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The recent Hachette and Amazon standoff got me thinking again about the e-reader.
Of all the transformations of physical media to digital, I can’t think of one that has rumbled on and divided audiences like the paperback to ebook.
Arguably not CD to MP3, maybe because people could still burn CDs from iTunes (the move to subscription music was more gradual) whereas people can’t print their ebooks on a whim.
Arguably calls to SMS to messaging apps, DVDs to streaming, physical games to computer games, these were easy transitions.
Thanks to Amazon's dominance, it's easy to forget that traditional bookseller Barnes & Noble (B&N) has managed to build a decent digital portfolio of its own.
In the past, that has sparked speculation that B&N would eventually spin off its NOOK division, freeing its digital business from the baggage of its brick-and-mortar business.
In a move widely anticipated, the United States Justice Department today filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and some of the largest book publishers over allegations that they colluded to raise ebook prices.
The publishers named in the lawsuit are Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin and Macmillan.
According to new research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 21% of American adults have read an e-book in the past year. In mid-December, that number stood at 17%.
Chalk that increase up to the rise of affordable e-readers and tablets, like the Kindle Fire and NOOK Tablet, which many Americans received as gifts this past holiday season.
Compared to the digital doldrums some traditional media companies, such as record labels, have found (and put) themselves in the past years, times look relatively good for book publishers.
At least that's the way it appears if you look at the January 2012 figures published by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which includes data from over 1,000 book publishers.
With the iPad, Apple is the dominant tablet manufacturer and with the Kindle Fire, Amazon has become the company to watch in the tablet space.
But don't write bookseller Barnes & Noble (B&N) off. Its NOOK business, which started with E Ink e-readers, now has two tablets in its stable, the NOOK Color and the NOOK Tablet.
In the battle for the future of the tablet market, Amazon - with the Kindle Fire, may be a top contender for the lead row. But another retailer, Barnes & Noble (B&N), isn't ceding anything to its etail rival.
Yesterday, it announced that customers who pony up $120 for a one-year subscription to the digital version of PEOPLE Magazine will receive a $50 discount on the NOOK Tablet, bringing its price down to that of the Kindle Fire ($199). Customers who purchase a $240 annual subscription to the New York Times (NYT) can have a NOOK Simple Touch for free, or a NOOK Color tablet for $99.
With the Kindle Fire, Amazon is getting into the tablet space in a big way and unlike other tablet manufacturers, which have found it difficult to compete head-on with the iPad, Amazon has developed a device that may very well allow it to compete with it in a more indirect way.
Apple isn't worried, but a new survey suggests that the Kindle Fire is having a direct impact on the iPad.
Not too long ago, one could track the e-reader and tablet markets separately and have a legitimate reason to do so. It was clear that the Kindle, for instance, was not the iPad, and the iPad was not the Kindle.
But as technology evolves and hardware prices continue to fall, the differences between e-readers and tablets is shrinking and it appears that both markets are, for all intents and purposes, converging rapidly.
That makes for an interesting battle between Apple and, well, everyone else.
Apple may have disappointed Wall Street with its fourth quarter earnings, but make no mistake about it: most companies would kill for a quarter like it.
The company issued a strong guidance for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012, and Apple's CEO Tim Cook is confident.
Case in point: when it comes to the nascent tablet market, Cook isn't at all worried about possible competition from new devices like Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Amazon's Kindle e-reader may be one of the most popular e-readers, but the company's long-term position in the market is far from certain.
On one flank, the Kindle competes with the most popular tablet device, the iPad, and on the other, competitors like Barnes & Noble have built more sophisticated devices like the NOOK Color.
So Amazon is rumored to be responding later this week with a new version of the Kindle that's more like the iPad and NOOK Color.
Dubbed the Kindle Fire, it will reportedly feature a 7" backlit display, books (of course), plenty of magazine subscriptions, and apps to boot.
Whether you're male or female, there's an almost equal chance that you own a smartphone. But what about tablets and e-readers? Do men and women share different preferences when it comes to the latest and greatest mobile devices?
According to Nielsen's latest survey of mobile device owners, the answer is increasingly 'yes.' In Q2 2011, it found that 61% of e-readers were owned by women, up from 46% in the third quarter of 2010. Tablets? Almost the opposite: 57% of them are owned by men.