Despite its storied history with books, Google still has a fascination with the format. Past efforts included book digitalization on a massive scale and most recently an attempt to make truly interactive eBooks. Today, Google was granted two patents (via Engadget) for physical books with interesting augmented reality elements…
ebooks Stories March 4, 2016
ebooks Stories February 3, 2016
Google’s previous attempt to bring books into the modern age involved digitizing and making them searchable. A new experiment between their Creative Lab and Visual Editions, a London-based publisher, have resulted in Editions at Play. In essence, they are interactive ebooks that are worthy of not immediately being written off as a gimmick.
ebooks Stories September 22, 2015
Oyster, the ‘Netflix for books’ service that provided unlimited access to over a million books for a $9.95 monthly subscription, is closing, with Re/code reporting that its CEO and two co-founders have been ‘acquihired’ by Google.
It’s not known at this stage whether Google plans to relaunch the service as a Google-branded product. Oyster said in a blog post that members that they will receive an email with more information in the next few weeks, and Google declined to comment … expand full story
ebooks Stories March 5, 2015
EU court says ebooks aren’t books, must be subject to higher tax rates
Europe’s top court has declared that ebooks are ‘services’ rather than books, and that European countries are not allowed to give them the same favorable tax treatment as paper books. The reasoning, such as it is, is that ebooks cannot be used without a physical device, and ebooks are a service provided to those devices.
Both France and Luxembourg have applied to ebooks the same reduced rate of VAT (sales tax) enjoyed by books made from crushed trees. The WSJ reports that the EU has ruled that this is illegal.
Since 2012, France has applied a 5.5% VAT rate and Luxembourg a 3% VAT rate on e-books, the same rate as for paper books. The European Court of Justice said both countries must apply their normal VAT rate, which for France is 20% and for Luxembourg is 17%.
Europe already closed one ebook-related tax loophole: Amazon used to use its Luxembourg base as a reason to charge just 3% on ebook sales throughout Europe, but a change in the law forced it to apply the VAT rate applicable to the customer’s own country.
There is some small hope that sanity may prevail in future. The European Commission has said that there may be legal mechanisms through which countries can in future define their own policies, with an “extensive overhaul” of VAT rules to be completed next year. However, don’t be surprised if ‘harmonization’ of tax rates for paper and digital books results in higher taxes on the former to pay for lower taxes on the latter …
ebooks Stories July 22, 2014
Liberio, an online eBook publishing platform the based on Google Drive went from beta to official today. Designed to connect to Drive, this new tool lets you import just about any text-based document and convert it into an eBook that is compliant with industry standards, making it compatible with most major online stores like Amazon, Google Play Books or the iBooks Store.
ebooks Stories November 7, 2013
Airlines implement gate-to-gate handheld device rules faster than expected
United and American have joined Delta and Jet Blue in permitting gate-to-gate use of portable electronic devices, following the FAA ruling making it legal to do so.
The FAA had said at the time that airlines would need to perform individual tests to demonstrate that the use of electronic devices during all phases of flight would be safe, and had suggested that this might take some time. With the announcement expected as long ago as March, however, it appears that several airlines undertook this testing in advance of the formal ruling.
There has still been no clarification on what constitutes a ‘handheld’ device, but airlines so far appear to be saying yes to tablets and ebook readers and no to laptops. With many tablet and Bluetooth keyboard combos being visually indistinguishable from ultrabooks to non-technical cabin crews, we shall watch with interest to see how the rules are enforced.