At Inkmesh we follow developments in the ebook industry with rabid passion, and given how quickly the space is evolving, there’s always something new to discuss. So we thought it would be a good idea to summarize every week’s most important ebook news items on this blog, and starting today, we will have a post titled ‘Ebooks This Week’ every Sunday. Here is this week’s edition:
Stephen Covey granted Amazon exclusive ebook rights to two of his books, including the top-selling ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. In return for the exclusive deal that lasts a year, Amazon promised to market his ebooks aggressively and give him a much higher percentage of ebook sales. Simon & Schuster, the print publisher for these books, declined to comment on the deal but asserted ownership of ebook rights to all titles in their catalog. In a related development, Random House claimed retroactive ebook rights in a letter to literary agents, and were promptly snubbed by the Authors Guild.
Canadian ebook retailer Shortcovers relaunched as Kobo and announced a CAD $16 million investment from Borders USA and founding and majority shareholder Indigo, among others. Borders simultaneously announced plans to launch a Kobo-powerd ebookstore on borders.com next year, with a new eink device possibly in the works. Borders currently sells Sony Readers in their retail stores.
IDPF, the trade & standards association for digital publishing and the developer of the ePub standard announced election results for Board of Director positions including the role of president. George Kerscher, secretary general of the DAISY consortium, replaces Steve Potash of Overdrive as the new president. The new board consists of executives from several key organizations including Adobe, Random House, Harlequin, Internet Archive and O’Reilly Media. Amazon is notably missing from the IDPF’s current member list.
Google put up the first set of publications guidelines for Google Editions – the ebook store they plan to launch in 2010. Like Amazon, Google ‘reserved the right to sell a book at a price discounted from its list price’, indicating their plan to compete with Amazon and others on ebook prices. Google Editions purchases will be tied to a Google account and will be accessible through a web browser which will cache a copy of the ebook for offline reading. It is not clear if dedicated reading devices will be supported. Google will also offer the choice of securing ebooks with Adobe’s ACS4 DRM.
Amazon released the Kindle iPhone application in more than 60 countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom. The application was previously available only in the United States. A new version of Stanza, a popular iPhone reading application, was also made available in the app store this week. Lexcycle, the company behind Stanza, was acquired by Amazon earlier this year.
Sony announced a partnership with News Corp to make the Wall Street Journal available on the Sony Reader, including the new Daily Edition which features wireless access and a touch screen. Additionally, a daily summary of news events will be available exclusively on Sony Readers. The Wall Street Journal is already available on the Kindle, but News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has previously expressed dissatisfaction with Amazon’s revenue splits for digital publications and their policy of not sharing subscriber names with content partners. Sony also announced partnerships with other content partners including the New York Times and Financial Times.