Tag Archives: Kindle

Digital e-book wave threatens ‘cosy little’ German fixed-price book world

The German book price fixing scheme has been in place for more than 120 years. But the publishing world faces new challenges now that e-books and electronic reading devices have been thrown into the mix.

The German book price fixing scheme has been in place for more than 120 years. But the publishing world faces new challenges now that e-books and electronic reading devices have been thrown into the mix. Germany likes to think of itself as ‘the land of poets and thinkers.’ Considering the nation has around 20,000 publishers, about 5,000 book-sellers and more than 90,000 new books hitting the market each year it may seem hard to disagree with that assessment. However, the country’s publishing industry has had a little extra help: Germany operates a fixed book price system that allows publishers to set the cost of new releases. The time-honored pricing scheme has been is even protected under European Union regulations. Traditional German booksellers are set to face unprecedented competition as the digitization of books becomes more commonplace. E-book devices like the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle worry German publishers and booksellers, because they have the potential to eliminate, or at least weaken, the bookstore, just as Mp3 players hurt the record business. The same fixed-price laws that protect booksellers have a glitch when it comes to the virtual world. Legally, e-books are seen as a replacement for printed books, and as a result, must have set prices. But when it comes to taxation, e-books are considered software or electronics – not books. The higher tax and fixed prices mean that e-books are much more expensive in Germany than in markets like the US, where the dominance of Amazon and Apple has led to price wars.

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5518440,00.html

Advertisements

Sony to launch e-reader in Japan, take on Apple

Sony Corp said on Thursday it would launch an e-reader and online content distribution service in Japan by year-end, taking on rival Apple Inc whose iPad hits shelves in the country on Friday. The maker of PlayStation games and Bravia flat TVs said it also plans to launch its e-book operations in China, Australia, Spain and Italy this year. Sony’s Reader electronics book reader, which vies with Amazon.com’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, is available in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The debut of the iPad, a computing and entertainment system that also functions as an e-reader, is expected to boost Japan’s still-small e-book market, which Chimera Research Institute expects to double to about USD 1bn in four years. Sony has partnered with telecoms operator KDDI Corp, printing firm Toppan Printing Co and the Asahi Shimbun newspaper to set up a planning company to prepare for the service, which will offer book, comic, magazine and newspaper content.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE64Q1QD20100527

Amazon adds Facebook and Twitter links to Kindle

Amazon has announced that an upcoming software update will allow Kindle users to share their favourite book passages on Facebook and Twitter. The Version 2.5 enhancement for Kindle and Kindle DX is currently being rolled out to a limited group of users, and a wider release is planned for late May. Other new features include larger and sharper fonts, password protection, an ability to organise books and documents into separate collections, and a highlights feature that will allow a reader to see what the Kindle community thinks are the most interesting sections of a book. The social networking updates may well be a sign that Amazon is looking to widen the appeal and use of Kindle following strong competition from Sony, Barnes & Noble and potentially Apple with the iPad. Several major book and magazine publishers are said to be onboard with the iPad, threatening further competition to the Kindle, which only released its DX and Global Wireless versions in the UK in January. Amazon announced earlier this month that global sales rose 46 per cent in the first quarter of this year, although the firm continues to withhold sales figures for the Kindle device, saying only that they “remain very strong”. The Kindle 2.5 update will be delivered to devices wirelessly, and users will not need to take any action to receive the enhancements

http://www.v3.co.uk/v3/news/2262320/amazon-adds-facebook-twitter

New York Times to offer book review on e-readers- next leg on the paid-for-content Odyssey

The search for revenue by deconstructing the New York Times into its most valuable pieces for various platforms continues. Up next: the New York Times Book Review for e-readers. The NYT marketing executive James Dunn mentioned the new subscription effort during a session of the Digital Publishing Alliance (DPA) and E-Reader Symposium, according to Poynter’s Bill Mitchell. After the session, he told Mitchell the standalone subscription should be available on Sony digital readers in the next couple of weeks, with Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook versions to follow. Dunn didn’t share any pricing details. The Book Review is already sold as a standalone print subscription for USD 1.75 a week surface mail, USD 3.75 a week priority, which may offer some guideline. The Book Review is part of the Sunday edition via Kindle, where a monthly subscription runs USD 13.99.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/mar/09/digital-media-newspapers

Amazon and Microsoft ink patent deal

Microsoft on Monday said it has signed a deal with Amazon.com that lets each company tap into the other’s patented technology, including that for hot-selling Kindle electronic readers. Microsoft said that Amazon will be paying the software giant as part of the agreement, but declined to specify the amount. The agreement clears the way for Microsoft’s proprietary software and open-source programs used by Amazon.com to be woven together more tightly without concerns about patent violations. Each company gets access to the other’s patent portfolio under the terms of a deal covering a broad range of products and technology, Microsoft said. Microsoft said it has struck 600 such licensing deals since December 2003 with companies including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, LG Electronics, Novell, and Samsung Electronics.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jeS2se3jazUQK8WekZkfvjYKimLw

Apple Sees New Money in Old Media

With the new tablet device that is debuting next week, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is betting he can reshape businesses like textbooks, newspapers and television much the way his iPod revamped the music industry—and expand Apple’s influence and revenue as a content middleman.

In developing the device, Apple focused on the role the gadget could play in homes and in classrooms, say people familiar with the situation. The company envisions that the tablet can be shared by multiple family members to read news and check email in homes, these people say. For classrooms, Apple has been exploring electronic-textbook technology, these people add. The people familiar with the matter say Apple has also been looking at how content from newspapers and magazines can be presented differently on the tablet. Other people briefed on the device say the tablet will come with a virtual keyboard.

Apple has recently been in discussions with book, magazine and newspaper publishers about how they can work together. The company has talked with New York Times Co., Condé Nast Publications Inc. and HarperCollins Publishers and its owner News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal, over content for the tablet, say people familiar with the talks. New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger declined to comment in an interview Wednesday on its involvement in the new device except to say, “stay tuned.”

Apple is also negotiating with television networks such as CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC, for a monthly TV subscription service, the Journal has reported. Apple is also working with videogame publisher Electronic Arts Inc. to show off the tablet’s game capabilities, according to one person familiar with the matter.

Apple’s strategy contrasts with how other technology companies are approaching media. Notably, Google Inc. offers content to consumers largely free on properties like its video-sharing site YouTube, making relatively little distinction between clips from users and that of professional media companies. Web sites like Twitter and Facebook also provide outlets for user-generated content.

Mr. Jobs has a longstanding strategy of devising new ways to access and pay for quality content, instead of reinventing the content. Apple’s iTunes Store, for instance, became the world’s largest music retailer partly by making it easy for people to buy music, most of it from major record labels, by the song instead of by the album. Its digital media receiver Apple TV was also designed so people can buy and rent movies and television shows.

Mr. Jobs is “supportive of the old guard and [he] looks to help them by giving them new forms of distribution,” says a person who has worked with the CEO. “What drives all of these changes is technology, and Apple has an ability to influence that.”

Apple’s divide with Google over how it views media content also drives the wedge deeper between the two companies. Apple’s iPhone, for example, currently closely integrates Google’s mapping and search technology, but a person familiar with the matter said Apple was in serious discussions with Microsoft Corp. to incorporate its Bing search engine into the iPhone as the default search and map technologies. Microsoft declined to comment.

Details of how Apple charges for the content on its tablet couldn’t be learned, but people familiar with the company’s thinking say Apple could change conventional payment structures. One person familiar with the matter said the company was discussing with the New York Times how it could charge for news through iTunes. It’s unclear how people will access content wirelessly off the tablet.

An Apple spokesman said the company “doesn’t comment on rumors and speculation.” Mr. Jobs didn’t respond to a request for comment. Mr. Jobs’s effort to repackage and resell more media content is not without obstacles. He has already faced resistance from television companies and cable network providers over Apple’s desire to license just their best content rather than all of it.

Many music executives complain that it has become a powerful gatekeeper between the labels and customers. What’s more, the iTunes Store’s music downloads haven’t grown fast enough to offset the decline in CD sales for music companies. On Monday, Apple sent out an invitation to a media event on Jan. 27 “to see our latest creation.” The tablet, which Apple currently plans to ship in March, will have about a 10- to 11-inch touch screen, people familiar with the situation say.

Apple’s tablet foray faces several obstacles. Analysts say demand will depend on its price, which some believe will be about $1,000. Apple must also convince consumers the product is worth buying in addition to an iPhone and a laptop computer. And Apple faces competition from cheaper netbooks and other devices such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle e-book reader. The tablet’s success will depend “on how this product can fit into the user’s daily life… and whether you have enough content to make it important enough to use it,” said Henry Lu, senior vice president of Taiwanese computer company Micro-Star International Co., which failed at selling a tablet computer a few years ago.

In the academic arena, Apple could face hurdles wooing universities if the tablet doesn’t meet their needs or isn’t compatible with other computing devices that students are using. Amazon had been hoping to target the market with its 9.7-inch screen Kindle DX e-book reader, for example, but schools said the device wasn’t sufficiently interactive and lacked basics such as page numbers and color graphics.

One person familiar with the matter said Apple has put significant resources into designing and programming the device so that it is intuitive to share. This person said Apple has experimented with the ability to leave virtual sticky notes on the device and for the gadget to automatically recognize individuals via a built-in camera. It’s unclear whether these features will be included at launch.

Apple’s content-related efforts heated up in the fall. In October, Apple sent representatives to the Frankfurt Book Fair, the industry’s largest trade fair, according to one person familiar with the matter. At the same time, Apple pitched media companies on a “best of TV” subscription service to television networks under which customers would pay a monthly fee for on-demand access to programs from a bundle of participating TV networks, giving consumers another way to readily access TV content.

At a meeting in New York with one network in October, an Apple executive said the company was specifically looking to access four to six shows per channel, said one person familiar with the meeting. Apple has also been planning a revamp of its iTunes music service by creating a Web-based version of it that could launch as soon as June, say people familiar with the matter. Tentatively called iTunes.com, the service would allow customers to buy music without going through the specialized iTunes program on computers and iPhones.

People familiar with Apple’s plans say a central part of the new strategy is to populate as many Web sites as possible with ‘buy’ buttons, integrating iTunes transactions into activities like listening to Internet radio and surfing review Web sites. In November, Apple hired Tracy Augustine, a former executive at textbook publishers Cengage Learning Inc. and Pearson Education Inc., as the director of worldwide education. Ms. Augustine is responsible for “driving global strategy and revenue for the education online store for students,” according to her LinkedIn description. Ms. Augustine didn’t respond to a request for comment.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703405704575015362653644260.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

Apple to host event January 27, tablet expected

Apple Inc will host a special event on January 27 where it is widely expected to unveil its tablet computer, as the company looks to extend its hot hand into a brand new product category. The event next week is shaping up as Apple’s most eagerly anticipated product launch since the iPhone three years ago. The company has never acknowledged the existence of the tablet, but rumors and speculation have been building for months. Although few details about the tablet are known for certain, the device is said to resemble a large version of the iPhone, with a roughly 10-inch touchscreen. Analysts say such a device would try to bridge the gap between smartphones and laptops, allowing users to stream video, surf the Web and play games while on the go. Cost estimates on the tablet – which analysts expect to begin shipping in March or April – run upwards of USD 1,000. Tablet computers have never managed to catch on with consumers, and industry watchers say Apple will have to offer a compelling reason to buy such a device. If consumers do gravitate to the tablet, it could also propel Apple into the digital book market popularized by Amazon.com’s Kindle e-reader, analysts say.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE60H4H820100119?sp=true