We're still a day away from the much anticipated launch of Apple's iPad, but already the tablet from Cupertino has managed to make its presence known. According to an AFP report, Amazon has agreed to let two more major publishers raise the prices of electronic books for Kindle readers in deals similar to those Apple struck for its iPad.
The deals with Simon & Schuster and Harper-Collins allows for ebook prices to be set at $12.99 or $14.99 rather than the $9.99 price point Amazon has tried to maintain.
This marks a major win for publishers, who previous to the iPad had little leverage in negotiating deals with Amazon. Amazon might have been on borrowed time anyway with the deluge of ebook readers expected to flood the market this year, and perhaps no one is happier right now than Rupert Murdoch, chairman and managing director of News Corp., the parent company of Harper-Collins.
"Without content, the ever larger and flatter screens, the tablets, the e-readers and the increasingly sophisticated mobile phones would be lifeless," Murdoch stated earlier this year. "Without content these ingenious and wonderful devices would be unloved and unsold."
Are you prepared to pay up to $15 for an ebook, or is the publishing industry shooting themselves in the foot?
When Apple announced its iBook store there was one publisher conspicuously absent: Random House. In case you don’t keep up with the wheelings and dealings of the publishing industry, Random House is the largest publisher in the world. Now we’re hearing the strange truth about why they won’t be jumping on the iPad bandwagon. According to the Financial Times, Random House doesn’t want to start an ebook price war.
We certainly find this confusing, as most other publishers are moving ahead full speed with the apparent intention to cause just that. The Amazon model has always rubbed publishers the wrong way. Amazon simply buys the book licenses and sells them for whatever they want (usually $9.99). Many in the industry feared that ten bucks would just become the default price for a book, much as $.99 became the price for music. Apple will allow them to pick their price, and pay Cupertino a 30% cut of that.
It could be that Random House just wants to stay above the fray until the whole thing is worked out. Maybe if the iPad really takes off, Random House works will deluge the iBook store. Are you concerned about this impending of future of siloed content? Will we ever be able to just get everything in one place?
Apple isn't the only one who stands to make a lot of money off of its iPad tablet - app developers do too. Enter Amazon, who along with Barnes & Noble, revealed to The New York Times plans to create new digital readers and storefronts for the iPad.
"We have actually developed a tablet-based interface that redesigns the core screen and the reading experience," said Ian Fred, vice president for Kindle at Amazon. "Our team had some fun with it."
According to NYT, the Kindle app for the iPad allows readers to slowly turn pages with their fingers. The interface also introduces a couple of new ways for owners to view their ebook collection, including a view where large thumbnails of book covers are displayed on a backdrop of a silhouetted figure reading under a tree. What's cool about the backdrop is that the sun's position coincides with whatever time it is.
Amazon has also set up a page to promote "Kindle Apps for Tablet Computers," which includes all tablets.
"Tablet computers, including the iPad, are coming and with our free app you'll be able to read more than 450,000 Kindle books," Amazon claims. "Like all Kindle apps, Kindle for table computers will include Whispersync technology, which automatically synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across your Kindle and Kindle compatible devices including PC, Mac, iPhone, and BlackBery."
It’s a challenge trying to parse what a company might be up to. It’s obvious, for example, that Amazon will need to respond to recent events in the tablet PC market to keep its Kindle competitive. But what exact path it might take for this endeavor isn’t necessarily obvious. Unless, of course, you happen to be a keen observer of the want ads.
Michael Calore, at webmonkey, thinks Amazon is working to improve the browser engine of the Kindle, which he likens to “taking a step backwards in time.” According to Calore, a job posting for a “browser engineer” at “Lab126” is a dead giveaway that an upgrade is in the works. Lab126 is the Amazon division that develops the Kindle, and it is on the hunt for a person to “develop “an innovative embedded web browser” for a consumer product.”
Calore suggests that once the iPad hits the market, allowing for a fuller web browsing experience (and the HP Slate not too far behind it), the Kindle will look pretty lame. Looking lame is no way to hang onto market share.
The initial reaction to the iPad has been mixed. But the mixed reaction hasn't necessarily soothed any nerves among its potential competitors. The fractured response means that they will have to wait a bit longer to take stock of the challenge. From the looks of it, Amazon is not awaiting the public's final word on the iPad to post its reply. After all, the iPad is supposed to be Kindle's sternest test till date.
Are you searching for just the right outing for you and your special someone this Valentine’s Day? Well, look no further, Barnes and Noble will have Nooks available in stores for you to actually buy. Name just one thing more romantic than swinging by your local retail establishment to buy a new gadget. We sure can’t come up with anything.
The bookseller was caught off guard by demand for their ebook reader this past holiday season, with preorders spilling over into January. Barnes and Noble has had limited numbers of demo units in their retail locations since shortly after launch, but now you can actually take one home. This was cited as a main advantage over Amazon’s offering.
The Nook is a compelling alternative to the Kindle for some. The Nook runs the Android operating system, and a dedicated modding community has even gained root access to its Android core. Now that the production delays have finally been sorted out, we’ll see just how many people walk out of a Barnes and Noble with a Nook.
Till now, Amazon has enjoyed a smooth ride in the e-book reader market. But it is now bracing itself for a series of tight corners and bumps. Its Kindle e-reader is bound to come under pressure from the iPad and a slew of other slates and e-readers. It is said to have acquired a New York-based company named Touchco.
The company it has acquired specializes in touchscreen technology, according to the New York Times. Its flagship technology is something called interpolating force-sensitive resistance, which it uses to produce transparent touch screens for around $10 per square foot – much cheaper than competing technologies. Amazon remains mum on the acquisition.
There’s good news, and there’s good news in the latest leaked figures on Kindle ownership. While Amazon is a bit tight-lipped on the subject, with Jeff Bezos only admitting to “millions of people” owning Kindles, TechCrunch is reporting the number of those millions to be three.
Michael Arrington, who’s checked with this “amazingly accurate” sources, reports that the three million number was hit sometime in December, before the release of the global Kindle, and Amazon’s “free” Kindle offer.
Why double-good news? First, because this gives Amazon a distinct early market presence, which can have a snowball effect. (If all you see are Kindles, why by a Nook?) Second, because Amazon might well need this presence to weather the introduction Apple’s iPad into the market. For no other reason than its cachet value, the iPad will sell, and when the initial frenzy is over Kindle has a good chance of still being there.
Regardless of how you feel about the newly announced iPad, it’s probably going to do a few things very well. But will it be the reading device we’ve all been waiting for? Steve Jobs pushed the iBook store in the keynote, and discussed how the Kindle pioneered ebooks. Jobs then said Apple would “stand on [Amazon’s] shoulders”. Can it work?
The obvious benefit of the iPad is that it has a color screen. There will be more options for text size, search, and even font choices. Magazines and newspapers will look nice, but reading an old fashioned book may not benefit much. The Kindle and other eReaders have a 16 level eInk display meant to be easy to read. The screen on the iPad, being a conventional LCD, may not be quite so easy on the eyes.
Content wise, the iPad may be in good shape. Out of the gate it will have content from Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Harper Collins and Hachette. It will also support the open ePub format, which is more than we can say for Amazon. This means the iPad will have access to Google Books. The Nook has ePub support also, so it’s not a total win for Apple.
Price is certainly of concern. The iPad is clocking in at $499 for the 16GB version sans 3G. That’s quite a bit more than the Kindle and Nook at $260. To get data on the go, you need to purchase an AT&T data plan for the (more expensive) iPad, whereas the Kindle and Nook come with free wireless. Granted, the iPad does much more than eBooks, but buying it primarily as a reading device may be a questionable move.
Whether or not Apple announces a tablet PC next week, the tech world is fretting about the possible impact. Take, for example, Amazon. It’s cute little Kindle is basically a uni-tasker--it lets you read books and little else. An Apple tablet PC, it’s expected, will be more iPod Touch/iPhone like--a multi-tasker--making it more useful. Amazon’s not waiting to find out if the rumors are true, and is acting to negate some of Apple’s suspected advantage. It has opened up the Kindle to outside developers.
The Kindle Development Kit (KDK) will be available in a limited beta starting next month. The KDK, which is suited for Mac, PC, and Linux environments, will include sample code, documentation, and a Kindle simulator for building and testing apps.
With the KDK and outside developer support, Amazon looks to make the Kindle a more versatile tool, albeit with a monochrome display. Amazon is looking for apps that are free, one-time purchase, or monthly subscription. But there are some limits: “Voice over IP functionality, advertising, offensive materials, collection of customer information without express customer knowledge and consent, or usage of the Amazon or Kindle brand in any way are not allowed. In addition, active content must meet all Amazon technical requirements, not be a generic reader, and not contain malicious code.”
Amazon plans the same revenue split for publishers/authors it announced yesterday: 70/30 after deducting a delivery fee of 15-cents per megabyte. Amazon hopes to have apps available in the Kindle Store later this year.