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Old 01-18-2010, 06:02 PM   #1
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Publishers slow to plug into e-books (The Age)

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AUSTRALIAN publishers have been given until May to get their e-book houses in order if they want to join the digital revolution.

A partnership between Canadian digital book wholesaler Kobo and REDgroup - owner of booksellers Angus & Robertson and Borders - has brought new urgency to Australia's race to go digital.
...

At least a dozen new hand-held devices are expected to hit the Australian market this year and spark a surge in demand for e-books.

But only two leading publishers have converted Australian print books to digital form in significant numbers - Allen & Unwin has a library of 1500 titles, while Pan Macmillan Australia has 500 titles ready to go digital.

Even the National Library of Australia had digitised only 2366 books among its vast collection by July last year.
...
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http://www.theage.com.au/news/entert...058384609.html
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:33 AM   #2
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If mobileread or teleread asks the principals some questions, that would be cool.

As for the locals, if they get stomped - well, they clearly would be deserving.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:01 AM   #3
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One of the first ebook publishers I came across in the nineties was the highly selective and editorially driven Jacobyte Books in Australia. It went to the wall purely and simply because of apathy Down Under and was taken over by BeWrite Books in 2005. It's a crying shame that Oz is so far behind the game when it could have been leading the field. Neil
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:24 AM   #4
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It's a crying shame that Oz is so far behind the game when it could have been leading the field. Neil
It is quite disheartening being an Australian and seeing so many areas where we are lacking behind the rest of the world. Two big areas spring to mind, and that is telecommunications and internet access. The price is outrageous given the speed/data restrictions we have on our broadband compared to the rest of the world. I personally don't believe that any publishers will really embrace the ebook market, a few ebook stores may open, but push come to shove, us Aussies are really at the mercy of only being able to really access ebooks internationally.

In my view, local publishers should be given two options, either start providing at competitive prices digital publications, or move out of the way for an international player to take the market.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:39 AM   #5
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They certainly blew their chance of any government sympathy recently if they do start getting crushed.

Although with internet access some of the data restrictions make some sense, Telstra holding back speeds is the same sort of thing though.

Given what has happened in the last year or so it will be no surprise if we become close to highest-rate free book downloaders to go along with tv and movies, all for the same delay reasons.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:48 AM   #6
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If you're interested, Solicitous and Blue, one of our Oz authors, Maggie Ball in Sydney, is talking on this very subject on your Capital Radio's Mike Welsh show out of Canberra today (I'll post a link later if there's a podcast version). Cheers. Neil
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:38 AM   #7
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Thanks Neil, that'd be interesting.
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:46 PM   #8
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With the best of wishes to those of you Down Under and your quest for more ebooks from your publishers, the most interesting aspect of this article from my point of view was the link between Kobo, which uses ePub on its own reader software, and Borders (as part of REDgroup). I'd been wondering who Borders would link up with now that Barnes and Noble is pushing eReader.
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:51 PM   #9
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Meantime, Blue, you might be interested in Maggie's Oz website www.compulsivereader.com. It's a pretty neat review site, attracting incredibly insightful contributors with a largely Australian interest and podcast interviews with Oz authors. Only now are they picking up on ebooks.

By the way, if you can handle PDFs, I'd be happy to send you some of our recent Australian releases (you've gotta pay for other formats and paperback -- but PDF is easily converted, if necessary, with Calibre software, etc). Some lovely stuff.

Just drop me an email -- ntmarrATbewrite.net (use the @ sign, of course). You too, Solicitous. My pleasure.

Cheers. Neil
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solicitous View Post
Two big areas spring to mind, and that is telecommunications and internet access. The price is outrageous given the speed/data restrictions we have on our broadband compared to the rest of the world.
Thank you Telstra and John Howard I believe? Howards wanted to sell off the telco at the highest price possible, so didn't split the physical infrastructure up, leaving Telstra in a position of power they could exploit. US CEOs like Saul Trujilo (not sure on name/spelling) of course took advantage of this near monopoly of infrastructure.

I have some friends in Australia and they are always complaining about the state of affairs down there. Telstra price gough wherever they can, holding back internet speeds and data allowances so they can squeeze every cent out of their lines.

Apparently the Aussie government was going to split Telstra up but they has fallen off the agenda as they instead spent time trying to censor the Internet!

Anyway that's kinda offtopic. Australia has a lot of avid readers apparently so should already be embracing e-readers. I have many friends down under with Kindles and one with a Sony. Australian publishers/bookstores better get their act together.

Last edited by fugazied; 01-19-2010 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:01 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by fugazied View Post
Thank you Telstra and John Howard I believe? Howards wanted to sell off the telco at the highest price possible, so didn't split the physical infrastructure up, leaving Telstra in a position of power they could exploit. US CEOs like Saul Trujilo (not sure on name/spelling) of course took advantage of this near monopoly of infrastructure.

I have some friends in Australia and they are always complaining about the state of affairs down there. Telstra price gough wherever they can, holding back internet speeds and data allowances so they can squeeze every cent out of their lines.

Apparently the Aussie government was going to split Telstra up but they has fallen off the agenda as they instead spent time trying to censor the Internet!

Anyway that's kinda offtopic. Australia has a lot of avid readers apparently so should already be embracing e-readers. I have many friends down under with Kindles and one with a Sony. Australian publishers/bookstores better get their act together.
Well apparently the main job for Sol to do when he came on board was to split Telstra, instead he dramatically dropped the share price, increased customer complaints by apparently 250%, and left with a huge payout. And don't talk to me about censoring the internet.....so much for living in a country with free speech (well it will soon be free speech as long as they let you).

You're right, Australia does have a large reading market and the ebook done properly will take off. As I said before, some international player will have to bring the ebook market here, every big profitable market here in Australia is either ignored by local business or sold offshore to someone else.

The longer they wait the more time people will have to find workarounds to geographic restrictions and utilise shop-bitorrent to satisfy their reading needs. I for one am finding it hard at times, and getting frustrated with some online ebookstores where the geographic restrictions aren't actually indicated until you get through and ready to checkout. www.readwithoutpaper.com is fairly price competitive but their current offerings are a little small (should come right with time), but the other Australian ebookstores are insane with price and even more limited selection.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:11 PM   #12
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I agree with all of the above and am not happy with what we get here in Australia in the way of eBooks. (and other things )

But lets not forget one thing: the market is rather small and restricted. Australia has barely 22 million people living here. So the advantages of the other markets with the demands on infrastructure and huge demands for quality goods to good prices just won't fly down here as we don't manufacture much here anymore. This means that the shipping costs will always increase prices of goods above prices paid elsewhere. Sure, the import taxes don't help there either. Sad but we just have to live with it.

At the end of the day the business decision has to be for profit - no point opening one if you don't want to make money.

The weird thing here in Australia is that consumers don't seem to vote with their feet. I was surprised a few years back when the milk market was deregulated. Instead of the prices going down, the went up!!!!! What the ...? You would think the companies would drop the prices to get customers, but noooo. (And lets not start on the poor farmers who get bugger all for their labour. I would happily pay a bit more for the milk if I knew the farmer gets the extra).

Down under is truely a weird place with it's hopping shopping bags, bears in trees and an animal that was described as "God's joke" (the platypus btw).
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:17 PM   #13
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Hmmmm... interesting stuff!

Yes, our infrastructure is rather crappy. There are reasons for it, though - like the fact that once you move out of the major cities, the number of people per mobile tower or mile of copper line required is ridiculously small... making it difficult to share access fairly while still making money.

I suspect ebooks will have a harder time hitting critical mass in Australia than I'd like. Say I have an ebook reader like the Kindle or nook, with wireless internet access to bookstores. I go to my parent's place for Christmas, and I lose my ability to buy new books while I'm there (unless the wireless is Telstra's - maybe). Sure I can use a computer and transfer the files, and I'm tech-savvy enough to have no worries, but a lot of people I know would be put off.

On the bright side, though - I've seen numerous Kindles and even a Sony reader on the trains, and more people reading on their phones/ipods. Clearly there IS a market here. Hopefully my suspicions will be groundless and Kobo/REDbooks will be a blazing success from day one.

I'm understanding now why Kobo's signed a distribution agreement with Smashwords - lots of geographically-unrestricted ebooks to offer non-US&Canadian customers.
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:56 AM   #14
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Definitely seen people reading on their phones. Haven't seen a Kindle in the wild yet though.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:06 PM   #15
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Some countries have been experimenting with high-altitude balloons for wireless service, rather than satellites or towers. Less expensive than satellites, better coverage than towers. Could that help in Australia?
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