Is the new $139 Kindle still important for publishers?

Wall Street Journal
Amazon will release an updated version of its popular Kindle e-reader next month, and the online retailer is pricing the device to move.

The WiFi-only model will cost $139 and the 3G-capable model $189, making them each considerably cheaper than the $499 iPad. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the Kindle is now ready to go “mass market” at the new prices, “People will buy them for their kids. People won’t share Kindles any more.”

Geoffrey Fowler writes that Amazon is focused on differentiating the Kindle from multi-purpose tablets such as the iPad, and that may be good for book readers, but it does leave news publishers wondering if the device is still suitable for distributing news as part of a mobile strategy.

Bezos seems to answer that question:

” ‘There are going to be 100 companies making LCD [screen] tablets,’ he said. Read more

Kindle sold-out, e-ink screen may be limiting supply

PC World
Amazon’s recent move to cut the price of Kindle e-reader to $189 to boost sales is apparently working. The online retailer announced Tuesday that the device was currently out of stock and no likely shipping date is currently listed on the Amazon website.

Dan Nystedt reports that the issue may be due to a shortage of e-ink screens for the dedicated e-reader. Nystedt writes that E Ink Holdings which produces the Kindle screen for Amazon, announced Tuesday that it is working to increase capacity, but declined to comment on specific devices or clients.

“…the supply problem could become a thorny issue because the Kindle e-reader faces its greatest challenge yet with the launch of the iPad, according to market researcher iSuppli. ‘The move by Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon to slash the prices of their eBook readers reflects a fundamental change in their business strategy intended to counter the rising competitive pressure from Apple’s iPad,’ iSuppli said.” Read more

Lyons: Despite iPad, still room for dedicated e-readers

Daniel Lyons writes that despite the iPad quickly reaching sales of 3.3 million units, there will continue to be a market for dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos commented last week that a recent price cut by Amazon had “tripled” the growth rate of the Kindle, though the company has historically declined to release sales figures for the device. Lyons, recalling an interview with Bezos last fall, questions how important the Kindle hardware is to Amazon’s strategy in the first place:

“I suggested to Bezos that maybe Amazon didn’t care about selling Kindle machines, that maybe the device wasn’t important. He said that wasn’t the case, but that ‘our goal with the Kindle device is separate from the Kindle bookstore.’ Bezos insisted there is a market for ‘a purpose-built reading device,’ as he calls it. Read more

Book authors avoid publishers, sell direct via Amazon

A group of notable authors, and their estates, are bypassing traditional book publishers and turning some classic works directly into e-books in order to sell them exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle. The writers, including Philip Roth, Martin Amis, Vladimir Nabokov, Hunter S. Thompson, John Updike, William S. Burroughs and Saul Bellow, or their representatives have signed with literary agent Andrew Wylie, founder of Odyssey Editions, which will be selling e-books on for $9.99.

Alison Flood reports that the move is a direct challenge to traditional book publishers, who have argued that they own the digital rights to books for which they publish the traditional print editions.

“In December, Random House wrote to agents informing them of its belief that it holds exclusive rights to digital editions of the ‘vast majority’ of its backlist titles, even those acquired before electronic rights were specifically included in contracts. Read more

Amazon sells more e-books than hardcovers

paidContent reports that for the first time, sales of Kindle e-books are exceeding sales of hardcover books:

“Over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books. This is across’s entire U.S. book business and includes sales of hardcover books where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.”

Joseph Tartakoff also reports that Amazon is claiming the Kindle has “tripled” in sales since it was reduced in price from $259 to $189. However, as Tartakoff points out, Amazon has never released a number indicating total units sold, so it is not possible to determine how significant an increase in actual sales that represents. Read more


Study: IPad threatens dedicated e-reader market

A new study by Resolve Market Research indicates that Apple’s iPad may pose more of a threat to the e-reader and portable gaming console markets than to laptops and netbooks.

Christina Warren reports that devices such as the Kindle and Nook look especially vulnerable as 49 percent of those surveyed indicate that an iPad purchase would negate the need for a separate e-reader. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble reduced the price of their e-readers last month in apparent response to market pressure from Apple.

This study would seem to confirm an obvious trend in the mobile economy: consumers would prefer to carry one device rather than two or three. The question for content creators might be whether or not the cost of dedicated e-readers can be reduced enough to remove them from direct competition with more fully featured phone and tablet devices. Read more


Kindle DX upgrade includes easier-to-read screen

Amazon launched the latest upgrade to its e-reader line Thursday, with a color change and new higher contrast screen on the Kindle DX. Staci Kramer reports the new graphite colored Kindle is being priced to better compete with Apple’s iPad.

“The 9/7″ screen size remains the same, but Amazon says a new, high contrast e-ink display offers 50 percent more contrast for a lower price. The 22 percent price cut to $379 from $489 is slightly less than last week’s 27 percent Kindle 2 drop to $189 yet still widens the price gap between the grayscale 3G Kindle DX and its glossy new color competitor, the iPad from Apple — $629 for the lowest-priced 3G model — to nearly 40 percent.”

> Kindle DX Gets a Better Screen, Lower Price (Mashable)
> The Kindle DX, Now In Black — Like That Other Device We Shall Not Name (TechCrunch) Read more


Amazon bumps ups publisher royalties

Publishers who meet a specific set of criteria with their Kindle e-books will now be eligible to receive 70 percent of the revenue from each digital copy sold, minus Amazon’s delivery costs for the content.

Robin Wauters reports that the new profit split will only be available on books that meet a specific set of criteria:

  • “The author or publisher-supplied list price must be between $2.99 and $9.99.
  • “The list price must be at least 20 percent below the lowest list price for the physical book.
  • “The title is made available for sale in all geographies for which the author or publisher has rights.
  • “The title will be included in a broad set of features in the Kindle Store, such as text-to-speech. This list of features will grow over time as Amazon continues to add more functionality to Kindle and the Kindle Store.
Read more


Should the Kindle be free?
Dennis Kneale, Media & Technology Editor at CNBC, argues that the recent price cuts for the Amazon Kindle are not enough. The online bookseller this week reduced the price for its e-reader $70 to $189. Kneale calls instead for the devices to be offered for free as a loss-leader on the sales of e-books.

“Amazon isn’t a hardware company, it’s a bookseller. Online books promise prodigious profits for Amazon — look Ma! No print-publishing costs! No shipping costs! No warehousing costs! That ain’t peanuts: Last year Amazon’s net shipping costs rose 35 percent to just shy of $850 million.” Read more

Florida school hopes to replace all textbooks with Kindles
A high school in Clearwater, Fla., is preparing to replace textbooks with e-readers for all of its 2,100 students. School officials have not settled on a vendor, but the St. Petersburg Times (which is owned by Poynter) reports they are hoping to purchase Amazon Kindles.

“Principal Keith Mastorides said he was inspired to make the switch earlier this school year after campus surveys revealed a desire to integrate more technology with classroom instruction. ‘When you think about students today, three-quarters of their day is spent on some kind of electronic device,’ Mastorides said. ‘We’re just looking at textbooks a little differently.’ “

Rebecca Catalanello reports that the school believes it might be the first high school to entirely replace their textbooks but have been unable to confirm that fact. Read more

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