USA Today – EBooks to Increase

usat_logo2Interesting article on eBooks and Amazon in USA Today.

Tension grows as publishers target Amazon Kindle pricing
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2009-12-11-ebooks11_CV_N.htm

Forrester Research estimates that domestic consumers will buy 6 million e-readers in 2010, up from 3 million this year. “For the first time in history, consumers are realizing that reading books digitally can be a pleasurable experience,” Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps says. And that means “the sky’s the limit” for sales of e-readers and e-books.

There are quite a few similarities between the Kindle and the iPod in terms of fixed pricing. Consumers love the low price of MP3s in Apple’s iTunes Store. So Amazon has been copying that by selling new bestsellers at around $9.99, while the print version is about $25. Publishers are unhappy about this for many reasons, but it’s a trend that’s going to be difficult to prevent.

The big rumors are that Apple will eventually release a tablet computer that may even rival the reading quality of these ebook readers. If that happens, there’s going to be a pricing war to sell the cheapest books, magazines, and other content for ereaders. After all, once someone commits to one of these online stores (like iTunes), it’s probably difficult to get them to leave.

I do a lot of shopping on Amazon. It’s unlikely that I’d leave the Amazon experience to shop in the Sony store. If I had a Nook, I’d shop the BN.com online store, since it has a really terrific selection of books. And I’d definitely shop on iTunes, since I already buy most of my music there.

Some Links:

Forrester: eReaders to Take Off in 2010

eReaders to reach 10 MillionForrester Research just released a report that suggests eReaders — like the Kindle, Sony eReader, and the Nook — will take off in 2010.

According to Forrester, “we expect sales in 2010 to double, bringing cumulative sales of eReaders to 10 million by year-end 2010.” Wow, that’s a lot of eReaders, many of which will undoubtedly be sold in this coming holiday cycle. (“Merry Christmas, grandma, here’s 1,500 books. Don’t forget to charge the battery.”)

Most people have a hard time imagining the potential of an eReader. That is, until they hold one in their hands or take a long flight. My guess is that these first eReaders, including my space-age Kindle 2, will seem rather quaint in a few years.

Right now, the eReader is just another single-use device. But pretty soon, we’ll see them double as digital planners, video players, and web devices. With more eReaders, there will be more reading options.

Yup, this is the start of something great.

Flexible Future – Readius eReader

Readius-hand-smRight now, we’re in the early stages of ebook technology. The playing field is rather flat, as consumers haven’t truly made a decision about who will be the leader in the field. Mainly because the grass in the field still hasn’t matured enough for a real game.

A new ereader by Readius shows a lot of promise because — get this — it rolls up. Yeah, like a little newspaper. How cool is that?

Okay, in concept, it’s really cool. In practice, the first Readius is chunky and uninspiring. It’s sort of like early “portable” computers that weighed 20+ pounds. My first portable was like lugging around a cinder block

But this is new technology. And if you’re willing to squint a little and tilt your head to the side, the darn thing looks a little like the future of ereading. Because after all, isn’t an ebook supposed to be about breaking out of rigid standards and into a more flexible future?

Tumor on Kindle – Comics as eBooks

tumorcover1As ebooks grow in popularity, we’re starting to see more ebook exclusive releases. What’s impressive is the recent announcement by Amazon and Archaia, a comic book publisher based here in New Jersey, (disclosure: I know the people at Archaia personally) to release a comic book on the Kindle before the print release.

The Kindle 2 handles images pretty well, but it’s still black and white and, well, pretty small. So most people who create comic books (including me) are trying to understand how to best format their existing comics for ebook readers.

What makes the Archaia deal so interesting is that their comic book will be formatted specifically for the Kindle a full six months before it is released in print. That gives the publisher plenty of time to decide how to package the print edition.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, the first issue of the comic book “Tumor” will be free and then the next seven issues will be 99 cents, bringing the total to $7.92 for the whole series. The print edition will sell for $14.95.

When you consider that many new comic books retail each week for $3.99, you have to wonder what’s going to happen to that core business. And when high-quality color ebook devices become available, will many people still be willing to pay $3.99 for a print comic when a 99 cent version is available?

Now that comics are going to the Kindle, get ready for even more interesting changes in the comic book publishing industry.

Book Expo 2009 – A quick recap

Book Expo 2009Last weekend I went to the Book Expo of America 2009 in New York City. It’s a show that comes around every three years, so it’s not one that I want to miss. As the author of several books (and hopefully more in the future!), I attend the shows to network and connect with publishers.

Since last show, however, we’ve seen the launch of ebook readers, including the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. Many publishers offered ebook versions of new releases, which seemed to draw little attention from media reporting on the event. And yet, neither Sony nor Amazon nor Google (which is now selling ebooks!) had any significant presence at the Expo, which is more or less a professional trade show.

As an author, I would have liked to have seen at least Sony and Amazon at the convention with big informational booths. Y’know, preaching the digital gospel and stuff. I even brought my Kindle with me, just in case Amazon was giving away free sample books or whatever. Sadly, there was nothing there but a little standing kiosk. Nothin’ fun for us early adopters.

Side note: One of the convention organizers said that the word “BEA” was one of the most Twittered words in the country that weekend. That’s kind of cool. And there were several digital-focused panels, including a couple on blogging and Twittering, which was interesting to see.

Despite the ups and downs of the recession, the show still seemed vibrant and alive. It felt a little less crowded than in previous years, but there were still a lot of publishers and interesting exhibitors. It’s a brightly lit Candyland of fun for people who love books. You can’t actually buy anything at Book Expo, but you can certainly plan some of things you’d like to see under the Christmas tree this year.

And, yes, a little reassurance that (despite the digital revolution) there are still people out there who plan to buy books. At least for a little while.

LINKS – NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS

BEA Attendance Update…..

Thank God It’s Thursday: Book Expo ’09

Book Expo America 2009 – A Summary

My Dear John to Kindle 2

Dear Kindle 2,

Hey, baby, I love you, you know that right? So as I write this, please know that my love for you is undying. You were my first eBook reader, and everyone remembers their “first.”

I am in love with another. And like a bad romance novel…I love your sister, Kindle DX.

Now, before you freak out and delete all my eBooks, I want you to remember that I DO love you. (And, quite frankly, I paid for those books and I am planning to transfer them to DX as soon as she’s available this summer.)

Kindle DXYour sister Kindle DX…where do I start? I fell in love the first time her picture was leaked on CNet.

She’s thin and white, just like you. I can see the family resemblance. But she’s tall and really easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean.

And compared to your perfectly acceptable QWERTY keyboard, her ergonomically cute button keyboard seems so…I don’t know…futuristically relevant? Is futuristically even a word? I will have to check my Kindlictionary. Yes, good. Words matter.

Anyway, DX does things for me that you just refuse to do. And I have needs.

For example, DX supports PDF right out of the box. You may not think it’s a big deal to convert to PDF, but…she just knows how to do it automatically. I don’t even have to ask.

Speaking of needs, she can rotate my images just like my Apple iTouch. And while you hold an impressive 1,500 books…she’s deep enough to accommodate 3,500 books. I don’t know why that matters…since I don’t even have that many books…but I guess I am just impressed by girth.

Well, that’s it. Please don’t hate me. I do not hate you. I just found someone I like better. Don’t dwell on the fact that she’s younger than you.

There are so many things I will cherish about our relationship. And until DX comes out, I’d like us to remain “friends with benefits” okay?

Fondly forever,

Buddy Scalera
http://www.buddyscalera.com

More Kindle blogging by me:

LINKS, NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS

Kindles + Kids = 37 Billion Reasons

When I talk to friends and co-workers about the Kindle 2, they are amazed at the ebook technology, but doubtful that they’ll be using one anytime soon. At a price of $359 (and during a recession), they’re right. They probably will NOT be using an ebook this year. Or next.

But you know who will? Their kids.

According the the US Department of Education, there were approximately 34.9 million children in grades K-8 in public schools in 2008. By 2014, they estimate that number to increase to 37.2 million.

That’s a lot of students. That’s a LOT of textbooks.

According to some Internet sources, it can cost anywhere from $800-$1,000 to give textbooks to students every year. Some sources say an average textbook is about $52. (It’s hard to offer a good credible source. If you have one that supports or disputes this claim, please offer some links.)

So simple math here based on 2014 enrollment estimates:$1,000 times 37 million is $37 billion.

Anyway, kids. Yeah. Expensive, aren’t they?

Kids don’t need paper to get the benefit of the education that’s been written. They need information to get smart. We can give them Internet access, but that’s just one resource.

My Kindle ($359) weighs 10 oz. My laptop ($1,200) is about 5 lbs. That may not be much for me, but it is for a 10-year-old.

In a few years, it’s likely that we’ll see government-issued ebook readers replacing overstuffed backpacks. It may be the Kindle or the Sony e-Reader, but it will probably be some new manufacturer that has big government contracts.

Something more durable and utilitarian. Something that’s less hackable and more controllable than the average PC.

Teachers will assign chapters and reading over the school’s wireless network. Schools will only pay for the chapters they assign. New editions of textbooks will be downloaded directly from the publisher’s website via secure FTP.

Less paper. Less storage space. Less money spent on giving textbooks to 37 million students per year.

Say what you will about public schools, but most people in the US attend these schools. Our country generates a lot of smart people because there are a lot of smart people running and teaching in these schools.

A back of the napkin calculation shows that we may be looking at $37 billion in textbooks in 2014.

You can bet there are school administrators crunching numbers too. And while the economics of first generation ebook readers don’t make sense now, that will soon change. Prices will drop, technology will improve, and the economics will become compellingly obvious.

You may never read books using an ebook reader. But your kids in grammar school? They will.

Links….Not Necessarily Endorsements:

Week 2 with Kindle 2

It’s week two or so with the new Kindle 2. Despite being an extremely easy device to use, I still found it took me time to become really comfortable with it. Like most people who saw it for the first time, I was reaching for the screen, since it really looked like it would be perfect for a touch-based interface. Maybe next version.

Over the first few days, I handled it gingerly. It was transported carefully in the original box, since I hadn’t opted to buy one of the many available cases.

Then, after a while, I started to just treat it like another part of my collection. Dropped it in the pocket of my heavy winter coat, and off I went. And you know what? It survived. Nice. The Kindle 2 is proving to be a tough, road-worthy companion.

Right now, I primarily subscribe to the New York Times daily and one of my favorite blogs, which is Read Write Web. And despite a few gripes about navigating articles, I’m really impressed with K2. Durable, fast, convenient. So far, so good.

Been exploring a few Kindle-specific blogs too, which is making me feel like I am part of some cool new club for readers. Check out:

Joe Wikert’s Kindleville Blog: All Kindle, All the Time

Blog Kindle

Kindle 2 Day 1 – Newspaper Renewal

Today was my first full day with the Amazon Kindle 2.  It came yesterday when I was at work.

By cosmic coincidence, so did the renewal reminder for our daily newspaper subscription. I wonder if the gods of media were trying to tell me something.

The cost of subscribing to my daily newspaper The Record is a mere $2.25 per week. That comes to only $117 per year. That’s pretty low.

Unfortunately, my newspaper is not available on the Kindle (yet), so I opted for a test subscription to The New York Times. Ironically, the cost of the times is actually $167.88, even though it is delivered wireless to the Kindle.

Although, I have to admit, getting the New York Times on the Kindle was actually rather cool. The images were sharp, the text could be increased, and it was a pretty good feeling to know that I didn’t waste any paper…y’know, reading the paper.

It was also nice to read a few of my favorite blogs, including Read-Write-Web on the Kindle.  It was a gorgeous day outside and I just sat in the park and read. The display was perfect.

So…Day 1 with the Kindle 2…pretty impressive all around. And the newspaper gets another renewal. At least for now.