D Streitfeld reports in today’s NYT that Amazon will launch in time for holiday gift sales its own tablet computer, in direct competition with the Apple iPad. The new, not named (maybe this Wednesday at a news conference it will be) device will be a Kindle on steroids-avec color and touch operation; with e-mail, browsing, and gaming functions, priced at ca $250, roughly 1/2 the i-cost. The article notes opposing business strategies between the two industry Goliaths: While Amazon sells its machines rather cheaply, to get lock-in sales of its downloads and other merchandise, Apple’s primary profit rests with sales of its devices themselves, moreso than the accompanyiing apps.
Also, for those who aren’t first responders and can wait, it is projected that Kindletablet 2, with a larger screen, will debut some time in 2012.
The BIG e-news this week is that, as long awaited, Amazon will now allow its Kindle devices to be compatible with public library loans. J Bosman reported in the 22.09.11 NYT that Kindle joins Sony, Nook, smartphones, et al in having appropriate software for this file sharing. It is anticipated that free library e-useage will increase markedly with this, adding another threat to the publishing industry’s business model. They do have some checks and safeguards in place, however: 1) Digital collections have finite licenses–ebooks can only be checked out at one time for as many copies as the library has purchased; 2) Just as there is a shelf life for codices, harper Collins limits its ebooks sold to 26 checkouts/copy; 3) Some publishers–Macmillan and Simon and Schuster–will not as yet sell e-books to libraries whatsoever.
[Personal Note: I'm signed up for a hands-on in-house tutorial at my local library, and will report on how it went and what I learned,--Bill]
W Gimes reported in yesterday’s NYT of the death of Michael Hart. He was the founder of Project Gutenberg, the origin of the the e-book revolution, and the originator of the “fifth information age”. While a student at the U of I, he was given access to Cham-bana’s mainframe [NB: ¿remember Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey?]. He used it to type in the Declaration of Independence, and posted a notice on the Arpanet (the precursor to the Internet as we know it) that it could be freely downloaded. This began his life’s work and passion, the Gutenberg Project, to “…encourage the creation and distribution of e-books…to help break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy.”
May his memoty be for a blessing.
The latest attempt at enhanced e-books is reported on in today’s NYT (Bells and Whistles for a Few E-Books: J Bosman). Booktrack, a start-up, in the next several weeks will release seven titles for iPad and iPhone which will have ancillary Big Screen movie scoreish soundtracks to complement the e-reading experience. Mostly about 9 hrs/book of background music, there will be some interspersed Foley-like effects at appropriate junctures. They will be a bit pricier than regular e-books, and first out will include classics such as Jane Eyre, as well as works by contemporary authors Salman Rushdie and Jay Mc Inerey.
[¿Is this the next Great Leap Forward, or just an interesting dead-end headed trial ballon? Maybe it will be enticing/ensnaring and get children to read more. To be observed and experienced, now that I have my son's redundant iPad1---Bill]
The NYT reports today that Amazon, concerned with a deluge of re-formatted e-books that are being sold under the aegis of “private label rights” (PLR) has begun to weed these out of the Kindle store. The concept behind these ‘books’ is that a writer can sell his work to someone who can then substitute his own name & title , usually without any revisions to the work, and then list it for sale on Amazon. This evidently threatens to flood the Kindle market with a confusing plethora of me-too ‘books’, which Amazon deems unacceptable.
PS: Persoanl note: I received my son’s hand me down iPad this weekend, & am impressed by it as an e-reader. The bigger screen affords for a 2 page display, & I don’t get thumb fatigue clicking a sidebar to advance. Bravo! (But I’ll continue using mmy lighter, more portable Kindle 2 most of the time–I think.). Bill
NYT’s Personal Tech maven N Bilton reports today on his experience reading a novel on multiple electronic platforms. Using dedicated e-readers, smartphones, a tablet, a PC, and the two iPad avatars, as well as a paperback copy of The Alienist, he discusses the high and low points of his investigation.
His personal final take [the article is too rich in points to adequately list them here-go to the Business section of 11 Aug 2011 NYT for the pariculars--Bill]: the Kindle for weight, price, and visual readability; the iPad2 for “an immersive reading experience”, predicated primarily on its Web browsing capability. Happy reading!
J Bosman writes in today’s NYT that publishers of trade paperbacks are accelerating the release dates of many books. Formerly, they would usually wait a year after hardcover release, capitalizing on first run pricier sales and hoping to get a second wave of robust action with the soft cover format. Now, as e-books are generally released simultaneously with the hard covers, at a price competitive with paperbacks, they note that many will not wait several months to make their purchases of new reads. Therefore, the lag time between type of run, has been dramtically shortened.
[With the recent demise of Borders, of blessed memory, one would hope that this strategem will strengthen the survivability of physical, browsible brickandmortar bookstores!]
J Bosman reports in today’s NYT that Algonquin, a division of Workman Publishing, is experimenting this month with a throw-in plan aimed at slowing the decline of the traditional, physical bookstore. In conjunction with some Barnes and Noble sites, it is offering a list of 12 titles of trade paperbacks at retail, with the option then of buying an e-book from a separate 12 piece roster for only $3.00. This is an attempt to perpetuate actual book browsing=>buying, in the face of rapidly growing e-book sales and consequent falling codex purchases. Algonquin plans to repeat this in October, bringing some independent bookstores into the operation [Good luck!].
JK Rowling, author of the extrordinarily popular Harry Potter series, announced yestreday that her books will be available for all major e-reader platforms this October. However, rather than being sold through traditional retailers, she will provide them only through her own interactive website, “Pottermore.com”.
While her print publishers, Scholastic and Bloomsbury, will profit with her, the bookstores and chains who have promoted her heretofore, will not.
Most publishing houses insist on both print rights and digital rights to new works, which was not the deal with Ms. Rowling: ¿Does this signal another major evolutionary jump in Books as we know them?
(ref “Harry Potter to be sold as E-Books via Website” J Bosman NYT 24.06.11)
D Pogue pens in today’s NYT (“Moving Forward in E-Readers”) that the technology has leapt forward this week with B&N’s new “All-New Nook” and the Kobo “Touch” additions to the e-reader marketplace. Both use EInk, as does the newest Kindle, but they best Kindle physically by eliminating the space and weight of the keybard by having touchscreen typing. In fact, the Kobo engineers have gotten their weight down to a mere seven ounces. As counter, Mr. Pogue anticipates a new Kindle soon, possibly with both color and touchscreen.
He adds a caveat, however: Buy an E-reader and the company’s store owns you–Nook purchases can’t be read on a Sony, Kobo books don’t transfer to Kindle, etc., etc. So, it may pay to shop around for the book prices before committing to one corporation or another. I noticed this when I went to my local B&N reader petting zoo a few days ago to check out the new Nook. It was slick, as advertised—but…the download price for a medical text I bought on Kindle for $59.96 was Nook-priced at $74.95, a rather hefty 20% more. Obviously this was just one case, but I now wonder how much variation there is in ebook pricing among the providers. ¿Anyone researched this and knows?