have to fight for the truth,” says Cue. “Luckily, Tim feels exactly like I do,” he continues, referring to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “which is: You have to fight for your principles no matter what. Because it’s just not right.”

Earlier last month, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote approved a $450 million settlement under which Apple will not be forced to pay any fees if it wins the upcoming appeal. expand full story

ebooks Stories November 21, 2014

iBooks Mac iPad iPod

Following preliminary approval it received in August, Apple has been granted the final court approval it needed in its $450 million ebook settlement, according to a Reuters report.

During a hearing in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote approved what she called an “unusual” accord. It calls for Apple to pay $400 million to as many as 23 million consumers if the company’s appeal of a ruling finding it liable for antitrust violations is unsuccessful.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote previously expressed concern over the proposed settlement citing a clause in the agreement that she called “most troubling”, but today called the settlement agreement “within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable.” expand full story

ebooks Stories September 29, 2014

Kindle & Facebook Messenger updated for iPhone 6 support

The list of updated apps for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is still somewhat small since developers only learned of the new iPhone display resolutions earlier this month. The Kindle iPhone app from Amazon is joining that short list today, though, with a new version optimized for the iPhone 6.

That means that like iBooks, text you read in Kindle’s iPhone app won’t be fuzzy or scaled up. If you prefer the zoomed up version, however, iPhone 6 users do have that option to make every app larger using the Display Zoom feature found in the accessibilities section of the Settings app on iOS.

Kindle’s previous added a handy widget in Notification Center’s Today view for quickly accessing books you’re reading. Kindle for iOS is available for free on the App Store.

Facebook Messenger has also been updated for the new iPhone models. Notably, the chat app has beat the primary app for the social network in updating for the new iPhones.

ebooks Stories July 25, 2014

Apple’s ebook settlement may not be quite so settled as judge expresses concern

Just as we thought Apple’s long-running ebooks suit might finally be settled, the out-of-court agreement has been thrown into doubt. The judge required to approve the settlement terms has expressed concern that they may be unfair to consumers, reports Business Insider.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said she found “most troubling” a clause requiring Apple to pay only $70 million if an appeals court reversed her finding that the company is liable for antitrust violations and sent it back to her for further proceedings.

Apple was found guilty of price-fixing, an allegation it always denied and is currently appealing. To speed things up, lawyers on both sides agreed what would happen for each of the three possible outcomes of the appeal.

If Apple wins the appeal, it will pay nothing. If it loses the appeal, it will pay $50M in legal costs and $400M to a compensation fund for consumers. The contentious part is what happens if the appeals court overturns the original verdict but sends the case back for new proceedings. In this event, the proposal is that Apple would pay just $70M, of which the compensation fund would receive $50M.

Cote questioned if that would be fair and what might happen if the appeals court reversed her ruling on a minor issue.

This is not the first example of post-trial arguments, Apple having earlier called for the removal of the court-appointed antitrust monitor, a request rejected by the court.

ebooks Stories June 16, 2014

iBooks Mac iPad iPod

Apple settled out of court in the latest e-books price-fixing suit brought against the company, allowing the company to dodge an $840 million bullet, as reported by Bloomberg. The case, brought against the Cupertino company by multiple states and consumers, was set to go before a jury next month, but that will no longer be necessary.

The terms of the settlement have not yet been revealed, and the opposing sides of the case have one month to request formal acceptable of their agreement by the court.

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ebooks Stories March 28, 2014

Judge grants class-action status to e-book customers in Apple price-fixing lawsuit

Apple is facing a new class-action lawsuit from iBooks customers over price-fixing practices according to Reuters. As has been previously argued, Apple conspired with book publishers to hike the prices of ebooks, a violation of U.S. anti-trust law. The Department of Justice won its case against Apple for the same reason last year, and Apple is currently in the middle of appealing that case.

This new lawsuit is a civil case being brought by customers affected by the price-fixing scheme. Today U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled that the customers suing could do so as a group despite Apple’s objections. The actual trial will be scheduled for later this year.

ebooks Stories February 10, 2014

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A motion by Apple to halt the operations of a court-appointed antitrust monitor has been rejected, the Wall Street Journal reports. The lawyer, Michael Bromwich, was appointed by the court to ensure the compliance Apple’s iBook platform with antitrust laws. Apple previously petitioned the court to have Bromwich removed from his post, believing that his $1,100/hour legal fees were leading him to take undue investigative steps solely for the purpose of overcharging the Cupertino company.

Bromwich was temporarily taken off of Apple’s case, but subsequently returned to continue his duties. Apple then accused Bromwich of going beyond his legal authority and requested once again that he be removed from the company’s case. Today the court ruled that Apple’s request would have resulted in Bromwich being unable to execute his legal duties, and thus rejected the injunction.

The full ruling is embedded below:

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ebooks Stories January 13, 2014

Following Apple’s formal request last week that Michael Bromwich be removed from his role in ensuring the Cupertino company meets compliances set by the anti-trust ruling in last year’s ebooks trial, the Department of Justice has pushed back (via GigaOm) with a denial letter accusing Apple of ‘character assassination’.

Regrettably, it is now clear that Apple has chosen a campaign of character assassination over a culture of compliance. Apple could have been spending the past months working with the External Compliance Monitor with the ultimate goal of reforming its policies and training, and in the process change its corporate tone to one that reflects a commitment to abiding by the requirements of the antitrust laws. Instead, Apple has focused on personally attacking Mr. Bromwich, and thwarting him from performing even the most basic of his court-ordered functions. expand full story

ebooks Stories January 8, 2014

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After earlier complaining that the company was being overcharged by the court-appointed lawyer overseeing its compliance with the terms of the ebooks anti-trust ruling, Apple has now brought matters to a head by asking for Michael Bromwich to be removed from the role, reports Reuters.

An attorney for the consumer technology giant on Tuesday asked U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan to disqualify Michael Bromwich from serving as an external compliance monitor, arguing he had shown a personal bias against the company.

In a letter to Cote, Apple’s lawyer cited a “wholly inappropriate declaration” filed by Bromwich last month …  expand full story

ebooks Stories January 6, 2014

Kindle for iOS updated with new flashcard feature, dictionary redesign, more

Starting off the new year with new features and improvements, Amazon updated its Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch today to version 4.1.

The update brings new features to users like the ability to create flash cards from text books for studying. This feature essentially creates bookmarks outside of the content for reviewing information on specific characters, places, or topics, and uses data from Wikipedia as part of Kindle’s X-Ray feature.

The update also includes a number of requested features and performance enhancements (full change log below).

ebooks Stories November 7, 2013

Airlines implement gate-to-gate handheld device rules faster than expected

United and American have joined Delta and Jet Blue in permitting gate-to-gate use of portable electronic devices, following the FAA ruling making it legal to do so.

The FAA had said at the time that airlines would need to perform individual tests to demonstrate that the use of electronic devices during all phases of flight would be safe, and had suggested that this might take some time. With the announcement expected as long ago as March, however, it appears that several airlines undertook this testing in advance of the formal ruling.

There has still been no clarification on what constitutes a ‘handheld’ device, but airlines so far appear to be saying yes to tablets and ebook readers and no to laptops. With many tablet and Bluetooth keyboard combos being visually indistinguishable from ultrabooks to non-technical cabin crews, we shall watch with interest to see how the rules are enforced.

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