Books

Simon & Schuster’s New Online Venture Is Sure to Be Another Expensive Failure

Part of a photo on 250 Words' Facebook page.

It comes as a surprise that Simon & Schuster is launching yet another new books site, called 250 Words. 

The publisher’s first foray into literary websites was Bookish, a book recommendation site started by the Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and Penguin USA.

Last month, we learned that Bookish had been sold to the e-book retailer Zola. It seems it was unable to compete with huge sites with Amazon, and struggled to draw in readers since its significantly delayed 2013 launch. 

Our sources tell us the publishing groups sold Bookish, which had reportedly received $20 million in funding, at a pretty serious loss.

So the debut of 250 Words seems strange, given that the last attempt at a books site was hardly a best-seller. Mediabistro reported yesterday that the publishing company has just launched 250 Words, a site that aims to become “a hub for intelligent business thinking, with a focus on books.”  Read More

The Future of the Ebook

Oyster Offers All-You-Can-Read Ebooks For Less Than $10 a Month

Now on iPad. (Photo: Oyster)

Last October, Oyster, a subscription-based ebooks startup, announced a $3 million seed investment from Founders Fund. Almost a year later, the company is finally opening the results up to the public, launching its service (on iPhones only, sadly) with more than 100,000 titles. $9.95 a month gets you all you can read.

Readers should get ready to gorge themselves–but don’t delete your Kindle app just yet, either. Read More

E-READER WARS

Judge in Apple E-Book Trial Confesses She Totes Loves Her iPad

Judge Denise Cote (Photo: law.columbia.edu)

The Apple e-book trial could go either way, and we may not know the outcome for a few months. But on the second-to-last day of the case, the presiding judge divulged not only her familiarity with the iPad, but also her love for it.

Lisa Rubin, the attorney representing Apple, had Apple iBookstore head Robert McDonald demonstrate the iPad’s page-turning animation when Ms. Cote interrupted, Read More

Linkages

Booting Up: Shh, No One Mention Money

Making money is cool. (Getty)

“Right on cue, we hear cynics asking, ‘But how will they ever make money?’ let alone ‘enough money to justify the valuation.’ Just this weekend, the rumors (and doubts — for example, read the comments) were all about Snapchat.” No, but seriously. [Medium]

Speaking of cash, though: Base salaries for New York City tech jobs are skyrocketing. No surprise there. [Crain's]

Fred Wilson, cool mom: “I like to be the person the founder calls when he wants advice and counsel.” [PandoDaily]

As appealing as we find the idea of a real-time Google Maps based on Waze’s data, that sounds like it’ll take even longer to load. [Forbes]

In the trial hashing out whether Apple conspired to drive up ebook prices, exec Eddy Cue admitted yesterday that yeah, he totally expected prices to increase as the result of Apple’s plans. But hey, more books! [CNET]

Linkages

Booting Up: Microsoft and Google Are In a Tiff Over YouTube

(Photo: NASA)

Microsoft recently updated its YouTube app for Windows Phones, but Google isn’t too pleased with the results–going so far as to send a cease and desist. That’s because Microsoft built in features allowing users to block ads. [The Verge]

A spokesman said they’d be “more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs.” [The Verge]

“Reading is an activity more likely to be on screen than on the printed page.” So there’s that. [BBC]

Car-sharing service Relay Rides has gotten the ax (locally at least) from the New York State’s Department of Financial Services, who said their insurance is “illegal and inadequate.” [PandoDaily]

Looks like, after technical problems, NASA’s other-Earth-seeking Kepler Telescope is powering down. [Popular Science]

“Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99.” That’s the kind of email that, even if you are Steve Jobs, lands you in hot water with antitrust enforcers. [AllThingsD]

The Future of the Ebook

Macmillan Surrenders in Ebook Suit, Leaving Apple to Fight on Alone

Macmillan's HQ. (Photo: flickr.com/-jvl-)

When four of the biggest publishers in the U.S. worked with Apple to create a new model of book sales, one that allowed them to set a minimum price on ebook sales, it was clearly meant to buck Amazon’s stubbon insistence on charging $9.99 even for the newest releases. What wasn’t so clear was the legality of the move. Matters settled into an uneasy truce until April, when the Justice Department accused them all of colluding to fix prices.

Now Macmillan, the last of the book businesses still fighting, has finally caved. As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to let booksellers (i.e. Amazon) resume their previous cost-cutting.

But just because you settle doesn’t mean you have to say you’re sorry. Read More

The Future of the Ebook

Could Amazon Interest You in a Used eBook?

(Photo: flickr.com/justbecause)

Oh boy, the big six are just going to love this: Geekwire reports that Amazon has secured a patent for a “secondary market for digital objects,” meaning anything from ebooks to mp3s.

That means Amazon has hammered out the basics of a system that would, according to the abstract from the patent application, let you transfer the ebooks you don’t want anyone into someone else’s Kindle library. In short, you can sell ‘em. Read More