Monday, January 31, 2011

Facebook Deals Comes to Europe

One day after saying that the social network giants were keeping to their own tracks Facebook declared that it is to launching a deal service let UK users earn discounts from high street businesses. Obviously Facebook now want Groupon’s space.

Facebook Deals becomes a virtual loyalty card or coupon system with promotions already including the likes of Starbucks, Debenhams and O2. The service will tie into Facebook Places, which allows users to share their location with friends. Now users can use Deals to take advantage of any special offers a retailer has. The service also allow participating retailers to use Facebook to offer "golden ticket" rewards or give bonuses to users who bring other friends along with them. Also certain charitable donations can be triggered by a user, for example, users checking in to shop and triggering a £1 donation by the retailer to a specific charity.

Deals has been live in the US since November in America and now will cover the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Launch partners in UK include Benetton, Yo! Sushi, Alton Towers and Mazda.

The service is alike, and Facebook will not take a slice of any income generated by the deals.

Facebook Deals is free to retailers and consumers with Facebook looking to encourage more and bigger deals with retail and service advertisers benefiting from an increased traffic

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Are You Linkedin?

Facebook is for friends and family, whereas Linkedin is for business and contacts and Skype for international VOIP. That’s the way we use the three social networking sites with Twitter often a mere distraction and something does less and less of.

Now Linkedin has announced an initial public offering which could value it at some $3bn.This may be tiny in comparison to Facebook’s $50bn valuation, but it marks a maturing of these social sites and if successful, could lead to others such as Twitter, Skype and Groupon following their lead. It also shows the high valuation of these companies in comparison to their revenues and profit, (Linkedin generated $161.4 mill revenues and $10 mill profit mainly through its premium subscription service in the first three quarters of 2010).

Facebook today claims some 600 million members to Linkedin’s 90 million users, but both are growing at a significant pace, both globally and within communities. Facebook being more personal attracts a different advertising and sometimes demographic profile that the business focused Linkedin. Here Linkedin can score with members with high disposable incomes and often large business budgets. Linkedin can also literally connect new business opportunities and even, stimulate job changes and advancement.

These new social giants are interestingly now competing for our attention whilst not competing in their offer. Its more a case users finding the right ‘horses for the right course’.

David Byrne: Talking Ahead

We often look at individual promotions and see an innovative approach or some joined up thinking and Bicycle Diaries from David Byrne is just that.

After the hardback, Byrne has now released an audio in a podcast-style which exclusively available from his site. He can mix in both music and narration by himself and further extend the experience by adding in background noise to create a radio atmosphere and collector’s piece. He also sells it by the chapter unabridged and realised that each chapters could stand by themselves. Not to be undone he also has the tee-shirt!

Never one not to push back boundaries Byrne calls it a complete DIY project.

'Obscurity is a greater threat to writers than piracy'

In 'Litopia After Dark', panellist Nic Alderton gave us a great quote 'Obscurity is a greater threat to writers than piracy'.For all authors, connecting with their audience and getting exposure remain the greatest challenge. They constantly chase and seek avenues which will expose their work to the widest audience.

Amazon are one of the few true innovators and one of the best executors within the book industry today. They learn fast, think laterally and act and importantly understand both the drivers for consumers and also authors.

We like many remember the days when many questioned if Amazon could make it into the twenty-first century. We ourselves saw a company with a positive cash flow, growing market share and a global brand that had no bookselling competitor of any real standing. Amazon has expanded its business offer and become the only true publishing vertical and the rest is as they say - is history.

Today, we read a local report in the Grimsby Telegraph, which normally would not pass the ‘so what test,’ but which today is worth noting. The report is not about a local celebrity, or a famous local author, but about Sarah Griffiths, of Scartho Avenue, Grimsby and who writes under the pseudonym Saffina Desforges. Her novel, ‘Sugar And Spice’, which she and co-authored with Mark Williams was self published in November last year.

The book was inspired by the arrest of serial killer and child molester, Robert Black. Not an easy subject to cover and is set against the UK’s criminal justice system. Black was a man who begged a Judge to give him a longer sentence, because he knew he would harm another child if released without treatment.

The point is, that in the 2 months since publication, the book has climbed 46 in Amazon's top 50 thrillers and number 2 in the serial killers chart. She now has a top London literary agent chasing her and traditional success beckons. The Kindle Edition is on sale today for just 71p. Yes, a very appealing cheap price that is a low risk read for any new author. The book is also available in other formats from

Amazon's recent figures show a staggering 12.95 billion sales in the last quarter or the like for like growth of 36%. We have to remind ourselves that at their core, they still have a huge affinity to books. Many have reported their claim that their Kindle books sales have now eclipsed paperbacks sales. This in itself marks a significant milestone not just for Amazon but for books and the industry. What is very salient is their reference to them being not ebooks as such, but Kindle books. When we realise that Amazon is not just in the US, but has true global reach and brand recognition, one wonders just how far they can go in dominating the industry for many years to come.

Many will point to Google and suggest bookselling competition is here, but their core is different, their motivation is different and they are not vertical in publishing but very much at the distribution end of the value chain today.

The likes of Smashwords and Amazon are defining digital bookselling and offering all authors the greatest opportunity to overcome the threat of obscurity.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

eBooks Can Be So Taxing

A group of some 42 MPs have signed a House of Commons motion by Glagow Labour MP Tom Harris advocating the scrapping of VAT on ebooks. The premise of the motion is that the UK publishers are being held back by VAT levied on ebooks and this is being exacerbated by the increase of VAT from 17.5% to 20%. It claims that e-books in some other ‘jurisdictions’ are not subject to similar taxes and this places the UK at a ‘huge’ competitive disadvantage.

It’s an interesting development when UK physical books are VAT exempt and although seeking synergistic taxation on all books makes sense, citing other jurisdictions and inequality on ebook VAT makes little sense. Every country has its own VAT approach to both pbooks and ebooks and although the EU who would love to see some VAT harmonisation of a range of products and services we have to be careful what we wish for. Harmonisation could expose the position on physical books and is not guaranteed to do a lot as there are others who share a similar ‘disadvantage’. EU rules prevent member states from extending zero-rating but Harris wants the UK government to aim for that and in the interim lower the rate to the UK's permitted reduced rate of 5%.

We should remember that we are talking English language books and therefore the comparison should be the US, Australasia etc not Europe. It could be argued also that currency exchange also can place some at advantage, or disadvantage and there is little we can do there. We should also recognise that we have to clarify exactly what is a book, a digital service, or multi media and we look forward to that challenge.

So we find ourselves asking exactly what is the point of all this huff and puff? Is it about disparity in tax, harmonisation of VAT, the increase 2.5% increase, promoting reading or MP trying to do his best for his constituent?

Interestingly, we could see an argument based on counter balancing the library closure programme with a reduction of VAT to promote reading but some would suggest that may prove equally taxing to get across.

source Computing

Kindle Direct Publishing Arrives With TED

Today we have the launch of TED Books and the rebranding of the Digital Text Platform (DTP) to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). What both ventures are focused on is the redefinition of digital works by the merging of the digital book and digital article. We have argued that for far too long the ‘book’ has straight jacketed authors into an economic print model based on pages and words. This does not make sense in the digital world and is similar to saying that all recording artists can only produce albums. Many authors in the past honed their craft in journalism and magazine articles and stories. They are ideally skilled to hone their work to a shorter format. The attention span of many readers could be better served by shorter works and the digital technology may render shorter works better than longer ones.

Those technological and culture promoters have built a huge following and stimulating programme and extending this to ‘TED Books’ makes great sense given Chris Anderson’s background and widens their audience reach further. At less than 20,000 words each they clearly are long enough to covey the messages and can be complimentary to the video. They will be available as Kindle and Kindle Reader apps at a cost of $2.99 each.

TED’s initail three tiles are:
Nic Marks: The Happiness Manifesto: How Nations and People Can Nurture Well-Being
Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans: Homo Evolutis: Please Meet the Next Human Species
Gever Tulley: Beware Dangerism! Why We Worry About the Wrong Things, and What It’s Doing to Our Kids

Anderson now intends to have regular releases of new TED Books. Many will come from existing TED speakers who will expand topics they have presented others will come from new authors with new ideas. The initiative will certainly keep the future of the book in the minds of the world’s thinkers.

TED Books launch is part of Amazon’s Kindle Singles imprint and rebranding of their previous DTP to Kindle Direct Publishing (KPD). Books self-published through KDP can enjoy the 70% royalty program and are available across the Kindle platform. Kindle’s programme is not just about TED books and has fiction from the likes of Jodi Picoult, Rich Cohen, Pete Hamill, Darin Strauss, and Ian Ayres. Kindle Singles gives all writers the opportunity to publish shorter work that is priced between $0.99 and $4.99. Amazon collects the content, the market initiative and the extra value.

The interesting thing is that Amazon is becoming a true publishing vertical from author to reader and for others to compete they will have some catching up to do.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Litopia After Dark: £1 Books – Fleecing The Writer Or Flogging A Dead Sheep?

Last Friday we were once again on that stimulating and provocative Litopia After Dark Pod broadcast. We even missed the beginning of the repeat of my father in law’s award winning film ‘Lost for Words’!

However the discussion panel was extremely thought provoking and made us think about the issues facing the market today a bit differently. They directly promoted us to write ‘Publishing’s Napster Moment Is Now’ article and we would recommended you to listen to the show.

Why are authors so angry with publishers? Why is Asda – the UK’s arm of Walmart – killing bookselling? Why don’t we learn from the newspaper business? And… why don’t we shoot armadillos?

The panels were Nic Alderton , Donna Ballman , Dave Bartram and myself under the stewardship of Peter Cox with Eve Harvey managing the chatroom.

To download the MP3 file

Music Unlimited: The Gang Show

If you can’t beat them then join them.

After years of feeding new start-ups the major record labels have finally got together to start their own music streaming service in the U.S. “Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity,” was first unveiled by Sony last year in the U.K. and launched this weekend in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The service is on a variety of platforms including Sony’s Playstation 3 game console, Blu-ray Disc player, Bravia televisions, personal computers, and Android smartphones. Music Unlimited, or is it Qriocity, is targeting the 85% plus of consumers who have yet to participate in digital music services. It will cost 9.99 euros per month for a premium service and 3.99 euros for a basic plan and they state that the service has no designs on becoming ad-supported.

Sony, Universal, EMI and Warner not only effectively aim cut out middle men, they believe that their 6 million plus songs on Music Unlimited now gives them the ability to compete head on with iTunes, who claim close to 12 billion downloads. Music Unlimited will require a payment to access songs and add them to personal libraries and will set out to rival streaming and download services such as Spotify.

The question is whether it will succeed in combating iTunes, reducing piracy and fighting off new services such as Pandora and Spoitify, which are built on a different business model? Will it fail to gain market traction and suffer like others such as Sky Songs and Music Anywhere, who thought it was just a case of turning up and switching on the lights? Is the number of Sony devices out there and their global reach, the key or an inhibitor? A similar strategy was adopted by the Vevo online video service which today claims to attract premium advertising revenue and 60 million users, but is that success?

Maybe the challenge is no longer providing a platform and a library but working out how these service will incorporate social media and provide an off-line option.

Can You Hear Me Major Tom?

Normally, space exploration creates new technologies, which in turn are adopted to create new terrestrial products. Now UK engineers are planning to test an Android mobile phone in space. The aim of using the phone will be used to lower the cost of spacecraft by using off the shelf electronics and it will initially control a 30cm-long satellite and take pictures of the Earth.

Last year, researchers at the NASA sent two HTC Nexus One phones into the atmosphere. One phone failed but the other captured more than two-and-a-half hours of video footage

The mobile model to be used by researchers at the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), has not been specified, but it will be a standard, smartphone with a camera available in High Street stores. Critical to the whole endeavour is the phone's operating system. Android open source software is critical as it enables the engineers to adapt the phone's functions.

There will however be no Major Tom moment where the phone fails to contact ground control as the phone itself will not "call home" and all messages and pictures will come back via the satellite's radio link.

If the standard smartphone can work in space, it opens up space to many who usually can't afford it. It also demonstrates the power we all carry around with us today and often take for granted.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Who Owns That Song?

The music industry are committing to build a song rights registry which will help it develop and work with new online music services and also fight piracy. It’s a bit of a no brainer that an industry that is fundamentally built on trading rights needs a registry.

It not good enough to ‘Shazam’ a song, we also need to know who own which rights to it. One of the biggest problems today is simple, people don’t know who to pay.To ensure that the rights owners get paid each time it is played the rights information must be easily accessible. The problem is not simple as several writers on a song may be signed to different music publishers and a single licensing agreement may not be enough. UK rights laws also require music publishers to obtain licenses for almost all platforms and they may have to enter into licensing agreements with all these platforms each time they make new offerings.

Global consultants Deloitte will be working with key industry players such as EMI and online music stores such as iTunes and Amazon who also support it. They estimate that the global repertoire database could be live within two years and will hold details on rights and all parties involved in the individual works. A similar scheme is being considered for the recorded music business. If a service operates in different countries it would also have to agree terms with the royalty collection societies of each country it operates in.

The industry estimates that just by simplifying the current system, around £130 million could be saved in copyright administration fees and returned to song writers each year.

Many say that books should learn from other media sectors and their digital journeys. The one thing that is common is the need for industry authoritative rights registries. The book business however appears to be frozen in the digital headlights and awaiting the Google Book Settlement, in hope that it will bail it out. The reality is that today it appears to lack the collective vision and commitment to address this Achilles rights heel and create a rights registry.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Publishing's 'Napster' Moment is Now!

The Book Business is now experiencing its ‘Napster’ moment. It is not about file sharing and digital distribution, but about an industry facing significant digital disruption. It is a wake up call and although books face similar issues to other media industries, ‘books are different.’ Music had to initially deal with losing control of distribution and the threat of ‘free music’. However, the Book Business now have to deal with changes right across the value chain, the relationships that have supported it, from the author to the reader and even the physical spine that has bound it together for many centuries.

Creative Explosion

We now have at one end of the chain, published authors, whose reward and recognition system is imploding, whilst the number of books available and unpublished authors cambering to be heard, is exploding. Our culture is now moving from watching TV and film, listening to music and reading to one of creating, film, music and stories. The digital world has created a platform which allows anybody to express themselves and a social environment that actively demands it. We are living in a YouTube, Scribd, Wattpad, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and Wiki world and the genie is going back into the lamp. Some may suggest that the vast majority of what is outside of ‘publishing control’ is not worthy, but others may ask who the best arbiter is.

Our book world today can only digest and develop so much content. The ‘Napster moment’ here, is a case of content creation outstripping the capacity of channel to absorb it. Some may say this has always been the case, but the reality is that the publisher can increasingly be now bypassed and is no longer the ‘gatekeeper’. As the traditional publisher route is being squeezed, authors are now increasingly siezing their new opportunities to be read

Content Demand

At the other end of the chain, we have the consumer, who now lives in a Google and Wikipedia world and expects instant access to everything. We have governments, stating that internet access and broadband connectivity is now a basic right and those without are below the poverty line.

We have a consumer, who increasingly is price sensitive and is being sent mixed messages by the book industry. On one hand, the industry openly wants to control prices of digital and yearn for a return to price maintenance on all books. On the other hand, we have books being devalued through suicidal discounting and grandiose give-aways. The High street retail model is becoming uneconomic but in its attempt to attract customers through discounting, is again sending out mixed pricing messages. The only winner in discount wars is the consumer.

The consumer now wants the widest range and the ability to search, select, value and get books on demand. They don’t want limited range and have always been eclectic in their buying habit.

The ‘Napster moment’ here, is a realisation that consumers can’t be manipulated and now demand ‘my world’. They are informed, eclectic, discerning and they can now find needles in digital haystacks and can virally inform and recommend in ways marketers often can only dream of. It is a case of moving from mass marketing to direct marketing in a market you can’t control.

Commerce is global, consumers are global and publishing has to grapple with how it can break free from the previous territorial shackles, which are meaningless to the consumer in a digital world.

Stuck in the Middle
In the middle of the chain are the intermediaries; the publishers, agents, suppliers, retailers etc. All of these have to add perceived value in order to survive. However they find themselves often treading digital treacle as they try to maintain the existing business and culture whilst trying to adapt to the new digital demands. Publishers who once controlled the channel increasingly find themselves controlling a channel, but the old terrestrial one, whilst the new digital one is fought over by new entrants.

The issues are significant but often basic. How do we apply yesterday’s copyright rules in a digital world that is without even the simplest of a rights registries of who owns what? How do we demand digital pricing control without a net book agreement and control of all pricing? Meantime, how can we standby and turn a blind eye as Rome burns in a fire sale on physical works? How can the existing physical channel be protected whilst it still generates 80% plus of revenue? How does publishing engage with consumers who they don’t know? How can we compete with global brands when the only real publishing brand is the author? How do we maintain and grow the bottom-line in a price sensitive market? How do we compete with new entrants who don’t have the same baggage, often different business models and can adapt quickly and can often even invent the change?

The biggest challenge about being stuck in the middle, is that once was ‘large’ is now ‘small’ and what was once ‘small’, can find itself lost in space, or very niche. Small can be beautiful and has a place, but has often no option to follow folk and avoid being stuck in digital treacle.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sony eBooks Finally Make the Platform Party

There is a clear move away from the single platform ereader offer, to one that is capable of rendering ebooks on all platforms. This doesn’t kill off the dedicated ereader devices and in a weird way, if anything, makes them more relevant. The question you must now ask is why would I buy a ebooks that only play on one device?

Amazon long understood this and along with others such as Google, Kobo and Barnes and Noble now have a platform offer. However many who entered the market from the hardware perspective now find themselves with a delimia – are they hardware manufactures or booksellers or platform service providers? This starts to separate the serious contenders from the also rans. The devices, from the service.

The only viable glue which offers the manufacturers some opportunity to extend their services is Adobe’s DRM ACS4. ACS4 is very prevalent in the eInk world, was born in the PC world of Adobe’s Digital Editions and now, thanks to developers such as Bluefire and TxTr, is becoming available in the mobile world. The question is what or who is driving the extension of the platform and who owns the service as it moves multi platform?

Today we read that Sony, who along with Overdrive, were one of the primary instigators of ACS4, have finally got their offer onto a mobile. The offer includes ACS4 but today is restricted to Android 2.2. We find ourselves asking yet again where Sony are going? Like those dull people you hate to strike up a dialogue with at a party, try hard to project themselves as interesting and someone to be with they, but continue to be dull and follow not lead. Unfortunately, one fears that like their other past products, such as Betamax, they have lost the plot, or like Walkman, are now past their sell by date.

The Digital Reader reports that they have apparently made a mistake in saying their app is available on the iPhone and IPad, which it should be if they are using Bluefire to develop it. Alas, it apparently isn’t . The question of which Andriod platform supports the app is also a mute point, given that a significant number of smartphones have yet to reach 2.2 and are languishing on 2.0 and 2.1.

Mobiputing have a review of the new apps performance and look and feel and we were somewhat taken aback to learn that it takes up 8MB of storage after moving it to the SD card, which anyone with an Android phone will realise, can be a significant issue.

The challenge for Sony is not extending the service for existing users of the Sony Reader Store to allow them to synchronize their bookmarks, highlights, and reading between mobiles and Sony readers, but getting new users to use their platform and buy ebooks from them and also buy their ereaders. However, there appears to be little compelling reason, or differentiator for people to buy ebooks from Sony’s relatively small selection of titles (we dismiss the Public domain fillers that they even charge for) and their devices are just the same old eink ‘lookie likies’.

We would ask Sony where they see their ebook offer going and what is compelling about their offer today and tomorrow?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Amazon Take All Of LoveFilm

If you already own 42% why not close the door and buy up the remaining 58%? That’s what Amazon effectively have done today in acquiring the remaining 58% in European film rental operator Lovefilm in a deal that is suggested to be around £200m. Amazon originally bought a 42% stake in Lovefilm in 2008.

Lovefilm was formed in 2004 as a film club sending DVDs to customers in the post and has now expanded into streaming digital movies to TVs and PCs and renting video games. It has some 1.6 million members in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Amazon clearly are eyeing up the wider media space and outside Europe, see US operator NetFlix, with a market capital of around £9.7bn and 16 million subscribers as both a potential threat and opportunity.

Despite having a very strong, stable and growing core business in DVD by post, Lovefilm has stepped up its movie streaming business, declaring that online was now its "primary" business. Equally, Netflix has announced its intention to expand, with Europe and the UK being a natural next step after Netflix Canada. Netflix's movie library is significantly larger than Lovefilm’s but Lovefilm should now be in a stronger position to defend itself against Netfix’s declared international expansion and with Amazon have a global brand and service leader.

This is obviously a good day for Lovefilm but we would suggest it is also a good day for Amazon who would want to have a global offer across all media.

Flat World Knowledge Gets Bertelsmann Investment

Bertlsmann are putting in $15m funding for Flat World Knowledge, a college textbook publisher seeking to commercialise “open source” educational material. We have watched Flat World Knowledge, since it first appeared on our radar in 2008 and we wrote about it,‘Flat Meets Round World Head On’ and the world of creative commons attribution licence (CCAL). We then wrote about it securing $8 million of investment and later in 2009 we covered 'Wired's' update on the company.

Flatworld pricing is based on an 'a la carte' model where online can be free, a PDF some $20 and a printed rendition of the same textbooks could cost up to $60. Flat World’s use of Creative Commons licenses also is not just to the student to allow unencumbered non-commercial use, but also the lecturers to add supplemental material.

Now $15million of investment funds from Bertelsmann and others such as Bessemer Venture Partners will enable FlatWorld to expand its offer to include the 125 most popular courses on college campuses. Flat World are very well positioned to exploit open digital textbooks with a model that significantly reduces costs for students whilst also giving professors greater control over the content.It also signals Bertelsmann’s intent to move into the world of education.

Universal Donate Musical History

The music producer Universal Music Group, has donated the largest ever collection of music to the US Library of Congress. The donation is of over 200,000 metal masters, discs and tape from the late 1920s to 1950. The Library now plans to digitise it and make it available for all online via a dedicated site this year.

Many such collections have been damaged not just by age and neglect but also war and many have now disappeared. A congressional study found only 14 percent of commercially recordings made before 1965 are available to the public and only 10 percent of music released in the U.S. in the 1930s can be accessed by the public. This collection will rejuvenate a tranche of musical history for future generations to be able to reference and enjoy.

The collection represents works by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Tommy Dorsey, Irving Berlin, Jimmy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and Dinah Washington and many lesser know artists.

It is hoped that others will now follow in Universal’s footsteps and donate their archives to the Library.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Connecting the Unconnected for £98

We have seen the start of a government drive to address the great unconnected in the UK. If may be ensuring all have the same opportunity in school, or empowering the unemployed to chase jobs, or connecting the elderly to improve their lives, but the need for cheap computers to bridge the digital divide closer to home is now gaining attention.

Martha Lane Fox, the UK government’s digital champion, is determined to bridge the gap and is looking to lower the cost of computing and broadband. She wants to see a £98 package, which includes equipment and connection support.

One initiative is being undertaken by Remploy. The company is setting out to refurbish and sell cheap PCs and estimates that it can sell 8,000 this year at a cost of £98. The kit will come preloaded with open-source software, include a flat-screen monitor, keyboard, mouse, warranty, telephone helpline and delivery. Another initiative is Race Online 2012. This scheme is aimed at reducing the cost of mobile broadband and has already struck a deal with Three where broadband could be available for £9 a month or £18 a quarter.

The £98 package will be sold through 60 UK online centres, which will also offer training and it is also hoped to sell the PCs through charities. Race Online is also working closely with unions and job centres to raise awareness of the program.

If commuting becomes as invasive to all as say TV, then we start to see even greater opportunities acrooss communities, in allowing everyone access to compare prices and selectively buy cheaper goods, apply for some of the 350,000 jobs a year that are advertised only online and connect to those friends and family that will only be a click away. Such a transformation will also change how we deliver information, interact with businesses and how we spent our leisure time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

CAMBO – Campaign For Real Books

In the UK and increasingly right across Europe, beer drinkers are familiar with CAMRA, which since it was formed in 1971 has grown from strength to strength CABRA campaigns rigorously for real ale and has had a dramatic influence on beer producers, pubs and promoting ‘real’ beers that were either in danger of dying, or were waiting to find their audience.

In the last of the ‘Book and Magazine Collector’ a new campaign CAMBO is promoted selling and encouraging real books, or those that are not digital.

Within a week of the first Kindle TV advert the CAMBO campaign started and was greeted with a ground swell of support from used and rare book dealers, to organisations such as the PBFA and the ABA, dealers and even new book shops. CAMBO is more that just a web site. Within two weeks one hundred bookstores had signed up and the organiser even sold a rare copy of Casino Royal to get it off the ground.

Each CAMBO bookstore will be displaying a CAMBO sticker and it may say more about the store than anything else moving forward.

Members pay £15 a year for a card which entitles them to 10% discount at participating bookstores. This new book token can also be used online. CAMBO's aims are simple; to help bookshops survive and to promote independents over chains; to preserve, protect and promote physical books and finally, to protect jobs that with go with the digital books. To some these may sound futile sound bites and are doomed to fail, but to others, they make the same sense that CAMRA had some forty years ago.

We all accept that physical books aren’t going to disappear, but that the market from them and channels supporting them will shrink. CAMBO do not deny this, but through their campaign focus on supporting those who wish to enjoy and appreciates their paper ‘brew’.

Below are some of the bookstores who have made the commitment and we would suggest that these should be joined by others who feel passionately about the paper book.

Amwell Book Company
53 Amwell Street, London , Greater London EC1R 1UR
Books & Bygones
40 Hollow Lane, Shinfield, READING, Berkshire RG2 9BT
C P Books
9 High Street, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 5AB
Camden Lock Bookshop
Old Street Station, 4 St. Agnes Well, Islington, London, City of London EC1Y 1BE
Ceres Bookshop
20 London st, swaffham, Norfolk PE377DG
Chorleywood Bookshop
4 New Parade, Chorleywood, Hertfordshire WD3 6BP
Colin Page Books
36 Duke Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1AG
Eastleach Books
3 Preston Place, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2SE
Gerrards Cross Bookshop
12a Packhorse Road, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire SL9 7QE
hellenic bookservice
49/51 Fortess Road, London, Greater London Nw5 1AD
Idle Hour Book Inn
1192 Eruera Street, Rotorua, Other 3010
Jade Mountain Bookshop
17-19 Highland Road, Southsea, Hampshire PO4 9DA
john carpenter bookshop
city of london school, queen victoria st, london, Greater London ec4v 3al
Unit 6, Trafalgar Mew
Martello Bookshop Ltds,
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4EZ
26 High Street, Rye, East Sussex TN31 7JJ
MSR Books
16 Laxton Gardens, Paddock Wood, Nr. Tonbridge, Kent TN12 6BB
A Book for all Reasons
6 Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0HS
a novel idea
36a regent street, great yarmouth, great yarmouth, Norfolk nr30 1rr
93, Cam Causeway, Chesterton, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB4 1TL
Childrens Books Ltd T/A Letterbox Library
Letterbox Library, 71-73 Allen Road, Stoke Newington, London, Greater London N16 8RY
Church Street Books
Church Street Books, Church Street, Diss, Norfolk IP22 4DD
Churchgate Books
Churchgate Books, 47 Churchgate Street, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1RG
John Underwood Antiquarian Books
Hill House, Chapel Street, New Buckenham, Norwich, Norfolk NR16 2BB
Oasis Christian Books
88 Norfolk Street, WISBECH, Cambridgeshire PR13 2LF
Peter Moore Bookseller
Unit 7, The Old Maltings, 135 Ditton Walk, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB5 8PY
Quest Booksearch
24 Hawthorne Road, Stapleford, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB22 5DU
Red Lion Books
125 High Street, Colchester, Essex CO1 1SZ
Sarah Key, The Haunted Bookshop
9 St. Edward's Passage, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB2 3PJ
St Paul's Street Bookshop
7 St Paul's Street, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE( 2BE
the Old Station Pottery & Bookshop
The Old Station., Maryland., Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk NR23 1LY
Much Ado Books
8 West Street, Alfriston, East Sussex BN26 5UK
Muswell Hill Bookshop
72 Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill, London, City of London N10 3HN
Nineteenth Century Books
St Marys Cottage, 61 Thame Rd, Warborough, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 7EA
Ripping Yarns
355 Archway Road, London, Greater London N6 4EJ
Robert Temple Books
65, Mildmay Road, London, Other N1 4PU
ruskin books
42 red lodge road, joydens wood, bexley, Kent da5 2jp
Stephen Foster
95 Bell Street, London, Greater London NW1 6TL
The Book Castle
12 Church Street, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU5 4RU
The Book Nook
1 St Johns Place, First Avenue, Hove, East Sussex BN3 2FJ
The Bookroom
The Bookroom, 146 Chiltern Drive, Surbiton, Surrey KT5 8LS
The Bookshop on the Heath Ltd
74 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath, London, Greater London SE30BW
This Way Books
PO Box 3224, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 6JZ
two jays bookshop
Aucott & Thomas
57 High St., Suite 8, Ibstock, Leicestershire LE67 6LH
Books at Al's
127 Greenhill Road, Coalville, Leicestershire LE67 4RN
Books at Star Dot Star
Flat 23 Salisbury House, Lily Street, West Bromwich, West Midlands B71 1QD
Burway Books
10 Beaumont Road, Church Stretton, Shropshire SY6 6BN
Evergreen Livres, 2 Talbot Court, The Square, Stow-On-The-Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1BQ
Forest Books
7 High Street West, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9QB
Gladstone Books
The Shambles, 4 Westgate, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN1 3AS
Harrowden Books of Finedon
61 High Street, Finedon, Northamptonshire NN9 5JN
Jane Badger Books
The Manor House, 77 High St, Irchester, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire NN29 7AA
78B THE HOMEND, LEDBURY, Herefordshire HR8 1BX
Maynard & Bradley
1 Royal Arcade, Silver Street, Leicester, Leicestershire LE1 5YW
Osborne House, Ash Lane, Hopwood, Nr. Alvechurch, Worcestershire B48 7TT
robert mansfield
ivy cottage, 27 rosemary lane, whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 1EG
Sedgeberrow Books
25 High Street, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 1AA
Shepshed Books LTd
Shepshed Books Ltd, Unit 4,14-20 Field Street, Shepshed, Leicestershire LE12 9AL
2 Curorough Cottages, Watery Lane, Curborough, Lhfieldic, Staffordshire WS13 8ER
Tin Drum Books
Tin Drum Books, 68 Narborough Road, Leicester, Leicestershire LE3 0BR
uncel phil's books
R/O 21 Holbrook Lane, coventry, West Midlands cv6 4ad
Acanthophyllum Books
121 Telegraph Road, Heswall, Wirral, Merseyside CH60 0AF
Acanthophyllum Books
243 Pensby Road, Heswall, Wirral, Merseyside CH60 0AF
Barry McKay Rare Books
Kingstone House, Battlebarrow, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria CA16 6XT
Book Bargains Ltd
31 St Andrew's Road South, Lythams St Annes, Lancashire FY8 1PZ
Bridge Bookshop Isle of Man
Bridge Bookshop, Shore Road, Port Erin, Isle of Man, Other IM9 4PB
Broadhursts of Southport Ltd
5-7 market Street, Southport, Lancashire PR8 1HD
C L Hawley
26 Belgrave Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 1QB
Clitheroe Books
29 Moor Lane, Clitheroe, Lancashire Bb7 1BE
Copnal Books
18 Meredith Street, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 2PW
Fireside Bookshop
Fireside Bookshop, 21 Victoria Street , Windermere, Cumbria LA23 1AB
First Used Books
69 Kingsway, Vancouver, Other V5T 3J1
Henry Wilson Books
61 Main Street, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5AB
Quaintways, Marine Rd, Hoylake, Merseyside Ch47 2as
Lakeland village hall books
2 Timber Hill, Broughton in Furness, Cumbria LA20 6HX
Market Place Books (Cockermouth)
Market Place Books, 30 Market Place, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 9NG
Nantwich Bookshop
46 High St.,, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 5AS
News from Nowhere Bookshop
96 Bold St, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 4HY
13, Moor Ln.,, Crosby, Liverpool, Merseyside L23 2SE
Talisman Books
42 Town St, Marple Bridge, Stockport, Cheshire SK65AA
The Warrington Book Loft
The Warrington Book Loft, Quadrant House, Church Street, Warrington, Cheshire WA1 2TF
Tomes of Buxton
Pictures and Books at teh High Peak Gard, Hope Road, Bamford, Derbyshire S33 0AL
Westwood Books
Long Lane, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA10 5AH
Barter Books
Alnwick Station, Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 2NP
Chevin Books
Unit One, Bay Horse Court, Otley, West Yorkshire LS21 1SB
Cygnet Books
86 main Street, Swanland, East Riding of Yorkshire HU14 3QR
75, Harley Drive, LEEDS, West Yorkshire LS13 4QY
East Riding Books
13 Westland Road, Kirkella, East Riding of Yorkshire HU10 7PH
Garforth Bookshop
15 Main Street, Garfrorth, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS24 1DS
48/56 Market Place, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 7LW
Peter M Thornber: Bookseller
3 School Hill, SETTLE, North Yorkshire BD24 9HB
Rickaro Books
17 High Street, Horbury, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF4 5AB
Solaris Books
Flat 4, 13 Lockwood Street, Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire YO25 6RU
Swaledale Museum
Swaledale Museum, The Green, Reeth, Richmondshire, North Yorkshire DL11 6QT
The Book Case
29 Market Street, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7 6EU
The Orchard Bookshop
347b Wakefield Rd, Denby Dale, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD88RT
Aye-Aye Books
350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Lanarkshire G2 3JD
Biblocafe Ltd
262 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, Lanarkshire G3 6NE
Deeside Books
18-20 Bridge street, Ballater, Aberdeenshire AB35 5QP
East Neuk Books
East Neuk Books, 5-7 Rodger Street, Anstruther, Fife KY10 3DU
Elvis Shakespeare Ltd
347 Leith Walk, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH68SD
Jane jones books
The old shop, Dinnet, Aboyne, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire Ab34 5 jy
Loch Croispol Bookshop, Restaurant & Gallery
2 Balnakeil, Durness, Sutherland IV27 4PT
masons of melrose
9 market square, melrose, Roxburghshire td69pq
Second Edition
Second Edition, 9 Howard St, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH3 5JP
Sweet Words
14 Atholl Street, Dunkeld, Perthshire PH8 0AR
Bailey Hill Bookshop
Fore Street, Castle Cary, Somerset BA7 7BG
Bath Old Books
9c Margarets Buildings, Brock St, Bath, Somerset BA1 2LP
Bishopston Books
259 Gloucester Rd, Bishopston, Bristol, Bristol BS7 8NY
Bookmark Children's Books
Fortnight, Wick Down, Broad Hinton, Swindon, Wiltshire SN4 9NR
Brendon Books
Brendon Books, Old Brewery Buildings, Bath Place, Taunton, Somerset TA1 4ER
Bristol Books Bristol
Champion House, Moorend Road, Hambrook, Bristol, Bristol BS16 1SP
Ellwood Books
truffles, bunny lane, Sherfield English, Hampshire SO51 6FU
Grahame Thornton Bookseller
Monghyr House, Spring Lane, Longburton, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 5NZ
Herb Tandree Philosophy Books
Fromehall Mill, Blk 2, Rm 9, Lodgemore Lane, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 3EH
Hunting Raven Books Ltd
10 Cheap Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BN
March House Books
38 Old Station Gardens, Henstridge, Somerset BA8 0PU
Newlyn Books
Newlyn Books, 9 The Old Posthouse, Chapel Street, Penzance, Cornwall tr184aj
paragon books
38 high street, sidmouth, Devon EX10 8EJ
Peter Goodden Books Ltd.
7 Clarendon Villas, Widcombe Hill, Bath, Somerset BA2 6AG
R and R Books
R and R Books, Nelson Street, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 2HL
Steven Ferdinando
The Old Vicarage, Queen Camel, Nr Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7NG
The Book Shop
14 South Street, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3NQ
The Book Shop
100 High Street, Crediton, Devon EX17 3LF
The Bookshelf
96 Fore Street, Saltash, Cornwall PL12 6JW
The Sanctuary Bookshop
65 Broad St, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3QF
Trilogy Group
43 Selkirk Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 2HJ
Words Etcetera
Words Etcetera, 2 Cornhill, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1BA
Broad Street Book Centre
6 Broad Street, Hay on Wye, Brecknockshire HR3 5DB
Hancock & Monks
6 Broad Street, Hay-on-Wye, Brecknockshire HR3 5DB
Llyfrau Ystwyth Books
7, Princess St, Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire SY23 1DX
Marijana Dworski
Unit 9,, Broadaxe Business Park, Presteigne, Radnorshire LD8 2LA
Outcast Books
15A Broad Street, Hay-on-Wye, Powys HR3 5DB
Alan Hanna's Bookshop
270 Rathmines Rd Lr, Rathmines, Other Dublin 6
Alan Prim
6 south Main Street, Youghal, Co.Cork, Other .
doolin dinghy books
fisher street, doolin,
Newcastle West Bookstore Ltd
Market Yard, Newcastle West, Other N/A
The Blessington Book Store
Main St, Blessington, Other 0000
Tower Books
13 Hawthorn Ave.,, Inniscarra View Estate,, Ballincollig,, Other 00-353-21-

Sunday, January 16, 2011

DRM Hacking Now At The Back Door?

We all know about the issues of trying to track copyright infringement. We have seen many torrent scripts that claim to break various DRM encryptions but were surprised when a google news feed gave us links to DRM breaking videos on YouTube.

The point of posting these four videos is not to encourage breaking DRM but to show that it is happening and is not difficult when the instructions are on a video on YouTube. Hacking some media such as music, may be very easy today, but the same guys who broke music are now moving onto to what they see as today’s challenges. some videos have had relatively few downloads others have tens of thousands.

We do not draw any conclusions over the practicality of that suggested, the professionalism of the video or clarity of the instructions. There are many methods not so easily accessible that take longer to find and are sometimes more technical. We do however wonder how DRM can contain the situation if the tools and method of breaking it is so accessible to everyone.

eInk Goes To War!

We had to remind ourselves it wasn't April's Fool Day when we read a rector in The Telegraph that UK defence contractor BAE Systems plans to cover British Army tanks with, not camouflage as we know it, but an E-Ink panel and believe that in doing so their surface may become practically invisible to the enemy on the battlefield.

We don’t envisage a tank covered with Sony and Kindle devices but one big sheet of eInk which is refreshed constantly. Cameras will constantly take pictures of the surroundings and project them onto the eink surface of the vehicle.

They promise a prototype by 2015 and obviously envisage full colour and not a greyscale tank in their coloured battlefield.

We can see all sorts of implications and questions such as:

If the enemy can’t detect them how can it own ground troops?
What happens if part of the screen starts to malfunction or is hit by a bullet?
Tanks aren’t exactly quiet and do tend to make heavy tracks and even kick up dust so would they seriously be invisible?
What happens if someone is standing up (like Margaret Thatcher once did)?
What about that long cannon?
eInk may be visible in bright sunshine but it's image is unlikely to be techo colour let alone HD or 3D and very static.

We believe that either someone has been sold a technology pup at the ministry, or they have forgotten we are in a credit squeeze.

What More Can Any Music Lover Want?

Two of the most successful and innovative music services Spotify and Shazam are planning to team up connecting Shazam users directly to music on Spotify.

For those who are not already hooked on the power of Shazam, it is a music discovery service that lets you hold your mobile device in front of a music source (radio, TV even live concert) and tells you from the ten million tracks in its huge database what the track is and details about it. For those who have not already been converted to Spotify, it is Europe’s innovative music streaming and peer-to-peer music service. Spotify has also recently announced that its application is now available on the Windows Phone platform, working over Wi-Fi and 3G connections

The new service will allow users to discover music on Shazam and the seamlessly click "Play in Spotify" and listen to full tracks. The new feature will be available for iOS and Android users in Europe. The service will initially be restricted to Shazam Encore but will available to the free Shazam later this quarter.

So if you now hear a new piece of music you can identify it and then listen to it instantly in its entirety and add it to your music collection.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Google Make a Wise Move On eBooks

I remember fondly walking into the offices of ebook technologies in San Diego some three years ago. We say San Diego, but in reality they are in La Jolla, which is the gem, hidden away on the south west coast. The term office was loose, as it more resembled a technology lab with every size, make and model of ereaders wired to perform across every desk and often with their core exposed like dead men in a mortuary.

Why were we there? Simple, these guys and their President Garth Conboy, not only knew everything there was to know about ereaders from yesterday but also what was likely to happen tomorrow. They had grown up through the first ebook era of Softbook, Gemstar etc and had even acquired some of the technology. We needed advice and insights and saw no one their equal.

Today Google has made them their first acquisition of 2011 and have acquired ebook technologies, a small but very effective company, focused on the ebook and ebook readers hardware and software distribution. They also have acquired some interesting intellectual property and a team that is capable of interesting innovation.

The acquisition may be ‘chump change’ for Google, but by doing it, it has signalled its ebook ambitions and intent to not just provide scanning, search, discovery and sales but to be abreast and maybe even get involved in the technology itself. In adopting an "Open" position on ebooks Google needs to remain one step ahead of a growing army of pretenders,technology strategies and also evolving standards as well as the thorny issue of DRM. In Garth they also have acquired someone who knows epub standards as well as anyone and has been influencial in its development.

Well done Garth and the team!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Swiss Army Dongle

Sometimes you see a gadget and get it straight away, on other occasions you simply question the logic.

Today Gizmodo covered The world's smallest 256GB SSD or what turns out to be the new twist on the old Swiss Army Knife. Yes it has scissors, a straight blade and a nail file/screwdriver but also packs the modern man’s gadget needs, 256GB USB 2.0/eSATA II SSD combo and that’s not all! The drive has a 32-bit processor with hardware error correction, built-in encryption, and an e-ink display that bears a label for the files the drive contains or how much space they're taking up. Yes we did say an eInk display but you may need glasses to read it.

Victorinox aim to produce 64GB, 128GB and even a 512GB versions and have even got the Swiss logo on the case. However, with today’s airport security today’s businessman is hardly going to want to have their data confiscated due to a pair of scissors. Knife or file.

‘Sorry officer can you wait a minute while I download my data back onto my laptop.’

Should Digital Public Works Be Exclusive?

According to The New York Times, the European Commission look likely to respond to the pressure to limit the amount of time private companies can exercise exclusive use of digitized materials from the public domain.

Having already digitised millions of works, Google remains the biggest benefactor of the current situation. Google and others can restrict access to the works and yet also benefit themselves through the works remaining commercial exclusive to them. The move to reduce the exclusive period from the current 15 years to 7 would enable the public to benefit better from what is ‘public domain’ works. The advocates of the current move wish to see increased access for not-for-profit organizations such as Europeana, which is an online digital service supporting European arts and culture funded by the EU.

As more national treasures and public domain works get digitised it makes sense to get these into the public domain and not restrict them to one digital owner. Google and others may have paid huge sums to digitise the works but they came from libraries who had paid for the original books out of public funds. Some would suggest that what is public should remain public and philanthropy in this case should come before profit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Microsoft Objects to Apple 'App Store' Mark

Apple is the master of trade marking and wanting to stamp its mark on all things. It took them some 30 years to finally draw closure on the trademark battle with the Beatles over 'Apple'. They had a protracted dispute with Cisco over the 'iPhone' mark, which was finally settled with an agreed sharing of rights over the name. Last year they announced 'iTV' and obviously hadn’t seen the UK’s Second largest broadcaster was called ITV. So are they brand development experts or simply brand ignorant of all around them?

Now Microsoft has formally objected to Apple's attempt to trademark the words 'App Store'. In 2008 Apple submitted an application for the phrase, but Microsoft has now asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reject the application stating that the term is too generic and competitors should be able to use it.

So is an 'app store' the same as a 'book store', or a 'shoe store', or a 'food store'? Today apps are common and every platform has them and also offers them through their own ‘stores.’

The timing of the Microsoft filing comes only days after Apple launched its latest App Store, for computer software on the Mac platform. It also comes only days after Amazon announced its intent to open its own Amazon Appstore. To grant a mark today would be like trying to shut the stable doors after the horse has bolted, but in today’s litigation world who knows what’s in the minds of lawyers.

Paper Not To Be Wasted

Paper costs are rising not by a few points but by a whooping 25% this year.

That pressure is coupled with other cost rises and makes the newsprint market very edgy. It's one thing to face such a steep rise, it’s another to face it when everyone is talking digital and when other costs are rising. Those with a cover charge can pass some of the costs on through the jacket and some on through advertising, but those with no cover charge face some difficult challenges.

The cost of the raw material of newsprint itself is not going up - it has gone up. It is already forcing newspaper to consider closures, reduced pagination, reduced print runs and even changes in frequency of publication. The impact of the price rise has already started to be passed on and already some free papers are tottering in the UK.
It could prove a difficult time for the likes of a London Evening Standard or Metro and also cheap tabloids that rely on large print runs sold at a cheap price.

Will Fish and chips be the same without that newspaper wrapping. One member of proudly suggested that their 36 page tabloid newspaper pages could be used as novel wrapping paper, which would give the receiver something special to read when opening their presents and make effective use of already recycled paper.

But paper is paper and a rise in cost doesn't just impact one sector, but all.

Piracy Continues

First there was Napster who opened the door for others to follow and now we find that there are now a large number file sharing sites and their business is growing at an alarming rate.

Anti-fraud firm MarkMonitor was requested by the US Chamber of Commerce to identify trends and rogue sites and monitored the illegal traffic levels on 43 file-sharing sites. They claim that these sites now generate 146 million page views per day or over 53 billion visits per year. The top three sites;, and, generate 21 billion visits alone. Even the least-visited sites in the study were driving some 781 million hits per year.

Two-thirds of the sites are located in North America or Europe and the study was only on a relatively small sample which could suggest that the problem is in fact much bigger.

How can authorities control the activities of these sites as they become more popular and an acceptable way for many to share their music and films? The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) accuses the Rapidshare, a Swiss-based file-hosting firm for carrying a large volume of pirated content, but a German Regional Court has ruled that Rapidshare does not have to install piracy filters and that the firm was taking "reasonable measures" to fight piracy. Rapidshare's terms of service specifically prohibits "works the download of which violates third-party copyrights".
Of course, the above sites don’t openly support piracy and will remove pirated material where they are notified or find it but this reactive approach just puts the onus on rights owners to trawl the web to discover infringement and is somewhat like akin to shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.

This conflict may only get more muddled as Illegal file-sharing becomes incredibly complex and trying to police it get increasingly difficult and expensive.

Enter Intel who may not have a comprehensive solution but point to a potential new direction in securing content. Intel’s, the new line of processors called Sandy Bridge are focused on consumer activities such as content consumption, gaming, and transferring content between devices.

The chips' QuickSync capabilities can convert video from one format to another at speed and has new integrated graphics capabilities that are able to handle big-graphics games.

However, it is a new inbuilt IntelInsider technology that may offer a new way to protect content. IntelInsider claims to apply DRM (digital rights management) to certain media. This may appear to be a smart move by Intel that effectively bakes DRM into chips, and could ensure rights are cleared before a user can play a major film, TV or even piece of music. Intel's Sandy Bridge chips however will only activate protection in very specific circumstances such as streaming high-definition, late-release content and only from certain Intel ‘partners’. A movie in HD on CinemaNow can be streamed by a user and with Intel's DRM in Sandy Bridge, it is now fully protected from piracy.

However, it may be the restricted way in which IntelInsider appears to work in controlling the link between the file provider and the computer that determines whether it has legs. We must remember that a file only has to be broken once and the cat’s out the bag. Also Intel is not the only chip player in town and is not a dominant force in the mobile market as it is in PCs.

It is clear that piracy is not going away but increasing and that the existing DRM solutions are not working.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dual Core Smartphones Set to Shake the Market

A new era of smartphone will hit the streets next month with the launch of the first dual core smartphone, the LG Optimus 2X.

The LG Optimus 2X has a dual core Cortex A9 SoC processor clocked at 1GHz. However it also has an array of other goodies such as a 4-inch capacitive WVGA display, 8-megapixel camera, LED flash with a webcam, full HD video capture, HDMI, DLNA support, Wi-Fi, 3G, a host of sensors and up to 40GB onboard memory. The smartphone will initially launch with Andrion FRoyo but is likely to upgrade quickly to the new Gingerbread version.

LG are keen to hit 2011 running and although they maintained their position as number 3 smartphone manufacturer, behind Nokia and Samsung, it now rebuild its position and push forward and take the lead in the dual core market. The loser in 2011 could be Nokia who now need to halt its slide from 36.5% of the smartphone market to 32.4% over 2010. LG will be strongly tracked by the Motorola Atrix, which is planned to land in the UK later in the year and Samsung who will respond with a dual core version of its Galaxy S based the its own Hummingbird chipset.

British Library Opens Its Rare Treasures In Apps

You can now view 100 of The British Library’s rarest works on your iPhone, iPad or an Android device.

Search categories such as Science, History, Music, Literature, Religion, Map, and Illuminated Manuscripts and discover treasures you will not require white glove to handle. The mobile app presents high-resolution images of rare works such as the world's oldest bible, Nelson's battle plan for Trafalgar and sketches by Leonardo da Vinci. Expert curators can even guide you through audio excerpts and videos.

The Treasures mobile app is available for the iPhone and Android versions at a cost of £2.39 ($3.99 in the US) and for the iPad at £3.49 ($5.99). However, they can be bought before 24th January at £1.19 ($1.99) and £2.39 ($3.99) respectively.

You now have the potential to visit national libraries and museums, view rare works and do so on the move for what is chump change.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Firefox Grabs European Top Slot From IE

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has fallen from its number one slot as the most-used browser in Europe. According to StatCounter, Firefox grabbed 38.11% share in Europe in December, edging out for the first time IE who had some 37.52%. Chrome had a 14.58% but was up from 5.06% for the same month a year earlier.

A contributing factor is thought to be Microsoft and the European Commission anti trust agreement which was reached in October 2009 and that dictated that Windows users be given a clearer choice when selecting a default web browser and also presented them with a ballot screen in which they can change from Internet Explorer to one of 11 other browsers.
IE is still dominates in North America with 48.92% market share and where Firefox has only 26.7% , Chrome at 12.82% and Safari 10.16%

It is clear that the domination of the Browser market by Microsoft is coming to and end and alternatives now are able to both compete and attract users.

Would You Buy an eBook Reader Off This Man?

When we saw the promotional billboard outside Waterstones store in Bath we thought we should see what the consumer experience would be.

We looked through ground floor but couldn’t see any ebook readers, so we looked at the store directory that had no reference to ebooks or ereaders. We went upstairs, we went outside to look if it said where they were, we went to the basement and again nothing. So we went to the ground floor and asked a staff member and was told, ‘They are over the other side to the left of the checkouts.’

The member of staff obviously was too busy to come with us on the short journey across the store but we proceeded by ourselves and found the stand. The area was some six foot wide with a top section with some POS display, a shelf with some five ereaders and a lower section full of accessories and boxed readers.

There were a number of customers hovering around, some curious and others waiting to be served on the checkouts, but there were no staff and the readers looked somewhat lost but were firmly secured to the shelf. Some people left and others came, but no staff appeared to want to proactively sell ereaders. We played with a couple of the devices but even these appeared not to want to perform. We were only feet away from the checkouts whose operators now having no customers to serve didn’t want to leave their counter to help. So we went to the staff member some feet away who was busy filling shelves and asked if someone could help and to his credit he said he could.

We won’t go through the questions asked and the answers given but there was no attempt to demonstrate the devices and the salesperson made some basic mistakes on simple questions and clearly knew something but not a lot. He did know that Amazon Kindle was different and the Sony reader was exclusive to Waterstones, but that was about it. The experience was not compelling and given our own knowledge was both misleading and a turn off.

To make sure our judgement was fair my wife tried again a bit later and this time she knew where the find them!.

A different salesperson offered help and said that the in-store experience was going to change with new online access. He pointed out that the store had an expert. but the expert appeared to be being more productively employed working on the tills. One of the devices batteries were flat, not a good representation of battery life. One device was out of stock so they had been told to even switch it off even though the billboard outside stated two we out of stock. The POS was not consistent and not all devices were even priced! On ebook pricing he said that there no VAT on books, but there is on ebooks and that because there is no transport or printing. ebooks would be cheaper and came up with a weird price point of £6.50!

Frankly, Waterstones staff may be passionate about books but don’t appear to be very passionate about ebooks and also out of their depth in being able to pro actively sell even five, sorry four, ereaders.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Its The Same Old Song

When sales fall six years running you have to be brave to keep faith, or have a trick up your sleeve. When the drop happens during a period of significant change many would question if the demise will be terminal for some.

The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) report states that the combined digital and physical album sales fell 7% last year, from 128.9 million to 119.9 million. The fall is the sixth year in a row and change is dramatic as physical CDs go through what some believe is their death throws. The fact is that CD sales are declining much faster than digital sales are growing.

HMV is shows clear signs of fatigue in its latest results and is planning to close stores and impose further costs. EMI is in turmoil and appears to have the ability to press its own self destruct button. A price drop below 99p downloads may not be enough to breath life into and accelerate download sales to the level that would buck the decline in market size. Even with Simon Cowell’s X drive and music machine the result leads one to envisage that casualties are inevitable.

On a positive note BPI claim sales of digital albums this year have increased by a staggering 30% and also that the combined singles market recorded an record high of 161.8m. However the underlying trend is of sales decline and a shrinking market.

Alarmingly, sales of digital single tracks are already digital and some 98% of the overall figure. This means the physical single is already dead and growth is now done to digital alone. However, just under 25% of digital albums sales are now coming from online services and the percentage has to grow significantly to avoid disaster. So as the market goes digital and is shrinking it appears it must either sort out how to get albums back on the buying agenda or move back to a smaller singles driven market.

BPI has to continue to blame illegal downloading for the drop in sales and continuing to blame customers for the industry’s own failures isn’t exactly a positive move. It is clear that the industry needs to look to streaming services and advertising revenues and keep one step ahead of the market and not just expect the iTunes model to save it.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Book Pricing Madness?

Today we took these pictures in Adsa, Island Gardens, London.
Just in case you can’t see it the price of the majority of the books is £1.

Yes £1 on the sticker.

So what can you get for £1?

Jack Higgins, Jeffery Archer, James Patterson, Catherine Cookson, Reginald Hill, Jackie Collins, Ian Rankin, Danielle Steel, Michael Connolly, David Baldacci, Clive Cussler and much more.

So we went to Amazon UK and Waterstones to see just how these deals faired and looked a few at random:

James Patterson, ‘Four Blind Mice’ RRP £7.99, AMZ £5.03 Waterstones £6.79
Ian Rankin, ‘A Good Hanging’ RRP £7.99, AMZ £5.59 Waterstones £5.59
Jeffery Archer, ‘Shall We Tell The President’ RRP £6.99, AMZ £4.94 Waterstones £6.39
Michael Connolly, ‘Black Ice’, RRP £6.99, AMZ £4.11 Waterstones £7.01

We wonder how anyone can compete with discounts so blazen and so deep. These prices are probably below those in the bargain market and equal to the Wordsworth classic prices. Forget whether these were bought in for clearance or are just being sold at a loss, the consumer perception is the only thing that matters and that it says books are cheap and the place to get them is the supermarket.

Interestingly we didn't see people fighting to secure these bargains and as you can tell from the pictures the aisles were exactly bustling with browsers. We obviously didn't also see anyone flipping to the copyright page to check the age of the books.

We had a look at Asda’s online offers but failed to find the same depth of offer although they did boast 80% off and have a significant range of titles available.

So it is just sale time madness or book pricing maddness?

Amazon Just Keeps Flowing

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Devitt predicts that by 2015 Amazon could be as big if not bigger than WalMart. Amazon’s 121 million customers currently spend about $275 a year, with international sales continuing to fuel growth. In just 16 years Amazon has grown to generate revenues of some $32Billion and Devitt predicts that these will be $100 Billion by 2015.

Anyone who has searched through the current app stores will appreciate that they aren’t exactly user friendly and the bigger they get the more unfriendly they become. So why go to the Andriod App Store or other stores now promoting apps when you can do it all at the new Amazon App Store?

It is about effective search, discovery and validation and also in today’s world trust. So the case for the consumer looks good but equally developers could also benefit from the millions of Amazon customers. It sounds like a win win situation to us.

The Amazon's Appstore is already accepting submissions from developers but these apps will not be available until later this year. The service appears to be also restricted initially to US residents.

Not one to standby Apple has now opened the App Store for its Mac OS platform, allowing users to download approved free and paid-for software straight to their laptops or desktops.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Is eBook Exchange Wise Dot Com?

An old Shaman Friend from Canada, Duke Redbird, once wanted to test new ecommerce ideas in a real time online environment and called it ‘Is It Wise Dot Com’. A sort of online ‘Dragons Den.’ Today we came across a new venture which tested our commercial and business thinking and also posed many questions we thought would be good to share and ask ‘is it wise dot com?’

eBook Exchange aims to punch a hole in the ebook lending and potentially explore the used ebook market.

In principle it is setting itself up to be a social clearing house, linking ebook owners with ebook borrowers and promoting lending, reading, sharing and ultimately a second hand market in ebooks. Today it aims to accumulate borrowing request against a title until someone submits a contribution of $2 or more. A paid contribution secures a loan if the title is available. However the contribution is not mandatory and if no contributions are forthcoming, then eBook Exchange chooses who gets to borrow the book based on several factors, which all geared to a user’s history activity. Only one book at a time may be borrowed. However if you are contributing to eBook Exchange, you can borrow up to three books simultaneously.

Lenders will effectively be restricted to use the services created by Barnes & Noble and Amazon and use their accounts to achieve the process. They are interestingly encouraged to ‘suggest a price you think someone should be willing to contribute, based on what you think the author deserves and/or how strongly you're encouraging a borrower to contribute to the eBook Exchange cause of improving your ebook licensing rights and contributing to children's literacy.’ They clearly intend to push for used ebooks sales and rentals and are today limited to the speed at which players such as B&N, Kobo, Amazon, Apple, Google etc move in this direction

Ebook exchange have elected not to be a non-profit entity and state that all ‘profits’ during 2011 will go to charities supporting childhood literacy and fostering a love of reading.

We see a market demand for sharing and rental, we understand the current licensing restrictions and dilemma the industry has with public libraries versus resell, and we also see the clearing centre approach as novel. However, there was something that kept niggling us, ‘where’s the money?’ Despite all the nice words we felt a bit apprehensive about something that aims to make money out of something that although limited is free today. Building a service that is reliant on others to permit transactions and its growth, is an interesting concept, but we believe is also a dangerous one, as all the third party facilitators could change their own rules or set up their own service tomorrow and leave the exchange effectively dead in the water.

We could go on but leave it to you to judge for yourselves whether the venture is ‘wise dot com.’