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Posts Tagged ‘ipad vs. kindle’

Amazon Says Print is Dead, Long Live the Kindle (Not so fast…)

In Entertainment, Media, Technology, Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 9:27 am
IMG_0096.JPG

Image by Yoshimasa Niwa via Flickr

So, earlier this week Amazon put out a press release singing the glories of the Kindle.

It has been a tough few weeks for the Kindle as things have looked up for the iPad while they’ve been caught in a bit of an e-reader price war.

So, you really can’t blame Amazon for putting out a release that trumpets their device.

“Kindle Device Unit Accelerate Each Month in Second Quarter; New $189 Price Results in Tipping Point for Growth” says the release’s headline.

Well, geez. Wow. That’s great, huh? They must be selling gazillions of Kindles by now. How many? Well, let’s look at the release again. Hmm. It’s not there.

How about in The New York Times story about Amazon’s announcement?

Wait. It’s not there either though the Times does repeat Amazon’s claim that “the growth rate of Kindle sales tripled after Amazon lowered the price of the device in late June.”

The problem is that unlike Apple — which regularly touts how many iPads it’s selling — Amazon has never released exact sales figures for the device. paidContent.org has quoted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saying they may never release those figures.

So, when they say that growth has tripled… from one to three? Seven to 21? One million to three million? Who knows?

Now, let’s look at the rest of the release: “Amazon.com Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Hardcover Books.”

Again, wow. The previously mentioned New York Times story refers to this news “as a day for the history books — if those will even exit in the future.”

And reading the release, you can’t blame them.

Amazon claims that “over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books.”

Again, wow.

But…

Since they don’t give us actual sales figures (other than the fact that James Patterson has sold 867,881 Kindle books, one of five writers to sell more than 500,000 KIndle books; the others being: Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephanie Meyer and Nora Roberts), we really don’t know what that means.

Yes, it’s a lot — based on those five writers alone — but how much? And what does it really mean?

Is it that — as Bezos claims — “the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format.”

Is it that e-readers, whether they be Kindles or iPads, are the way things are going?

The second is more likely.

At the same time, as great as the devices are, as I’ve pointed out, e-readers will only really be the future when we figure out how to get them to everyone. Otherwise we need to keep helping libraries and schools make sure they have regular, old, printed books for kids.

Print may not be quite as robust as it used to be but it’s far from dead.

iPads vs. E-Readers: Things Looking Good for Apple

In Entertainment, Media, Technology on July 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

It’s not a new theme — in fact, earlier this month, I touched upon it — but the evidence seems to be building that e-readers face a tough road ahead.

According to Mashable, a new report by Resolve Media seems to indicate that anyone selling e-readers better do whatever it takes to keep iPads out of the hands of consumers.

The report states that after buying an iPad, 49 percent of people said they would not be buying another e-reader.

There’s also bad news for other devices — 38 percent said they wouldn’t buy a portable gaming device, 32 percent said they wouldn’t buy a netbook or laptop — but it paints a very stark picture for the e-reader industry.

“E-readers should be worried,” Mashable writes. “Even before the Kindle and Nook price cuts, we were already seeing some movement with lower-priced e-readers. We think that reading-only devices will ultimately find a new market at the sub $100 price point. Even at $200, the value proposition for an e-reader versus an iPad is tough to overcome.”

So, while Amazon is shipping its newest iteration of the Kindle and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos keeps talking about how the iPad and Kindle aren’t really competitors, it seems the more people discover the iPad, the more hurt is in store for the Kindle and similar devices.

Fortunately for Amazon, the Kindle isn’t just a device, it’s a software platform, an app that works on the iPad and, I have to say, on the iPad, it’s wonderful, well-built software that makes reading on the iPad a really nice experience.

And the same’s true for Barnes and Noble. They have the Nook but they also have software that works on the iPad.

I’m the thinking that for e-reader companies, the writing’s on the wall, er, tablet.

The Great Debate: E-Reader or Tablet?

In Entertainment, Media, Technology on June 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm
Barnes & Noble nook (ebook reader device)

Image via Wikipedia

There’s been a lot of talk — including here — about Kindle vs iPad.

On Monday, in a move guaranteed to make sure they are a more prominent part of that conversation, Barnes and Noble announced a new, cheaper version of its Nook e-reader offering wi-fi but not 3G connectivity.

Priced at $149, it offers all the features of the regular Nook — color touchscreen, E-Ink, the ability to “loan” people books — except, of course, the 3G. In the same release, they announced they are lowering the price on the 3G version to $199 from $249.

Perhaps most importantly to Barnes, it offers them a chance to seriously undercut Amazon, which sells its Kindle for $259.

UPDATE: AMAZON ANNOUNCED AFTER THIS COLUMN WAS WRITTEN THAT THEY’VE DROPPED THE PRICE OF KINDLE BY $70 — TO $189. NOW WE HAVE A PRICE WAR, WHICH I SUSPECT WILL FURTHER WIDEN GULF BETWEEN E-READERS AND TABLETS. MORE TO COME ON THIS.

The Associated Press puts the Barnes and Noble announcement in the context of how can Barnes charge more when there are devices like the iPad out there that do so much more.

And that’s really the crux of the debate: are people going to be satisfied with devices that are just readers or are they going to demand more. This isn’t really a new issue (in fact, I just touched on it a couple of weeks ago).

There’s at least one person who thinks that, for all the competition, iPad, Kindle, Nook…. they’re just amateurs when it comes to presenting material to be read electronically.

Erstwhile inventor Ray Kurzweil told The New York Times last week that he’s developed software that “displays colorful images and varying fonts with formatting similar to what people find in physical texts” and that the software will run on all sorts of devices.

Kurzweil promises that once his Blio E-Reader is widely available it’s going to be bad news for Amazon and Apple an company because “publishers will not give things with complex formats to these e-Reader makers. They destroy the format.”

Maybe Kurzweil’s right, maybe he’s wrong. In the meantime, companies on both sides of the debate keep moving forward.

There’s today’s Barnes and Noble announcement. Apple’s new operating system for the iPad and other devices is available for download, Amazon’s new Kindle should be out later this summer.

And Borders is about to enter the e-reader market, shipping its long-awaited Kobo later this week.

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Getting the World on the Same Page

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on May 7, 2010 at 9:00 am
Cover of "American Gods: A Novel"

Cover of American Gods: A Novel

Book clubs are not new.

There’s been the Book of the Month Club, reading groups, the one city one book idea that’s been moving around the country since starting in Seattle more than ten years ago.

And while it hasn’t always gone smoothly, it has resulted in more people reading and wider discussions.

In March, Jeff Howe of Crowdsourcing fame, suggested taking the concept even further — what if everyone on Twitter all read the same book?

Howe pointed out that there have been Twitter book clubs, but none had suggested trying to take it to the level he was aiming for.

As he wrote:

“I love books. So do you. Let’s love one book together, our actual geographical location be damned.”

And, really… with e-readers constantly innovating and improving (see everything from the IPad to the Kindle; it doesn’t matter which side of the IPad vs. Kindle fight you’re on — it’s all getting easier) and every phone seeming to be hooked up to a Twitter account, it seems like a natural evolution.

On his blog, Howe solicited suggestions for a book and the contenders were eventually narrowed to six:

1) American Gods by Neil Gaiman;

2) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury;

3) 1984 by George Orwell;

4) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley;

5) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

and

6) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

with American Gods eventually getting picked.

On his blog, Gaiman reacted with a little bit of trepidation because, he concedes, not everyone loves his book.

Despite that, he added: “I’m kind of thrilled that I get to help kick off something this new, and I’m going to do all I can to help” including answering tweets when possible.

There was some media attention, a schedule was set and, perhaps most importantly, an official series of hashtags were agreed upon.

So, head on over to a bookstore, pick up a copy of American Gods and then head back to the computer and start tweeting.

1b1t2010 is the starting place (search #1b1t to catch up on all the related tweets) and while there’s only (only?) about 7,000 people following so far, it most definitely is a start.

I keep thinking of the old Coke commercial, only instead of “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” I’d like the world to read a book.

Will Bookstores Lose as IPad, Kindle, Nook Welcome Google Editions

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 8:10 am
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27:  Customers view...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

It should get interesting.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Google will start selling e-books by early summer, putting them in direct competition with Amazon, Apple and Barnes and Noble.

It’s not exactly been a secret that this was coming.

Last August, Google announced they were offering free downloads of more than one million books  hat are in the public domain and then in October, they revealed that they would be launching Google Editions with about 500,000 additional titles.

And last month, in The New Yorker, reporter Ken Auletta laid out some of the details:

“Google Editions will let publishers set the price of their books (the head of Google Editions) said and will accept the agency model. Having already digitized twelve million books, including out-of-print titles, Google will have a far greater selection than Amazon or Apple. It will also make e-books available for bookstores to sell, giving “the vast majority” of revenues to the store.”

In the beginning, though, it appears that that the only books Google might only be able to sell are those in the public domain.

They are still involved in a long-running court battle, trying to get approval to move forward with their plans for Google Books, which would display books that are copyrighted but out of print along with with books that have eetered the public domain.

Google’s plans had been challenged by the Author’s Guild and the Association of American Publishers. While there was a settlement, it has not been approved as the judge considers objections including some from the Department of Justice, which has concerns over several issues including anti-trust.

And even if they get approval, there does seem to be at least one more hurdle — last month several groups representing visual artists announced plans to challenge Google’s plans.

Another issue is that it’s being reported that Google does not yet have deals in place with publishers.

Regardless of potential roadblocks, this development has the potential to be tougher on Amazon than on Apple because Google Editions seems closer in design to Kindle than IPad in that while the IPad is a device, Kindle is software that works on multiple devices.

But — even more at risk from this latest news are actual bookstores, you know the kind you walk into where you can handle the books and interact with people.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for books being available for purchase online (just check my bank statements). At the same time, I am concerned that the more book sales take place over the Internet, the less they are taking place in stores.

And when that happens, you start reading about bookstores closing.

From Miami to Seattle to Omaha and Boston, the same story is being written: bookstores are closing.

So, as Google Editions gets set to launch and IPad and Kindle and Nook battle it out and new readers keep coming on the market, try to break away from the screen every once in a while and head down to your local bookstore (if you still have one, if you don’t a chain will do), peruse the shelves, buy a magazine, a book, something.

Problems for Apple? Probably Not but…

In Entertainment, Technology on April 30, 2010 at 10:22 am
Apple Inc.

Image via Wikipedia

So, yesterday, I talked a bit about how there were some issues related to the availability of books on e-readers such as the IPad and the Kindle.

But, there was something that I overlooked.

Cory Doctorow, over at Publisher’s Weekly, has a different take on the situation, writing a column explaining why he won’t allow his books to be sold through Apple and why he thinks other authors should follow in his footsteps.

Doctorow, who is already on record stating he won’t buy an IPad in large part because of Apple’s restrictive policies about whether or not you can share your purchases with others (more often than not — you can’t), returns to that theme.

After pointing out that most pieces about the IPad “have been long on emotional raves about its beauty and ease of use, but have glossed over its competitive characteristics—or rather, its lack thereof” he suggests that writers tell Apple they can’t license their copyrights until they agree to allow people to share what they’ve bought.

“You shouldn’t take it from Apple, either, and that goes for Amazon and the Kindle, too,” he adds.

And he has a point. One of the great joys in reading a book is being able to say to someone, “Hey. You should read this” and then actually lend them the book.

I sort of can’t help but wonder if the e-reader conflict is going to turn into World Format War III (after VHS vs. Betamax and Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD).

While I wish Doctorow well, I suspect, sadly, there’s not going to be a lot of withholding going on. Just look at John Grisham who spoke passionately about the threat to bookstores posed by e-readers and refused to allow e-editions of his work but then caved after just a couple of months.

Meanwhile, Apple has an even bigger problem.

Jon Stewart.

It goes like this.

An Apple employee leaves his prototype of the new super-secret IPhone in a bar (sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke, which I guess it was for Apple), someone finds it, tries returning it to Apple, is rebuffed, so they offer it to techblog Gizmodo, which buys it, takes it apart, posts details about it and then, after Apple asks for it back, they give it back.

While it may not have been the most sound journalistic practice on Gizmodo’s part, it didn’t warrant what happened next, which was the cops busting down the door of the home of the Gizmodo editor who wrote the piece and seizing his computers.

On The Daily Show on Wednesday night, Stewart — a self=proclaimed long-time Apple user (as am I; I only wish the IPhone were available to Verizon so I can trade up my ITouch) — took them to task for becoming what they used to mock.

In the end, I suspect all the criticism in the world won’t really make all that much of a difference to Apple but it would be nice to think — especially today as Apple ships the latest iteration of the IPad (with WiFi and 3G) that Jobs is listening to all this and recognizes that as great as his devices are, there’s always room for improvement.

And the same goes for Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Sony and the others.

Maybe if there was a little less IPad vs. Kindle and a little more focus on the consumer, all would be good.

IPad vs. Nook vs. Kindle: Who's Winning (If anyone)?

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 at 9:29 am
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

So, it’s been almost a month since the IPad came out and the question on everyone’s mind — is the Kindle dead yet?

Well, maybe that’s not the question on everyone’s mind but I’m sure someone, somewhere, might be wondering. After all, a lot of the talk (here included) was about whether or not it would be a Kindle killer, would it help the Kindle or would the two find a way to co-exist.

Before we get to that, though, let’s take a quick look at the pre-IPad world.

According to a report earlier this week from Digitimes Research, which tracks this sort of thing, in March — the Nook from Barnes and Noble outsold the KIndle, accounting for roughly 53 percent of all e-book readers shipped that month.

The site attributed that to the fact that the Nook was fairly new, the Kindle had been on the market, and people were curious about the new thing.

Digitimes estimates that 1.43 million e-reader devices shipped during the first quarter of 2010, the last quarter Before IPad.

So, where does Apple’s new device fit into this landscape?

Well, keep that 1.43 million number in mind.

First, there was the announcement from Apple that they had sold 300,000 units the first day, which was a testament to the company’s ever-successful hype machine (plus the fact they tend to deliver on that hype).

Then, less than a week later, while unveiling the new IPhone operating system, they revealed they had sold another 150,000 devices.

Now, let me introduce you to Chitika Labs, which has been using cookies to track IPad sales. They concede it’s not a perfect system but, they seem pretty confident.

As of this writing, their live counter indicated that more than 1.1 million IPads have been sold already.

Which brings us back to the beginning: who’s winning? Well, on one level, it would seem Apple based on sales alone.

But what does it all mean? Does it mean the Kindle is doomed? The Nook’s on its way out?

With meaning to be too much of a wuss, I would have to say the answers are: it’s too early too really tell but my sense is, it’s all good and no and no.

While I have a soft spot for the printed word, books and newspapers that I can hold in my hand, and want them to be around for a long time — and am also concerned that the emphasis on e-readers, could take away from kids in schools, I do think that anything that gets people reading more is probably a good thing.

The question that remains, though, is that what’s happening?

According to Appitzr.com, which tracks apps, books make up more than one out of every five apps available in the ITunes store — 22 percent — yet account for only 3 percent of apps that are downloaded.

In other words, while new devices keep coming out, it may be too early to declare a winner and, in the meantime, keep visiting bookstores — an independent one, if you can.