Tag Archives: Amazon

Amateur hour is over – Amazon becomes a publisher

This year is just burgeoning with disruptive change for the publishing industry, and here’s the latest cat among the pigeons: Amazon have decided that they can do more than just distribute books. They’re going to start republishing them as well.

Even great books can be overlooked. And authors with great potential often struggle to connect with the larger audience they deserve to reach. We’re fortunate at Amazon.com to have customers who know a good book when they read one, so we’ve introduced AmazonEncore to help connect authors and their books with more readers.

AmazonEncore is a new program whereby Amazon will use information such as customer reviews on Amazon.com to identify exceptional, overlooked books and authors with more potential than their sales may indicate. Amazon will then partner with the authors to re-introduce their books to readers through marketing support and distribution into multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon.com Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, Audible.com, and national and independent bookstores via third-party wholesalers.

How successful this will turn out to be, I have no idea. Knowing how prevalent spurious reviews can be on Amazon – particularly on self-published works of dubious merit – I’m curious to discover what sort of vetting process they’ll go through before actually deciding to push a title out of obscurity and into the spotlight. Perhaps they’ll give Harriet Klausner the editorial hotseat…

[Via George Walkley, marketing and digital strategist for Little, Brown Books here in the UK.]

Would you buy a Kindle DX?

Well, we’ve all had a few days to take a look at the specifications and hear the debates, so it’s time to ask – would you consider buying the new Kindle DX? If not, why not?

Amazon Kindle DX ebook reader

Frankly, if I had the money to hand I’d order one now – in full knowledge that something better will be along in a year and make me regret it. They’ve just passed the utility point past which my early-adopter organ starts releasing the hormones; PDF compatibility is the big issue for me, second to a bigger screen size, though apparently there is a small charge for sending a PDF through the system to your device (which is a bit cheeky). Lucky I’m skint right now, I guess… but this is surely much closer to a game-changer device than the last iteration, not to mention easier on the aesthetic eye. What do you think?

Bob Lefsetz seems to agree with me:

The Kindle breeds excitement.  At your fingertips is a breadth of excitement and knowledge.  My little device is always at the ready, and calls me not only at night, but during the day, to delve into a story that tells me so much about the world but is not laden with the hit and run facts of today’s infotainment society.

Fiction tells you more about life than non-fiction.  All these years later, to rediscover the experience of reading stories is thrilling.

But I don’t expect the mainstream to join me on my adventure quite yet.  The buy-in price of the device is way too high, $349.  And the new Kindle, $489, this is not something for the masses!

iPods got cheaper.

Kindles are getting more expensive.

Buy the third or fourth generation.  Maybe the fifth.  The ergonomics will be better and the price will be lower.

Granted, Lefsetz’s experience is in the music industry, but I (and he) still hold that the similarities between the two industries are strong, albeit with change occuring in the book industry at a somewhat more manageable pace. The writing is on the wall… or rather on the screen. 😉

But the response on everyone’s lips seems to be “ooh, just wait until Apple put out a tablet device!” I’d agree that if Apple can nuke the punch-bowl in the same way they did with the iPod, they’ll be onto a winner… but I’m not sure they care enough about books as an industry. Everyone listens to music, and you can listen to music while doing something else; neither of those factors apply to reading. Reading is a very different (and smaller) lifestyle niche, and I’m not sure the iPod business model would scale in the same way.

Furthermore, an Apple tablet will doubtless do loads of other fancy latte-sippin’ Apple stuff as well, and doubtless have the fashionably high price tag to match… so while I’m not feeling the Kindle DX as the apogee of ebook tech, I’m not expecting Steve Jobs and company to lead the field either. My money’s on someone else coming up with a more open and utilitarian platform at a lower price; that’s when things are going to get really lively. [image courtesy Engadget]

Google to publishing: OM NOM NOM NOM

Google cookieRichard Sarnoff of the American Association of Publishers has been speculating about that organisation’s tabled deal with Google over its Book Search facility, and according to Ars Technica he claims the deal forces Google into direct competition with Amazon’s business model:

Sarnoff said the publishers he represents didn’t set out to create a monopoly in the markets for book search engines or online book sales. But he didn’t deny that the settlement could have that effect. After all, he noted, “copyright itself is a monopoly.”

It’s not often you hear that from someone on the publishing side of the equation. But it’s so far hard to tell who has actually got the better end of the deal:

Sarnoff outlined the terms of the settlement, which is expected to be approved by the courts later this year. It reads like a blueprint for the future of electronic book publishing, covering topics as wide-ranging as advertising, library access, and the treatment of orphan works. A key element of the agreement is the creation of a Book Rights Registry that will collect payments from Google and distribute them to authors and publishers. Sarnoff said the publishers pressed for the creation of this registry in part because it would be too “easy to disintermediate the publisher over time” if Google paid authors directly. Sarnoff said that the structure of the registry will be “tough to replicate for [Google’s] competitors.”

Only time will tell whether the AAP has taken the enemy to bed. But it’s grist for the mills of those who worry that Google is already too big for its boots – another discussion point where the word ‘monopoly’ tends to crop up with frequency, and one that varies in tone from polite concern to foaming-at-the-mouth paranoia and conspiracy theory.

What do think – will we be consumed by the silicon Rapture on the day Google finally crawls the DNA of each and every one of us? Or are they just a company who brought out the right business model at the right time?

I’m not that worried; from the looks of things, if Google does end up as a digital despot, at least I’ll have plenty of things to read… [image by massless]