Review: Oyster, OverDrive, & Other eBook Apps

Different distribution models are being pursued in the eBook app market. Oyster, a brand new eBook app, is using a subscription-based model similar to Netflix or Spotify; the Oyster user pays a monthly subscription ($10 per month), which enables the user to download and read as many eBooks as they desire. Exploration and discovery are emphasized in the app: the app’s home page enables users to easily browse, every book has a “related” tab that shows users similar titles, there are a number of curated and edited booklists, and there’s a social media/Oyster community component enabling users to see what titles their friends like. Content is one of the big questions, though, among the big publishers, HarperCollins’s books are available on Oyster.

OverDrive Media Console’s distribution model is to offer eBooks to patrons for free, but limits how many users can simultaneously access a particular title. In OverDrive’s model, a user’s local public library determines what content is available by purchasing licenses to individual eBook titles. How many licenses the library purchases determines how many copies of the eBook are available to patrons. Just like their physical counterparts, if a patron discovers the eBook they are interested in is currently checked out, they will not be able to access it immediately; the user can place a hold on it for future access. The app isn’t as attuned to exploration and discovery as the Oyster app; there are new book and curated book lists, but the app is more centered on catalog searching.

The classic model of eBook distribution is the reader pays for the eBook they wish to read on a book-by-book basis, and uses the eBook app tied to the marketplace they used to make the purchase. Books purchased on Amazon are read on the Kindle app, Barnes & Noble purchases are read on the Nook app, and iTunes Store purchases are read on the iBooks app.

These distribution models, of course, are centered on the consumer eBook industry, but what type of format will be the most successful in the legal eBook industry? How much carryover will there be? OverDrive is already instituted with Lexis eBooks—which we’ll cover on Thursday, but would an Oyster-like subscription-model be successful? How could a law library fit in to the more direct-to-consumer models, like Amazon’s, Barnes & Noble’s, and iTunes’s?

Update: Scribd has just announced the release of their own Oyster-like eBook subscription model. More can be read on this here and here.

iBraryGuy’s DiGilio weighs in on eBook study

In a new study released September 4 by Information Today Inc., libraries are experiencing a sharp increase in demand for electronic material and are increasing their spending on acquiring ebooks, online databases and other electronic products . . .
John DiGilio, national manager of research services at Reed Smith tells LTN that the study’s findings of a recent shift by libraries towards digital products are nothing new to the law firm world.

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Need to find a book? CoverCake takes the cake!

Have you ever found yourself trying to remember the name of a book you have seen on a TV show or maybe heard about on a radio program?  You can rack you brain trying to recall it.  Sometimes a web search can help.  But more often than not, it is enough to drive a person mad.  Well, hold onto your sanity and let CoverCake do the remembering for you!

CoverCake is a truly sweet idea – a comprehensive, online database of books mentioned in the popular media.  Whether the title was featured on television, the radio, or a popular blog,  chances are good you will find it here.  Not only can you find books, but you can buy them too! 

It is sooo easy to use.  Simply choose your favorite TV show, radio program or blog from the tabs on the main CoverCake page.  Once you do that, you are given the list of featured books.   If you see a book you like, just click on it.  CoverCake takes you to an overview page that not only tells you about the book, but also provides links to check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google and even local libraries.  There are instructions also for those looking for instant gratification for their eReaders.  It’s pretty cool!

CoverCake is expanding its database constantly.  The are also increasing the ways in which users can discover books.  Take a look at those tabs again.  You can browse books from best seller lists, book clubs, and even awards lists.  It’s fast and it’s fun.  They have even released an iPad app to enhance the experience.  What? No iPad?  Fret not!  The company says that eReader versions are on the way!

Open for Business! Google’s New eBookstore Delights & Disappoints

Google today opened the latest chapter in the great story on the battle of the eBook stores.  Established eBook retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are taking note, as Google’s salvo is no small warning shot.  With a massive library, multi-device support, and a series of interesting partnerships, the search giant has launched a full assault on the market.  The new Google eBookstore offers some hot new features, but also has some interesting drawbacks.

First, the game changers . . .

The new Google eBookstore has launched with an impressive catalog of over 3 million titles available for download.  Everyting from classics to modern best-sellers is housed in an easy to search and navigate site.  The interface is sleek and pleasing to the eye!  Purchases are stored on shareable “shelves” in Google’s cloud and are tied to your Google ID.  If you use the Google Web Reader from a PC, netbook, laptop or tablet to access your books, you will actually be reading in the cloud as well.  No matter how many times  you change devices, use the Web Reader and Google will always know exactly where you left off.  Free Web Reader apps are being released for iOS and Android devices as well.

For those wishing to use their own devices, Google’s eBooks are compatible with many of the popular brands available.  The Sony eReader and Barnes & Noble Nook, for example, can take advantage of the available PDF and EPUB formats.  These actually allow you to download the books and store them on your device directly.

Finally, Google’s eBookstore is launching with some rather impressive partnerships.  Indie booksellers  Powell’s, Alibris and participating members of the American Booksellers Association have signed on to sell Google eBooks in their own right.  Loyal customers of these stores are able to buy the eBooks on their sites and still store and access them from Google shelves.  There is hope for the independent bookseller yet!

Now the drawbacks . . .

The launch of the Google eBookstore has come with a few technical challenges for some and at least one glaring omission for others.  First, the omission . . .  Kindle users, your device is not yet supported.  Google is hoping to bring the most popular of the eReaders on board soon, but no timetable has been set.  The picture is certainly much rosier for users of other devices, like the B&N Nook or Sony eReader for example.  However, even there extra are needed.  Users of those devices cannot simply purchase and download Google eBooks on the fly via wi-fi or 3G.  They have to download and install the latest Adobe Editions software on a home computer first.  The eBooks must then be d0wnloaded through the Adobe software and “moved” to the device.  Though potentially easy enough, we suspect it will be a bit of an annoyance to many.  Will it be enough of an annoyance to keep them away from Google’s shop?  Time will tell.

A Big Day for Books

Whether you believe the pros outweigh the cons, one thing that is certain is that today is a big day for books and book lovers.  Google’s books initiatives, at times controversial, has been running for a number of years now and has made great headway in making books more accessible.  The 3 million titles in the eBookstore are but a fifth of what Google actually has digitized.  As more and more of its books become available to online and portable e-readers, Google is certain to become a major player in the eBook market.  Competition can be a very good thing!

With Pubit!, Barnes & Noble makes ePublishing a breeze and gives you a share of the profit$!

Hitting it big in the world of publishing has never been an easy nut to crack.  Authors not only need write great works to publish, but also navigate the hops and hills of the industry.   The advent of ePublishing has changed the game to a large degree.  Thanks to the eReader revolution, getting your works out to the reading audience has never been easier . . . Well, not until now at least.  First mentioned last May, Barnes & Noble’s new ePublishing system not only helps you get your masterpieces to market faster.  It helps you set your prices and share in the profits.  Meet Pubit!

Barnes & Noble touts itself as the world’s number one bookseller.  Its Nook eReader, though not as popular as Amazon’s Kindle, has been a success.  Its eBookstore is flourishing.  There is a lot that is attractive about Barnes & Noble to writers looking to publish and profit from their own eBooks.   Earlier this spring, the bookselling behemoth hinted at a platform that would make publishing electronic books easier than ever – a near instant way to get works in front of the eyes of millions.  Since then, the project had been shrouded in secrecy.  That is, until Barnes & Noble yesterday unveiled “Pubit!” and launched the latest salvo in the ePublishing wars.

Using Pubit! is free and easy.  You simply create your content (book, article, etc.), create a Pubit! account, upload your work, and set your price.  Pubit! will convert your work into the popular ePub format (compatible with more than B&N’s Nook, by the way) and add it to Barnes & Noble’s eBook store.  If you’ve created a winner, you are paid a percentage of the retail price (40%- 65% based on price set) for each sale made. It is just that easy.

Certainly there are other self-publishing sites and platforms available.  But what they lack is the name recognition and audience that Barnes & Noble enjoys.  That is not to say that we can all quit our day jobs and become successful, wealthy writers.  Not even Barnes & Noble can guarantee that!  But the opportunity is out there like never before.  Why publish your work the old fashioned way when you can Pubit! with Barnes & Noble? (Aside from loving the look and feel of a real, paper book of course!).

Too busy to read? DailyLit does it in doses!

With tight schedules, commutes, and family and social obligations, it is little wonder that time is such a premium these days.  It’s a wonder that they don’t teach time management in kindergarten!  For many of us, having some spare time to read is more of a luxury than the norm!  Given that so many of us are librarians, that is sad and almost ironic.  Enter DailyLit and a unique solution to the time crunch!

Thanks to the people at DailyLit, it may be tough to ever again claim that you have no time to read.  Their site’s concept is simple, novel, and may even be revolutionary.  With DailyLit, you can have a book delivered to you in bite-sized (or shall I say “byte-sized) installments via either e-mail or RSS.  You even have control over the number of installments into which the book is broken down and when the snippets are sent to you.  It is easy AND convenient!

Currently, DailyLit makes hundreds of public domain books available for free.  If you want one of the more current bestsellers, they are available at a fee.  Sure beats reading just the headlines on your smartphone as you ride the bus or train!