Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book news you might have missed in the shadow of larger events...

In the wake of world events, it's easy to lose track of even the biggest doings in the bookworld. Compared to earthquakes, volcanos, civil wars, air raids, and nuclear meltdowns (not necessarily in that order, of course) it gets difficult to think about anything else right now.

via: wikipedia commons
Even though I no longer get ink on my hands most days, I still try to read the whole newspaper every day, even when the headlines are less than encouraging.  My dad taught me that it's important to stay abreast of even the stories that seem less important or ones that wilt in the shadows of larger events.  Because those are the stories that are more likely to affect you directly, even if it takes awhile.

Here are three book-related news stories you might have missed in the shadows of the larger stories unfolding worldwide...

Neither a borrower, nor a lender be...

Earlier this week, Amazon apparently backed away from e-book lending, revoking access for the third party Kindle application "Lendle" which allowed those who signed up to lend e-books to others who had signed up for the service as well.  Only those willing to lend could borrow and vice-versa.  According to Lendle's initial statement, the letter they received from Amazon cited concerns that their app would hurt Kindle sales.

A day later, Lendle was back up and issued a statement saying that Amazon's concerns were with a part of their app which synced their service with the user's Kindle library.  Lendle deactivated the 'Book Sync' app and they were back in business.  How or why Book Sync was of concern wasn't entirely clear in the initial statements from either party.
"Late today, we received an email from an Associates Account Specialist at Amazon informing us that their concern only relates to our Book Sync tool, which syncs a user’s Kindle books with their Lendle account. Amazon informed us that if we disabled this feature, our access to the API, as well as our Amazon Associates account, would be reinstated. We appreciate Amazon’s willingness to modify the position stated in the original access revocation email and work with us to get Lendle back on line. We have complied with the request to disable the Book Sync tool (which was a very useful, but non-essential, feature of Lendle)."

-Lendle's official statment regarding revocation & reinstatement
Was this another Amazon cockup and a demonstration that they've finally learned how to correct course and move on before it becomes a thing?  The difference in reasons cited between one day and the next would seem to imply that it was.  Actually, I hope it was, because it would indicate that Amazon is learning from their past missteps.

The ability to lend and borrow e-books is a step in the right direction for e-book providers and publishers.  As Neil Gaiman stated in the video I posted a few days ago, new authors are found via recommendations from friends.  "This was awesome, you have to read this, here borrow mine..." is a phrase that launched a thousand literary careers and a phrase that should never die out if the publishing industry wishes to thrive. 

An unsettling development...
The most recent iteration of the Google Books Settlement was rejected by the judge who is overseeing the case.  The judge found that the settlement was too much in favor of Google and gave them too much power in the developing digital marketplace.
"...Citing copyright, antitrust and other concerns, Judge Denny Chin said that the settlement went too far. He said it would have granted Google a “de facto monopoly” and the right to profit from books without the permission of copyright owners. Judge Chin acknowledged that “the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many,” but said that the proposed agreement was “not fair, adequate and reasonable.”

Read the full story in the New York Times
Born to be Kurzweil'd
Noted futurist Ray Kurzweil and Baker & Taylor (a literary distributor) perhaps inadvertantly dragged his landmark Blio project into the fray surrounding AT&T's announced plan to buy T-Mobile.  Blio, you might recall, is a free e-reader app designed to create a truly immersive and interactive e-books experience.  I may not be anti e-book, but most of what they can do has been pretty pedestrian thus far.  The Blio is the happy exception and its abundant possibilities for cross-platform use legitimately wows me.

How all this will be impacted by the AT&T acquisition of T Mobile is anyone's guess at this point...
"Bob Nelson, president of B&T’s digital group, said the deal allows T-Mobile to deliver “premium bonus applications to its customers. Blio brings e-books to life, in vivid color and with a variety of enhanced features, including audio read along, Web browsing from inside the book and its patented Read Logic technology.”

-via Publisher's Weekly

And that's the highlights from this end of the publishing pool -- things I think we would be well served to pay attention to, even in light of more pressing concerns in Libya and Japan.

My thoughts continue to be with my friends in Japan and all across the Pacific Rim.  In case you've been living in a cave and haven't yet heard, you can donate $10 to the Japanese Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999.  The amount will be added to your cell phone bill.  You can donate more, of course, by contacting the Red Cross directly.

Click to find out more

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Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).