Kindle Vs Google – Google's eBook Vision

Google Books engineering director Dan Clancy talked about Google’s Vision for ebooks at the Computer History Museum last night. Google’s eBook Vision in a nutshell (courtesy MediaBistro) – 

Principle 1:  [Anyone can sell digital books] Google will partner with all interested retailers, so you’ll be able to buy books wherever you like—at an online site or your neighborhood bookstore.

Principle 2: [Google owns and stores the actual digital content] The books themselves will be stored “in the cloud,” meaning out on some Google server, rather than on your computer hard drive or in a device you own.

Principle 3: [All Devices can read Google Books] And you’ll be able to read them on any device you want—e-reader, phone, computer, or netbook.

Yet another development in the Amazon Vs Google Book Wars. MediaBistro has a transcript of the entire talk.

Kindle Vs Google – Contrasting Google’s eBooks Vision with Amazon’s Kindle Vision

Obviously the big difference is that Google is portraying itself as wanting to just take a small piece of the pie and leave a lot for publishers and retailers.

They’re sort of hinting –

  1. Amazon is evil and want to sell books themselves. Google is good and will let anyone sell books.  
  2. Amazon is evil and restricting ebooks to their device and their apps. Google will let any device read Google eBooks.  

Of course, all the books can be safely stored in Google’s Cloud since Google is a company that can be trusted and will be around for a long time.  

Google’s eBook Vision from a Competitive Strategy Perspective

The new Google eBooks vision is exactly what a company should sell if it wants to come into a market where

  1. A new upcoming player is on the verge of taking over. 
  2. The incumbents are under major threat.

First, as Google did with social networking (open social) and wireless (android), there’s a lot of talk of the beauty of openness –

I think this is the right model, because we’re trying to make what would be an open model that encourages competition.

Open Model that encourages competition – So for orphan works Google gets sole rights, and with New Books, where Amazon has the advantage, it wants openness.

Next, Google throws out a bone to existing stakeholders – 

  1. Publishers – Google has already said it would let publishers set ebook prices.
  2. Retailers – Mr. Clancy praises the role of physical bookstores and warns of the threat if they aren’t allowed to sell digital books –

    “Right now the physical bookstores are a critical part of our book ecosystem …
    It’s a mistake if we think of our future digital world as digital means online and physical means offline. Because if that happens and 10 percent of the world goes digital, that’s going to be really hard for all the bookstores to sustain their business model

So the solution is for physical bookstores to sell digital books?

Kindle Vs Google – The Key Difference

The key difference is that Google is selling people the notion that once books are digital and all up in one company’s cloud –

  1. Retailers will still matter.
  2. Publishers will still have power over prices.
  3. People will not flock to the one company that has all the content available.

Are bookstores really going to buy this argument? 

Once we have ebooks take off, you only need bookstores for the 25% of people who stick with physical books.

People are NOT going to drive down to your store so they can load an ebook onto their Kindle or Sony.

Amazon and B&N are the two biggest stores selling physical books – look at what they’re doing.

  1. They’re creating their own online ebook stores.
  2. They’re creating and storing their own ebooks.

As the Amazon Kindle Vs Google Books Book Wars continue to escalate we’ll be sure to see more fun developments.

Kindle Store sales ranking changes

Update: The percentage change is changing – however, the sales ranks aren’t.

Also, do check out this week’s Kindle Chronicles podcast as Len Edgerly interviews both Ian Freed, VP of Kindle at Amazon, and the student suing Amazon.

If you take a look at the Kindle Store’s Movers & Shakers section you’ll see that we have a bunch of skyrocketing newspapers –

How Kindle Newspaper sales are counted just changed
How Kindle Newspaper sales are counted just changed

Yes, that really is the New York Times seeing an 11,895% increase. Its sales rank just went from 4,798 to 40. Rather interestingly, in the overall bestseller list, it says –

555 days in the top 100.

Well, having never seen it there before (it definitely wasn’t there a week ago) it means the change is retroactive.

And it’s not the only one –

  1.  USA Today sees an even bigger change from 14,731 to 120 – a change of 12,175%.  
  2. The New Yorker magazine sees a 9,258% increase to go from 6,551 to 70. 
  3. The Amazon Daily Blog sees a 4,696% increase to go from 15,540 to 324.  

The complete list of newspapers, magazines and blogs that saw this change also includes Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Financial Times, Time, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Why are we seeing kindle store sales ranking changes for newspapers, magazines, and blogs?

It seems that Amazon changed how they rank periodicals by counting either number of sales per quarter or number of sales per month (probably the former given the huge inceases).

The Possible Motivations?  

  1. Perhaps to be more fair to newspapers since a subscription should be valued more than a one-off purchase. 
  2. Give newspapers and magazines more visibility. 
  3. Increase sales of periodicals and get more newspapers and magazines on board. 
  4. People were overly dependent on the bestsellers list (we’ve discussed this effect in the iPhone App Store just recently).

While this is more fair to periodicals it does introduce a few negatives – 

  1. It could potentially clutter up the bestsellers list.
  2. Its obviously an attempt to pump up periodical sales.

Overall, it’s interesting to see Amazon tweak the sales rankings, and it really does hint at the importance of sales rankings and bestseller lists.

Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-600

The Sony Reader PRS-600 is now available for order at Amazon for $299. At today’s (Aug 25th) Press Conference Sony announced you can order it.

Although Sony is not touting it as such, the PRS-600 with its $299 price is a direct competitor to the Kindle 2. Sony Reader PRS-600 comes in with its Touch capability and Kindle 2 has wireless access and free Internet access.

Sony Reader Touch Edition – Review Video, Leaked Manual

A Sony Reader Touch Edition video review – [wpvideo 9gxZn4hK]

Here’s a quick video covering the leaked manual – [wpvideo P5kFJHuY]

It seems it’ll be a worldwide release – US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and Netherlands.

The sources the revealed details of the Sony PRS-600 were –  

  1. August 2nd: JR.com briefly put up the Sony Reader PRS 600 Touch Edition for preorder. The Sony Reader 600’s price was listed at $299.
  2. A user at the Sony Insider Forums found the Sony Reader PRS 600 manual. The Sony Reader 600 has some cool features and is a strong play by Sony.

Sony Reader PRS 600 – Key Features

  1. Reasonable Price – $299.
  2. TouchScreen – confirmed from manual.
  3. It mentions MP3 encoding technology which hints at a voice recording or voice memo function.
  4. Might be flexible – the board for touchscreen, eInk, and back pane all say ‘flexible’ in the manual. Could this be a flexible, unbreakable screen?
  5. Excellent Font Support – It comes with an in-built Font Fusion Engine from BitStream that supports Chinese, Korean, Japanese. It also claims to support ANY font. The default fonts look good (these are fonts on my PC, these are NOT on the Sony) –

    Sony Reader PRS 600 Default Fonts
    Sony Reader PRS 600 Default Fonts
  6. Extendible memory – The manual indicates SD Card and Memory Stick Duo are both supported.
  7. Very compact – It’s 4.87″ by 6.87″ by .4 inches. That’s roughly 11 cm by 17.4 cm by .98 cm.
  8. No wireless support although it is planned down the line.

Another big bonus is that Sony will be matching Kindle $9.99 prices on new releases and on bestsellers.

Sony Reader PRS-600 – Details

  1. 6 inch screen.
  2. 8 levels of grayscale and 800 by 600 resolution.
  3. Very light at 10.1 oz (286 g). Very thin at .4″.
  4. Sony Reader 600 will be available in Red, Black and Silver.
  5. Has a touchscreen. The panel below the screen might be touch sensitive buttons (which would be cool).
  6. Freehand highlighting and annotation – apparently its free hand writing with a stylus.
  7. Built-in Dictionary support.
  8. Innovative eLibrary software that supports Windows and Macintosh.
  9. Can be charged via AC adapter or USB. 
  10. Sony Reader 600 has 380 Mb of storage capacity. 
  11. It also has SD Card and Memory Stick Duo support.
  12. Battery Life of the Sony Reader 600 is 7,500 pages.

The picture used for the manual is rather drab – However the press release has much better images –

Sony Reader PRS 600 - Silver, Red and Black
Sony Reader PRS 600 - Silver, Red and Black

The Sony Reader 600 manual in PDF at Google Docs. Or if you want to check it out on your Kindle, the Kindle format Sony 600 manual.

Sony Reader 600 – An Impressive Reader

The Sony Reader PRS 600 is definitely the high end, ‘looking for a fight with the Kindle’ eReader. Its official name is the Sony Reader PRS 600 Touch Edition and the support for freehand writing is pretty cool.

  1. The fact that it’s at just $299 is impressive. Super agressive pricing by Sony.
  2. No Wireless Support.
  3. The testing mode has a ‘draw on the screen’ mode which indicates Sony might have improved refresh speed somehow (not a given).  
  4. There is very little wasted real estate. It’s all screen and it seems it’ll be super compact for a 6″ screen ereader.
  5. There are some buttons right at the lower edge of the screen. Not sure if there are touch controls above it. There is an on-screen touch keyboard.

The Sony 600 is a very impressive device. There are just a lot of good, solid features. At $299 it matches the Kindle 2 on pricing and will give Kindle 2 a solid run for its money.