Kindle Vs Stanza? Amazon buys Stanza and kills the contest

Amazon continues its relentless take-over of publishing with a take-over of Stanza (or to be more precise the parent company Lexcycle). Given the fact that Stanza was one of the key partners of the anti-Amazon ePub alliance this is a brilliant strategic move by Amazon.

This causes a few problems for –

  1. Publishers like Tim O’Reilly who were champions of Stanza, and started their open ebook framework announcement with this love letter to stanza –

    It’s no secret we’re big fans of the iPhone/iPod reading app Stanza. While the Kindle App has overtaken Stanza for the top-spot among free book apps in iTunes, Stanza offers a much better reading experience than the Kindle App.

  2. Barnes & Noble since B&N’s new acquisition Fictionwise was one of Stanza’s main content partners.
  3. Publishers who were signing distribution deals with Stanza and hoping for a channel where they don’t have to give Amazon 50% or more of book retail prices.

The benefits for Amazon are obvious –

  1. You take over the second biggest ebook distribution channel – goes well with the biggest channel 😉 . 
  2. You rip the heart out of the open ebook movement. Publishers won’t sell out and Adobe won’t. However most app makers don’t realize how big this opportunity is and would rather make $3.77  million now and exit than make $10 million every year.

ReadWriteWeb are confused about this acquisition – they shouldn’t be. Stanza was one of the main distribution channels that the ePub alliance had because of Stanza’s large installed user base (1 million+ users, supposedly).

Lexcycle is pretending nothing significant happened (via NY Times who broke the news) –

“We are not planning any changes in the Stanza application or user experience as a result of the acquisition. Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read e-books from our many content partners.”

Really? Amazon is going to continue to help Barnes & Noble sell ebooks?

Amazon brilliantly realized that by buying Stanza for $2-$5 per user (my money’s on a sub $5 million acquisition price) they take away one potential threat.

If you look at the ‘Publishers-Adobe-Lexcycle’ triumvirate that were pushing the open ebook platform based on XML and ePub, Stanza was the weakest link (and arguably the only one acquirable).

This leaves us in a two horse race – Amazon Kindle Vs Google Books. Publishers might come out with their equivalent of Hulu – however its already too late.

8 thoughts on “Kindle Vs Stanza? Amazon buys Stanza and kills the contest”

  1. There is more than one threat to Amazon! As the author of the Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot novel, my eBook is now a featured work at, which is a free competitor to Stanza, and I have to say that the reader response has been overwhelming to my novel. People like the convenience of their iPhone and they really don’t want to carry another device around so Amazon is basically hedging their bets with this acquisition. People also don’t like being locked into one company unless it’s Apple of course.

    Erik John Bertel

  2. While the big publishers squabbled, and delayed, and refused to release global digial rights, and fretted over piracy, Amazon have swept in and taken the game away for the US e-book buying public. However out here in the rest of the world, it is still easier to find a pirated copy of an ebook and load it onto any reader than to actually buy one legally. The prices for legit copies are still ridiculous too. I bought a joe Haldeman ebook for my stanza app on my phone, and after the exchange from US $ rate it cost me NZ$10 more than buying the paper version.
    I’ve now managed to get a US billing address though, and Kindle for iPhone, so I can actually buy content now, but being encrusted with DRM, I will probably go back to the other download model, and all the publishers loose out.

  3. Or you could be a publisher like Baen, and promote your own distribution which is compatible with Kindle, stanza, nook, and a host of other devices. True, it’s a dedicated market, and it’s not quite as easy to buy books through a device- but it is possible. I love buying my books from Baen. Not only do they support their authors, but I get high-quality content with lower digital prices too!

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