D Streitfeld reported in yesterday’s NYT that Amazon, in an effort to lower the retail price of e-books, removed over 4,000 e-titles distributed by the Independent Publishing Group. The conflict point is Amazon’s focus on revenues from the hardware Kindle purchases, against the book industry’s goal of profit from intellectual content-in hard cover, paperback and e-formats-sales.
The IPG e-products do remain available for other e-readers, and Amazon did not withdraw IPG print copies, as it briefly did two years ago in a dispute with Macmillan.
M Meece writes in today’s NYT Personal Tech column of the burgeoning number of e-reader accessories now available. (“Dressing Up an E-Reader for Style and Comfort” pB9). Amazon.com itself lists more than 2,00 products for just the Kindle [!?!]. The overall market range from inexpensive add on lights for E Ink technology based units such as Kobo Touch and Sony Reader through screen protectors, styli, earbuds and speakers, to a variety of reader stands, which include a very versatile $15 Book Gem model.
The NYT reports today that ProPublica is partnering with Open Road Integrated Media to publish in e-book format extended versions of reportage they have commissioned. These offerings, priced at under $5.00 @, will have the previously published pieces augmented by “…videos, maps, documents, photographs and interviews with journalists”. ProPublica is entering this novel marketwhich so far includes an upcoming Random House-Politico collaboration on the 2012 presidential campaign.
Author and business professor R Stross writes in today’s NYT (“Publishers ve Libraries: an E-Book Tug of War” p B3) that publishers have not yet settled into an industry-wide model re e-book sales to public libraries. Realistically concerned about the e-loan effect on royalties and profits, Hachette, and Simon and Schuster, won’t sell any e-titles to libraries. Others withold their new releases from this commerce, and HarperCollins allows a limited license of 26 loans per purchased e-copy. However, Mr Stross notes that there are “…more than 1,ooo small publishers…[who] happily sell e-books to libraries…”, assuring an ample supply of titles to e-patrons.
(Parenthetically, the article notes that Amazon sold over 3 MILLION Kindles in the month of December alone!)
D Streitfeld, in a f/u to his previous article on the faults of the Kindle Fire, ran the cricisms by computer how-to author Peter Meyers. His comments: The Fire suits its target audience of non iPad users/nontechies admirably well, albeit it needs fixing and further refinement. It would not, per Mr Meyers, have passed Apple [read: Steve Jobs'] muster to make it to the market in its current form. He also makes a nice nod to the B and N Nook, but would take a pass on passing over the Fire for it, because of Amazon’s “…broader and better integrated content…”. [The Kindle Fire and a Debate on Tablets, NYT 19.12.11 pB8].
D Streitfeld reports in today’s NYT that 1st responders to the Kindle Fire are not uniformly raving about it. Among other issues, they complain that the touch screen is difficult to manuever, and that web loading is too slow. An “over-the-air” update to existing units is due out soon, and a new, improved Fire may be available early next year. As previously noted, Amazon’s retail strategy acccepts a net loss per device; e.g. a basic Kindle now selling for $79 costs $84 just to produce. The company anticipates turning profits on media downloads to the machines, and to the tie-in/lock-in to Amazon’s wide range of merchandise.
J Kanter reports in today’s NYT that the European Commision is “investigating possible collusion between Apple and five large publishing houses…” re the pricing of e-books. This follows an American class action suit filed in August. It alleges that (with Apple) some publishers raised the cost of their e-books to stifle consumer interest in Kindles, and the lower price of e-books that open competition might bring about with Amazon’s discount rates.
D Pogue in today’s NYT waxes enthusiastically on the new members of the Kindle family. Perforce, the Fire gets pride of place, overshadowing its siblings (and Amazon’s competitors). It won’t replace the iPad for those who want all the ease and functionality of a regular tablet computer, plus the Apple apps, but at the loss leader price of $200–it’s a BARGAIN! The newest ‘regular’ Kindle is technologically advanced, more handsome-it can fit in a non fatigue pants pocket- and costs a mere $80 (with adverts). The ¿ unmissing link? Kindle Touch sports touch screen control, and can be purchased with 3G for $50 over its base of $100.
His end quote highlights the extraordinary rapidity of e-reader evolution: “If you don’t like the current crop of e-readers, just wait a minute.”
A Ihnatho wrote a magisterial review and comparison of the iPad & the Kindle Fire in today’s Sun Times (Chicago/suburban). Too detailed to summarize here, it can be found at http://newssun.suntimes.com/business/8816567-420/review-kindle-fire-is-no-ipad-killer-but-it-is-a-killer-device.html. Happy reading!
As anticipated, Amazon heated up the tablet world, as well as the e-book world on Wednesday. Jeff Bezos, its CEO and founder, introduced several new products .Pride of place goes to the Kindle Fire, a direct challenge to Apple’s blockbuster iPad. The Kindle Fire is ca 2/3 the size and weight and only 2/5 the price ($199 vs $499) of the iPad, the king of the tablets. An actual multipurpose computer, it offers access to cinema, music, TV videos over Wi-Fi, as well as Amazon-selected Android apps. As an e-reader, it is a super Kindle, with color and touch screen technology, as well as a new “virtual newstand” of magazine & newspapers. Priced inexpensibly at a loss leader level, the Fire will profit Amazon by Amazon lock-in, increased Amazon Prime subscriptions, and a treasureload of retail consumer data with which to tailor sales and marketing.
[FYI, comparative specs of the Fire vs the iPad are shown in a table in the NYT article "Amazon's Tablet Leads to its Store" p B1, 29.09.11].
In addition to the Fire tablet/e-reader, Kindle broke the $100 price barrier with a $79 B and W model, and also rolled out two new touch screen products. íHappy shopping this holiday season!