Effectively immediately, any webmaster can open a Kindle Bookstore and integrate it into their website, Amazon announced on Tuesday. Amazon says it takes just a few seconds to embed the Kindle for the Web widget into a website, and once in place webmasters can begin earning referral fees through the Amazon Associates Program for sales originating from the site.
"Kindle for the Web makes it possible for bookstores, authors, retailers, bloggers or other website owners to offer Kindle books on their websites and earn affiliate fees for doing so," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content. "Anyone with access to a web browser can discover the seamless and consistent experience that comes with Kindle books. Kindle books can be read on the $139 third-generation Kindle device with new high-contrast Pearl e-Ink, on iPads, iPod touches, iPhones, Macs, PCs, BlackBerrys and Android-based devices. And now, anywhere you have a web browser. Your reading library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights are always available to you no matter where you bought your Kindle books or how you choose to read them."
Amazon's announcement comes just one day after Google unveiled a cloud-based eBookstore of its own called Google eBooks. Both services feature a reading app integrated into the browser, with the advantage perhaps going to Amazon for offering referral fees.
The Washington Post reported today that some Kindle users may be paying for books that, by all accounts, should be free. Many classic titles are showing up on the Kindle store that appear to be from Project Gutenberg. There are not just the same books, but are rather the actual Gutenberg files with only minor formatting tweaks. The header and footer where the Gutenberg license is contained is also stripped out.
Books like John R. Lockard's "Bee Hunting" and Martin Hunter's "Canadian Wilds" are selling for $3.69 and $3.16 respectively. On Project Gutenburg, these public domain books are free. Amazon responded to these concerns indicating that these volumes are being sold by a third party using Amazon's self-publishing platform.
Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation CEO Greg Newby said this was legal, but unethical. Some of the Gutenberg works are showing up on Kindle only a day or two after becoming available in Project Gutenberg. People seem to have realized they can harvest these works, and make a little profit. Do you think Amazon should allow people to charge for Gutenberg books?
Starting today, you can now gift Kindle books to anyone with an email address, regardless if they own a Kindle or not, Amazon announced. And while it may seem cruel to gift your Kindle-less nephew an eBook, you can remind him that Kindle Books can be read on a number of devices, including Android phones, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPod/iPad, PC, and Mac. Of if you're intentially being cruel, buy him a game for that PlayStation 3 console he doesn't have and then ask to borrow it so you can play it on yours.
"We are thrilled to make it easier than ever for our customers to give their favorite Kindle book to a friend or family member as a gift," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. "We're making this functionality available in time for the holidays to offer an easy, stress free holiday shopping for anyone -- not just Kindle owners."
Books in the Kindle Store are now accompanied by a "Give as a Gift" button. You're then asked to a provide an email address and can optionally leave a personalized message up to 300 characters.
Amazon is forking over a larger slice of the Kindle pie to some publishers, the online e-tailer announced this week. Starting December 1, 2010, magazine and newspaper publishers will receive a 70 percent chunk of the retail price for each item sold.
"We are constantly working at improving the Kindle magazine and newspaper experience for both customers and publishers," said Peter Larsen, Director of Kindle Periodicals. "Building on the recent introduction of Wi-Fi-enabled Kindles and the upcoming availability of newspapers and magazines on Kindle Apps, we're pleased to add an increased revenue share and a great new tool for making Kindle better and easier than ever for publishers."
That 70 percent royalty rate applies so long as customers can read the title on all Kindle devices and applications, as well as in all geographies for which the publisher has rights. And for orders delivered via Amazon's Whispernet service, Amazon said it will share the delivery costs with publishers.
It's long been known that the Chinese authorities don't take kindly to people using sites like Twitter and Facebook in the country. The possibility that people might anonymously congregate on these popular sites frightens them to such a degree that they are blocked by the so-called "Great Firewall". While traditional internet devices and services in China cannot access these and other sites, it looks like the 3G Amazon Kindle is capable of bypassing the Great Firewall.
The 3G version of the Kindle connects to Amazon's Whispernet to access web services. There appears to something about the routing, even using Chinese 3G networks, that allows the device to reach forbidden websites. The result is a thriving grey-market for the e-reader in mainland China. Amazon is not able to sell the Kindle direct to consumers.
One individual that resells Kindles in China claims to be selling over 300 devices per month. Chinese auction sites too are havens for illicit Kindle sales. The only drawback to this method is that the Kindle's web browser is not very pleasing to use, being on a slow device with an eInk screen. We'll have to wait and see if Chinese authorities find a way to block this as well.
Amazon on Thursday announced that its upcoming Kindle for Windows Phone 7 app will be the first major eBook software available for WP7 devices. As with all Kindle apps, WP7 users will be able to sync their downloaded books to multiple devices.
"When you buy a Kindle book, we make it easy for you to get your books on all of the devices you want to read on - your iPhone, iPad, Android-based device, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, and of course your Kindle, Kindle 3G and Kindle DX," said Dorothy Nicholls, Director, Amazon Kindle. "Kindle for Windows Phone 7 extends our vision of 'Buy Once, Read Everywhere.' The app is optimized for the unique user interface of Windows Phone 7, and will include our Whispersync technology, so you always have your library with you and never lose your place in a book as you switch between devices."
Kindle for WP7 will launch later this year. You can sign up for email notifications here, and in the meantime, catch a quick demo of Kindle for WP7 below.
It seems like Amazon has figured out that if you price a desirable device appropriately, people will buy it, and do so in droves. Not exactly a novel concept, but the success of Amazon's new generation Kindle eBook readers should serve as a reminder of this. According to Amazon, these new Kindles are the fastest-selling Kindles of all time.
"It's still October and we've already sold more Kindle devices since launch than we did during the entire fourth quarter of last year -- astonishing because the fourth quarter is the busiest time of year on Amazon," said Steve Kessel, Senior Vice President, Amazon Kindle. "Readers continue to choose Kindle for its all-new electronic ink screen with 50 percent higher contrast, readability in bright sunlight, long battery life of up to one month, light 8.5 ounce form, flexibility to read their books across all major LCD devices and platforms, and low $139 price. It's clear that this is going to be the biggest holiday for Kindle yet -- by far."
The Kindle's success has trickled down into the electronic book category too. Amazon reports that during the past 30 days, its customers have purchased more Kindle books than print books, including both hardcover and paperback combined.
"For the top 10 bestselling books on Amazon.com, customers are choosing Kindle books over hardcover and paperback books combined at a rate of greater than 2 to 1," Amazon said.
Amazon has posted a note to Kindle users in the Kindle community forums confirming that lending ebooks will come to the platform later this year. This has been a sorely missed feature since the device's introduction. Before you get to excited, there are some caveats here.
The loans will only be for 14 days and you can only loan a book once. It was unclear if that meant once per recipient, or once for the life of the ebook. While the book is lent out, the lender will be unable to read it. Also, not all books will be available for lending. It will be up to publishers to enable this feature; much like the Kindle text to speech ability.
All the restrictions on this makes the whole endeavor much less appealing. We don't see why you can't just transfer your license for a book to someone else and be done with it. Certainly Amazon could handle that on the back end. If we have to rely on publishers to enable lending, it's unlikely it will be widely available.
Barnes and Noble is slated to hold a Nook event on October 26, and we're hearing rumblings of a major hardware revision. The new Nook, according to a source that spoke with Cnet, may have a full color touchscreen in place of the monochrome eInk display it currently uses. The screen would be 7-inches, and the device would retail for $249. The Nook would continue to be based on Android as well.
The Amazon Kindle ereader has seemingly stuck to the eInk route for the time being, and Barnes and Noble may be looking to blow past them technologically. Missing is any information on what type of screen technology the 'Nook Color" would be using. A standard LCD, like the iPad uses, comes with its own set of drawbacks. The color eInk-like Mirasol and PixelQi dispalys have been demoed, but no one has foreseen their use in ereaders so soon.
With Amazon looking to sell you a Kindle for $140, will consumers pay more for a color screen? The $500 price point of the iPad also creates an interesting barrier. Those willing to deal with LCD screens for reading might be willing to pay more for the iPad's increased functionality. What's your prediction for the announcement?
Most people would argue that the e-book market has nowhere to go but up, however analysts continue to be surprised by just how fast people are ditching ink for pixels. According to the Association of American Publishers e-book sales from January to August were a staggering $263 million, this compared to just $89.8 million during the same period last year. This threefold increase in sales certainly helps to validate the market, and it looks like the impact of having so many affordable e-book devices on the market is finally starting to kick in.
In January 2009 anyone wanting to read an e-book needed a device worth several hundred dollars, and had to worry about DRM protected content with no guarantee over future compatibility. Today just about anyone with a smartphone can tap into several different e-book stores, Kindles and Nooks have never been cheaper, and some little known company by the name of Apple launched the iPad.
E-book sales still only account for about 10 percent of books sold, but it still paints a clear picture for brick and mortar retailers. The trend is not your friend.