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Old 12-01-2007, 10:05 PM   #46
brecklundin
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Strictly speaking, of course, there's nothing stopping publishers from releasing their e-books in other formats (unless they stupidly signed away their right to do that when they contracted to Amazon). So, if pubs released their e-books in, say, ePub, the war would be on, with e-books, and possibly with readers.
ePub would be GREAT...buuuut...

It sure would be nice to know more details about the electronic rights Amazon has co-opt'd... Given Amazon's investment in the Kindle's development and buying Mobipocket, I cannot see Amazon signing a deal that would allow a publisher to license other re-sellers for at least the first few years of the agreement.

I really see this as more of a file format war then anything else...kinda like the old Word vs. Wordstar vs. WordPerfect vs. Xywrite...and then there was the first true Windows word processor Ami Pro (now IBM's Word Pro [just a stoopid name])...

It is going to be the file format itself that dictates the market. And right now Amazon is king. Unless publishers can get together with author's such as yourself and others to hammer out the real options I see the whole market as stagnating due to this current single source issue which is developing.

Who knows even Google might have something to say about the issue in the long run...???

But, I am getting the sense that, in my life time, we will not see a decent solution to what is really a simple problem...can you imagine if there were the same controls over something like paper & binding of books? I see an ebook format as no different really.

I imagine it is going to take yet another law on the books to address the restrictions to information access that a single dominant seller can cause.

BTW, I LOVE many aspects of the Kindle and other readers...except the file format issue and the cost of the devices themselves...see I don't buy into the per unit cost of a screen being more that $25-$50, especially WITHOUT a touch screen. But it is the control over the formats the books are available in that makes it all possible.
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:43 AM   #47
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It sure would be nice to know more details about the electronic rights Amazon has co-opt'd... Given Amazon's investment in the Kindle's development and buying Mobipocket, I cannot see Amazon signing a deal that would allow a publisher to license other re-sellers for at least the first few years of the agreement.
The major publishers have already confirmed that they have not signed exclusive deals with Amazon. As far as any kind of time-limited exclusivity is concerned, I seriously doubt it. Publishers just don't work that way. Right now, Amazon needs content more than the publishers need an e-book outlet. The publishers have the upper hand and they don't sell any rights they don't have to.
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:46 AM   #48
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see I don't buy into the per unit cost of a screen being more that $25-$50, especially WITHOUT a touch screen.
6" eInk screens cost around $150-200 to manufacture. That is a FACT, regardless of whether you "buy into it" . I'm sure that prices will fall with time, but that's what they cost at present.

You could always buy a PDA if you're after a cheaper device.
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Old 12-02-2007, 11:37 AM   #49
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It sure would be nice to know more details about the electronic rights Amazon has co-opt'd... Given Amazon's investment in the Kindle's development and buying Mobipocket, I cannot see Amazon signing a deal that would allow a publisher to license other re-sellers for at least the first few years of the agreement.
Amazon can only control a publisher's use of the Kindle format. To that end, I believe they specify that you can't sell a Kindle edition for less at another site. The agreement says nothing about other formats, however, so you are still fre to sell those other formats at any price you choose, on any site.

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I really see this as more of a file format war then anything else... It is going to be the file format itself that dictates the market. And right now Amazon is king. Unless publishers can get together with author's such as yourself and others to hammer out the real options I see the whole market as stagnating due to this current single source issue which is developing.
Remember, it was grass-roots efforts that propelled MP3 to the top of the music format heap, and music publishers essentially caved to its ubiquitous use. We could still see that in the e-book market, especially if easy-to-use conversion tools and cross-platform reader apps are made available.
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Old 12-02-2007, 12:22 PM   #50
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Remember, it was grass-roots efforts that propelled MP3 to the top of the music format heap, and music publishers essentially caved to its ubiquitous use.
This is an excellent point which I had known and forgotten about.
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Old 12-02-2007, 01:43 PM   #51
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Remember, it was grass-roots efforts that propelled MP3 to the top of the music format heap, and music publishers essentially caved to its ubiquitous use.
Then we need more OGG-Vorbis fans out there in the grass. MP3 stinks.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:10 AM   #52
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Well, having read all the posts I think that I must be wrong to think that there might be a price war. We will just have to bite the bullet and live with prices of around £250 for eInk readers.

I note that Harry stated that Bookeen can sell all they produce so no need to reduce price. What I don't understand is that in the UK one cannot buy any of these devices in computer stores or electronic shops. Surely if they were openly available in the shops interest might be kindled (no pun intended)?

I have not yet met one single person who owns any form of eReader except for a handheld PC. Most of my friends and acquaintances (and me) read eBooks, but only on these small devices which is a pain in the rear end because the screen is so small. Most would buy if they could walk into a shop and pick one up at a reasonable price (say£200).

I have enquired at Currys, PC World , electronic gizmo shops along Tottenham Court road, amongst others and, generally speaking the sales staff either have no idea what I am talking about, or, the answer is that "there is no demand for them".

The whole UK scene is extremely frustrating.

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Old 12-03-2007, 10:05 AM   #53
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The whole UK scene is extremely frustrating.
Believe me, it seems almost as frustrating over here!

Even though the US has access to the devices, you're right about one thing: The asking price seems ridiculous for everyone but early adopters (and maybe those whose business expense accounts can absorb the cost). I haven't bought any e-book reader (other than my PDA), as much as I'd like to be able to see how my books upload and display to the devices, and it's all because of that cost.

Further, these devices with their exclusive formats are contributing to the e-babel and DRM that none of us love, without even giving us the benefit of cheaper devices to kick off the price war you originally alluded to. So, as much as it's nice to have the devices available to us, many of us agree that aside from added publicity, they may actually be hindering the development of the e-book market in any number of ways.
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:14 AM   #54
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Well, you've got to remember that readers are exotic luxury items. The makers for now are only offering them as a way to milk the reliably rich people whom abound in the States. A price war would be the end of that wouldn't it.
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:45 AM   #55
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The makers for now are only offering them as a way to milk the reliably rich people whom abound in the States....
ummmm...ok...I sell more high end luxury items to buyers in Russia/Ukraine/Asia (HK, Japan and a few other places) then the rest of the world COMBINED.

But I get your point...many people here simply are too stooopid for the money they somehow end-up with...

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Old 12-04-2007, 03:39 AM   #56
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Amazon can only control a publisher's use of the Kindle format. To that end, I believe they specify that you can't sell a Kindle edition for less at another site. The agreement says nothing about other formats, however, so you are still fre to sell those other formats at any price you choose, on any site.
Ahhhh...OK, so that makes sense...then still we are all under the control of the rat bastage publishers? So now I wonder if under the agreement Amazon is even allowed to license their Kindle format to other device mfg's? Port them over to the more standard Mobipocket? (not saying Mobipocket is a standard or such...just there are more readers that can manage the format and Amazon owns it too, right?) I have no clue what format is best just know PDF ain't it for the most part...

Where I am obviously heading is the lack of any standard format for ebooks. I am not unhappy with the cost for most of the books I would read...$3-$5/book is FINE and would be better if the writer was getting the lion share of the funds. But it is still that pesky cost of the devices themselves to other devices then the Kindle that will stifle any sort of pricing competition.

That coupled with the small...well, minuscule....number of books actually out there in ANY ebook format. I would kill for the ability to get all the Edward Abbey's works for example...heck even some of the more entertaining "Little Fuzzy" series by H. Beam Piper...and good luck finding any of George Alec Effinger Budayeen series...just a few of my niche favs that I seriously doubt will ever be had anywhere but that "dark net" during my life time.

So I really guess I was saying that it seems to me until there is a more widely available device independent format (DRM'd is FINE with me) there cannot be a price war for the devices themselves let alone the books. Maybe that is kinda why Amazon bought Mobipocket? To move in that direction? From my reading it's not a huge stretch to create a Mobipocket version from the Kindle version???

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Remember, it was grass-roots efforts that propelled MP3 to the top of the music format heap, and music publishers essentially caved to its ubiquitous use. We could still see that in the e-book market, especially if easy-to-use conversion tools and cross-platform reader apps are made available.
I dunno if that is going to happen with books as this go'round the publishers have had time to "learn" from the MP3 issue and how it played out. Seems even the economics of scale and the fact those who buy only USED p-books now would likely become ebook buyers in very short order (revenue the current system never sees), will not deter them from the ham-handed control they hold over both authors and the electronic publication of their works. Ebooks should have been the FIRST thing to evolve since the advent of the portable computer...not the last....

I am not sure if anyone read it but I believe it was either Cnet or PCMag that ran a poll and blog/board about the Kindle and whether they would buy a device...the vast majority were flabbergasted over the device cost not the book cost. People wanted either more functionality from the device AND/OR a significantly lower price.

I know I can say that the $400 price tag is exactly why I will not buy into a device that might not even work in 2-years if Sprint decides EVDO is not all that great or the whole thing is left to die on the vine. Plus I have been on this computer age treadmill for almost 4-decades now and am simply tired of the instability that it has devolved into...easier to stop buying books period then $400 every couple years just to buy and read books or listen to audio content...

I look at Audible as an example...they licensed their format to device mfg's and that is when the service and content demand took off big time...

So until there is sanity in the device arena and the book format arena I will live with Baen, Project Guttenberg & such but I refuse to visit the darknet side.

I am sorry as I seem to have diverted this thread a bit off-topic but it is simply I cannot see any price competition for the devices until other aspects of the industry fall into line and cooperate....yeah, and there really is a Spider Pig!
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Old 12-04-2007, 03:51 AM   #57
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I thought I would add that maybe Amazon is not allowed to sell in any format other then their own Kindle format...??

If they were each book would be out in every format that supports DRM...now THAT would improve book sales. I have to believe Amazon would have preferred that route as selling BOOKS is more their bread & butter over a simply piece of hardware which, strangely enough seems to be subsidizing the cost of the content rather then the cost of content subsidizing the cost of the device.
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Old 12-04-2007, 03:52 AM   #58
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:31 AM   #59
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I thought I would add that maybe Amazon is not allowed to sell in any format other then their own Kindle format...??

If they were each book would be out in every format that supports DRM...now THAT would improve book sales. I have to believe Amazon would have preferred that route as selling BOOKS is more their bread & butter over a simply piece of hardware which, strangely enough seems to be subsidizing the cost of the content rather then the cost of content subsidizing the cost of the device.
I think quite a few of us don't understand why Amazon didn't simply adopt 2-3 of the most commonly used e-book formats and sell those, not hardware. Presumably, the Kindle gives them more control over where the file ends up, which is, I suspect, a key factor for them and their piracy-fearing publishers.

If piracy wasn't a concern (or if Amazon's people occasionally read Cory Doctorrow), I expect we'd be seeing Amazon convert its store to various e-book formats to sell to the most people. With their current system, they can say they sell e-books, but the number of readers will be smaller due to the initial investment of the Kindle. Maybe they do hope to use Kindle to hook the public on e-books (the exclusivitity method, everyone wants the new toys), then give them more hardware choices later by offering other formats or delivery packages (perhaps downloaded to cell phones?). We can only wait and see.
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Old 12-07-2007, 04:08 AM   #60
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Steve:

I agree for sure...I have been thinking quite a bit about the whole Kindle thing. In order to prove to the publishers & their bean-counters perhaps Amazon had no choice but to begin with sort of a closed-system. This way they do offer a degree of control over the content.

I also like that we can get existing content converted into Kindle format. And for now Amazon is taking the "don't ask don't tell" approach to the conversion.

Still I find the closed systems questionable at best...especially since we have seen so many efforts come up short.

Plus it seems the majority of my favorite authors not only have few-to-no titles in ANY ebook format but many of those guys are dead...and it seems the relatives of dead authors are so greedy about royalties there is likely no hope of conversion unless there is a single fairly secure file format with DRM so the books can be read on the 100s-of-millions to BILLIONS of existing devices out there....are you listening whoever holds the "rights" to the works of Edward Abbey??? H. Beam Piper...etc...

But back to the topic...no, I still see no "price war" in the short term...not until there is some uniformity of content format that equates to portability of that content...and given that ebooks were promised to use when the first PC's were evolving I fear the ice caps will melt before we see uniformity...
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