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Posts Tagged ‘apple’

In this round of e-books battle, consumers lose

April 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Kindle users can kiss many of those $9.99 e-book titles goodbye. The impending release of Apple’s iPad has forced Amazon.com to renegotiate terms with publishers, and now the WSJ reports that under Amazon’s new deal with Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, most new bestsellers will be in line with iPad e-book pricing: $12.99 to $14.99. And it’s not over yet, because Amazon has yet to come to terms with other book publishers.

Perhaps American consumers are spoiled. It’s the Wal-Martization of our nation; we expect to be able to buy things at rock-bottom prices. Now, I know authors and agents and marketing and publishing executives have to be paid. But what I’d really like to see is a detailed comparison of the cost of publishing a printed book vs. the cost of distributing an e-book. In other words, are these new prices for e-books fair to consumers? I can see an argument for publishers. They still have to deal with the costs of distributing books in print as well as the added cost of distributing it in electronic form. But some consumers would argue — and rightly so — that owning an e-book is not the same as owning a physical book: You cannot really lend it out (or have to work within your e-reader’s constraints); you cannot read it if your e-reader’s battery runs out; you would be forced to read it on your PC if you dropped and broke your e-reader. All this brings up another question about the true value of information: Should its price be determined by the medium on which it is delivered?

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At Barnes & Noble, the future is now

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Keeping up with the e-reading industry is really cutting into my writing time. But the business and tech geek/reader in me is just fascinated by all the twists and turns in the epic that is digital books. The latest news — the shakeup at Barnes & Noble — is notable because William Lynch, the company’s dot-com president, is now the struggling bookseller’s CEO.

It’s like a metaphor for the cultural shift that is happening with books and the transition to e-reading. Out with the old, in with the new. Lynch’s experience is in online commerce: Before he joined B&N last year, he was at HSN, founded gifts.com, worked at Palm. At 39, he’s relatively young. A quote in the Wall Street Journal by B&N Chairman Leonard Riggio  — brother of the 55-year-old CEO being replaced by Lynch — speaks volumes:

We need someone who has a vision of the new space, somebody who can recruit great people in technology. We have to be more than a retail bookseller.

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The plot thickens: Barnes & Noble preparing e-reader for iPad

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Barnes & Noble, which already has e-reader apps for various platforms, including the iPhone, announced on its blog yesterday that it is preparing to roll out an app designed for the forthcoming iPad. On the surface, this might seem counterintuitive. Could the bookseller be surrendering, and acknowledging that Nook, its own e-reader, isn’t doing too well?

But here’s why it makes a lot of sense: Like the rest of us, B&N has heard and seen and felt the hype. Apple’s iPad is coming — the day before Easter! — and despite its apparent shortcomings, people are going to buy it. And B&N could crawl under a hole with a Nook and pretend the iPad doesn’t exist, or it could sell books on the thing and make money. In the nascent e-reader world, it’s probably smart not to put all your books in one basket — unless you were there first, like Amazon, or you have a cult-like following, like Apple.

What remains to be seen is whether notoriously prickly Apple will like the idea of a competitor making it easy for iPad users to choose where they buy their e-books. Just ask Palm: When the Palm Pre first rolled out with the ability to download songs from iTunes, Apple updated iTunes so it couldn’t sync with the Pre. When Pre engineers fixed the “bug,” Apple blocked it again. And again. It’s entirely possible Apple won’t play nice with Barnes & Noble and its e-reader app for the iPad.

Somewhere, Steve Jobs is smiling

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, it didn’t take very long for the iPad to hit Amazon where it hurts: in the stocks. The online retailer’s shares fell yesterday after the news that it gave in to one publisher — Macmillan — on pricing for e-books. AMZN today is down 3.3% so far. If other publishers get their way with Amazon, this is terrific news for Apple, whose iPad may be able to lure would-be Kindle users if the e-book price gap disappears. (On Amazon’s Kindle, many titles are $9.99, while on Apple’s iPad they are expected to be $12.99 and $14.99.)

Did Amazon put up much of a fight against Macmillan? It doesn’t appear so. It pulled Macmillan titles Friday, but by the weekend it had backed down. Good Morning Silicon Valley, a blog written by a former colleague, has an excellent post about what went down. It’s too early to tell the winners and losers in this fight — it’s only just begun — but it seems publishers are going to be able to take more control over e-book pricing now, thanks to Apple. Perhaps Apple will help save old media after all. And the iPad hasn’t even come out.

As for Amazon, its stock dip might be temporary. After all, even if it renegotiates with all e-book publishers, there’s a possibility it would make more money on each title it sells, as opposed to what happens now. Investors are sure to realize that eventually.

E-readers, chapter 2

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

A few points to follow up on after the release of the iPad:

  • Where does the Nook, Barnes & Noble’s new e-reader, fit into the iPad vs. Kindle fight? The Nook came out late last year, but few people got their hands on one because of shipping delays. Many people who ordered didn’t get them in time for the holidays. In fact, from what I can tell, some customers probably didn’t get their Nooks till a couple of weeks ago. That’s not enough time for the Nook to gain traction, although with B&N’s huge library of titles — and the fact that people are supposed to be able to try them out at the bookstores (I intend to) — it could. Early reviews seemed mostly favorable, with the Nook scoring some points over the Kindle, but many reviewers still give Amazon’s device an edge. Now the iPad is likely to take some potential Nook buyers away.

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iPad vs. Kindle

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

In my previous life, I used to breathe tech. Now, two of my favorite topics, reading and tech, come together in a big way with the release of the iPad, which maker Apple touts, basically, as the Second Coming.

The new “it” gadget lets users surf the Web on a sleek device that also doubles as an e-reader. Could it be the end of Amazon.com’s Kindle, which made e-readers mainstream a couple of years ago? Well, Apple introduced the iPad yesterday, and I’ve been tracking Amazon’s stock since then, and it’s gone nowhere but up. (While I’m writing this: AAPL down 3.2%, AMZN up 1.7%) Investors don’t seem to think the iPad will kill the Kindle, which as of now still has a bigger selection, and a running start. Sure, some people might start buying books via Apple’s new iBookstore, but there are those who have already invested in the Kindle and its ecosystem. Also, many Kindle titles sell for $9.99, while books on the iPad are expected to cost $12.99 and $14.99. That is not a negligible price difference for voracious readers.

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