Ebooks In Europe: The Game Really IS Afoot

Kindle has just launched officially in France at €99 and a decent seeming catalogue of French titles to go with the English language books already available. Of course Amazon has also opened the French market to self-publishers and independent publishers through their Kindle Direct Platform.

Yesterday Google brought its UK ebook store online. Last week, iBooks launched in over two dozen countries around Europe. And this only six months since Amazon launched Kindle in Germany.

It is clear now that the pace of adoption of ebooks will rise in Europe if only because availability of ereaders AND ebooks is increasing rapidly here.

What’s more the price for the new Kindle, at JUST sub-€100 is very attractive. I can see many Kindle boxes under the tree this Christmas.

That means the luxury of waiting is no longer an option for booksellers. Waterstone’s may not have time to wait for the perfect ereader. To my mind it NEEDS to launch one pre-Christmas.

In short, the game is afoot and who wins is by no means clear!
Eoin 

Go Read This | The New Value of Text | booktwo.org

A powerful piece by James Bridle, I agree with most of it, though some grates a little:

Finally, the text still requires context. As publishers spin up their digital and print-on-demand backlists, more and more is published with less and less context. These efforts amount to land-grabs and rights-squatting, without adding value. Works without TOCs, indexes, author bios, footnotes. Placing work in context is one of publishers’ primary tasks, stretching out to commissioning introductions, assembling background material, supporting biographies and critical studies. Design belongs here too: good book design, appropriate book design, as important now as it has ever been.

via The New Value of Text | booktwo.org.

Go Read This | Thad McIlroy – Future Of Publishing » Don’t Compare Specs, Compare Content

Excellent post by Thad this, read and think:

As you can see, Apple is missing half of the 10 titles on this week’s ebook bestseller lists (narrowed down to just self-published titles). That has to be troubling to Apple and its publishing partners. Apple and the big trade publishing houses could argue that the sorts of people who buy 99 cent ebooks aren’t iPad/iPhone owners. That would not be a clever argument. I would argue that after launching the iBookstore with great fanfare Apple is acting very much like a company that doesn’t much care about ebooks.

Barnes & Noble faces a different problem. None of the books here sells for over five bucks and yet Amazon manages to discount many of the titles from Barnes & Noble’s list prices, on average over a third off (of course it’s prices are lower still compared with Apple’s).

via Thad McIlroy – Future Of Publishing » Don’t Compare Specs, Compare Content.

Go Read This | Travel guide gurus open new chapter in publishing career

I’m intrigued by this news on many levels. There’s much to admire in Text. I can see how the ending of the Canongate link up may present challenges but opportunities too, especially when the new owners are possessors of deep pockets like the Wheelers. It’s the hint that the move on Canongate’s part might be a defensive one, a move to retrench back to the UK market that intrigues the most.

The Wheelers bought their stake in Text from Jamie Byng, the head of Edinburgh-based publisher Canongate with which Text entered a partnership in 2004. Negotiations took place over the past few months, with the deal sealed last Friday. Mr Byng said he sold to refocus on the UK market.

Text Publishing was established about 20 years ago by former McPhee Gribble publisher Di Gribble as part of Eric Beechers Text Media. Michael Heyward has run the company since publishing its first book, Shane Maloneys Stiff, in 1994. He, his wife, senior editor Penny Hueston, and Mr Byng bought the publisher in 2004 from John Fairfax, owner of The Age, which had bought Text Media in January of that year.

via Travel guide gurus open new chapter in publishing career.

Why The Kindle Fire Worries Me

The Kindle Fire is a beautiful device (and by that I mean it looks pretty nice from a distance). What’s more, it’s at the right price and has a library of content to beat the best on offer. Yet I find it worrying, exceptionally worrying.

Worrying because it marks a shift away from a singular focus on digital books and towards other media forms. Digital books (and their publishers, traditional and self) have benefitted from Amazon’s desire to move their consumers towards digital consumption and purchasing. Benefitted enormously.

Amazon’s strategy though, as the launch of Fire makes clear, is about ALL media forms not just books. As the company builds digital sales of those media (a MUCH bigger market than books), digital books will become less important overall. At some point it may just be the case that they will cease development of a dedicated ereader, just as Apple is close to ceasing the development of a dedicated music player (or at least has relegated the music only devices to the bottom rung of its offering).

More importantly, Amazon is popularising mobile, digital media consumption and at relatively cheap prices. This long-term strategy is all the time building the competition plain text ebooks face.

There is only so much audience attention to go around and as mobile gaming, tv and film watching and web browsing become possible for everyone, it is just possible that digital books will lose out*. Of course maybe the audience that moves digital will be big enough for this to not be an issue, but even so book publishers and authors will need to compete with movies, games and music much more directly and immediately than they have in the past.

The possibility then that the Kindle Fire presents is one where the dedicated device that has done so much to build the digital book market is, however distantly, headed for a quiet retirement and the publishers who think they have it all so sorted now are going to faced a changed game yet again.

But maybe these are just wasted fears! I certainly hope so.
Eoin

~~
* I’m a pessimist on this score and think that possible is a definite.