President Obama has clearly been reading the Book Catapult (at least, according to the LA Times) as he took Lush Life by Richard Price and The Way Home by George Pelecanos with him when he went off on vacation this week. Where else would he have heard about these wonderful books if not from me?
In other book news:
Sony announced their next foray into the e-reader universe with the Sony Daily Edition, to be released in December. The touch-screen Daily Edition will use non-Amazon-friendly open ebook formats, including the EPUB ebook format (the standard recognized by the world’s publishers), allowing countless retailers, including independent bookstores, to have the capability to provide their customers with non-Kindle ebooks. Independent bookstores with websites managed by the American Booksellers Association (ABA) – like Warwick’s, Vroman’s, & 100’s of others – will have the ability to sell EPUB ebooks by September – or so we’ve been told. Sony also announced plans to allow indies to sell the Daily Edition itself by the holidays, gradually chewing away at the legs under Jeff Bezos and his minions. Or so we hope.
“From the beginning, we have said that an open format means more choice for consumers,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading Business Division. “Now, working with other industry leaders, we can provide a device that is compatible with the widest selection of content available. Readers can shop around for what interests them rather than be locked into one store.”
Now for the coolest part: the library finder service. This decidedly non-Amazon, non-commercial idea allows the user to access ebook collections at the library and download them for free. For free. Like a library. You can access your local library (provided they’re linked in – over 9000 are, apparently – see overdrive.com for ones near you) download the licensing for the available ebook and keep it for 2-3 weeks. Yes, just like a library book. I don’t think that this service will be coming to a Kindle near you any time soon.
Am I getting overly excited? Probably. But still, having other options in ebooks is really what I’ve been hoping for all this time. Being locked out of this aspect of the book industry has been immensely frustrating over the last six months and I’m relieved to see an option for the indie in sight. Not to mention the library option. I had a customer sheepishly tell me the other day that she had read a certain book, but that she had gotten it from her library. I laughed and told her that not only are libraries not a commercial threat to the life of the independent bookseller, but most of us embrace them as places filled with like-minded, book-loving people. This is a big difference from the big box chain retailers who also sell chicken and toilet paper or the internet-only retailer who looks at the book simply as a product line to be exploited. I’m amazed that Sony had the foresight to recognize that independent booksellers and libraries will be the way to compete with Amazon. Do I love the idea of a digitized book and it’s heartless, cold, stainless steel ebook reader? Not at all, but at least it gets people reading and talking about books – which is all I can ask.