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E-books are one of the biggest changes to ever come to the publishing industry. They’ve revolutionized reading, whether you’re doing it on your commute to work or reading a good night story to your kids before bed. However, a recent study suggests parents should opt for physical books when reading to their kids at night.
Whoa whoa whoa, before you go and throw out your Kindle it might help to get some context. The study examines how toddlers behave when their parents read to them in different circumstances, and it found that “intrusive behaviors” and “solitary body posture” occurs more frequently when there’s a tablet involved. Basically, that means that when children were reading an e-book along with their parents, they were more likely to position themselves as if they were just reading alone.
image via momjunction
Some of the findings might have to do with how the parents read as well. When parents read from tablets, “their language use may not be as potent,” said Dr. Tiffany Munzer, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician who led the study. “With a print book, parents feel they can cozy up with their kids and make the story come alive”.
Speaking about the results of the study, Dr. Munzer said, “it may be that when parents and toddlers engage over a tablet, it might be harder for them to have moments of connection.”
More than a quarter (27%) of U.S. adults say they haven’t read a book in the last year. No print books, no e-books, not even an audiobook – nothing! I know, I know, book lovers might be kind of shocked to learn how many Americans simply don’t enjoy reading all that much.
In a survey of 1,502 American adults, the Pew Research Center found there is a growing section of the population that doesn’t read at all. This statistic is up from 19% in 2011 when Pew began collecting data.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pew found that college graduates and more affluent Americans are more likely to have read a book than others, reaffirming the prevailing wisdom that ease-of-access is one of the most important factors for increasing literacy.
In another study, Pew found that the typical American has read at least four books in 12 months. But Americans, on average, read 12 books a year.
And while e-books and audiobooks are growing, it appears their popularity comes at the expense of the popularity of print books. 37% of American say they only read print books, 28% read or listen to digital formats, and about 7% of Americans say they exclusively read books in digital formats and totally eschew print books.
Nevertheless, print is still king. Leading 7% over e-books, Americans still seem to prefer physical copies to their digital counterparts.
Moral of the story: let’s get reading! We gotta get those numbers up.
Is an audiobook a book? What about the captioning of an audiobook, for hearing impaired or for a quick reference? An ongoing legal battle between Audible and several major book publishers reckons with the definition of what a book even is.
Image via Publishers Weekly
How Audible’s new Captions technology works is it scrolls a few words of AI-generated captioning to accompany an audiobook’s narration. Audible responded last week with a motion of their own, calling for the publishers’ suit to be dismissed. The legalese of the motion is a tad complex, but here’s the gist of the latest development.
Audible claims its technology constitutes fair use. The motion to dismiss explains this claim as follows:
After listeners purchase an audiobook—and Plaintiffs and their clients are compensated—Audible Captions can help listeners understand it by looking up unfamiliar words, accessing reference materials, or simply verifying and focusing on what they are hearing. This will facilitate access for listeners who have difficulty engaging with audiobooks (or literature in general).
Thus, Audible’s lawyers argue, Audible Captions is in line with the purpose of copyright law: “to expand public learning while protecting the incentives of authors to create for the public good.”
In our previous coverage of this ongoing story, we wrote that publishers were angry with Audible because they didn’t give the audiobook platform permission to publish text versions of their titles because e-books require a separate licensing agreement. Audible’s lawyers also argue that claims they have not breached their licensing contract because the user of Audible Captions never has full access to the complete text of the title they’re listening to:
Audible Captions is not a book of any kind, much less a replacement for paper books, e-books, or cross-format products.
The Captions in action / Image Via Publishing Perspectives
Though the encrypted text is cached on the reader’s device, Audible’s lawyers highlighted the fact that the reader never has direct access to it, so the captions cannot be used except in tandem with the audio recording. Since they’ve paid to license the audio version of the publisher’s titles, and since the text generated by Audible’s technology is not a book in any sense, Audible argues there should not be an issue.
Audible’s lawyers make a convincing argument, and it’s definitely interesting to see how crucial the concept of what a books is to this debate.
The rapidly changing digital publishing landscape has often presented a challenge to book publishers, as it seems the definition of what a book even is must change in the world of e-books and audiobooks.
Image Via Alchectron
Maria Pallante, chief executive of the Association of American Publishers, commented on the case:
What’s at stake is the viability of the publishing industry and the ability to rely on copyright law.
Audible has denied the new feature on their app violates any rights or agreements. In a a statement on August 23rd the company said that:
Captions was developed because we, like so many leading educators and parents, want to help kids who are not reading engage more through listening…This feature would allow such listeners to follow along with a few lines of machine-generated text as they listen to the audio performance. It is not and was never intended to be a book.
Since the captions would be machine-generated and not transcribed and edited, Audible admitted “up to 6%” of the text may have errors. In the lawsuit, publishers argued The Captions program would then harm their reputations as “as trusted and valued stewards of their authors’ works.”
The program was set to begin as early as September 10th, though this lawsuit will definitely complicate the release. Thankfully, Audible can still launch for works for which there is no permissions issue, such as public domain works and Audible or Amazon published titles.
Image Via Author’s Guild
Audible is facing a fierce legal battle against a cohort of publishing giants. The plaintiffs in the case include Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, Chronicle Books, and Scholastic Corp. It’s difficult to tell what the outcome of the case will be this early on. But it’s definitely going to be an important event for the future of publishing.