Disney Digital Books Webcast Now Online

September 30, 2009


A recording of yesterday’s 18-minute webcast discussing Disney Digital Books is now available for viewing via links on this page.

It requires Windows Media Player or RealPlayer for viewing.

Previously here:

Disney + Pixar + Marvel + Apple + iTablet

Respect The Artist!

September 30, 2009

I’d forgotten all about this until @alexmilway reminded me on Twitter.

John Kricfalusi, creator of the incredible Ren & Stimpy, has a blog.

Start with Hipster ‘Toon ‘Tude Retreat and be sure to also read Character Design as a job VS Character Design for Animated Cartoon Stories as well as More Of My Flat Period Crap and then Does Everybody Want To Be A Character Designer?.

Why does it matter that basically six corporations control just about all of the mass media? Why does it matter that capital formation in this country is tilted towards an elite? Why does it matter that everything seems to be given a reverse Midas Touch — turning gold into shit?

It’s all right there.

Kricfalusi’s blog is not a blog.

It’s the chronicle of an ongoing crime.

Previously here:

Pay The Artist!
TV’s Bonanza: With Charles Dickens
He Did Not Back Down

Pay The Artist!

September 30, 2009

why i am not afraid to take your money, by amanda fucking palmer

i am shameless, and fearless, when it comes to money and art.

i can’t help it: i come from a street performance background.
i stood almost motionless on a box in harvard square, painted white, relinquishing my fate and income to the goodwill and honor of the passers-by.

i spent years gradually building up a tolerance to the inbuilt shame that society puts on laying your hat/tipjar on the ground and asking the public to support your art.

i was harassed, jeered at, mocked, ignored, insulted, spit at, hated.
i was also applauded, appreciated, protected, loved….all by strangers passing me in the street.
people threw shit at me.
people also came up to me and told me that i’d changed their lives, brightened their day, made them cry.

some people used to yell “GET A FUCKING JOB” from their cars when they drove by me.
i, of course, could not yell back. i was a fucking statue, statues do not yell.

Go read this. Every single word. Bookmark it. Pass it on.

And now, again, Harlan Ellison:

Previously here:

TV’s Bonanza: With Charles Dickens
He Did Not Back Down

The 24hrBook Project

September 30, 2009


24hrBook Project

In collaboration with if:book, The Society of Young Publishers and CompletelyNovel.com, Spread the Word has commissioned The 24 Hour Book, a groundbreaking project to challenge a group of writers to write a new story about London in just 24 hours.

The project doesn’t excite me, but its web page does, hence this post.

Scroll down to see the FriendFeed widget, the Twitter widget, and the map.

I’ll have more to say about that in another post at another time.

Disney + Pixar + Marvel + Apple + iTablet

September 29, 2009

Back in August 2008, I posted October: The iPod Touchbook, in which I stated that Disney would be a factor in eBooks and in Apple’s tablet plans.

The pieces are now fitting together, with The New York Times announcing this morning: Disney Tries to Pull the Storybook Ritual Onto the Web.

In what it bills as an industry-defining moment — though rivals are sure to be skeptical about that — Disney Publishing plans to introduce a new subscription-based Web site. For $79.95 a year, families can access electronic replicas of hundreds of Disney books, from “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” to “Hannah Montana: Crush-tastic!”

Bold emphasis added by me.

And this:

“The company feels that devices don’t offer a Disney-level experience for kids and families, and I agree with them,” Ms. Epps said.

Bold emphasis added by me.

Those are the words of a Forrester analyst, but they’re on-target.

Should children be expected to become interested in low-resolution grayscale imagery in a non-interactive and single-purpose eBook device such as a Sony Reader or a Kindle? What advantages would they offer over print? None for a child. And there’s no way flat ePub can compete with a videogame, a TV, the Internet, or even a full-color printed paper book.

How serious is Disney?

A huge marketing effort will set about drilling the site into the public consciousness. Three million promotional postcards will be distributed at screenings of Disney films, and a social media and advertising component is intended to reach 14 million mothers. In the works are demonstrations at Apple’s retail stores.

Boldface red emphasis by me.

The Disney site even offers a CoverFlow interface:


And make no mistake, even though no one outside of children’s publishing pays much attention to Disney as a publisher, they’re huge:

Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) is the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and magazines, with over 250 million children’s books and over 400 million children’s magazines sold each year. DPW’s business units include Global Children’s Magazines, Disney Family Fun Group, Disney English, and Disney Global Book Group. Disney Global Books and Global Magazines encompass a tremendous worldwide licensing structure; Disney Book Group consists of vertically integrated publishing imprints in the U.S. which include Disney Editions, Disney-Hyperion, Disney-Jump at the Sun and Disney Press. In addition, Disney Libri, DPW’s Italian vertical operation, publishes books for children of all ages. DPW’s Disney FamilyFun Group publishes Disney FamilyFun and Disney en Familia. Headquartered in White Plains, NY, Disney Publishing Worldwide publishes books and magazines in 85 languages in 75 countries.

Now add Marvel to that!

Disney Digital Books had a webcast at 1PM ESDT today and I attended. Some screensnaps and salient points.

An introductory pre-roll video had some interesting hardware:



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Russell Hampton, President, Disney Publishing Worldwide, illustrating and making the point that time once devoted to reading has been usurped by video game play.

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Jeanne Mosure, Senior Vice President, Group Publisher, Disney Publishing Worldwide, speaking about the digital books.

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Disney emphasized that the site will be continually updated, especially with tie-ins to current movies and TV programs. This makes their site a library that constantly grows.

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Yves Saada, Vice President, Digital Media, Disney Publishing Worldwide, discussing testing and pricing.

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“Purchase at Retail” is a key factor: There will be gift cards. They’ve timed this to coincide with the year-end gift-giving season. Will these gift cards be sold at Apple Stores too? I expect so!

Mention was made of the Kindle. They’re already on that, with some books geared to teens. But the monochrome screen is not appealing to the age group they’re targeting with this site. As other hardware platforms appear, they plan to be on them. It was stated somewhat oddly that they’d never be “exclusive to one platform.” It was emphasized this was browser-based. Of course, that’s now. In a year or two, I’d expect downloads from them.

What I found interesting was the amount of testing that went into the books. A suggestion from parents was that kids should be able to “play” with the books. Also of interest is that the entire site was developed in-house with “proprietary” technology. I can’t help wondering how related this might be to the goals — and technology — of Apple’s new iTunes LP.

What I find to be harbinger of the future is this aspect:


Kids take trivia quizzes about the book they’ve read and earn points.

I see that as the future of textbooks and schooling. Reading material will offering progressive testing. A student will read a chapter and take a quiz. If that quiz is failed, the chapter must be re-read and the test taken again (perhaps even a variation on the first test!). This has vast potential impact, especially with those who choose to do home-schooling. Is the future of the classroom basically come in, read, and be tested? The dynamic electronic book envisioned by Neal Stephenson in The Diamond Age — and earlier by Alan Kay with the Dynabook — comes closer to being real.

Where does Marvel come in? It addresses a group Disney was missing: boys.

“This helps give Disney more important exposure to the young male demographic that they have sort of lost some ground with in recent years,” said David Joyce at Miller Tabak & Co.

Disney has long been a blockbuster brand with girls, thanks to characters such as Hannah Montana, Cinderella and Snow White, but has struggled to achieve the same kind of success with boys.

There are already comic books by others for sale in the App Store. Expect Marvel to shake that up in the future.

I’ve already read carping on the Net that this is a cynical Disney ploy to indoctrinate kids with their brand names. Well, look, it’s Disney Publishing. It makes no sense to me to gripe about that. Hold parents responsible for what goes into the heads of their children — and those parents had better be prepared to cave in to their kids’ demands for the latest Disney giveaway at McDonald’s despite their efforts. Disney is a safe brand for children, not a small thing in this world.


What I love about this is that Disney is emphasizing these are digital books — not eBooks. They’ve positioned themselves for the future, not settling for the inferior offerings of today.

A questioner asked what number of subscribers they would consider a success. Disney’s not thinking that way. This is a long-term investment for them. I’d like to see the calculations that went into this. On one side, Disney’s subscriber projections, a curve upward; on the other side, the price of portable full-color wireless tablets, with a curve downward. Remember: the iPhone debuted with a US$600 price tag. You can now buy a near-iPhone, the iPod Touch, for one-third of that price.

Unfortunately, my question about demonstrations taking place at Apple Stores didn’t get through due to time constraints. It will be interesting to see how these are done. The larger Apple Stores I’ve been to all have a section reserved for the use of children.

So there’s Disney + Pixar + Marvel with a massive stockpile of content and Apple + iTablet with the hardware and iTunes gateway. This combination is going to change the world and move us into the age of the smart digital book.

Google Books: Ironic CAPCHA

September 28, 2009

Click = big

Hanwang/Hanvon Starts Tablet Flood?

September 28, 2009

From JKKMobile via Twitter: Meet Hanvon multitouch tablet

Oh boy. Hanwang is a company that seems to create a new eBook device every month.

Now they’re showing a mini-tablet that runs Windows 7.

First some screensnaps, then the video:


Notice the sealed back. I see no way to replace a battery.


Power jack, On/Off, USB port.

MultiTouch — don’t get excited, watch the lag on the video.

Possibly: Audio Out, Audio In, USB port, SD card?

Hanwang/Hanvon. I guess they’re making the name easier for English speakers.

Now the video:

I’d like to get excited about this, but the price will be the thing. That and availability. At least it will be able to do eBooks via software: LIT via MS Reader, Mobi via MobiPocket Desktop, PDF via Adobe Reader/Adobe Digital Editions, etc. Although with an Atom processor, I’m not certain how successful any of that will be.

Previously here:

New Hanwang eBook Reader: F21
The eBook Bubble Coming To CES 2010

Writer James Hadley Chase eBooks Coming!

September 28, 2009

UPDATE: DO NOT BUY THESE. See this post.

Booksquare on Twitter alerted me to Harlequin reprinting some classic works by writer James Hadley Chase.

Since he’s been generally out of print for so long, I’ve been able to read only two of his books, but I loved them. So I’ve been waiting and waiting for someone to get wise and bring him back.

Now Harlequin will be doing so — in paper and in eBook.


Just look at these covers!



Go see the rest in the Vintage series (which includes other writers)!

TV’s Bonanza: With Charles Dickens

September 28, 2009

Ron Hogan alerted me to Jonathan Harris portraying Charles Dickens in an episode of TV’s Bonanza. A quick search later and some info:

136.) A Passion For Justice
September 29, 1963
Written by: Peter Packer
Directed by: Murray Golden

Charles Dickens visits Virginia City and is appalled to discover his work being reprinted without his permission by the local paper.

And this wonderful clip:


“I’ve poured my life into my work. And I have to fight for it.”




“They fail to realize how much a writer gives of himself. How much of his soul is locked into every word.”

There are two other clips: One, Two.

Previously here:

He Did Not Back Down