A recently uncovered patent application submitted in January 2009 by Microsoft is threatening to open up the old wounds we sustained when the Courier was canceled. The patent is for an animated page turn effect not unlike that seen in the iPad's iBooks and Kindle apps.
Part of the application reads, "The virtual page turn actively follows the page-turning gesture. The virtual page turn curls a lifted portion of the page to progressively reveal a back side of the page while progressively revealing a front side of a subsequent page." Sounds familiar, right? Neither Microsoft nor Apple can claim to have invented this, and it's unclear if this patent would have been granted.
If the application were granted, Microsoft would seemingly have no place to implement it. Add it to Windows 7 tablets? Maybe. More likely, this will just stand as another reminder of what the Courier could have been.
If nothing else, Borders is certainly ambitious. The company today announced the launch of its own branded eBook store powered by Kobo, and in doing so wasted no time in revealing its intention of grabbing a 17 percent share of the eBook market by July, 2011.
"The race to emerge as a retail leader within the digital category is just starting," said Mike Edwards, Chief Executive Officer for Borders, Inc. "During the past several months, we've been carefully crafting a digital strategy, one that has great content and a device-neutral philosophy backed by the Borders brand as its cornerstones. We believe we are very well positioned to come out strong and to ultimately claim about a 17 percent eBook market share by this time next year."
Getting off to a good store, Borders' eBook store kicks things off with 1.5 million titles, thousands of which are free, and available in a bunch of different formats, including ePub, mobile, and PDF. And to make sure as many people as possible have access to the store, Borders also launched eBook reader apps on the BlackBerry Curve, Tour 9630, and Bold, as well as the Android platform.
Amazon let it be known a few months ago that they planned to rollout an improved royalty model for Kindle sales. Well, now that new option is available to publishers and authors. The new system has authors and publishers receiving 70% of the revenue from a sale. But Amazon isn't giving away money for no reason. Nope, they want something in return.
Amazon stipulates that to qualify for the program, a book must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99, and that that price must be at least 20% lower than the list price for the dead tree edition. The price must also be at or below the cost of the same work on other platforms. Outside of the pricing, publishers will have to make the book available for purchase in all geographical regions the publisher has rights to do so. Lastly, the book cannot have features, like text to speech, disabled.
We hope that publishers are willing to go along with this program. Amazon is looking to encourage them to keep ebook prices reasonable, and make an overall more appealing product. No one wants to spend more on a digital book than they would on a physical version. Do you think publishers will follow Amazon's lead?
The Kindle, like the Nook, has free 3G wireless data and an eInk screen. Barnes and Noble also announced a cheaper Wi-Fi only model, but it sells for $150. That's only $40 less than the new Kindle price point. The Nook's new pricing tiers are clearly predicated on the Kindle being stuck at $260.
Overall, this is great for consumers. The eReader price war has finally begun, and not a moment too soon. We've always felt that these devices were far too expensive for what they do. Does the new Kindle price change the equation for you?
Bookseller Barnes and Noble is starting to hand out free coffee to encourage the use of their e-book software. For the duration of the limited time promotion, customers need only show a cafe server an open e-book running the Barnes and Noble software. This will net the user one free tall coffee. Devices qualifying for the promotion are iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, Blackberry phones, the HTC HD2, Windows/Mac computers, and of course the Nook.
Barnes and Noble is in a race to catch up to the Kindle's lead in the e-book space, but the iPad may have them both beaten. If the tide turns against the monochrome eInk screens, these multiplatform apps are the bookseller's best hope.
Barnes and Noble has also been offering access to special content on the Nook that can be downloaded while in the store. They also allow Nook owners to read selected books for free, one hour per day, while in the store. Do these sorts of promotions make you want to live in the Barnes and Noble e-book ecosystem?
"Now more and more devices are enabling digital reading, which is to be expected. It's just like digital imaging, where you can take pictures with a cellphone - and many people take pictures with cellphones - but if they want the best possible picture they'll use a point-and-shoot camera or a digital SLR,” Haber told the Telegraph.
With the arrival of the much-hyped iPad and the rest of tablet-mania, it seems like ebooks are about to have their “iPod moment,” when they’ll go from a favorite of early adopters and bibliophiles to a mainstream phenomenon. There’s one problem, though: Unlike MP3s, there’s not a single, near-universal standard for ebooks. Historically, this has made it difficult to organize your ebooks and transfer them between various reading devices.
Fortunately, there’s one program that can help you solve nearly all of your ebook-related problems: Calibre. A free, open-source project, Calibre is one part iTunes-esque library-management program, one part batch-conversion tool, and one part file-transfer manager. In this article, we’ll show you how to use Calibre to manage your ebooks and to get them working on any reader.
Before you know it, you'll be able to mosey down to the local Target department store and buy an Amazon Kindle; no internet use needed. The popular ebook reader has been showing up in a few retail locations for the past few months, but now we've got a date for the full-scale rollout. All Target stores will have a supply of the Kindle by June 6th.
Presumably, this will offer consumers the opportunity to try out a Kindle before they buy it. With the online only model, many people never hold a Kindle until they receive it in the mail. Target stores have been selling Sony ebook readers for years, but the Kindle has proven to be attractive to consumers even without a retail presence.
The price is expected to remain the same, at $259. We still feel like the price needs to drop for the device to be truly competitive. Do you know anyone that's more likely to buy one if they can try it first?
Borders is no stranger to the e-reader game. The brick and mortar book seller has had Sony units for sale for a number of years. But now in the face of rival Barnes and Noble's Nook push, Borders is looking to create a more integrated eBook solution, and offer customers more choice by stocking up to 10 different devices by the end of 2010. These e-readers are expected to run the gamut of price points. All the devices will be connected to Borders' as yet unlaunched Borders eBooks store in conjunction with Kobo. They will show off all the devices in the cunningly named "Area-e" section of the store.
Kobo isn't just running the technology behind the eBook store, they are also making an eReader that Borders plans to begin selling this month. The Kobo is expected to retail for $149. Much lower than the competing Nook and Kindle. The so-called Alex dual screen e-reader has also been rumored for months, Add to that the just announced Libre e-reader which should sell for a downright reasonable $120, and the Borders strategy becomes more clear. They will offer products at all prices to lure in consumers, and get them to commit to their book ecosystem. The Libre will have a black and white LCD (instead of eInk), and users will have to load books on via a PC of SD cards.
Do you think this is a better strategy than the Amazon and Barnes and Noble model of having a single hero device?
Any hope for the release of a magical new version of the Amazon Kindle with a color screen was effectively destroyed today by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos. At a shareholder meeting in Seattle Bezos said that adding color to the Kindle's eInk screen was a difficult technical challenge. While he claimed to have seen some things in the lab, he was quick to point out they were not ready for wide scale use. According to Bezos, a color Kindle isn't coming anytime soon.
This is interesting for a number of reasons. First, Amazon doesn't seem to be showing any signs of worry in the wake of the iPad launch. Bezos often talks about selling millions of Kindles. Another thing the CEO's statements tell us is that Amazon is committed to sticking to eInk technology. If they intended to make an LCD eReader, it wouldn't matter how far along eInk technology was. Clearly, they feel the amazing battery life offered by the Kindle is their edge.
Amazon has taken steps to get their ebook platform on multiple devices, including the iPad. It could be they're just not that concerned with selling the Kindle hardware. Come to think of it, how long has it been since they tried to push a new version of the hardware on us? Would you be tempted by a color Kindle? Or is color best kept on tablets and computers?