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September 26 2013

Stiftung Warentest: Viele Mängel bei AGB und Datenschutz von E-Book-Portalen

Die Nutzungsbedingungen und der Umgang mit Nutzerdaten sind bei vielen E-Book-Portalen kritisch. Das geht aus einer Untersuchung der Stiftung Warentest hervor, die zehn Anbieter unter die Lupe genommen hat. Amazons Kindle-Shop kosteten die Mängel in den AGB sogar den sonst erreichten Testsieg.

Überzeugend, bis man ins Kleingedruckte sieht: Amazons Kindle-Shop hätte in der Untersuchung der Stiftung Warentest den ersten Platz belegen können, wären da nicht die AGB. Darin will Amazon luxemburgisches Recht geltend machen – unzulässig, wie die Tester monieren. Was dem Portal – im Test bei Angebot und Komfort vorne – einen Punktabzug um eine ganze Note brachte, freut nun zwei deutsche Anbieter: buecher.de (Springer/Holtzbrinck/Weltbild) und ebook.de (Libri) teilen sich den ersten Platz mit einer Note von 2,7.

Auch die Anbieter Kobo und der „Reader Store” von Sony weisen demnach „sehr deutliche” Mängel in den AGB auf, „deutliche” sind es bei Apple. Bei Kobo etwa gibt es die Nutzungsbedingungen erst gar nicht auf Deutsch, was höchstwahrscheinlich unzulässig ist. Zudem wimmele es dort vor unzulässigen Klauseln, also etwa solchen, die für Nutzer überraschend sind oder sie unangemessen benachteiligen.

Nutzerdaten: Kein Anbieter besser als „ausreichend”

Beim Umgang mit Nutzerdaten konnte gar kein Anbieter die Tester überzeugen: Über die Noten „mangelhaft” oder „ausreichend“ kommt keiner hinaus, auch die beiden Testsieger nicht. „Keiner schließt in der Datenschutzerklärung eindeutig aus, die Nutzerdaten für Werbung und andere Zwecke zu verwenden oder weiterzugeben”, heißt es im Test. Wollen Nutzer ihre Daten löschen, bleiben viele Portale Hinweise dazu schuldig.

Gesondert untersucht wurde der Datenschutz der jeweiligen Lese-Apps für Android- und iOS-Geräte, wofür die Tester den Datenstrom der Anwendungen auswerteten. Dass einige Programme unnötige Daten wie die Gerätekennung übermittelten, wurde als kritisch eingestuft. Davon betroffen sind die Apps von Buecher.de, Weltbild.de, des Pageplace-Portals der Telekom und Kobo; teilweise auch die Apps von Thalia, Amazon Kindle und Google Play.

Komfort im goldenen Käfig

Die Untersuchung macht auch deutlich, wie zweischneidig die E-Book-Welten für Nutzer derzeit sind: Bequemlichkeit und Komfort beim Einkauf und bei der Nutzung werden mit geschlossenen Plattformen, meist auch mit Kopierschutz und eingeschränkten „Nutzungsrechten” am E-Book erkauft. „Der goldene Käfig ist hier weit geräumiger als der bei Apple”, heißt es etwa über die Amazon-Kindle-Welt. Erst wer die Welten wechseln will, bekommt die Lock-in-Effekte zu spüren. In der Gesamtwertung zählten die Wertungen im Feld „Information und Verträge” jedoch geringer als Angebot, Einkauf und Bedienbarkeit.

Eine Präzisierung lässt sich zum Angebot von Apples „iBookstore” anbringen. Im Test heißt es, dort gekaufte Dateien seien nur auf Apple-Geräten lesbar. Für Epub-Dateien ohne Kopierschutz gilt das aber nicht. Diese sind auf gängigen E-Book-Readern lesbar, allerdings nicht auf dem Amazon Kindle, da dieser ein anderes Format benutzt. Zurecht kritisieren die Tester, dass die Portale ihre Kunden häufig mehr schlecht als recht darüber informieren, ob sie Dateien mit oder ohne Kopierschutz bekommen.

Die Untersuchung lässt sich im Oktober-Heft der Stiftung Warentest oder kostenpflichtig unter test.de nachlesen.

November 11 2011

Publishing News: The standards of aggregation

Here are a few stories that caught my eye in the publishing space this week.

Jim Romenesko and the standards of aggregation

Quote.pngIn a bizarre turn of events, Jim Romenesko, the renowned blogger at Poynter who was on the brink of retirement, quit his post after Poynter ran a story about attribution inconsistencies in his writing — 12 years into his blog.

The Poynter post states:

Though information sources have always been displayed prominently in Jim's posts and are always linked at least once (often multiple times), too many of those posts also included the original author's verbatim language without containing his or her words in quotation marks, as they should have.

Calling Romenesko out raised eyebrows and ire. No one ever thought Romenesko was trying to take credit for others' work, but then again, some argue that aggregation should be held to journalistic standards. This is a much larger question than it may appear on the surface. Felix Salmon over at Reuters has a nice analysis on the issue and points out, "[Poynter's Julie] Moos is using the standards of original journalism, here, to judge a blogger who was never about original journalism." (He's referring to Moos' original post about the offending attribution errors and Poynter's guidelines.)

So, does aggregation require a new set of rules and standards, or should the traditional journalism guidelines apply? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Kobo gets new owners — and perhaps a larger playing field

Kobo.pngProbably the biggest industry news this week was the sale of Kobo to Japanese e-retailer Rakuten. The deal was summed up nicely in an All Things Digital headline: "The Amazon of Japan Buys the Kindle of Canada."

For Indigo, the majority shareholder in Kobo, the sale was about refocusing its core business. Brand strategist Anthony Campbell told the Globe and Mail:

Taking on Apple and Amazon and Google isn't just a distraction, it puts Indigo in a position where the brand would completely lose focus. By maintaining its focus, Indigo's better prepared to take on the likes of Target and other retailers who are trying to corner the lifestyle space.

For Kobo and Rakuten, the acquisition means expansion — for Kobo, geographic expansion; for Rakuten, market expansion. Michael Serbinis, Kobo's CEO, told the Wall Street Journal: "This is not a one-country game. Two-thirds of the book market is outside North America. We're going into countries where we will be No. 1." And according to All Things Digital, "[Rakuten] said the acquisition of Kobo will assist the company in its move to provide downloadable media to consumers, starting with e-books." Perhaps it won't be long before the "Japanese Amazon" is making a major play against the U.S. Amazon.

For more on the situation, there's a nice Q&A over at Canadian Business with Serbinis and Indigo CEO Heather Reisman about the sale and what comes next for both companies.

BISG study highlights the growth of ereading

BISGStudyCover.jpgThe Book Industry Study Group (BISG) is getting ready to release results from a new study that show the rapid growth of ereading. Highlights from the final survey in volume two of the "Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading" report include:

  • "... nearly 50% of print book consumers who have also acquired an e-book in the past 18 months would wait up to three months for the e-version of a book from a favorite author, rather than immediately read it in print."
  • "Amazon.com continues to be the preferred source for ebook acquisition (holding steady at 70%) and ebook information (44%). Barnes & Noble comes in second at 26%, with Apple in third."
  • "... although the cost of e-reading devices remains a reported concern, the single most popular answer to the question of what hinders respondents from reading more e-books was "nothing" at 33% (up from 17.6% a year ago)"

The full report is available for pre-order now. It will be published on November 21.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012 in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012

Related:

October 21 2011

Publishing News: The news is free but the API will cost you

Here are a few stories that caught my eye in the publishing space this week.

News orgs turn to data and shopping for new revenue streams

USATodayDeveloper.PNGTwo news organizations recently took out-of-the-box steps in the relentless pursuit of that illusive digital-era revenue. First, USA Today decided to dip its toe into the business of big data: the newspaper will now offer commercial licensing for its information. As noted in a Nieman Lab post this week, access to USA Today's APIs isn't new — but selling the access for commercial purposes is. In an interview, USA Today's Stephen Kurtz said the newspaper is feeling it out at this point to assess the demand and to hone a working model. Perhaps Kurtz should look to an example highlighted in the Nieman post: The Guardian's Open Platform.

Another news organization stepped into a more uncharted sales area this week: Politico is now in the bookstore business. Politico recently teamed with Random House to publish instant ebooks, and now the duo will sell the ebooks from a new online store dubbed Politico Bookshelf. Initially, this venture looked like a first step for one of the Big Six to delve into direct book sales, but the release on Politico's site indicates that it's really more of a browsing platform than a store: "Shoppers can browse or search for titles, and then purchase them through a selection of online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Politics and Prose and Apple's iBookstore."

Amazon's foray into publishing continues to jolt the industry

The New York Times reported this week on Amazon's rapidly increasing reach into publishing: first it edged out bookstores, then it started launching imprints, and now it's wooing writers and "gnawing away at the services that publishers, critics and agents used to provide." Examples of Amazon's gnawing were summed up in the post:

Amazon has started giving all authors, whether it publishes them or not, direct access to highly coveted Nielsen BookScan sales data, which records how many physical books they are selling in individual markets like Milwaukee or New Orleans. It is introducing the sort of one-on-one communication between authors and their fans that used to happen only on book tours. It made an obscure German historical novel a runaway best seller without a single professional reviewer weighing in.

And this doesn't even take the Kindle Fire and the ecosystem it's creating into account. The Atlantic took a look at the dangers of where this kind of one-stop-shop might lead, and over at GigaOm, Mathew Ingram looked at Amazon's disruption and why its working. He also offered some sage advice for publishers: "Take a lesson from the music industry and don't spend all your time suing people for misusing what you believe is your content — think instead about why they are doing this, and what it says about how your business is changing, and then try to adapt to that."

Kobo's Vox takes on Amazon's Fire

Kobo stepped out ahead of Amazon this week and announced its new tablet, Vox, will start shipping Oct. 28 — a couple of weeks ahead of the Nov. 15 shipment date for Kindle Fire. Some argue that the Fire (and presumably similar low-priced tablets like Vox and Nook — there's a nice comparison of the three over at Dear Author) will lead to the demise of the iPad. What seems more likely is the impending obscurity of the dedicated ereading device. In a recent TOC Podcast interview, Max Franke of epubli talked about the German ebook market and pointed out that tablets were preferred over ereaders in that part of the world. Perhaps that trend will spread to this side of the pond as well.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb 13-15, 2012, in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012

Related:

December 10 2010

Bookish Techy Week in Review


In old-school publishing, days were consumed by three martini lunches. In new-school publishing, days are consumed by launches, and this week was a doozy. (No mention of martinis, but read on):

Yes, Virginia there really is a Google eBookstore

Google's just-launched eBookstore is not yet available outside the US. According to TechChrunch:

They're launching with the support of around either 4,000 or 35,000 publisher partners, depending on how you count. 4,000 is the figure for the US launch, but internationally, they're working with the remainder of that figure for a predicted 1Q 2010 launch. All the major publishers are signed on and will be providing a total of around 300,000 in-copyright works, mostly likely including anything you could buy new at any other bookstore.

They also are proud to be working with university, academic, textbook, and professional publishers whose works are harder to come by. They've worked out deals with the American Booksellers Association, Powell's, and Alibris as well. By way of a shortcut, I asked if there were any major associations or publishers that Google had not included in at least a basic partnership, and they said no. And of course there is the immense library of public domain works, over two and a half million at the moment, which swells the total Google eBooks count to around three million.

Not to be out-launched, Amazon launched Kindle for the Web

Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb is skeptical:

You too can now pay $9.99 to read text on a Web page, in Amazon's proprietary format, with the graphically limited format of a printed text-only book of yore. Sure, your bookmarks and notes will carry over from the Web pages you're reading on to other devices --- but could that possibly be enough to warrant paying for Web-embedded eBooks? I don't think so. Once it hits the Web, premium content is only sellable because of scarcity or a superior user experience. I don't see either of those being true in this case.

Amazon and Seth Godin launched The Domino Project

From Seth Godin's Blog:

Working with a great team at Amazon, I'm launching a new publishing venture called The Domino Project. I think it fundamentally changes many of the rules of publishing trade non-fiction.

The fairly less mogul-like Figment launched as well

From Figment's home page:

Figment is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors. Whatever you're into, from sonnets to mysteries, from sci-fi stories to cell phone novels, you can find it all here.



Kobo launched Reading Life


From the National Post:

Kobo's Reading Life is a new e-reading iPad application that integrates with the company's digital bookstore designed to bring social-networking capabilities to the world of electronic books, in a sort of Book Club 2.0.

James Bridle launched BMXL and the Open Wiki at Open Bookmarks

From the Open Bookmarks blog:

The latest addition is a proposed XML interchange format for bookmarks -- a very simple, small and powerful thing. At the moment, we're still nailing down what we mean by bookmarks and the thorny problems of positioning and identifying books (OpenLibrary?).

The use case is obvious, and because it's our first challenge, simple. It's also personal, because we believe that the first benefits of Open Bookmarks must be to the individual: social benefits are built on selfish behaviours (there's more on this over at Booktwo).



The Internet Archive launched a new browser-based bookreader


The updated reader has an improved UI and support for read aloud (TTS). Here's an example.

And, Apple launched a rumor of a launch

From Wired's Gadget Lab:

Apple has put in the request for its Asian partner Foxconn to produce and ship the second-generation iPad within 100 days, with plans for a spring 2011 release, according to a Taiwanese publication.

Foxconn was notified of plans to ship the iPad by February 2011, with initial shipments of 400,000 to 600,000 units, according to DigiTimes. Sources expect the product to launch April 2011.

Got news?

Feel free to send along any news items, blog posts, or things of note from the publishing world.


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