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Posts Tagged ‘e-readers’

Google Editions could mean e-books everywhere

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Books on your browser? Some people already read books online without a dedicated e-reader. But Google’s reportedly imminent entry into the e-books world could make the practice much more common.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google will be launching its e-bookstore as early as June. The e-books customers purchase can be read on a good old Web browser — no fancy iPad, Kindle, Nook or (Sony) Reader needed.

I can imagine how this might be exciting to avid readers. Because many people have Net access almost everywhere they go, Google Edition customers would never need to lament that they wished they had brought a book with them. They could finish those last few pages of a really good book during a break at work, or on their smartphone as they stand in a long line for a latte.

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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?

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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Libraries without books: What is this world coming to?

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

In the age of the Kindle and the Nook and the upcoming iPad, and a world in which there are Facebook groups called “People Who Like to Read the Newspaper on Paper,” the New York Times recently posted a written debate titled “Do School Libraries Need Books?” The lightning rod for the discussion: a boarding school in Massachusetts that last fall decided to give away most of its books and turn its library into a digital center.

After reading all five viewpoints — from two educators, two authors and a library director — plus the multitude of comments this topic generated, here’s what I came away with:

  • Libraries need to be updated. This is true. But in the please-digitize-microfiche kind of way. Cushing Academy, the aforementioned school, is right in saying that research is done differently now — libraries need to keep up with the times. Getting rid of all physical books may seem bold, but it’s ridiculous. Sure, most students turn to the Internet to do research for a term paper, but when they have to read “Anna Karenina” for class, they pick up the book. And that makes sense. Update libraries, yes. Have the digital tools complement the physical ones. But take away the books and they’re no longer libraries. Read more…

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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