State Legislators Help Libraries in Fight Over Ebook Licensing Terms

A report from Axios says libraries want better licensing terms for eBooks from Amazon and other publishers. States are stepping in to help the libraries.

A Maryland law set to take effect in January and a similar bill in New York would require publishers that sell ebooks to consumers to also license them to libraries on reasonable terms. The Maryland law and New York bill say it is not reasonable to limit the number of ebook licenses libraries can buy at the same date they are available to the general public.

Amazon Launches Pay-To-Read Serial Novels in ‘Kindle Vella’

Amazon has launched a service called Kindle Vella that introduces pay-to-read serialized books. In this case, “pay-to-read” means that these books offer the first three ”episodes” for free, with later episodes offered through “Tokens” that can be purchased in bundles.

We designed Kindle Vella as a mobile-first experience because we know readers are becoming more and more interested in stories that can be read quickly on their phones. At the same time, readers want the connection that you get from reading a story or author for a long period of time.

For DEAR Month, Libby Gets Updates for Smart Tags and More

Reading books is important and that’s why I like to share the latest news from OverDrive’s Libby app. Just in time for “Drop Everything and Read” month, Libby 9.0 gets smart tags, notification, and design updates.

With Libby 9.0, you’ll be able to get push or email notifications about new issues of your favorite magazines. You’ll also be able to sync your wish list from the OverDrive app to Libby, one of our most frequently requested features.

You’ll also see several improvements in the overall visual design that will improve searching and browsing for ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines.

Big Library Read’s Latest Book Club Offering is ‘The Art of Taking it Easy’

Overdrive’s book club called Big Library Read announced its latest entry for readers called “The Art of Taking It Easy” by psychologist and stand-up comedian Dr. Brian King. Through Libby, OverDrive’s one-tap reading app, The Art of Taking It Easy is available for free, simultaneous use access from over 20K libraries and schools worldwide through April 19. Being selected for Big Library Read provides great exposure for King, with hundreds of thousands checkouts per program and the unique opportunity for readers to interact with the author and others in the online discussion.

Apple Feels Schadenfreude as Amazon is Accused of eBook Price Fixing

Nine years after an investigation found that Apple and the “Big Five” book publishers colluded to fix eBook prices to compete with Amazon, Amazon has now been accused of doing the same.

The lawsuit claims that almost 90% of all ebooks sold in the US are sold on Amazon, in addition to over 50% of all print books. The suit alleges that ebook prices dropped in 2013 and 2014 after Apple and major publishers were successfully sued for conspiring to set ebook prices, but rose again after Amazon renegotiated their contracts in 2015.

Digital Library Book Readers Borrowed 430 Million Books in 2020

Book sales, both digital and physical, increased in 2020. Book borrowing did too, with OverDrive reporting 430 million ebooks, audiobooks, and digital magazines browsed in 2020. This is a 33% increase over 2019.

The most significant genre growth in 2020 was children’s and YA fiction and nonfiction because of remote and hybrid learning. In addition, more than 2 million checkouts occurred through Public Library CONNECT partnerships and the Sora student reading app. More public library and school partnerships than ever enabled students to use their school credentials to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from both their school and local public library.

App Sale: ‘Book Track’ Library Manager on Sale for $2

Book Track is a library manager and is currently on sale for US$1.99, down from US$4.99. Book Track is the application built for iPhone, iPad and Mac to easily keep track of the books you have purchased and which you would like to read. Manage your personal collection and wish list, searching for books by name or author, doing a barcode scan or entering them manually. Digitizing your personal library has never been easier or faster.

Bookshop.Org Unites Indie Sellers to Battle Amazon

Apparently this launched earlier this year but I haven’t heard of it until now. is a virtual bookshop that partners with indie book sellers as a rival to Amazon.

Hunter believes the reason for Bookshop’s quick success is readers’ fondness for their local booksellers. “Bookstores have been in trouble for a while because of Amazon’s growth, but this pandemic has really accelerated it. Amazon has gotten much more powerful, while there are 100-year-old stores that are hanging on for survival,” he said. “I think we were so successful because enough people were conscious of that, and wanted to rally around around their beloved bookstores, because they care about the world that we emerge from this pandemic into.”

OverDrive Announces Next Title in Digital Book Club Called ‘Reverie’

Big Library Read is a digital book club from eBook lender OverDrive. “Reverie” is the next book to read available for free through Libby from author Ryan La Sala. “All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember anything since an accident robbed him of his memories a few weeks ago. And the world feels different—reality itself seems different. So when three of his classmates claim to be his friends and the only people who can tell him what’s truly going on, he doesn’t know what to believe or who he can trust. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident, and only he can stop their world from unraveling.”

‘The Darwin Affair’ Latest Big Library Read

“The Darwin Affair” is the next book in Libby’s digital book club called Big Library Read.

London, June 1860: When an assassination attempt is made on Queen Victoria, and a petty thief is gruesomely murdered moments later—and only a block away—Chief Detective Inspector Charles Field quickly surmises that these crimes are connected to an even more sinister plot. Was Victoria really the assassin’s target? Are those closest to the Crown hiding something? And who is the shadowy figure witnesses describe as having lifeless, coal-black eyes?

Internet Archive Releases National Emergency Library With 1.4 Million Books

As of March 24 the Internet Archive suspended wait lists for its collection of books by creating a National Emergency Library.

This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later.

During the waitlist suspension, users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a waitlist, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the US academic calendar, and that people who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe.

Check Out ‘Big Library Read’, an Online Book Club

Big Library Read is an online book club from OverDrive. It connects readers from around the world with one eBook at a time and offers a place to share your thoughts, comments, and questions of the book with other readers.

This round’s title is Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic, a memoir written by stand-up comedian Michael McCreary who shares his experiences of living on the spectrum and dealing with trying situations as someone who doesn’t “look” autistic.

I think it’s a great idea, and be sure to download the Libby app so you can borrow books from your local library.

Book Publisher Macmillan Cancels Plan to Stifle Libraries

The Big Five book publishers had a plan to hurt consumers by imposing limitations on eBook licensing to libraries. One of them—Macmillan—is backing out.

There are times in life when differences should be put aside,” Macmillan CEO John Sargent wrote in a memo to librarians obtained by Publishers Weekly. “Effective on Friday (or whenever thereafter our wholesalers can effect the change), Macmillan will return to the library e-book pricing model that was in effect on Oct. 31, 2019. In addition, we will be lowering some ebook prices on a short term basis to help expand libraries collections in these difficult times. Stay safe.

You have literally no “differences” with libraries other than money. And implying that you’re doing this because of the coronavirus is, to put it politely, shady. Not to mention all the libraries boycotting Macmillan. No, this is entirely a gesture of good will because of “these difficult times.”

Chirp Books Gives You Limited-Time Deals on Audiobooks

For several years now I’ve been using a wonderful service called BookBub. It sends you alerts when ebooks go on sale. You pick the genres you’re interested in and you’ll get an email or notification every day. Literally about five minutes ago I got an email from them about another service they have called Chirp. It gives you the same deals except for audiobooks.

To thank you for being a BookBub member, I want to invite you to be one of the first to access our new platform for audiobook deals, Chirp! Chirp offers audiobooks selected by the same BookBub editors you trust at up to 95% off.

I love listening to audiobooks on my daily commute, while cleaning up around the house, and even while exercising. With Chirp I can binge audiobooks and discover new authors without breaking the bank.

The best part is that there’s no subscription fee or commitment, and new deals are added daily!

Libraries Work to Scan Public Domain Books

Right now, books published in the U.S. before 1924 are in the public domain. This means they are publicly owned and everyone can use and copy them. But there’s a loophole in copyright law which gives up to 75% of books published between 1923 and 1964 secret public domain status. It’s hard to figure out which ones they are, so a group of libraries, archivists, and volunteers are finding these public domain books, scanning them, and uploading them to the internet.

Richardson notes that much of that heavy lifting is being done by volunteers at organizations like Project Gutenberg, a nonprofit effort to digitize and archive cultural works. These volunteers are tasked with locating a copy of the book in question, scanning it, proofing it, then putting out HTML and plain-text editions.

In Semiosis, You Have to Watch out for Alien Plants

Semiosis by Sue Burke has an interesting premise: When you land on another planet, what if instead of worrying about alien life forms or animals, you had to keep an eye on the plants? It’s a wholly unique book that I had fun reading. Instead of following the same characters, we’re presented with a new cast in every chapter. We start with the original colonists as they land on Pax, then follow each subsequent generation as they have to deal with the land, the flora, and the actions of the previous generation. Will the children of the Parents adhere to the rules, or will they rebel? I thought the book was great, and look forward to the second book coming later this year. Apple Books: US$9.99 | Kindle: US$9.99

Google Assistant Can Read Your Kids a Bedtime Story

If you have Google Assistant and the latest version of Google Play Books on your iOS device, it can now read your kids a bedtime story.

Ahead of National Tell a Story Day taking place on Saturday, youngsters now have more ways to hear a bedtime tale. As of today, the feature will be available on iOS and Android phones in English in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and India.

Sounds like a great feature. When I asked Siri to read me a bedtime story, she said: “Next you’ll be asking me for a glass of milk. And a dark matter cookie.” Damnit Siri, that doesn’t even make sense.

Leander Kahney’s Tim Cook Biography Out Today

Leander Kahney’s (Cult of Mac editor) Tim Cook biography is out today. Subtitled “The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level” it tells the story of Mr. Cook’s role as Apple CEO and how he has handled the company after the death of Steve Jobs. It also looks at Mr. Cook’s life before Apple, like when he worked at IBM for 12 years. After that he briefly worked at Compaq, and helped transition the company from in-house manufacturing to creating products overseas with China and Taiwan. He used that expertise when he joined Apple in 1998, where he became a leader at operations and supply chains. I haven’t read the book yet but I look forward to sitting down with it. Mr. Kahney says he didn’t dive into Mr. Cook’s personal life, so it sounds like the book is more about his role at Apple. Apple Books: US$13.99