DRM is so 2011

Digital rights management for ebooks is dead.

Readers knew it couldn’t last. It was simply a matter of when publishers and retailers would realise it was unsustainable.

Cutting edge Australian publishers like Pan Macmillan digital offshoot Momentum Books are leading the way by announcing they will remove DRM from their titles within months.

It won’t be long before their competitors realise they risk looking like dinosaurs, and mean ones at that, unless they join the push.

Though none of the other major publishers have announced they’re ditching it yet, I have heard the excuse, “Well, it’s the retailers who impose it on the publishers in any case.”

It’s an excuse that they can file away for good. The retailers are telling me they are either already selling books without DRM upon request, or soon will be.

Booku.com is among those who are keen to support publishers who make the shift.

Booku.com’s supplier, Overdrive, already offers DRM-free books in ePub and PDF format, and they’re coming soon to Booku (so are browser-based books a la Book.ish following Overdrive’s purchase of Booki.sh recently, incidentally).

ReadCloud, which is the ebook provider for many Australian independent booksellers, “can work without DRM, not a problem,” according to its CEO Jeremy Le Bard.

Kobo is already working with DRM-free titles for publishers, says Malcolm Neil, its Director Vendor Relations Asia-Pacific.

Even Google has come to the party. Mark Tanner, Strategic Partner Development Manager at Google, told uBookish that Google allows publishers to sell their ebooks without DRM today.

We won’t hold our breath on the Amazon or Apple front. That said, Apple did remove its proprietary DRM from all music in the iTunes store back in 2009, so perhaps I should have a little more faith in the Cupertino crowd.

Momentum publisher Joel Naoum says they are working through the issues with selling ebooks without DRM through retailers.

“Unfortunately it’s not a straightforward matter, though it does appear at this relatively early stage that most (if not all) retailers will be able to sell our books without it,” he says.

Hooray for Joel (who was my predecessor as Booku blogger, by the way) for leading the way on this front as in so many others.

Perhaps he has been inspired by innovative publishers like O’Reilly in the US who have long ensured their titles were available without the restrictive encryption software.

O’Reilly’s General Manager & Publisher Joe Wikert says his company believes that “digital rights management (DRM) is a bad idea”.

“We have a very simple theory: Trust your customers to do the right thing and you’ll earn their business.”

Hear, hear.

(See today’s earlier post for an outline of what DRM is all about.)

The big gorilla is firing up

The Kindle Fire.

Amazon looks set to give the Australian book market a mighty shake-up.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Amazon is seeking warehouse space in Australia.

The Australian’s IT section has this week run a piece outlining rumours that the Kindle Fire’s arrival in Australia is imminent.

It seems the greatest of all the ebook industry gorillas (so-named by Scribe founder Henry Rosenbloom during a speech he gave at an Australian Publishers Association conference last November) is finally setting up shop in Australia.

The SMH says Amazon.com.au changed its name to Amazon Corporate Services last year, and “has appointed two vice presidents of the American parent – Michael Deal, associate general counsel, and Jason Bristow, the online retailer’s treasurer – to the local company’s board”.

It also reports that several marketing staff have been hired here.

If it’s true that Amazon is about to make a big push into this market, what will this mean for us readers and for the rest of the industry?

In my view, it will be very bad news for any ebook retailer that has not already established a niche for itself here – I’m thinking about the Copia-powered Australian Publishers Association/Bowker Titlepage Plus solution here, but also any of the independent booksellers yet to implement an ebook strategy, and those who will have to rethink existing strategies in coming months, like Booktopia and Dymocks, who learnt just before Easter that their supplier Google was pulling out of reselling.

Kobo’s Malcolm Neil reflected at a Copyright Agency Limited event earlier this year that while Kobo still has strong market share, this had fallen as new players including Apple and Google set up shop here. Kobo was a pioneer in the Australian market, selling local ebook titles via its own site and partner retailer RedGroup for some time (starting in May 2010) before entrants like Booku, Booki.sh, ReadCloud, Apple and Google joined the fray.

Amazon’s Australian ebook stocks were limited when Kobo launched, but they had the advantage of offering the Kindle device, locked into the Kindle store, to this market for seven months before the Kobo and iPad arrived.

With a dedicated, local marketing presence and the prospect of local multimedia content (music and video in particular) becoming available via the affordable and portable 7inch Kindle Fire colour tablet here, Amazon would have the power to shake up not just the book industry, but the television, film, music and gadget market too.

Given the outcome of international legal action on book pricing has gone in Amazon’s favour, a local push will likely see further drops in ebook prices here. This will benefit consumers in the short term but will hit publishers’ bottom lines hard and is unsustainable. The greatest risk it brings is that consumers’ expectations on price will be locked in at these unsustainable levels, impacting on the future viability of many of our beloved book publishers and booksellers.

Me? I’m anti-Amazon because of this pricing strategy, and because I like to be able to choose to buy my ebooks from whichever retailer I like, be that a gorilla, Kobo or (and this is always my first preference) a local indie like Booku and those who have partnered with Booki.sh and ReadCloud.

But I have to say I’m tempted by the Kindle Fire. After nearly two years of lugging my iPad around in my handbag, I have finally given up. It stays home. My Sony Reader comes out to play. A device that has been designed for reading and offers many of the benefits of the iPad in a smaller form has definite appeal – not as much allure as the mythical iPad mini (of which there are rumours again), but a little more than the Kobo Vox, which had plenty of pluses but didn’t quite nail it for me. The rumoured Google Nexus tablet would be worth a look too.

Meanwhile, Bookseller + Publisher has a couple of big ebookish stories this week.

The first wraps up the ongoing legal stoushes in the US and Europe over the agency pricing model used by Apple and major book publishers. B+P points readers to this piece in The Bookseller.

B+P also reports that Kobo is expanding into new international markets and is set to launch its global self-publishing program within months.

E-reader, I married one

So, after over a year of dithering and over-thinking and hestitating and general procrastination, I am finally the owner of an e-reader.

It was an early – very early – Christmas gift from my partner who realised that if he were to wait until December 25th to give it to me, he would once again be assisting me in lugging approximately 40kgs in books around the globe and getting cross-examined repeatedly by customs officials who don’t  believe anyone can read that much and there must be drugs in there somewhere. They always stop people carrying weighty-looking bags with straining straps and unusual pointy bits. Go figure.

This is it – a Sony Reader Wifi Touch. It’s incredibly light, wonderfully clear to read and allows to me look up Google, Wikipedia and the dictionary when I find a word that doesn’t seem cromulent.

It has a few flaws – the billed “red” colour is a more than a bit pink looking and the cover has nowhere to fit the stylus, for example – but it looks simply dashing in its leather cover and – importantly for someone as hamfistedly impatient as me (whacking the pedestrian crossing button makes the lights change faster, right?) – it is quick as a flash to boot up, close down and turn pages.

I am, it must be said, thoroughly in love. I have loaded it with 20 – 20! – big books and it’s still crying out for many more with less than 4% of the storage card used. I can bring all the books I want to read on this trip instead of limiting myself to what I can swap for in hostels and hotels – there is no need to rely on the vagaries of what other travellors have left behind them, condemning myself to reading the middle books in trilogies and endless amounts of Tom Clancy.

Will it replace paper books for me? Probably not. Much like audiobooks, I find there is a time and a place for both. While I am utterly enamoured of the facility to carry massive epic books without lugging their size and weight (Take that, Stephen King! Have at you, Robin Hobb!) around, it still has a few disadvantages over the good old paperback.

You can’t throw them at the wall. You don’t start interesting conversations with other travellers who are intrigued by the cover of Hung Like an Angentine Duck. I’d be nervy taking it to the beach or into a very humid environment. Having it stolen would be a pain, accidentally getting coffee on it would be a disaster, and I feel oddly restrained from belting the local insect life with it.

But for all that, this lightweight gadget is a great travel companion, amusing me though endless long-haul flights and ensuring that both my partner and I arrive at our destination upright and unmolested by customs. If you’d like to save your back – and your partner’s sanity – this Christmas, I can thoroughly recommend having a look at one. Just remember that the red looks, well, a little bit pink.

Non-Stop News November: Part I

Click on the image to see the Google advantage in action.
After more than two years of watching their local publishing colleagues get digital, tech giant international competitors eat into their market, and a handful of locals like Booku.com enter the fray, many of Australia’s top independent booksellers are finally, happily, in a position to provide their customers with ebooks … in time for Christmas, too.

It’s great news for the industry and for consumers. The more players there are in the market, the more seriously the publishers will have to be about meeting our demands, by which I mean providing us with the ebooks we want to read, at an appropriate price point, when we want to read them.

The more Australian retail players there are in the ebook market, the more virtual hand-selling of our own authors’ works there will be, and, one would hope as a result, the more Australian authors being published.

The opportunity that indie ebookstores bring to sell Australian – and in specific cases, hyper-local – books to a global market has to be a good for our literary scene too.

Serendipitous meetings with books we’re sure to love are just as much more likely in an online indie as a bricks and mortar in my view. See how long it takes you to find a book you’d like to buy when browsing in Apple’s iBookstore compared to Booku and you’ll see what I mean.

Speaking of multinationals, it intrigues me that while Google had been talking about launching its ebookstore in Australia for more than a year, it chose to go live the day before the first of several independent bricks and mortar Australian booksellers opened their own ebook arms last month.

The search engine behemoth announced the opening of its own ebookstore, and two others in which is partner (with Dymocks – which is separately soon to launch its own publishing arm, D Publishing – and Booktopia), on November 8, several days after the invitations for the November 9 opening of Mosman indie Pages & Pages’ launch (in partnership with Australian social reading tech start-up ReadCloud), had gone out. A coincidence? Perhaps.

Pages & Pages will be followed later this month (or not long after) by fellow ReadCloud partners including Better Read than Dead (of Newtown), Shearer’s (Leichhardt), Abbey’s (Sydney city) and indie chain Berkelouw. ReadCloud says it is working with some 200 bookstores.

Some will sell the previously mentioned Cumulus tablet.

All of them will face a great challenge from Google in that many of their customers will find them via a Google search. Will Google eBooks pop up in those same search results? A quick test suggests yes, it will, though not at the top of the page. Not yet, not on my terminal, anyway. That said, take a look at the image below and see where Google eBooks appears when you search for “eBooks Sydney”.

For more on Google’s plans in Australia and details of the latest Booki.sh-powered indie ebookstore launches, see Part II here.

The quick ebook fix vs library loans

How good are ebooks for instant gratification?

Want to read a book now, right now, rather than heading to a bricks and mortar bookshop or library, or waiting till Christmas on the off chance that someone will buy it for you? Download an ebook.

I loved libraries as a child, but in recent years have found my impatience to read the latest/newest/most popular book when I want to read it means they’re not much use to me.

When I heard that my local library service here in the ACT was offering ebooks, I saw the potential for dramatic savings.

I popped into the Kingston library and joined. With library card (and its magic numbers) in tow, I signed up online for Libraries ACT’s digital service.

The range is small. Few publishers have signed up – probably because they’re concerned that people will stop buying their ebooks if they can simply borrow them digitally instead.

The first book I tried to borrow, Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee, was available for ebook loan. But there was a waiting list of 35 people ahead of me. I’ve wanted to read this book for quite some time – it’s won so many awards and I expect it will be an uplifting tale with plenty to remind us of how lucky we are – so I figured I’d wait.

Publishers could in theory make their books available to every potential library borrower instantly. They choose to impose digital rights management (DRM) restrictions on each title so that it can only be shared with a certain number of readers at any one time, and/or for a certain amount of time. The library runs this warning on its ebook pages: “Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period.”

Some three months later, in the middle of a massive deadline week for the magazine I work on AND for the class I teach at uni, I received an email to let me know it was my turn at last. If I logged on within five days, I could download The Happiest Refugee and read it on my iPhone or iPad instantly.

I read the email then went back to more urgent tasks. On Saturday morning, I remembered, hunted down the email, and clicked on the link that would take me to the book.

Noooooo! I’d taken longer than five days, and had the option of forgetting all about it, or moving back to the bottom of the waiting list. There are still a couple of dozen ahead of me, and I’ve decided to buy it from Booku instead so I can read it over the summer.

Another book I’ve been meaning to read for ages, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, had a shorter waiting list. My name reached the top after only a month-long wait. I downloaded it immediately to avoid any risk of missing out again, and was reading within a couple of minutes. Now I can’t stop.

If you haven’t read The Kite Runner, join the 20 million or so who have bought a copy to date and make some time to do so soon. Like the Happiest Refugee, it is moving and devastating yet inspirational. I can’t stop thinking about it. Vividly drawn scenes are replaying themselves in my mind constantly. I’m grappling with issues raised each time I put it down (well, put down the Sony Reader upon which I’m immersing myself in the experience). You can buy it instantly here for $10.18, and at that price, why wouldn’t you?

New Direction, New Momentum

Plenty of things have been happening in the world of ebooks over the past few weeks, but for the first time I’ve been too busy working on an exciting project of my own to post about them. That project is Momentum, a new digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia, which was announced today. As a publisher for Momentum, I’ll be looking for books to publish globally, from writers who are digitally savvy, switched on to the possibilities of electronic publishing and, perhaps most importantly, know how to tell a good story.

Momentum will be launching in February 2012 with a truly amazing stable of frontlist authors. I am honoured to get the chance to work with each of these writers, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with new and established authors alike in the future.

We also want to hear from authors who have older titles that are out of print or yet to be digitised who want to inject new life into their old books. There are potentially thousands of books out there that can no longer be accessed online or off and no longer provide an income for the authors who wrote them. Momentum will give these writers the opportunity to breathe new life into previously published work and make them accessible for a new audience of digital readers.

Accessibility is going to be the name of the game for Momentum. Momentum ebooks will be available globally and at an affordable price. The Smell of Books has provided me with a wonderful excuse to listen to digital readers, and I think there is a lot I can do to make the relationship between readers and publishers as open as possible. This is going to be a tremendously exciting time, so I hope you’ll spread the word and contribute your thoughts, ideas and hopefully your books!

As part of this new direction, I’ll be shifting the Smell of Books to a new independent location. I’ll still be blogging on all things bookish, digital and tech, but as the demands of Momentum will be a bigger drain on my time, I’d like to make room for new voices here at Booku. If you’d like to keep up with the Smell of Books, please head over to www.thesmellofbooks.com where I’ll continue to post rants, analysis and news about the digital publishing world. You can also follow me on Twitter @joelnaoum. It’s been a blast, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the people here at Booku and Boomerang Books, especially Clayton Wehner and my fellow bloggers over at Boomerang.

To find out more about Momentum, visit the website at www.momentumbooks.com.au and follow Momentum on Twitter @momentumbooks.

 

Booku features in Weekly Book Newsletter

 

 

From the Weekly Book Newsletter, 11 May 2011:

BOOKU REPORTS STRONG SALES IN FIRST TWO MONTHS; SELLS 11 EBOOKS PER 100 PBOOKS

Australian ebook retailer Booku has reported strong sales in its first two months, with close to 2000 ebooks sold since its launch in March.

Booku managing director Clayton Wehner said in a statement last week that the company, which also owns online bookstore Boomerang Books, has been ‘pleasantly surprised by the website’s traffic and sales to date’ given that the company ‘fully expected to lose money for a good twelve months’.

‘We’ve actually achieved positive cash flow in just our second month,’ said Wehner. ‘Clearly, there is an emerging market out there for ebooks.’

Wehner said that Booku received more than 1360 orders and delivered more than 1700 ebooks in its first two months of operation. ‘In April, we quadrupled March’s revenue and we’re already on track to double that again in May,’ said Wehner. ‘Amazon sold one hundred and fifteen Kindle ebooks for every one hundred paperbacks in January this year–as a comparison, we sold eleven ebooks for every one hundred physical books in March and April.’

Wehner has also been pleased with the volume of traffic to the website, with Booku currently attracting approximately 8000 visitors per day and achieving a higher level of visitation than Boomerang Books.

Many of these visits are from international customers, with readers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, India and New Zealand buying ebooks from Booku. ‘One third of all orders have come from Australia, but we’ve had lots of orders from markets that are more mature in terms of ebook uptake,’ said Wehner.

Wehner said that the business will continue to expand, with plans to increase the amount of Australian titles available through the website and to open versions of the store in the US, the UK and New Zealand.

 

Easter Round-up

Easter has come and gone, and big things have happened in the world of ebooks! Sorry about that, couldn’t help it. That really is a big creme egg. Apologies for my lack of posts the last week or so, the unholy trinity of Easter, moving house and my special lady friend leaving the country for two months has left me with little time to keep you up to date. But rest assured, I’ve been keeping up to date – so I can hopefully fill you all in on the interesting tidbits that have been floating around the ebook blogosphere of late.

Amazon still doesn’t have a tablet but everything indicates it is on its way – perhaps even as early as this year. Quanta, a Taiwanese notebook manufacturer, has reportedly received an order for between 700,000-800,000 tablets that have been traced back to Amazon for delivery in the second half of 2011. Now, don’t take this too seriously just yet, these kinds of rumours are rife when it comes to companies like Amazon and Apple. However, there is other evidence. E Ink, the company behind the technology that powers the Kindle, Sony and Kobo readers, has announced that there will be no improved displays this year, which suggests that Amazon may not launch an update to last year’s Kindle 3. Amazon has also taken a commanding position in the Android operating system community (the OS that runs on the majority of modern smartphones manufactured today) by releasing their own version of an app store for Android devices. Unlike Apple’s iOS devices (iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads), any company can set-up shop on Android. Amazon are pitching their marketplace as a more curated (read: Apple-like) alternative to Google’s in-built and often chaotic Android Marketplace. Like Apple, Amazon has access to millions of credit cards and a very slick one-click ordering system. Along with the Kindle app, this puts them in an excellent position to launch a reader-centric easy-to-use tablet for readers who aren’t swayed by the single-function Kindle readers (but who don’t want to buy an iPad). Stay tuned for more news on this topic – definitely something to keep your eye on.

Apple seems to have relaxed their grip on the reins just a tad in their own App Store. News surfaced this week that Apple has struck a deal with Time in which they will allow use of their in-app subscription service (i.e. magazines that auto subscribe to new content) for free to existing Time magazine subscribers (that covers Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and others). Previously Apple had forced magazine publishers to charge a separate subscription for iPad readers, thus ensuring they were the ones to collect precious subscriber information and a 30% slice of the revenue. It’s too early to tell if this reflects on a general loosening of the restrictions on content publishers in the App Store – but we should all keep our fingers crossed.

The Association of American Publishers released figures suggesting that of all trade books sold in February 2011, ebooks were the highest sellers. The surge has been attributed to recipients of Christmas e-readers stocking up on reading material, but it’s still a great result for ebook enthusiasts. Regardless of how the AAP reached this figure, it’s now impossible to deny that ebook sales are moving faster than most industry insiders had estimated (at least in the US). This was followed by the announcement by Hachette (one of the oft mentioned Big Six US publishers) that ebooks now account for 22% of the US arm of the company’s revenue.

Closer to home, our very own Booku has announced that despite expectations that they would lose money in the first twelve months they already have a positive cash flow. Ebook sales are startlingly good for a new start-up in this space – proving that there is an appetite for ebooks sold by Australian retailers.

Well, that about covers the major developments of the last couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more regular posts. Same bat-time (or a series of other similar times), same bat channel.

Insights into Australian eBook retailing – Booku sells 11 eBooks per 100 physical books

New local eBook download website Booku (www.booku.com) has been operating for two months and the business has had a positive start, according to Managing Director Clayton Wehner. 

‘When we launched Booku, we fully expected to lose money for a good twelve months, but we have been pleasantly surprised by the website’s traffic and sales to date. We’ve actually achieved positive cash flow in just our second month.  Clearly, there is an emerging market out there for eBooks’.

The company behind popular Australian online bookstore Boomerang Books launched Booku on 1 March 2011. The new site has more than 137,000 eBook titles available for instant download, including a growing selection of Australian content.

Booku’s eBooks are industry-standard Adobe ePub and PDF files which can be read on a PC or Macintosh; a purpose-built eBook reader, such as the Sony Reader or Kobo; or on mobile devices, such as the iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets.

‘In the first two months of business, we’ve had over 1,360 orders and delivered over 1,700 eBooks. In April, we quadrupled March’s revenue and we’re already on track to double that again in May.’

‘Amazon sold 115 Kindle eBooks for every 100 paperbacks in January this year – as a comparison, we sold 11 eBooks for every 100 physical books in March and April.’

In its short history, Booku has sold eBooks all over the world and is planning to open US, UK and New Zealand versions of its eBookstore.

‘It’s no surprise to us that many of our early eBook sales have come from overseas because Booku carries quite a lot of content with ‘worldwide rights’. One third of all orders have come from Australia, but we’ve had lots of orders from markets that are more mature in terms of eBook uptake’.

Apart from Australia, Booku’s sales have come from United States (24%), United Kingdom (6%), Canada (4%), France, Germany, Spain, India, New Zealand and Italy (between 1.4 and 1.8% each).

‘One thing that we have found surprising is the volume of traffic to the website. Booku is currently attracting around 8,000 visitors every day and it has actually eclipsed Boomerang Books in visitation.  Normally it takes several months to achieve any level of penetration in Google, but our organic traffic has been really good’.

Booku is currently working with local publishers to increase the amount of Australian content on the website.

‘We’re keen to enter into dialogue with Australian publishers to assist them to sell their content through Booku. We really pleased to be selling content from the likes of Allen and Unwin, Pan Macmillan, Exisle Publishing, Wakefield Press, New Holland Publishers and University of Queensland Press.  Publishers soon to come on board include Random House, HarperCollins Australia, Scribe Publications, Murdoch Books and Text Publishing’.

The Booku website is at . For more information about how to list your eBooks on Booku, please contact Clayton Wehner at info@booku.com.

How to Organise and Convert Your Ebooks with Calibre

If you’re reading this blog then you’ve probably got an interest in ebooks. If you do, then you may have already heard about Calibre. Calibre is a free, open source, cross-platform (Windows, Mac and Linux) ebook reader, organiser and converter. If you’ve ever listened to music you downloaded from the internet, then you’ll probably be familiar with iTunes. Calibre is just like iTunes, but for ebooks, and not owned, locked in and operated by Apple. Did I mention it’s free? Download it here.

It’s a pretty big download, so it might take a while. Also, if you’re trying to install it on your work computer, you’ll probably want to get in touch with your IT department, because you need admin privileges to install it. If you’re at home, then fire away.

 

Installed? Great. The first step you’ll be confronted with once Calibre is installed and you open it for the first time is the wizard.

This is not the wizard you’re looking for.

This is the wizard

You’ll be asked to find a place on your computer to store your ebook files, and to determine what kind of e-reader device you use. Calibre supports a broad variety of e-readers, including the Kindle, Sony and iPad. If you use more than one kind of device, then don’t worry – Calibre supports more than one.

Look! It’s John Birmingham’s latest book: After America

The next window should be relatively familiar to anyone who has used iTunes. It has a library where you can filter your ebooks by author, title, series, publisher or rating. You can also search for keywords. All of those search functions will be pretty useless to you right now, though, because you haven’t added any books.

To add a book, hit the ‘add’ button, and find your ebook file. Calibre supports virtually every format you can imagine for an ebook, though you should keep in mind that if you bought that ebook from a store (like Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or even Booku) it’s likely it will be protected by DRM (digital rights management), which will stop you messing around with it. Never fear, though! Calibre still allows you to import books with DRM, organise them and load them quickly and easily onto your ebook reader (you just can’t convert it to another format or read it from within Calibre).

Also, strangely, Calibre does not support Microsoft Word format – so if you want to read something you only have as a Word file, open that sucker up in Word first and save it as RTF. Then add it.

There are plenty of places you can buy ebooks from that don’t have DRM, and there are plenty of places you can download ebooks from for free as well. You can find a few of them in the resources at Booku. For those ebooks, Calibre really comes into its own.

Calibre can automatically download the cover, publisher, publication date and blurb for your ebooks from the internet. You can save ratings and tag your books for easier searching.

Calibre will also convert your non-DRM ebooks from one format to another. Say you have a free ePub book, but you want to read it on your Kindle. By hitting ‘convert e-books’ in Calibre, you can easily and automatically convert your ebooks from ePub to Kindle’s Mobi format. Then to send it to your Kindle, all you need to do is hit ‘Send to Device’, and Calibre will automatically email the file to your Kindle (though you will need to tell Calibre your Kindle’s email address in ‘Settings’ first). If you want to send a book to your Sony reader, just plug it in and Calibre will automatically copy the book you select onto your reader. Calibre will even send your book via iTunes (or email) to your iPad or iPhone. It’s very versatile, and once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy to use.

Calibre can do a lot more than convert and organise your ebooks. It can automatically download news from your favourite blogs and news outlets, package them up and send them to your e-reader. If you’re a self-published author trying to convert your own ebook, it can pull apart ebook files so you can iron out the bugs. And it can do much much more. But those are topics for another blog post, and you don’t need to be interested in any of that to get some use out of Calibre. If you have any questions about Calibre, or any of the topics raised in this post, feel free to post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

How-to: Buy and Read an Ebook from Booku Pt 2

This is a two-part post. To read part one, please click here.

 

Reading Using Overdrive

Booku ebooks are compatible with any reader that’s can read Adobe Digital Editions DRM. That means you can use it with a Sony eReader, a Kobo eReader or any other (and cheaper) brand that is compatible with Adobe’s DRM (most e-readers are compatible with this, with the exception of the walled-garden Kindle). For a refresher on DRM (Digital Rights Management software) click here. The Overdrive app on Apple’s iOS devices means you can also read them on the go (read: on the toilet) from a device that can fit in your pocket.

The Overdrive app is a pretty barebones affair at the moment. As far as I could see there was no dictionary, search or annotation functions, but we can expect the reader to improve over time. There is a bookmarking function, and you can use the table of contents to flip through chapters. Overdrive is also the supplier for most library ebook selections, so once you’re all set up it’s worth getting in touch with your local library to see if they offer any ebooks for loan (which will be absolutely free). Overdrive also supplies digital audiobooks, so I’m hoping for a homegrown competitor to Audible as soon as possible.

 

Giveaway

To celebrate the move of Smell of Books to this shiny new location, I’m giving away $100 worth of Booku Bucks credit in the new store. To enter the draw, just leave a comment below or send me a direct message on Twitter. Tell me something you’d like to read about at the new Smell of Books location – questions, criticisms and commentary are all welcome. Alternatively, if you run a blog or other website, link to the Smell of Books and I’ll also put you in the running. I’ll draw the winner from one of these sources (randomly, not based on some kind of qualitative analysis, so don’t be shy!), and will announce it in the next week or so.

How-to: Buy and Read an Ebook from Booku

 

Welcome to the new location for the Smell of Books. From now on you’ll find the blog over here at Booku. To celebrate the launch of the site at the new location, I’ll be giving away $100 credit in Booku Bucks. Read on to find out how.

 

What You’ll Need

To buy a book from Booku (pronounced, if you’re curious, as BOOK-OO, not BOOK-YOU) you’ll first need a couple of things.

  • Download the Overdrive Media Console app from the App Store on your iThing (skip if you use a Sony or other e-reader)
  • Sign up for Adobe ID by clicking here
  • Sign up for a Booku account here
  • Enter your Adobe ID in the Overdrive Media Console app by hitting ‘Get Books+’ then ‘Settings’ then ‘Authorize with Adobe ID’

 

Buying an Ebook

Once you’re all set up, buying a book from Booku is easy. For the purposes of this guide I’m going to buy a copy of The Finkler Question the winner of last year’s Man Booker Prize.

Many bestsellers are available on the front page of the site, but if you’re looking for a specific title, use the search function to put in the title, author or keyword.

Once you’ve found the book, hit the green ‘Buy Now’ button and follow the prompts to buy the book using a credit card or PayPal. You can do this via your computer or your iThing. To download the book to your iThing, however, you have to log in to your Booku Shelf, by going to: http://www.booku.com/member/myProfile.cfm

Once there you can hit ‘Download’ and your book will open up in the Overdrive Media Console app ready for reading.

To load your book onto your Sony or other e-reader, check your manual to see how to load Adobe DRM ebooks. It’s usually pretty straightforward, but each reader is different. If you want some help with this, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to walk you through it.

 

This is a two-part post. To read part two, please click here.

Media Release: New eBook download website Booku goes live

Australian consumers can now purchase the latest bestselling electronic books from a new local eBook download website – Booku – at www.booku.com.

The company behind popular Australian online bookstore Boomerang Books have launched the new website today in Adelaide. The new site has more than 134,000 eBook titles available for instant download, including a growing selection of Australian content.

EBooks downloaded from Booku can be read on multiple devices, explains co-owner and General Manager Clayton Wehner.

“Booku offers industry-standard Adobe ePub and PDF files which can be read on a PC or Macintosh; a purpose-built eBook reader, such as the Sony Reader or Kobo; or on mobile devices, such as the iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets”.

“We’ve provided simple step-by-step guides on the website to get customers up and running quickly with their preferred device – it is really simple to get started and consumers will be pleasantly surprised with the convenient reading experience that eBooks offer”.

The Australian market has been slow to embrace the eBook phenomenon, but the eBook industry in the US and UK is maturing quickly. “Several weeks back, Amazon revealed that 115 Kindle eBooks were sold for every 100 paperbacks sold in the month of January. The New York Times now has a dedicated eBook Bestseller List. Forrester Research says that the eBook market in the US will triple to $3bn by 2015. There is a clear shift occurring and this will inevitably flow through to Australia”.

Despite clear growth of eBooks in overseas markets, many readers in Australia remain unconvinced about the new technology, although Clayton says that attitudes are changing.

“Many people argue that the tactile feel of a paper book cannot be replicated, but the latest reading devices have a great feel about them, their displays are soft on the eye, and page turns are smooth. On top of that, a reading device slips inside your pocket and can store thousands of titles at one time”.

“I think many people are quick to dismiss eBooks without giving them a go – I am certain that this attitude will change in the coming years, particularly as we have generations of book consumers coming through that are conditioned to using mobile devices. I’d encourage anybody who is sceptical about eBooks to try them out – you won’t be disappointed”.

The range of books on Booku is expected to grow significantly as the popularity of eBooks increases both locally and globally. Whilst most existing eBook content providers are focused on the US and European markets, Booku intends to maintain an Australian flavour.

“In keeping  with our Australian focus with Boomerang Books, we’re hoping to increase the amount of Australian content on Booku. Certainly, we’re keen to enter into dialogue with Australian publishers to assist them to come on board. We’re already selling content from the likes of Allen & Unwin, Pan Macmillan and HarperCollins”.

Media Release: Over 134,000 eBooks available from new Australian eBook store

Australian consumers can now purchase the latest bestselling electronic books from a new local eBook download website – Booku – at www.booku.com.

The company behind popular Australian online bookstore Boomerang Books have launched the new website today in Adelaide. The new site has more than 134,000 eBook titles available for instant download, including a growing selection of Australian content.

EBooks downloaded from Booku can be read on multiple devices, explains co-owner and General Manager Clayton Wehner.

“Booku offers industry-standard Adobe ePub and PDF files which can be read on a PC or Macintosh; a purpose-built eBook reader, such as the Sony Reader or Kobo; or on mobile devices, such as the iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets”.

“We’ve provided simple step-by-step guides on the website to get customers up and running quickly with their preferred device – it is really simple to get started and consumers will be pleasantly surprised with the convenient reading experience that eBooks offer”.

The Australian market has been slow to embrace the eBook phenomenon, but the eBook industry in the US and UK is maturing quickly. “Several weeks back, Amazon revealed that 115 Kindle eBooks were sold for every 100 paperbacks sold in the month of January. The New York Times now has a dedicated eBook Bestseller List. Forrester Research says that the eBook market in the US will triple to $3bn by 2015. There is a clear shift occurring and this will inevitably flow through to Australia”.

Despite clear growth of eBooks in overseas markets, many readers in Australia remain unconvinced about the new technology, although Clayton says that attitudes are changing.

“Many people argue that the tactile feel of a paper book cannot be replicated, but the latest reading devices have a great feel about them, their displays are soft on the eye, and page turns are smooth. On top of that, a reading device slips inside your pocket and can store thousands of titles at one time”.

“I think many people are quick to dismiss eBooks without giving them a go – I am certain that this attitude will change in the coming years, particularly as we have generations of book consumers coming through that are conditioned to using mobile devices. I’d encourage anybody who is sceptical about eBooks to try them out – you won’t be disappointed”.

The range of books on Booku is expected to grow significantly as the popularity of eBooks increases both locally and globally. Whilst most existing eBook content providers are focused on the US and European markets, Booku intends to maintain an Australian flavour.

“In keeping  with our Australian focus with Boomerang Books, we’re hoping to increase the amount of Australian content on Booku. Certainly, we’re keen to enter into dialogue with Australian publishers to assist them to come on board. We’re already selling content from the likes of Allen & Unwin, Pan Macmillan and HarperCollins”.