Tag Archives: Barnes & Noble

3 Reasons Why E-Book Failed In 2000 And What It Means For 2010

There is no doubt that 2010 has a lot to gain from the e-book industry. There are six e-book devices (Kindle, Nook, iPad etc) in the market and more soon to be released. As per predictions from a major business magazine up to seven million of these devices will be offered for sale next year.

Moreover, one of the major consulting firms have predicted that e-book sales will account for close to 10 percent of the the publishing market in five years. Clearly that indicates the rate at which more and more publishers will switch to electronic book publishing.

But this was not the case in the year 2000. Here are a few reasons for what went wrong in 2000 for the e-book industry and how could those mistakes be avoided in2010.

1. Lack of sufficient e-books – One of the mindsets that users of e-book devices had and still have is that if they don’t get to read all the books (literally all books under the sun) on their device then the worth of the device starts losing its value. If voracious readers are asked how many books would they like to read on their e-book device they would just say all (else there is no point spending hundreds of dollars on the device).

But in 2000 there weren’t much e-books available. They were expensive to covert to an e-book format and publishers were too reluctant to think in those terms. Today, the scenario is different – far better (although much scope to improve). Almost all of the top 10 New York Time Bestsellers were available in e-book format. Although some issues around the availability is the timing. Barnes & Nobles had 15 books i its Coming Soon List but made only 6 out of those 15 were made available in eb–k format the same time as the print release. That still is and will continue to be a huge concern for users and this is somethig the ebook industry should be careful about.

Another concern that needs to be addressed is the gaps in the way the books are available. For example many of the books of popular authors are not available in the Kindle store but are available in Nook device. There needs to be some consistency here in order to increase the e-book adoption rate.

2. Pricing – In 2000 many of the ebooks were priced the same as their print versions. But the way a user percieves a hardcover book is different from the way he would look at an e-book. Hardcover  books gives a nice feeling, has more substance and they can keep it in their book shelves to show how tasteful they are. But all of this is missing in an e-book. Moreover, due to the same reason the cost of publishing an ebook is much lower as compared to  a paperback/hardcover.  So why not pass on that cost saving to the users. keeping the same price is definitely not justfiable.

Amazon had been trying to resolve this by pricing the ebooks much lower than their print versions but this arrangement could not be carried on due to challenges raised by Macmillan. And now Apple also in a way supporting what Macmillan had been asking for the industry is shifting towards agency model pricing (where the publisher and NOT the retailers decide the price of the ebook at which the retailers will have to sell to the end users).  Pricing still remains a big topic of debate in 2010.

3. Poor Marketing – One of the ways by which a market for tech prodcucts are created is by identifying a groups of users and some of the problems they are facing and then trying to solve their problem with the product. I am not sure if ebook had succeded in filling up this gap back in 2000. But even now I am not sure if that need for an ebook device/reader is felt very highly. I think most of the buzz and envestment in the ebook industry is still being driven a lot by strategy than by user needs. Its just that ebooks are considered to be a huge area of oportunity and so all publishers and electronic companies are jumping into making their own device just to be sure to take full benefits of the opportunity. I think the need/benefit for an ebook needs to be better pronounced. Check out Amazon’s announcement of why one should use kindle – Point to see is that it lists all the features but not the benefits to the users.

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USA Today Bestseller Will Include Kindle and Nook Sales Data

USA today Best seller’s list will now have significant influence from ebooks sales happening through Kindle and Nook. I believe that this is a step in right direction as now significant sale happens through these channels it is high time these rating agencies start including them.

However, I believe it will be best if they could somehow get usage data from Google Books. Is it possible today?

Rankings for USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books List are based on retail sales data collected each week that include more than 2.5 million volumes from about 7,000 physical retail outlets in addition to books sold online. USA TODAY’s list ranks titles regardless of genre or format, providing one of the best assessments of which books are most popular among readers and consumers each week. USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list has been published each Thursday in the newspaper’s Life section since October 28, 1993.

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Amazon Shares Down 6% After Accepting Macmillan’s eBook Pricing Strategy

After a much heated up debate between the two companies, Amazon.com has finally agreed to give in to publishing giant Macmillan and will be selling e-books at a higher price (price that Amazon thinks is too high).

Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”, Andrew Young’s “The Politician” and other books published by Macmillan were made unavailable for sale on Amazon.com last Saturday, as Amazon thought the publishers’ new pricing strategy was too high for the e-books.

In an attempt to stay ahead of the competition that Amazon is facing from Barnes & Noble, Sony (and now Apple once the iPad is available) Amazon had decided to offer e-books at $9.99. A price that publishers say is too low and would seriously hurt their sales revenues for some of the higher priced hardcovers.

Amazon told customers on its online Kindle Forum that it “expressed our strong disagreement with Macmillan’s determination to charge higher prices”.   Under the new pricing strategy e-books will be priced from $12.99 to $14.99 the first time it is offered and prices will change over the time.

“We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books,” Amazon said in the posting.

Macmillan is one of the largestt English language publishers division including St. Martin’s Press, Henry Holt & Co. and Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent told The Associated Press that they were in discussions with Amazon in order to resolve the differences.

As per Amazon other publishers might “see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.”

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Barnes & Noble Bookstore Built Into The Apple Tablet

The much awaited and the much talked about Apple Tablet will be launched on Wednesday, but out of all the varied rumors about the eReader one rumor pretty much confirmed to be a fact is that the Apple Tablet will be a full colored eReader (Now that might be a big worry for Amazon’s Kindle).

Newspaper and magazine publishers have been trying hard to get on to the device but something to think about here is that whether Apple will be adding these newspaper/magazines to their existing iTunes or will they be building a dedicated ebook store (like the iTunes store)

We believe there is a good chance there will be a Barnes & Noble bookstore built into the Apple Tablet, either as one of the showcase apps which launches with the device, powering a new book section in iTunes, or integrated directly into the Tablet’s e-reader. The two companies are thought to be working closely together, increasing the likelihood that Barnes & Noble will be part of the announcement on Wednesday. While Apple can run around cutting deals with the larger publishers, a built-in Barnes & Noble bookstore could include up to a million titles in one fell swoop, just like on B&N’s own Nook reader

Read the full story on Techcrunch

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Sneak Peak into The Year of eBook Reader

Since Amazon’s launch of Kindle (over two years ago), sale of digital book in the U.S has gone up exponentially, says Forrester Research.  From January 2009 to September revenues sprang up to $109 million as compared to $52.4 million in 2008. Moreover Forrester predicts that the ebook market is likely to hit $500 million by end of 2010.

While retailers like Barnes & Noble (eReader: Nook), are trageting a bigger portal into a vast digital best-seller library other electronic giants like Sony (eReader: Reader) and companies like Entourage (eReader: eDGe) are targeting more of the niche markets like academia and depending primarily on content partnerships with libraries and publishers.

There is already a series of eBook readers in the market and a couple of weeks ago almost a dozen more introduced  their ebook related venture at the Consumer Electronics Show. With so many already out there and so many to come (including Apple’s iSlate expected to be launched later this month) it seems by summer there will be multiple options that users could choose from to access digital cotent.

List of eReaders in 2010

Amazon’s Kindle: Very user friendly, Amazon’s Kindle was the first to offer wireless downloading of books and digital content. According to Forrester, Kindle holds about 60% of the eReader market and with a slightly higher share of eBook content sales.

Barnes&Noble’s Nook: Powered by Android Nook has slightly different UI than the Kindle – It has a colored touchscreen strip instead of a keyboard(unlike Kindle) for navigation. Biggest USP: ability to share e-books with friends and family(feature that is missing in Kindle).

Sony’s Reader: With 35% of the e-reader market, Sony is the no. 2 e-reader(although this might significantly change after Nook is released later next month). Sony’s latest version: “Daily Edition” unlike the previous one offers a wireless connection for downloading content. Although it has done a fairly good job in terms of UI and overall user experience content-wise the Sony’s Reader still has a long way to go: It offers only about 200,000 digital books (this is no where near the breadth available on Amazon’s Kindle or even Barnes&Noble’s Nook).

Spring Design’s Alex: Ready to be launched in February, Spring Design’s Alex was one of the many e-readers to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. Like Nook, Alex is also powered by Google Android but it offers one extra feature that Amazon’s Kindle does not:”full internet browsing”. In terms of content, Alex has partnered with Borders Group to feature the online book retailers on its device. This in itself guarnatees about 2 million digital book titles. Not Bad at all

Skiff eReader: Owned by media giant Hearst, Skiff offers reading newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. One of the coolest feature that most of the analysts are excited about is that it will allow publishers and content creators to market and distribute their products to other e-readers, smartphones, tablet devices, and computers.

Qualcomm’s Mirasol: Qualcomm’s Mirasol technology is yet another interesting eReader that made its debut at the CES. Mirasol e-reader display is said to have some features that will allow users to see color on their e-books. Mirasol is extected to release post summer this year.

Entourage’s eDGe: Scheduled to relase in February, eDGe is the first e-reader that will have two screens to read from: One of the screens would be for web browsing andthe other reading the digital books. Entourage is said to have signed a number of deals with textbook publishers like McGraw-Hill and Oxford University Press.

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Too Many eBook Readers Might Lead to Too Much Confusion

2010 is going to be flooded with too many ebook devices. Almost every electronics company, book retailer and publishers might launch their own devices. But would so many options leave all consumers happy and satisfied? Analysts predict there would be two kinds of happy e-book reader owners – consumers who paid a hefty amount for a branded ebook from one of the major online retailers (I obviously mean Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook etc) and consumers who spend only about $50-$70 on unbranded ebook readers that support a lot of formats and where consumers will have the potential of downloading pirated copies of ebooks. People who are left are the ones who land up buying the two-tier ebook readers and the makers of them-These people might just be the unsatisfied ones.

e ink based readers by most of the tech companies brings a new dimension to the entire ebook marketplace. I think it would not only increase confusion but also encourage privacy and bring down any company who gets in and can’t hack it against Nook or Kindle.

The competition over device design, platforms, formats, DRM will bring more and more confusion into consumers’ minds and it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish between a good device from bad,  a good (worthy) price from bad. In fact some might just emphasize cheap price over quality, interface and service.

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How can eBooks Become More Social

Some of the next steps for the eBook industry is to get more social so that user interactions while reading an ebook (whether on an ereader device  or on any other device) grow and make the entire experience more valuable/productive.

The ability to annotate, highlight and  share your thoughts with other users have been somewhat limited with the eink devices. “With the latest versions of Stanza for the iPhone readers can highlight, annotate and share their via email, facebook or twitter, their thoughts about the book they are currently reading.

Barnes&Noble’s Nook has this great feature where users can lend the ebook they are/were reading (although once the ebook is lent for the timeframe it is with the other user the lender will not be able to read the book)

Recently announced eBook reading platforms: Blio and Copia are also doing interesting stuff around the ebook software/platform to make it more social/interactive and increase user engagement. “Blio aims to deliver interactivity by allowing readers to insert text, drawing, voice, image or video notes directly into your content. These can be saved, and can be exported to create lists or study materials”.

Copia on the other hand has built an entire platform around Goodreads-“social networking around eBooks” They aim to integrate the social networking sites within the device itself. With this sort of integration one can check which books their friends are buying, what do they think about the book, which book is a hit and which is not, recommendations(am assuming this would be pretty much like the Amazon recommendation model) etc. Moreover Copia claims that you can loop in your existing social networks…I think that will be simply awesome.

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