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September 30 2011

Publishing News: Amazon vs barrier to entry

Here are a few stories that caught my eye this week in publishing news.

Let the ecosystem wars begin

KindleTrilogy.PNGAmazon's new Kindle Fire has the potential to disrupt the tablet space, but what Amazon did this week may actually be a much bigger deal with much broader implications: it lowered the ereader barrier to entry. And it lowered it on a mass-market level — at $79, the low-end Kindle arguably becomes an impulse buy.

Alex Knapp does a nice job over at Forbes outlining how these shiny new affordable Kindles will affect ebook sales and publishers (and a more in-depth look from a traditional publishing perspective can be found at CNN Money). But Amazon's long game isn't to sell hardware, it's to wrangle customers. Jeff Bezos said as much during the launch announcement: "We don't think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service." Once a customer has the device, shopping for nearly anything becomes an easy, seamless experience. As pointed out on Digitopoly, "the battle of the tablets is not a battle of devices, but a battle of ecosystems."

As excitingly disruptive as this is, there was one point that so far has gone largely overlooked in the media: the privacy issues of Amazon's Silk browser, which will run on the Kindle Fire. Chris Espinosa describes the situation on his Posterous blog (hat tip to ShelfAwareness):

The "split browser" notion is that Amazon will use its EC2 back end to pre-cache user web browsing, using its fat back-end pipes to grab all the web content at once so the lightweight Fire-based browser has to only download one simple stream from Amazon's servers. But what this means is that Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet.

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A map in need of a website

BookshopMap.pngOn the opposite end of the disruptive digital spectrum, an extensive map of London's independent bookstores was published ... on paper. As described at The Bookseller:

The London Bookshop Map features 87 indies from across the city including ones selling new, antiquarian, specialist and second-hand titles. The map is free and is available in bookshops and galleries. It features a text work from the artist David Batchelor. The map will be updated every six months and rereleased with a new text artwork.

This is a fun idea for consumers and treasure hunters, and a great way to market indie booksellers. But to garner a larger audience it seems this project would lend itself well to digitization, and maybe even interactivity — perhaps something along the lines of Lonely Planet's city guides (on a smaller scale, of course). At the very least, this map deserves a website.

The sky might really be falling

The latest survey from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project this week spelled out some dismal news for newspapers. Most notably:

Most Americans (69%) say that if their local newspaper no longer existed, it would not have a major impact on their ability to keep up with information and news about their community.



PewInfographic.PNG

Click here for interactive version.

That percentage increased to 75% when looking only at 18-29 year-olds. Newspapers aren't out the door quite yet, however. Though those percentages point to an impending irrelevance, "[a]mong all adults, newspapers were cited as the most relied-upon source or tied for most relied upon for crime, taxes, local government activities, schools, local politics, local jobs, community/neighborhood events, arts events, zoning information, local social services, and real estate/housing."

You can view the entire report here.


Related:


  • How many imprints does Amazon run?
  • More Publishing Week in Review coverage

  • September 02 2011

    Publishing News: Amazon and the sub-$300 tablet

    Here's what caught my eye in publishing news this week.

    Can Amazon's tablet crack the $300 barrier?

    Editor's note: Shortly after we posted "Publishing News," TechCrunch published an exclusive about the Amazon tablet. The big news: it's called "Amazon Kindle," it's 7-inches wide, it's scheduled for release in late November, and — most notable — it will sell for $250.


    amazon-logo-300.pngA couple interesting things happened on the ereader/tablet front this week. Sony announced its Sony Reader Wi-Fi, weighing in at a consumer-friendly $149. Forrester also released a report that explains "exactly how, and why, Amazon will disrupt the tablet market."

    In a blog post, Forrester declares that "[if] Amazon launches a tablet at a sub-$300 price point — assuming it has enough supply to meet demand — we see Amazon selling 3-5 million tablets in Q4 alone." Perhaps spurred by HP's repeated "last runs" and $99 fire sale, "unnamed sources" at Amazon told the NY Post "[the] device will sell for hundreds less than the entry-point $499 iPad."

    PC World notes: "[it] seems as if Amazon wants to sell more hardware first, and then hope to make up the difference in the sales of content later." It wouldn't be the first time Amazon bit the bullet to gain market share.

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    The "EMAIL" copyright turns 29

    The copyright associated with "EMAIL" turned 29 this week (the copyright holder, V.A. Shiva, was 14 when he submitted the paperwork, which might explain the use of all caps.). As you might expect, Shiva takes issue with declarations and predictions about email's demise:

    Shiva writes on his blog:

    Ironically, even as Zuckerburg declares as some trade journals said, "EMAIL IS DEAD," he is launching @Facebook as a direct challenge to GMail. He says it will have EMAIL in it, along with other types of "messaging." Facebook produces billions of EMAIL messages everyday.

    vashiva_infographic.jpg
    A screenshot of the History of EMAIL infographic created by V.A. Shiva.

    Even with IM and texting on the rise, email won't be delegated to a retirement home anytime soon. We are, after all, in the Information Age and the Age of Social Media — and so far, email has been the tie that binds it all together.

    Stephen King turns to Klout for pre-release marketing

    Mile81Cover2.JPGIn the wake of an author going apoplectic about a few books slipping out ahead of the scheduled release date, it's refreshing to see another big-name author purposefully using a similar technique as a marketing ploy. Stephen King's book "Mile 81" was published this week, but readers didn't necessarily have to wait for the official pub date to get their digital hands on the thing. King released early copies of the digital-only book to a few lucky people deemed influential (social-media-wise) by Klout.

    King is no stranger to experimentation, but this latest promotion may have left something on the table. The early release copies, for instance, were made available just a few days before the actual release date. That's not all that impressive when compared to something like Pottermore, which is granting two months' worth of advanced access to early members. That said, "Mile 81" is a step in the right direction, and it'll be something to watch if King embraces a similar marketing strategy for his next full-price bestseller.

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