Canadians will have to wait longer for cheaper e-books, as a move by the Competition Bureau aimed at reducing the prices of the digital reading material has been postponed due to a challenge by Kobo Inc.
The deal struck by the bureau and four major e-book publishers to remove restrictions on retailer discounting was signed on Feb. 7 and due to take effect on Wednesday.
The questions over what the industry can do, or not do about Amazon's dominance, were raised yet again last week. It was first sparked first by Barnes and Noble's declining interest and funding of its Nook venture, then we had Sony shutting up it US store and handing the keys to Kobo as it battles with many greater corporate issues, then came Kobo itself filing objections to a Competition Bureau agreement impelling four of the biggest publishers operating in Canada to renegotiate their contracts with ebook retailers
The concept behind augmented reality books is simple: a physical book contains many elements that elude the human eye, only visible through the use of various apps, gadgets and other devices. Sony's PlayStation 3 "game" Wonderbook, for example, came with a stocky hardback, a camera, a "Move" control wand and a series of disks. Sitting in front of a TV with the book, the player could see themselves and their surroundings on screen.
Sony, which is essentially a non-player in the U.S. ebook market at this point, is cutting its losses and shutting down its digital bookstore in the U.S. and Canada, the company reported Thursday. "Sony is withdrawing from the digital reading business in the United States," Sony spokeswoman Maya Wasserman confirmed.
The beneficiary is Kobo, which will take on Sony Reader customers and manage their ebook libraries starting in late March. Wasserman explained how the transfer to Kobo will work:
Adobe has issued a proclamation that starting in July, the vast majority of e-reader apps and hardware devices will not be able to read purchased eBooks anymore.
This announcement stems from a massive upgrade to the encryption system Adobe has implemented in their new Digital Editions 3.0 and will have reverberating effects on ePub books all over the world. Unless thousands of app developers and e-reader companies update their firmware and programming, customers will basically be unable to read books they have legitimately purchased. In effect, Adobe is killing eBooks and e-readers.
In a big year for e-books, two behemoths went to court while new services and companies emerged. Apple faced allegations over e-book pricing, calling into question the prices of e-books in general. Amazon went to court over access to e-books but saw its case tossed. New services from Amazon and streaming e-book companies emerged in the market, while Nook still declines. The access of e-books in libraries increased while the Digital Millennium Copyright Act limited access for people with disabilities.
According to the media, the e-book era in Japan began in 2010, with the debut of Apple Inc.'s iPad, Sony Corp.'s Sony Reader and other e-book services.
The market has been growing, but not as fast as in the United States. In Japan, regular use of the technology remains limited.
It's official: e-reader season is now open. Kobo and Amazon have announced their 2013 offerings, and now we're only waiting on Sony as the last of the local "big three" e-reader triumvirate. Apparently, it's coming tonight at IFA, if documentation found on the US FCC website by Spanish website Librista is any indication.
Manufacturers of e-readers are asking for an exception to the federal requirements that would force them to add features to make them accessible to the blind. Their argument rests on the distinction between an e-reader and a tablet. Any devices that lets people surf the Web or swap electronic messages has to be accessible to people with disabilities. Since e-readers mostly just let people read, they should be exempt, say Amazon (AMZN), Kobo (3815:JP), and Sony (6758:JP) in a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year.
Apple and the Department of Justice gave their opening statements in the e-book price-fixing case United States of America v. Apple Inc. The government presented a position based on interpretations of direct quotes from relevant documents where Apple allegedly discussed ways to raise e-book prices not only on its own platform, but across the industry. Apple defended itself by saying that it acted in no one’s business interests but its own … and the government is “trying to reverse engineer a conspiracy from market effect.”