Books don’t translate well online. Marketing books? Yes. Ordering books? Clearly. Communicating with authors? Incredible. But the books themselves? No. It may be a good thing, too.
Slate's insightful piece by Annie Lowrey, "Readers Without Borders," highlights one of the most cringe-worthy excuses for failure: the marketplace.
I frequently find Fast Company to be a frustrating read; it’s had more than a hard time finding a relevant voice post-dot-com. The magazine’s recent take on Amazon’s decision to release both Kindle 2 and an e-book reader app for iPhone and iTouch proves how old the publication’s vision of markets and technologies really is.
For Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, being the earth’s most customer-centric company means more than giving customers what they want. It requires inventing “on their behalf,” moving beyond dialog to predict future needs and develop the necessary skills to meet them. Such action begot Kindle, and through new collaboration with IBM, is moving cloud computing forward.
The publishing industry has a problem. The old guard haven't innovated. And neither their business models nor their products embrace the digital books revolution.
With the recent software available to allow easy creation of interactive books and with the race to bring these products to market, there seems to be a more and more dilution of quality and a loss for the meaning of interactivity. When publishers create new eBook titles or convert a traditional printed book to a digital interactive eBook, they often miss the added value this new medium can provide.
The innovation game is changing. Delivering great products is no longer sufficient for success. And as the Fire's limited memory, ho-hum processor, and and lack of camera demonstrate, great products may not even be necessary. Rather, what matters is delivering great solutions.
why is it that consumers are still paying through the nose for e-book titles that ought to cost a fraction of the price charged for the used hardcover version?
“Active fiction” publisher Coliloquy launched this week with four young adult ebooks that create a rich, interactive experience for the reader. This development in customizable fiction takes advantage of the digital format to push expectations of “choose-your-own-adventure” stories to new levels. The four new titles from Coliloquy are Heidi R. Kling’s Witch’s Brew (The Spellspinners of Melas County), Kira Snyder’s Dead Letter Office (Parish Mail), Liz Maverick’s Arcania, Trial by Fire #1 (Arcania), and Tawna Fenske’s Getting Dumped. These series, available exclusively in the Amazon Kindle store, reinvent the way authors and their readers interact with books. Coliloquy’s new publishing format enables multiple storylines, serial and episodic story-telling, personalized content, and in-book engagement mechanics, which create a more immersive experience.
Barnes & Noble lowered guidance and its stock is getting crushed. It's thinking about spinning off its Nook business--both hardware and digital ecosystem. That won't save it.
The CEO of Amazon.com, in regulation blue oxford shirt and jeans, is sitting in a conference room at his company’s spiffy new headquarters just north of downtown Seattle. It is mid-September, exactly one week before he will introduce a new line of Kindles to the world. He has already shown me two of them—one with a touchscreen, the other costing just $79—but that’s not what’s truly exciting him. It is a third gadget, the long-awaited Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire, that represents his company’s most ambitious leap into the hearts, minds, and wallets of millions of consumers.
Jeff Bezos announced a new family of Kindle’s today, including the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch. But he also had one more thing. The Kindle Fire tablet is coming with an entirely new mobile browser called Amazon Silk. The browser is “cloud-accelerated” in that it splits tasks between the cloud and the device.
Ebooks aren’t a better value, ebooks aren’t more attractive nor are they a threat to the print version of any immersive reading book. This isn’t the same as paperback versions vs hardcover – where the platform and convenience are the same – the timing and pricing are the key ingredients. Books that aren’t in ebook form are do not exist to ebook reading consumers. There is no cannibalization if in the mind of the buyer if there is no version available to them.
Whoever said technology was dehumanizing was wrong. On screens everywhere — cellphones, e-readers, A.T.M.’s — as Diana Ross sang, we just want to reach out and touch. Scientists and academics who study how we interact with technology say people often try to import those behaviors into their lives, as anyone who has ever wished they could lower the volume on a loud conversation or Google their brain for an answer knows well. But they say touching screens has seeped into people’s day-to-day existence more quickly and completely than other technological behaviors because it is so natural, intimate and intuitive.
In the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” Tom Hanks played the aggressive big-box retailer Joe Fox driving the little bookshop owner played by Meg Ryan out of business. Twelve years later, it may be Joe Fox’s turn to worry. Readers have gone from skipping small bookstores to wondering if they need bookstores at all. More people are ordering books online or plucking them from the best-seller bin at Wal-Mart. But the threat that has the industry and some readers the most rattled is the growth of e-books.
Last November, Amazon.com, the online retailer, flew a dozen of the top US literary agents to a day-long meeting at the company’s Seattle headquarters to try to tone down its image as the 800-pound gorilla of bookselling. The meeting, called “Agents Summit”, focused on discussing the timing of e-book releases and on compensation structure. Executives from Amazon, which makes the popular Kindle e-reader, did not discuss striking deals directly with authors, which they are doing on a limited basis, or about becoming a publisher itself, said one agent familiar with the proceedings: “They had no interest in being a publisher.” But, a month later, “that all changed,” the person said.
Amazon is aiming to take digital reading into the mainstream as it rolls out a new generation of its Kindle e-reader ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season. A sleeker and cheaper Kindle comes as Amazon works to maintain its tenuous lead in the fast-growing market for e-books and e-readers. The debut of the refreshed Kindle coincides with the launch of Amazon’s local UK store at the end of August. The UK store will offer 400,000 titles, or what the company claims is the widest selection of books in the UK market. The new base model Kindle is smaller, lighter and faster than its predecessor, with more storage and battery life.
Amazon.com Inc. said it reached a milestone, selling more e-books than hardbacks over the past three months. But publishers said it is still too early to gauge for the entire industry whether the growth of e-books is cannibalizing sales of paperback books, a huge and crucial market.
f the new Apple iPad is for multitaskers, then Amazon.com's Kindle is for die-hard readers, and that's OK with Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. Speaking at Amazon's annual shareholder meeting Tuesday in downtown Seattle, Bezos acknowledged nine out of 10 households don't necessarily do a lot of serious reading. Still, he said the Kindle can compete with the iPad by focusing on die-hard readers, just as heavy-duty cameras remain relevant despite the spread of camera phones.
Amazon just announced the next major update to its Kindle software, version 2.5. It's about to start rolling out to some users, to see a full rollout in May (pretty sure it's already May, Amazon--check your farmers' market. They'll be selling asparagus. May.). This is the second major firmware update to an ebook reader post-iPad--Barnes & Noble released theirs a few weeks ago. The biggest update has to be Facebook and Twitter integration. We're not really sure exactly how it'll be implemented, but Amazon says you'll be able to share book passages with friends via Facebook and Twitter. Will Amazon upload snippets to the cloud and offer a link? Or will it only be viewable for other Kindle users? Who knows. But it's kind of a cool idea--I was just reading Reality Matters this week, and wanted to share the section on The Real Housewives of New York City with a friend who happens to live across the country. Hopefully this update will provide a way to make that vital exchange of ideas possible.
In a dense, 87-page report, Morgan Stanley analysts have charted the most important online trends and predicted the future of the Internet. In addition to forecasting more online shopping and showing the geographical distribution of Internet users, the study also shows a dramatic shift toward mobile web use. Including devices such as the Kindle, the iPhone and other smartphones, web-enabled tablets, GPS systems, video games and wireless home appliances, the growth of the mobile web has been exponential — and we’re still just at the beginning of this cycle. Morgan Stanley’s analysts believe that, based on the current rate of change and adoption, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015.
Last week a temporary cease-fire went into effect amidst a brewing battle between Amazon.com and Macmillan, a unit of Germany's Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GMBH and one of the largest publishers in the US. The battle was over the price of ebooks on Amazon's site. Macmillan insisted upon -- and eventually received -- a 30-50% increase over the $9.99 loss leader price for new releases that helped build Amazon's dominant position in the ebook market. But only after an attempt by Amazon to wield its distribution power to force Macmillan to back down. (You can read the details at this link).
After a weekend of brinksmanship, Amazon.com on Sunday surrendered to a publisher and agreed to raise prices on some electronic books. Amazon shocked the publishing world late last week by removing direct access to the Kindle editions as well as printed books from Macmillan, one of the country’s six largest publishers, which had said it planned to begin setting higher consumer prices for e-books. Until now, Amazon has set e-book prices itself, with $9.99 as the default for new releases and best sellers.
The digital publishing industry and consumer advocates breathed a sigh of relief when Apple chief executive Steve Jobs revealed that the iPad would use the open EPUB format for the electronic books it sold through the iBooks store. Unlike Amazon, which has quickly grown to be the world’s largest seller of e-books, it appeared Apple was steering away from introducing its own file format that would only work on Apple products. Instead, by choosing EPUB, a more common format, it looked like Apple was breaking with its past walled-garden approach. Those hopes were quickly dashed. According to executives in the digital reading industry, Apple is planning to add its own digital rights management software. Apple could not be reached for comment.
Advocates wary of the Apple device say Amazon.com's e-reader has its new rival beat on battery life, weight, cost and reading experience.
After throwing off the mediocre display of 3-D technologies and e-books at CES, the industry is eagerly awaiting the main event on Wednesday. There truly is no spectacle that compares to the launch of a new Apple product. The formula is well-established. Everyone is hungry for the next iPhone moment and Apple's bid to squash the Kindle and reinvent the publishing business with the iPad or the iSlate tablet computer. But that is a mere sideshow. The real road kill this time will not be the Kindle. It will be handheld video gaming devices like Sony's PSP and the Nintendo DS, as Apple establishes a lock on the economics of casual gaming with its newest device.
Though everybody believes next week Apple will be revealing an exciting tablet PC, complete with reputed e-reader powers, the event has clearly got Amazon running scared: It's just improved its deal for Kindle publishers, significantly. In a press release to announce the news, Amazon comes directly and efficiently to the point (a slightly unusual step for press releases!) with the words "Amazon.com [announces] a new program that will enable authors and publishers who use the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP) to earn a larger share of revenue from each Kindle book they sell." The company is preserving some of its existing DTP royalty share options, but is adding in a new 70% option--giving 70% of list price (net of delivery costs) to authors or publishers.
Apple on Monday ratcheted up the public relations buzz surrounding the launch of a new product, widely expected to be a tablet-sized computer, this month. It sent out a press invitation via email, inviting journalists to “come see our latest creation”. Whilst far from explicit, as is Apple’s wont, the invitation was the strongest confirmation yet of what has been the company’s most anticipated new product since the launch of the iPhone three years ago.
Amazon’s Kindle software isn’t going to be limited to the e-reading device: following Amazon’s announcement at the Windows 7 launch that it has released a version of the Kindle Reader software for PCs (”Kindle for PC“), the company has also revealed that it’s building a Mac version of the software. Neither version requires that you own a Kindle in order to download books.
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, saw its net sales surge 28 per cent to $5.45bn in its third quarter, while its net profit rose 68 per cent to $199m, or 45 cents per share, sending its shares up more than 10 per cent in after-hours trading. The retailer said that its Kindle ebook reader, launched two years ago, had become its “number one best selling item both in unit sales and dollars” across all its merchandise categories.
Now at long last, Barnes & Noble’s eReader the Nook is official, and it’s worth bringing you an update on all the details. On board will be 2 GB of storage — enough to hold about 1,500 eBooks — with an SD slot for expanded storage. With wireless turned off, the battery will last a reported 10 days on a single charge — pretty good news in the battery life department.
So the news is out: Barnes & Noble has a new eBook reader that is set to rival Kindle. Its name? Athena. As in the goddess of wisdom and war. Gizmodo leaked the photos earlier this week but did not reveal the name, claiming it was "freaking terrible." Despite Gizmodo's opinion of the name, others feel Athena will be a success. For instance, the USA Today blog wonders if this is the "Kindle Killer." And PC World says this might mark the moment when eReaders actually become a mass market product. Even Kindle gives it due respect. But is the name really as bad as Gizmodo says?
We've known for months that bookseller and publisher B&N had an e-reader on the works, and last week's color e-ink rumor really stirred things up--it would be a feature beating all other available or due-soon e-readers, including Amazon's Kindle. That excitement was abruptly quashed by B&N itself, which flatly denied a color e-reader was coming. But now that Gizmodo's secured some photos, renderings and details via a "source from within" the company, it seems that B&N was telling a half-truth. The device (which may, or may not, be named the eBook) has not one screen, but two: A standard daylight-viewable e-ink unit, and a neat full-width, multitouch, full-color LCD one.
Barnes & Noble Inc. plans to announce its own brand of digital-book reader that it could start selling as soon as next month, setting the stage for a holiday showdown with Amazon.com Inc. and Sony Corp. in the burgeoning market for electronic reading devices. The Barnes & Noble device is expected to feature a 6-inch screen from E-Ink Corp., along with touch input and a virtual keyboard, according to people briefed on the matter. The device also is expected to use a wireless connection to download books from the online e-book store the retailer unveiled in July, say these people. It is unclear how much the Barnes & Noble device will cost.
You can buy “The Lost Symbol,” by Dan Brown, as an e-book for $9.99 at Amazon.com. Or you can don a pirate’s cap and snatch a free copy from another online user at RapidShare, Megaupload, Hotfile and other file-storage sites. Until now, few readers have preferred e-books to printed or audible versions, so the public availability of free-for-the-taking copies did not much matter. But e-books won’t stay on the periphery of book publishing much longer.
The printed word has always had an Achilles heel: factual mistakes. Can the electronic reader help?
Study everything the iPod's rivals did. Then do the exact opposite.
Up until a year ago, innovation was the toast of the business world. Companies around the world were investing heavily in design, launching new products, and even building virtual retail stores in Second Life. Then the financial crisis erupted, destroying shareholder value, corporate budgets, and family income alike. In the wake of that disaster, it's entirely legitimate to wonder: is innovation relevant anymore?
Driven by the pressure to innovate, companies facing major technological change have wholeheartedly embraced management gurus’ advice on how to develop creative, breakthrough products. As a result, corporate America is flush with incubators, skunk works and innovation silos. But has the pendulum swung too far? New technologies are obviously important, but even in today’s fast-paced environment, they can take a long time to substitute for the old. In the meantime, incremental innovation based on old technologies can help a company survive.
Books are among the last bastions of ad-free content. But they won't be so forever if Amazon has its way. The online retail giant has been nurturing a growing e-reader market with its Kindle device; analysts estimate more than a million have been sold since its 2007 debut. And the idea of serving ads in e-books has been a subject of chatter for a while. But Amazon appears to have taken the next concrete step in that direction. Recent reports indicate the online retail giant has filed patent applications to stuff digital books with contextual advertising.
Oh, for heaven's sake. Everyone from CNET to The New York Times is up in arms over Amazon's recent decision to remotely delete copies of two George Orwell novels it sold to Kindle owners on behalf of an independent publisher. But not even the usually sensible David Pogue of the Times appears to have done any actual research on the subject. Am I the only blogger in the world who cares about getting the facts right instead of just going for the quick and easy chance to smear Amazon? Or just the only one who can see the obvious?
Before everyone gets in a huff, let’s consider Amazon’s intentions with these patent applications. Surely they would never allow advertisements to be placed in books which you have purchased legitimately at full price, so let’s put that out of our heads. But what if you could take a few bucks off the cover price at the cost of a few contextual ads relating (if possible) to the book’s content?
To explain the present and divine the future, Amazon's founder and prognosticator-in-chief, Jeff Bezos, often turns to the past. Fond of historical analogies, Bezos has compared the dotcom boom and bust to the 1849 gold rush, the advent of electricity to today's broadband-infused Web, the printed book to a horse, and the Kindle reader to a car. Perhaps his trippiest simile likens the impact of the Internet on business to the Cambrian period approximately 550 million years ago, after the first multicellular creatures crawled out of the primordial ooze. That's when we experienced an evolutionary big bang, which engendered both the greatest rate of speciation the world has ever seen and its greatest rate of extinction. "What's very dangerous," Bezos summed up, "is not to evolve."
I was in my local Barnes and Noble on Sunday and I bought two books. Both of them from Amazon, online, using my iPhone while standing in the isles. Of course I felt bad. I learned about these two books thanks to Barnes and Noble. They ought to have made the sale.
An environmental theme ran through Amazon.com Inc.'s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday – though it wasn't intentional, according to the CEO.
As books make the leap from cellulose and ink to electronic pages, some editors worry that too much is being lost in translation. Typography, layout, illustrations and carefully thought-out covers are all being reduced to a uniform, black-on-gray template that looks the same whether you’re reading Pride and Prejudice, Twilight or the Federalist Papers.
I was an early believer in Kindle, but I thought it would evolve more quickly than this. Kindle DX is a step forward—more than the Kindle 2—but there's still work to be done.
Six universities are partnering with Amazon and major publishers to supply students with Kindles this fall. Will campus crack open the e-book market?
New reports have several companies on the verge of releasing large screen electronic readers designed specifically for reading newspaper content. The first such product may be unveiled as soon as this week — a large screen version of Amazon’s Kindle, which we first reported on last year. This is setting up a lot like the newspaper industry’s Hail Mary. And it’s a pass they won’t catch.
The publishing world is all caught up in weighty questions about the Kindle and other such devices: Will they help or hurt book sales and authors’ advances? Cannibalize the industry? Galvanize it? Please, they’re overlooking the really important concern: How will the Kindle affect literary snobbism?
This is the first full episode 100% dedicated to content itself. Last week was a context setter. In this episode, I test drive the Kindle 2 from a marketing/branding perspective.
When Samsung joins the e-book fray, where Amazon, Sony and Fujtisu are already playing, it confirms one thing: the e-reader is becoming the next "must-have" lifestyle gadget. The Papyrus, a touchscreen e-reader that Samsung introduced at CES earlier this year, is on its way to European and Korean markets, and a U.S. launch may be next.
Sony Electronics Inc. is pairing with Google Inc. to battle Amazon.com Inc. in the growing digital books market. In a strike against Amazon's Kindle electronic book reader, Sony and Google plan to launch a partnership Thursday that will give users of the Sony Reader device access to more than half-a-million public domain books from Google's ambitious book digitization project. The books will be offered to Sony Reader users free via the online Sony eBook store. The companies wouldn't reveal financial terms of the deal.
Newspaper and magazine execs have long regretted making their crown jewels -- quality content -- available for free. No one has really been able to make a go of digital subscriptions. As the tangible media era ends, the media formerly known as print can't count on advertising alone to survive. They need to find healthy subscription revenues. Thankfully, an unusual white knight has emerged: the Amazon Kindle.
Discovery Communications has filed a suit against Amazon, alleging that the retailer's Kindle e-book reader infringes upon its own electronic book patent.
That was quick: A week after the Amazon Kindle 2 started shipping, Amazon's Kindle iPhone app is now available for free download. What is it? A very basic e-book reader app that syncs up to your Amazon account to access the Kindle books you've purchased. You can't buy books directly from the app, but you can via a computer or the iPhone's Safari browser (or a Kindle). Good enough.
Shaking up the nascent market for electronic books for the second time in two months, Amazon.com will begin selling e-books for reading on Apple’s popular iPhone and iPod Touch. Starting Wednesday, owners of these Apple devices can download a free application, Kindle for iPhone and iPod Touch, from Apple’s App Store. The software will give them full access to the 240,000 e-books for sale on Amazon.com, which include a majority of best sellers.
It's hard not to love Amazon's new e-book reader. For starters, it's gorgeous. Unlike its bulky predecessor, the redesigned $359 Kindle, which came out this week, is light, thin, and disappears in your hands. In my few days using it, I was won over: The Kindle is the future of publishing.
Okay, so Amazon's Kindle is cool and it's gaining in traction and people who have one buy a lot of books. 10% of Amazon's book sales are now on the Kindle. But it could be so much better.
In the high-tech industry, you live for the day when your product name becomes a verb. “I Googled him.” “She’s been Photo- shopped.” Amazon, however, is hoping that its product name, a verb, becomes a noun. “Have you bought the new Kindle?”
More electronic books are coming to mobile phones. In a move that could bolster the growing popularity of e-books, Google said Thursday that the 1.5 million public domain books it had scanned and made available free on PCs were now accessible on mobile devices like the iPhone and the T-Mobile G1. Also Thursday, Amazon said that it was working on making the titles for its popular e-book reader, the Kindle, available on a variety of mobile phones.
The new Kindles are coming! Sure, Amazon.com hasn't officially announced the rollout of the next generation of its e-book reader, but everyone else seems to be doing exactly that.
My friend David Carr poses a worthy challenge in his New York Times column this morning: How can newspapers—now hemorrhaging advertisers and circulation—steal a little of that Apple magic and invent an iTunes for news that will help restore their economic standing?
Could book lovers finally be willing to switch from paper to pixels? For a decade, consumers mostly ignored electronic book devices, which were often hard to use and offered few popular items to read. But this year, in part because of the popularity of Amazon.com’s wireless Kindle device, the e-book has started to take hold.
ScrollMotion, a New York mobile app developer, has concluded deals with a number of major publishing houses, and is in talks with several others, to produce newly released and best-selling e-books as applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. Having these big names is a big step forward for iTunes itself in becoming an e-book shop and the iPhone in becoming a legitimate e-book reader and competitor to products like the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader.