This is pure awesome.
Well, according to the rumors, yes.
Amazon.com Inc. on Wednesday plans to unveil a new version of its Kindle e-book reader with a larger screen and other features designed to appeal to periodical and academic textbook publishers, according to people familiar with the matter.
Beginning this fall, some students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland will be given large-screen Kindles with textbooks for chemistry, computer science and a freshman seminar already installed, said Lev Gonick, the school’s chief information officer. The university plans to compare the experiences of students who get the Kindles and those who use traditional textbooks, he said.
Amazon has worked out a deal with several textbook publishers to make their materials available for the device, Mr. Gonick added. The new device will also feature a more fully functional Web browser, he said. The Kindle’s current model, which debuted in February, includes a Web browser that is classified as “experimental.” (WSJ)
Are the text book publishers that are working with Amazon thinking clearly?
Amazon has already put the fear of God into trade book publishers with their heavily discounted NYT Best Seller titles for the Kindle. Who’s to say that Amazon won’t also do something similar with text books?
I can see it now. Hello student! You know that text book your professor says you have to buy? Yeah, the one in the book store that costs $150? Well, look no further. Get your Kindle edition for $39.95.
What student wouldn’t immediately jump on a deal like that? Sure, the discount isn’t likely to be that deep (is it?), but the fact that the book will be discounted is enough for the student to happily slap down dad’s credit card.
Text book publishers need a digital strategy, to be sure. Most STM publishers have been digital for years now, so models exist. If text book publishers are hoping Amazon makes their digital market, they’ll won’t be happy at the end of the day. They’ll watch their print sales drop along with the revenue they depend upon. Amazon can be a great channel partner, but no one should give them control of that channel.
MORE: Engadget has a video and details of the new Kindle DX hardware.
Lexcycle, the company who created the Stanza book reading software for the iPhone, has been acquired by Amazon.com.
Stanza allows users to browse a library of around 100,000 books and periodicals for the iPhone, many of them in the ePub format — a widely accepted standard for e-books that Amazon has yet to support with its proprietary Kindle platform.
In its blog post, Lexcycle said, “We are not planning any changes in the Stanza application or user experience as a result of the acquisition. Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from our many content partners.”
It is not clear how much Amazon is paying for the year-old company with offices in Austin and Portland. But the move indicates Amazon wants to consolidate its position on mobile devices, particularly within Apple’s ecosystem, which may include a tablet computer later this year. The Lexcycle team should also help Amazon stake out ground on Google’s Android phones, the Palm Pre and Windows Mobile devices — and perhaps eventually turn to more open e-reading formats.
“It’s very early days for e-books, and we believe there is a lot of innovation ahead of us,” said Cinthia Portugal, a spokeswoman for Amazon.com. “Lexcycle is a smart, innovative company. and we look forward to working with them to innovate on behalf of readers.” (NYT)
eBook sales last year were about 1.5% of all sales, so there’s lots of room to grow. Amazon has a huge stake in the business with its Kindle eBook reader and sales of Kindle compatible eBooks. The question now is, will Stanza continue as a product or will Amazon throw it away and steer Stanza users towards its iPhone Kindle app? Amazon needs customer names, they don’t need a second iPhone app.
Congrats to the guys at Lexcycle. Just last week I listened to Neelan Choksi at the London Book Fair. No wonder he had a perma-smile on his face! 🙂
Most university presses are realizing a decline in revenue in this current economic climate. But rather than whine about it, some are seeing opportunity. Of those, the press at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is taking opportunity to the next level: action. The answer? eBooks.
In today’s soft economy, the eBook system has acted as a way out of financial shortcomings. According to Rebecca Schrader, Assistant Director of Finance of MIT Press, a large portion of the university press’ e-book sales comes from users of the Amazon Kindle, a portable e-book reader that has access to over 250,000 books.
According to Schrader, university presses throughout the country have experienced similar declines in sales. A recent survey published by the American Association of University Presses estimates an average 10 percent loss in sales and revenue between July and December 2008.
As a result of declining earnings, university presses are also starting to take different approaches to their business models.
And MIT isn’t alone in their need to shift focus from print only to print+eBook publishing. Yale, Cornell, and the University of Michigan Press also plan to cut back and increase their eBook publishing programs.
While it’s no surprise that text book publishers are heading toward broader eBook publishing initiatives quicker than the general book publishing industry, what university presses learn along the way will be of great help to the big houses in NYC and others around the country. That is, if they’re paying attention.
Envy: it’s a powerful thing.
Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) are both looking at e-book readers as a new source of income, having eyed up the success of Amazon’s Kindle, which uses Sprint (NYSE: S) Nextel’s network to allow consumers to download digital books to their devices. The e-reader interest is part of a larger drive to find additional wireless devices to connect to networks, as the US’s wireless market for cell phones reaches saturation point.
Bloomberg quotes AT&T’s head of emerging devices Glenn Lurie as saying the Kindle has done a “phenomenol job” and that the network wants to be part of that market. Lurie told the news service, “There’s a whole bunch of ways to monetize that type of device. That’s coming, it’s coming fast. We’re going to be part of it.” Lurie didn’t mention any potential partners, however, or any timing on when such a device might be available.
The key sentence here is, “there’s a whole bunch of ways to monetize that type of device”. Sounds like part of that monetization could be ads. Like, popup ads, and ads embedded into content, like right in between paragraphs on the page of your most favorite novel.
Hope I’m wrong.
Think the eBook discussion focuses too heavily on the tactile differences with print? Over at Booksquare, it’s OK to let digital books be different from paper books. I agree.
Now…about that bacon smell, you just might have something there, Kassia.