Some believe that ebooks, and accompanying ebook readers like the Kindle, are the future of print publishing. But for now, it appears that publishers are more likely to see them as a potential industry-killer.
Case in point: two large publishers, Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group, announced the other day that they'd delay releasing ebook versions of some new books for four months after the hardcovers hit the shelves. The reason? It's one way to fight back against the lowly prices seen in the ebook market, where most bestsellers now cost less than $10.
Dominic Jacquesson has been running offline and online publishing and marketing businesses for the last 12 years, and now runs digital publishing consultancy Ink on Dead Trees.
I've been talking to Dominic about the eReader market, the Kindle, and how he expects the technology to impact media and marketing over the next few years...
Proprietary formats and lock-in. When it comes to discussions of digital content, these are terms you really can't escape.
A lot of that has to do with the evolution of digital content, which
arguably hasn't gone much smoother than human evolution. On one side,
we've seen many content owners fight the 'digitization' of their
content, contributing to rampant piracy and consumer dissatisfaction.
On one side, we've seen hardware and software vendors take advantage of
the chaos to push proprietary formats that lock consumers into their
hardware and software offerings.
For those of us who questioned the desirability of reading a book on a screen, the Kindle's success has been a surprise.
But some Kindle owners who love George Orwell got a surprise of their own last week: their digital copies of 1984 and Animal Farm mysteriously vanished. Was this the handiwork of the Ministry of Truth?
Well that didn't take long. Premium cable network Showtime has just brought marketing to the Kindle. Starting today, Kindle users can download the pilot episode script for its new series "Nurse Jackie," which stars former "Sopranos" star Edie Falco.
Banners on Amazon and the Kindle store will promote the free download, according to an AdAge report. Once downloaded, the script is acompanied by calls-to-action including the broadcast schedule and encouragement to view the episode trailer on Sho.com.
When asked about netbooks earlier this year, Apple COO Tim Cook didn't beat around the bush: "They have cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, very small
screens, and just not a consumer experience, and not something that we would put
the Mac brand on, quite frankly".
That's fine, but the reality is that netbooks have made a huge mark on the market and have been given credit for driving much of the growth in the PC market. It's not hard to see why: for $300 or less in some cases, consumers can have an internet-capable 'mini-laptop'. In this economy, it's safe to say that many netbooks have been sold to consumers who otherwise would not have made a laptop purchase due to price considerations.
Amazon has launched a very simple self-publishing tool for the world’s blogger community, to expand the amount of blogs available on Kindle.
Kindle Publishing for Blogs allows bloggers to sign up and submit their feed/s. Amazon will turn your blog feed into a Kindle-ready format. Why wouldn't you?
Let's not let Time Warner off the hook too easily on its semi-paid content experiment. Some of what EVP John Squires announced to the press last week made a lot of sense, some of it was purposefully vague, and some of it needs translation.
Let's get to the translation first. Squires said TW will start to experiment with paid content because there "was too much ad inventory online." Translation: "Yes, we have an ad network in-house (Platform A) but it is not able to provide the CPMs we're looking for. We're having a hard time finding advertisers who will pay a reasonable amount of money beyond the home pages and story starts for most of our brands."
It would be easy to feel a bit sorry for Barnes & Noble. It is the biggest brick and mortar bookseller in North America, fighting the good fight for literacy against a tide of economic disaster. It has been laid waste by the internet and in particular, Amazon, one of the most innovative companies ever. Competing against Amazon in the 90s was kind of like playing Michael Jordan in his rookie season. You just didn't know how good he was until you lost to him. Then, after the B&N business model was hit hard, the printed page is being attacked by eBooks.
But this here is business, young man, and it's no time for the faint of heart. No longer is B&N employing the the "if you can't beat 'em don't join 'em" strategy. It has finally, and admirably, made a move that doesn't involve closing stores. Late last week it purchased Fictionwise, an eBook retailer that is rumored to be developing a Kindle-competitor, hand-held eBook reader.
Facing the worst financial situation in its history and being challenged to produce more revenue from its increasingly important digital ventures, The New York Times is revisiting a tried and true business model: charging people for content.
Despite the fact that NYT abandoned its TimesSelect subscription service in September 2007, New York Times Editor Bill Keller told the audience at a Q&A panel that "The lesson of that experiment, however, was not that readers won’t pay for content...Really good information, often extracted from reluctant sources, truth-tested, organized and explained — that stuff wants to be paid for."