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Old 01-27-2009, 08:39 PM   #1
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CW: How Amazon could screw up e-books

Mr. Elgan of Computerworld makes a few points:
  • Screw over customers waiting for new Kindles.
  • Shaft publishers.
  • Stay closed.
  • Stay expensive.

Full article

Last edited by hidari; 01-27-2009 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:54 PM   #2
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I think Mr. Elgan doesn't know what he is talking about. None of those actions will harm ebooks; they will only harm Amazon.

Point one will not harm ebooks, nor even competing devices. If customers are pissed off, they will go buy elsewhere. They won't abandon ebooks entirely.

Point two is absurd. I believe Amazon offers publishers the same deal for ebooks as for pbooks; a 65/35 split. This is the industry standard. How can this be shafting the publisher?

Point three demonstrates Mr. Elgan's ignorance. The Kindle is as closed as the iPod; both support a nonDRM format. You don't _have_ to buy the closed format.

Point four can't harm ebooks, but it could cost Amazon market share.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:29 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
I think Mr. Elgan doesn't know what he is talking about. None of those actions will harm ebooks; they will only harm Amazon.

Point one will not harm ebooks, nor even competing devices. If customers are pissed off, they will go buy elsewhere. They won't abandon ebooks entirely.

Point two is absurd. I believe Amazon offers publishers the same deal for ebooks as for pbooks; a 65/35 split. This is the industry standard. How can this be shafting the publisher?

Point three demonstrates Mr. Elgan's ignorance. The Kindle is as closed as the iPod; both support a nonDRM format. You don't _have_ to buy the closed format.

Point four can't harm ebooks, but it could cost Amazon market share.
You said what I was thinking, just better written
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hidari View Post
Mr. Elgan makes a few points:
Unfortunately, most of his points are 100% wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elgan
Everyone who has ordered and is still waiting for delivery on an old Kindle should be given the opportunity to instead receive a new one at the same price.
Per Amazon's own policies, anyone who has ordered an item that is not yet being "prepared for shipping" can cancel the order with no penalty at all. If the new model costs more, Amazon can not be expected to absorb the difference. They might earn some goodwill by offering the "waiters" a discount if they are currently regularly making customers wait longer than their predicted back-order times, but I wouldn't call it a key to success.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elgan
Nobody knows what kinds of deals you're offering book, magazine and newspaper publishers, but if you're not making it highly profitable for them, you're missing a huge opportunity.
However, Amazon seems to be stuck in the same rut as the publishing industry in believing that high prices will maximize profit. Nobody seems to get the fact that because the incremental costs of e-publishing approach zero as you sell more, the gateway to profit is volume, volume, volume at a price that people are willing to pay (which today, I would guess is about 40-50% of the cost of the physical book)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elgan
Apple gets away with something you cannot, which is to not allow competitive media players to play iTunes content.
Apple has been fighting against the recording industry since day one to REMOVE this restriction. Ironically, it's been Amazon's "500 lb gorilla" leverage in being able to sell DRM-free MP3 files that gave Apple the foot in the door to also being able to sell DRM-free, and consumers the ability to move their iTunes purchases to competing portable players without the hassle of transcoding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elgan
Allow the margins to keep declining as the cost of hardware keeps dropping (through Moore's Law and economies of scale).
This is where an Apple example would have been relevant. Remember the $100 price drop in the iPhone as soon as the early adopters had passed through?

My suggestion is thus: The #1 thing Amazon could do to "not screw up eBooks" would be to sell Kindle books for people to read on the hardware they already own (using, of course, the Mobipocket software that Amazon already owns). Once people get a taste, they'll come and start buying the Kindle hardware as well. The taste of ease of use of iTunes on the desktop was one key to the success of Apple's iPod.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilac_jive View Post
Ridiculous Goal:
Attempt to read a majority of the books in the book 1001 Books to Read Before You Die
Off-topic hint: You could knock off Swift's A Modest Proposal in under 30 minutes, and it's just about the best thing on the list.

Plus, it's in the Public Domain

Last edited by curtw; 01-27-2009 at 09:46 PM.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:55 PM   #6
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None of which are valid or well thought out. Oh well, I guess every idiot is entitled to his opinion.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Off-topic hint: You could knock off Swift's A Modest Proposal in under 30 minutes, and it's just about the best thing on the list.

Plus, it's in the Public Domain
Ooh excellent tip. I like throwing "shorties" in so I feel like I'm accomplishing something.
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:10 PM   #8
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Ooh excellent tip. I like throwing "shorties" in so I feel like I'm accomplishing something.
RWood has already done it, in LRF, PRC and IMP.
Here's a link to the LRF version:
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10498
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:16 PM   #9
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RWood has already done it, in LRF, PRC and IMP.
Here's a link to the LRF version:
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10498
I will best this list if it kills me!
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:22 PM   #10
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Customers vote with their dollars, and I can't see Amazon's behavior harming ebooks in general, just Amazon perhaps. If this doesn't work, Amazon will simply shift strategies.
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:38 PM   #11
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I will best this list if it kills me!
The good news is that there's no Ayn Rand, so it probably won't kill you.
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:39 PM   #12
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The good news is that there's no Ayn Rand, so it probably won't kill you.
Some people weren't happy she wasn't on the list. I think I dodged a bullet...
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:27 PM   #13
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I didn't interpret the article to say that Amazon would kill the ebook industry but rather Amazon's potential dominate position in the ebook business.

I actually agree with his point three but but from the opposite angle. Apple entered the music retail business as a new player but Amazon was already a big player in the book retail business. It doesn't make sense to me that they limit their ebook retail business to the segment of their existing customers that are willing to buy a Kindle. I know they own Mobipocket but I haven't seen any move to make that arm price competitive.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:44 PM   #14
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I can agree with this comments about Mobi DRM exclusivity:

>>>Publishers will probably be neither thrilled nor horrified by the costs of doing business with Amazon for electronic versions of their books.

The split is opposite Apple's App Store one (where eBooks are also being sold): 65% to Amazon, 35% for the publisher (which then gives crumbs from that crumb to writers).

I'm rooting for the Justice Department to jump on Amazon's neck over monopolistic practices, restraint of trade (Mobi DRM exclusivity), and anything else they can throw at them.
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Old 01-28-2009, 02:42 AM   #15
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Nate the great is spot on imo, a lot of the authors in computer magazines just post ridiculous articles as link bait, getting visitors to their websites. The articles points are easily refuted.
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