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Study reveals Kindle's weak points as Google enters the ring
By Chris Gaylord | 06.01.09


Excerpt:

Sony's Reader, the No. 2 ebook device on the market, has never put up much of a fight. But the New York Times reported yesterday that Google is Amazon's newest challenger - and its entry could bolster Sony.

Google has no interest in manufacturing a device, according to the Times. Instead, the company will create a new online marketplace for ebooks.

Google's move is likely to be welcomed by publishers who have expressed concerns about Amazon's aggressive pricing strategy for e-books. Amazon offers Kindle editions of most new best sellers for $9.99, far less than the typical $26 at which publishers sell new hardcovers. In early discussions, Google has said it will allow publishers to set consumer prices.

This online bookstore will be separate from the 1.5 million public-domain books that Google posted online. However, if the Times report is true (Google's plans are still up in the air), the for-sale ebooks will likely use the same file format as the public-domain titles. This means Google could convince publishers to open up hundreds or thousands of new releases to mobile phones and the Sony Reader.

Unlike Google's ebooks, Amazon's selection will only work their devices or the Kindle iPhone app.

A new format war?
Full article: http://features.csmonitor.com/innovation/2009/06/01/study-reveals-kindles-weak-points-as-google-enters-the-ring/
 

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Interesting, also, to see at what price point Google eBooks are set, when left to the publishers. That $10 Kindlebook barrier at Amazon seems pretty hard to exceed, unless it's a DAMNED popular (e.g. Harry Potter) book! The "rest of the pack" may still find themselves chasing Kindle, much like iPod competitors, while Amazon continues to set standards in features and price. With their current popularity, Amazon needs to solidify their Kindle lead by making the Kindlebook store as compelling as iTunes is for mp3s, in variety, price, and ease of use. Match superior hardware with online excellence.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.......
 

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I see a fair number of books breaking the $9.99 price, and not just megapopular titles. But aside from the LOTR trilogy I've yet to bite.

I'm not sure how much they could charge for the HP books. For one thing, they are all out in paperback (but not trade paperback, interestingly enough) so $10 is about the max they could charge without exceeding the DTB price. Of course, that doesn't mean they WON'T charge more, and probably sell like gangbusters at a $15 price, but it is clearly extortion to do so. Plus they have saturated the market with DTB copies, all of which can be readily found used, the series is complete, and it is several years old at this point. I suppose the remaining two movies will keep interest high for another few years, but to me the HP series should be bargin priced as I figure most folks who want to read it have already bought it.

I want more competition, a monopoly is never a good thing. If google books are readable (natively or through conversion) to the kindle, then all the better. There is a LOT of innovation to be had in the e-book market, both readers and e-books, so the more competition, the faster it will happen and the cheaper it will be for us.
 

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I think with the loyal Kindle base that Google would do well to make their books available to Kindle users. Even with the propietory format, Amazon has been able to capture a large market share of the ebook community. Google could capitalize on that by formatting their books in a way that will easily transfer and be readable on the Kindle.
 

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I think the competition is a great thing.  It is what the ebook market has lacked for over a decade, and why it has had trouble pushing into mainstream.  This article makes me glad I own both the kindle and Sony! **Rubs hands together while whispering "about time"  ;)
 

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MAGreen said:
I think with the loyal Kindle base that Google would do well to make their books available to Kindle users. Even with the propietory format, Amazon has been able to capture a large market share of the ebook community. Google could capitalize on that by formatting their books in a way that will easily transfer and be readable on the Kindle.
Hn, I read one of the articles on this, and it said that there would be a weird way to gain access to books through caches left on any device with an internet connection (including the Kindle). They said it might be tricky to access with the Kindle. But I don't see why google would want to lock out Amazon people...

Some people are saying in the Amazon vs Google war, Google will gut Amazon because Amazon's just a retailer while google is the internet.... basically that Amazon will go down and flames and that the kindle will become a vague memory.

I don't think so, if anyone, Sony would be the one to do that; they have a history of abandoning projects that they've invested time and money into.
 

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r0b0d0c said:
Interesting, also, to see at what price point Google eBooks are set, when left to the publishers. That $10 Kindlebook barrier at Amazon seems pretty hard to exceed, unless it's a DAMNED popular (e.g. Harry Potter) book! The "rest of the pack" may still find themselves chasing Kindle, much like iPod competitors, while Amazon continues to set standards in features and price. With their current popularity, Amazon needs to solidify their Kindle lead by making the Kindlebook store as compelling as iTunes is for mp3s, in variety, price, and ease of use. Match superior hardware with online excellence.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.......
I don't understand your post, I guess, but the majority of books by big publishers are above $10 at Amazon. If you want less than $10 books your limited to independent publishers, public domain knockoffs, or NY times best sellers. Amazon needs to face their biggest problem which is poorly formatted books. It will drive off non tech readers, which are the ones Amazon (no computer required) and google want to attract. Some here don't find these format problems to be more than a small annoyance. But the majority of potential customers that these companies are attempting to attract will find it a big issue and will stop shopping at the stores that sell books with format problems. I've said this before, and I'll repeat myself, Amazon is repeating mistakes other companies have made, and they are following ebook sellers who failed, sunk and went out of business. Amazon kindle can, and will, fail if they don't cater to the average reader. For ebooks to succeed people want to get a reader they can work, buy a book they can read, and read it with out issue. One of the big reasons Sony is still in the business (and Amazon hasn't taken them down) is because a customer can purchase a book, put it on the reader (yes, I have to go through the computer) but I can read the book without having to run a program to fix it first. I own both readers. In the last six months I've gotten in the habit of checking the Sony store for a book I want. If they have it I buy it, if they don't I check kindle, check they sample and hope that if it has errors they will show in the sample. I'm not alone. I have 2 friends who have both the Kindle and Sony. And they have gotten into the same habit. Many people will be fine with paying 2-3 dollars more for a book, knowing it will be formatted correctly. This is where the google/Sony advantage will come in. And , IMO, as much as I love kindle, Amazon needs to take a moment and rethink their slap anything in the market place and let the customers pay to be our editors and maybe, when we get time we will fix the books model. JMO.
 

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Anarel said:
Hn, I read one of the articles on this, and it said that there would be a weird way to gain access to books through caches left on any device with an internet connection (including the Kindle). They said it might be tricky to access with the Kindle. But I don't see why google would want to lock out Amazon people...

Some people are saying in the Amazon vs Google war, Google will gut Amazon because Amazon's just a retailer while google is the internet.... basically that Amazon will go down and flames and that the kindle will become a vague memory.

I don't think so, if anyone, Sony would be the one to do that; they have a history of abandoning projects that they've invested time and money into.
It is the history of ereaders. Amazon is not above repeating history. They won't go under, but Kindle can. And even Jeff says that, since K1's release, kindle is still not profitable. I really wish people who are always on the great search for cheap, free, lets circumvent the system books would look at the history of ebooks and see what that does to the system. Becasue without the system you reader is really limited.
 

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There is another thread but references a different article. . . .I'll merge this with that thread. . . .
 

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Red said:
I don't understand your post, I guess, but the majority of books by big publishers are above $10 at Amazon. If you want less than $10 books your limited to independent publishers, public domain knockoffs, or NY times best sellers.
That's news to me. Most books I purchase are between $5-$6.50 and I'm buying from big publishers. The only books that I pay $9.99 for are in hardback or most recent releases from authors, and I would pay a higher price in most cases for DTB. For example, I paid 9.99 for Onyx & Crake by Margaret Atwood and the paperback is currently going for $10.17 at Amazon, I could expect to pay $15 in my local store. Now maybe you meant new releases, but that's a rather arbitrary limitation. Most people don't buy the hardbacks.

Last night on a whim I added up what I spent on books since I got my Kindle (almost $300 in three months, so publishers are seeing an increase in sales to me) and the average price paid per volume ($5.93) and I only have five free novels and only one that was a dollar. So I think staying below the $9.99 price point is easy. I've yet to come across a poorly formatted book. I've found a few spelling errors, but nothing more then what I've come across on a DTB.

Publishers should stop fighting the conversion and figuring out how to embrace it. If Amazon was really smart they would start talking to Tivo. You know how when you watch commercials for programs you can hit "thumbs up" and it will automatically add to your record list? (There is a blinking thumbs up icon in the corner.) Could you imagine a blinking cursor in the corner when you're watching an author being interviewed on a TV show that if you clicked it your Tivo tells your Amazon account to send a sample to your Kindle? Talk about driving impulse sales.

Lara Amber
 

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No doubt, there are a TON of things they -could- do to cross-promote e-books or make them more functional than DTBs. The real question is whether or not the e-book market share will ever be high enough to justify it. If amazon is really seeing 30% of books available on kindle selling kindle versions, I gotta think that is pretty significant, even if amazon itself only accounts for a fraction of all books sold.

I don't think anyone can just replicate the DTB experience if they want to charge anywhere near the same retail price. They MUST do things like proper formating and correct image presentation (several books with maps are quite incomprehensible when displayed on my K2).

Heck, I'd like a reader based system of allowing corrections. I was reading "Reapers Gale" by Erikson and there were many places where carriage returns were skipped when two quotations were in series. So instead of this:

Character A said, "I am talking."

"No, I am typing" said character B.

it came out like

Character A said, "I am talking.""No, I am typing" said character B.  with the resulting confusion at times over who said what.

This was something I wish I could have corrected on the spot, with the changes being uploaded to the kindle store and sent out to everyone who bought the book. I understand the temptation to insert naughty words or whatnot would probably be too great for some, but as a feature to allow bibliophiles to self police their content, it would be AWESOME.

Plus they could do things like have the dictionary function link character names to an expanded "Dramatis Personae" (since it is a PITA to flip around in e-books, imagine how nice it would be to highlight a character or place and get an explanation of who that character is), link to a map that tracks where the characters are AT THAT POINT IN TIME of the book, have author embedded commentary, links to previous books, links to books the author though were particularly inspirational, etc. The cover of the book being the screen saver is another great idea. Sure, this stuff requires a bit of work for each e-book, but if they want to make me buy the e-book over the DTB at similar price points, this is the stuff I want to see.
 

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Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that Google has spent millions building an e-book library with DRM protection and no platform upon which to sell it?

I believe that something big is going to happen and that we're just beginning to hear the rumblings. My guess, as I stated in an earlier post, is that Google's library will be available for the Kindle DX. My guess is based solely on the fact that the Google library is in a specially encrypted PDF format and the DX supports PDF files directly. I could, of course, be wrong, but I simply cannot imagine that Google is not aware of the power of e-book reading devices.

One further clue: My books in the Google Library currently provide a buy link to only the paperback available from Amazon. I have no control over that but if I change the price on Amazon it also changes on Google.

EDIT: Here's a link - http://books.google.com/books
 

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Laraamber, just because those are the books you buydoesnt say anything about what is for sale. The discussion is about books that aren't bought, and why, as well as what is bought. The "average" book consumer, that amazon is wanting toturn into kindle readers shop for books to read based on interest level, than price.  Most are not "hardcore" for lack of a better word, and will not buy book, or spend time reading one because it is cheap.  If amazon,google, Sony, or anyone else wants to break open thematiet they will havetimake it appealing to the people who aren't already in the choir. Jmo.
 

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All Lara was doing was knocking down your bold, and incorrect, statements that "the majority of books by big publishers are above $10 at Amazon. If you want less than $10 books your limited to independent publishers, public domain knockoffs, or NY times best sellers."

There are plenty of less than $10 books out there that have nothing to do with buying them only because of price and plenty to do with interest level, put out by major publishers. I've bought plenty in all price ranges between $0 and $10 and so have others. Not everyone limits themselves to 99 cent books, just as not everyone limits themselves to $9.99 as a ceiling.
 
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