Amazon to shake up mobile tech world with new Kindle devices, content deals

Bloomberg | The Verge | CNN Money
Amazon will make waves in the world of tablets, e-readers and possibly even smartphones today when it announces new devices at a 1:30 ET event. Here is what you can expect.

The Amazon devices

The star of today’s show is expected to be the Kindle Fire 2 — a refresh of the original Fire that debuted in November and lit up holiday sales. Amazon claims the Kindle Fire holds 22 percent of the U.S. tablet market, but sales have slipped recently and Amazon is looking for a fresh spark to consumer interest. Read more


Majority of people who read news now get it on handheld devices

Pew Internet
More than half of Americans who regularly read news get it on handheld digital devices, according to new research. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found 54 percent of news-reading adults turn to cell phones, tablets or e-readers (question 23). There’s good news for writers: “41% of tablet owners and 35% of e-reader owners said they were reading more since the advent of e-content.”

The main focus of the Pew survey was on e-books and how Americans are embracing them. A few interesting facts: Read more


Amazon app update turns an iPad into a Kindle Fire

Until today, people with iPads or iPhones could use Amazon’s Kindle app only to read e-books. But a newly released version 2.9 of the app adds access to the over 400 magazines and newspapers that are available on Kindle Fire through Amazon’s Newsstand. This enables iPad users to opt for periodical subscriptions through Amazon instead of through Apple’s own iTunes Newsstand.

The new Kindle app for iOS enables magazine and newspaper viewing.

Apple still holds a couple competitive advantages: Its rules require Kindle app users to make purchases on instead of directly through the Kindle app, and the Kindle newspapers and magazines are mostly print replicas, while the Apple versions are actual iOS apps that may have unique features. Still, Amazon’s move introduces some healthy competition that should benefit Apple device owners, and offers publishers another avenue to reach them. Read more


Economist CEO foresees rapid audience shift from print to tablet

Andrew Rashbass tells Roy Greenslade that U.S. readers of The Economist expect to largely abandon the print product in the next two years, moving quickly to tablets. Greenslade reports:

The Economist’s own research reveals that 28% of its readers already own a tablet, with a further 23% expecting to own one within a year.

A survey of the Economist’s US subscribers asked those aged over 40 how they read the Economist – more than 95% said they read it in print. But when asked how they expect to read it in two years’ time, the number expecting to do so in print fell to 35%.

“I’ve never seen a statistic like it,” Rashbass said.

Related: Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab points out a problem for news organizations trying to plan investments in e-books and Kindle editions: Amazon never discloses how many e-readers it has sold. Read more

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Amazon’s Kindles may open new business opportunities for publishers

Monday Note
Frédéric Filloux speculates how publishers could take advantage of opportunities presented by Amazon’s new lineup of Kindle products. One idea is for publishers to give readers an e-ink Kindle (any model except the new Fire) with a two-year subscription — if Amazon lets them sell the “Special ScreenSavers Offers” ads that display when the device is idle. Another idea is for the device to come pre-loaded with with free e-books or trial subscriptions in order to retain new Kindle owners as long-term customers. Neither of these is possible now, but Filloux writes that publishers willing to work creatively with Amazon might be able to enact programs like this. || Earlier: Media companies may have a love-hate relationship with Amazon; 5 key questions about the Kindle Fire Read more


Amazon Kindle Fire tablet to cost only $199, regular Kindle drops to $79

Citing interviews with Amazon executives, Bloomberg reports that the new Amazon tablet, the Kindle Fire, will sell for only $199. That’s less than the $299 and $250 rumored prices, and an even starker contrast to the iPad, which starts at $499. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said during the announcement that the regular e-ink Kindle will drop to just $79, and a touchscreen Kindle will cost $20 more. The aggressive pricing makes it more likely these devices will spread widely, giving e-books and tablet news products a bigger audience. “The digital divide between haves and have-nots just potentially got a lot smaller,” declares Tim Carmody at Wired. || Related: 5 key questions for journalists and publishers about the Kindle Fire Read more

Kindle with Special Offers - Two Offers

Publishers should follow Amazon’s lead and offer subsidized tablets will begin selling ad-subsidized Kindles on May 3, and it may be time for newspapers to revisit the same business model.

Kindle with Special Offers - Two Offers
A new subsidized version of the Kindle will include ads and special offers.

Consider the original Kindle, launched in 2007 and sold at the time for $399. Now a subsidized Wi-Fi version, featuring screensaver and home screen ads, will be available for $114. As MG Siegler notes at TechCrunch, $99 would seem a bit easier to market, but perhaps that price point is being held back for the holiday season.

For publishers struggling to figure out how to make money on mobile platforms, Amazon may be on to something. One of the challenges of selling content on smartphones and tablets is the cost of ownership. Read more


New Palin book released as “digital single” for Kindle

A recent work by journalist Tony Reynolds, focused on Sarah Palin’s potential run for the White House, is one of the first to utilize Amazon’s “digital single” format for the Kindle.

Dianna Dilworth reports that the short book format, originally announced in October, is designed to include works of 10,000 to 30,000 words, or about 30 to 90 pages.

Reynolds’ book, “The Sarah Palin Rogue Revolution, Taking America by Storm” sells for $3.99 on, compared to $9.99 for a typical full-length e-book on the Kindle.

The digital single format has some potential for magazines or newspapers looking to distribute longer, or investigative, works that first appeared in print. In fact, the description of the Palin book reads more like a blog post promo than a full-length novel:

“The question of the day is this: Will Governor Sarah Palin run for President in 2012?

Read more

Color e-ink displays on the way for e-readers

New York Times
Eric Taub reports that the first color e-reader using e-ink technology has been unveiled and will go on sale in China next March. The display is based on similar black-and-white technology already used by Amazon, Sony and Barnes & Noble. Taub writes:

“To create the color image, E Ink uses its standard black-and-white display overlaid with a color filter. As a result, battery life is the same as its black-and-white cousins, measured in weeks rather than hours, as with the iPad.”

No U.S. manufacturer has announced plans to transition from the current black-and-white displays to this new technology. Taub notes that the color e-ink does not reproduce colors as brightly as an LCD screen and is not capable of supporting full-motion video:

“These are reasons Amazon, Sony and the other major e-reader makers are not yet embracing it. Read more

Random House gets back control over e-book rights

The New York Times
Book publisher Random House has won a dispute that had literary agent Andrew Wylie distributing 13 of his client’s classic book titles directly through

Julie Bosman reports that the controversy centered on books written before e-book rights were included in publishing contracts. Wylie, representing a group of authors that include Philip Roth, Martin Amis, Vladimir Nabokov, Hunter S. Thompson, John Updike, William S. Burroughs and Saul Bellow, had disputed Random House’s rights to the electronic editions of 13 “backlist titles” and agreed to sell the e-books exclusively for Amazon’s Kindle e-reader.

Bosman writes that the terms of the agreement between Random House and Wylie were not disclosed:

“[Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House] said they were consistent with agreements that Random House had reached with other literary agencies on backlist e-book rights. Read more
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