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Old 10-15-2008, 07:56 PM   #1
philippd
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Posts: 52
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Near Hamburg, Germany
Device: Sony PRS-505
Sony, Libri and Thalia about PRS 505 launch in Germany

Hi,

I've been to Frankfurt Book Fair today and visited the press conference of Sony, Libri and Thalia. They announced the launch of the Sony PRS 505 in Germany in spring next year.

Libri GmbH (http://www.home.libri.de) is traditionally a German book wholesaler (which I am working for during my study of commercial information technology in the dual system) and also provides online shop solutions for book retailers through the subsidiary company Libri.de Internet GmbH (http://www.libri.de).
Thalia is the second- largest bookstore- chain in Germany, which you probably already know (http://www.thalia.de/).

I would like to share the most important facts of the press conference today with you.

The Distribution of the hardware

The launch of the reader PRS-505 is planned for spring 2009. Libri GmbH will be the exclusive launch-partner of Sony to supply retailers like bookstores and chains with the reader hardware. Thalia will be the “preferred” bookstore- chain to sell the reader. For this purpose the reader will be specially promoted in about 200 Thalia stores with special displays and demonstration devices. There will be trainings for Thalia employees to give professional advice to customers.
But Thalia will not be the exclusive retailer for the devices. Libri will sell the hardware to all of its customers to which more than 4000 bookstores belong. There might be also special trainings for independent book sellers by Libri as well.

The price of the device is not defined yet, but it will be comparable to the reward in France and the UK. To the question whether the PRS 700 is introduced in Germany as well Jeffry von Ede (executive director of Sony Germany) answered that they did not decide this yet. He said that customers in every country have got their own demands and they will verify if the PRS 700 is the right device for the German market. He also said that they will check if there might be a demand for an individual model for the European / German market. But this aspect was very hypothetical.

The distribution of content in Germany

I think this is the most important part of the partnership between the 3 companies and I think it’s a really interesting solution. Sony is actually not planning to offer an own German E-Book Store. Libri GmbH will instead offer an E-Book repository called Libri.Digital. Every German publisher will be allowed to upload books to this platform in ePub format. The publisher can decide whether he wants to use Adobe Digital Editions DRM or only watermarking technology for example. A lot of German publishers already communicated that they tend to use DRM. A marketing manager of Sony mentioned the parallels to the music industry and explained that it might be a good idea to avoid too restrictive DRM but I think you are all into this discussion and this is not a typically German “aspect”.
Libri GmbH will not sell the content directly to the customer, but (like a wholesaler) to many other online-shops like Thalia.de for example. Nearly every shop that has got the technical ability to implement the data of the Libri.Digital repository might be able to become content retailer and to use it. Libri.de Internet GmbH will offer hosted custom-branded online-shops to independent booksellers that are not able to build their own E-Book store with a connection to the repository.
This actually enables the “small bookseller around the corner” to participate in the whole e-book business without further investments.
I think a good sign is that there are already a lot of publishers that will provide content for this platform like (for example) Bebltz, Bertelsmann, Campus, dtv, Goldmann, Hanser, Heyne, Lübbe and Luchterhand.

The pricing of e-books in Germany

As you might know we have got book price control in Germany. So the publisher sets a fixed retail price for every new book that is sold in Germany. The “Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels” (most famous association to represent the interests of German booksellers, publishers and wholesalers in public and politics) tries to establish a price control for e-books in Germany, too. The law isn’t modified in this way yet, but the Börsenverein recommends all market actors to respect the fixed prices for e-books as soon as possible. Publishers may set different prices for the e-book edition of a book just as there is a price difference between the hardcover and the paperback. The representatives said that the e-book edition will be cheaper than the paperback edition but it all depends on the publisher.

I do believe that this might be the beginning of e-books in Germany because what we really need is content and people getting in touch with the new technology. I’m looking forward to 2009.

Philipp
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