B&N targets Kindle self-publishing, the new Cloud rivalry

In August 2009 B&N had agreed to start distributing Smashwords’ books which are all independent novels. This was a small step to balance the big advantage the Kindle had due to having self-publishing and letting independent authors market their books easily to Kindle owners.

B&N to release PubIt Self-Publishing Platform

Today, Darren Murph at Engadget breaks the news that Barnes & Noble are going to open a self-publishing portal this summer. If B&N stays true to its strict sense of discipline (just ask all the people waiting for its iPad app) that means by Fall 2010 we should see the new platform available.

  1. The self-published titles will be available on the Nook and on all the B&N apps. Engadget wrongly writes that it’ll be available for all eReaders.
  2. It’s going to be called PubIt. Wonder how many Authors are going to interpret that as an excuse to leave the writing and head out to their local.
  3. Come to think of it, it’s not that suprising that the company that brought us Nook would bring us PubIt.  
  4. Details on the split of revenue between B&N and the indie author will be announced in a few weeks – Don’t see how they could go for anything other than 70%. Both Apple and Amazon will be at that split by summer. 
  5. The books will be available in DRMed ePub.
  6. The self-published titles will also be made part of the Free ‘Read in Store’ offer that Nook owners get.
  7. No word on whether lending will be allowed.  

At the B&N website you can sign up to be notified when the PubIt self-publishing program opens.

Is this a threat to the Kindle Store?

At the moment – not much, and probably not for most of this year.

Sometime in 2011 we might start seeing significant sales of independent authors’ books through the B&N store and then the Kindle Store’s position of being the go-to store for indie authors will probably get affected a little bit.

At the minimum we’re talking about authors having to divide their energies and marketing between two ebook stores. Not exactly ideal for Amazon as currently authors only promote the Kindle Store and their own websites.

Google finds a new area to challenge Amazon in – Cloud Services

While the Kindle gets a lot of press and attention (and competitors) there’s another Amazon initiative that’s just as promising - Cloud services.

Amazon stealing the Cloud?

Amazon is doing so well that SmoothSpan Blog wonders whether Amazon is stealing the Cloud and reveals some very interesting details -

A wonderful post on CNet talks about Goldman Sachs’ findings for the Cloud -  

Amazon.com is used by 67 percent of the survey respondents. It is clearly the out-in-front leader, despite being a “newcomer” to enterprise IT.

Platform-as-a-service layers are gaining momentum, dominated by Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, service, with 77 percent of respondents choosing EC2 as a preferred partner, well ahead of Google.

It concludes by saying that Amazon has a pretty amazing lead over competitors and they’re building barriers to entry (barriers that sound surprisingly similar to the ones they’re building for the Kindle) -

  1. Nobody has the experience of running Cloud services at the same scale as Amazon. 
  2. For lots of developers their Cloud education is all about Amazon.
  3. Economies of Scale.
  4. Network Effects.  

Well, there’s now going to be another way in which Amazon’s Cloud Services will be very similar to the Kindle – competition from Google.

Google’s Cloud Data Storage for Developers

PC World talk about Google’s Cloud and its competition with Amazon’s S3. In particular -

I’ve heard Google has its sights set on competing head-to-head with Amazon and other cloud-storage providers.

Google is arguably the most iconic representation of cloud-based services–with Amazon as a close second–so it seems only fitting that it seek a dominant role in this arena.

Got to love how, just like with the Kindle, you already have Amazon losing the ‘most iconic representation’ battle. And again, like with the Kindle, the Press are talking about how a rival service ‘promises, very soon’ to be better -

If Google were to incorporate secure, scalable online storage with some of its other services, such as video, or geo-location, it will have a distinct advantage over Amazon’s S3 and EC2 cloud storage services.

On a more serious note this has got to be worrying to Amazon. Google is now trying to steal two of its most promising businesses – ebooks and cloud services. You almost expect Google to announce they’re going to start selling shoes next.

Amazon Vs Google – The 10,000 foot view

Google = Search. Amazon = Buy.

The most efficient model for Amazon involves one where they don’t have to pay a toll to Google for all their web traffic (well, a significant part of it). That’s why the Kindle is a really important channel.

Consider a search for ‘kindle’ – Not only does Amazon have to buy an Ad it has to see Apple buy an Ad, eBay buy an ad, and Wikipedia get the #1 ranking. That’s just terrible from Amazon’s perspective.

From Google’s perspective Amazon presents a few threats -

  1. As Amazon gets bigger and better more and more people go straight to it.
  2. They’d like 90 cents out of every $1 of profit to be spent on Google advertising. 
  3. The Kindle bypasses Google Search entirely. 
  4. Amazon reviews are a better product research resource than almost any site.
  5. Any big website is a threat to Google. Google’s ideal model is to divide and conquer - keep websites small and completely dependent on them.

So, there’s a very natural enmity and we’ll only see it expand into other areas. The Kindle Platform and the Amazon Cloud are the first two battlefields of the Amazon vs Google wars of 2010 to 2020 - it’s going to be an all-out war before long.

2 Responses

  1. Given how easy it is to convert a book from ePub to mobi (or visa versa), it would not be that hard for an author to self publish the same book at both Amazon & B&N. How much additional marketing effort is it for authors to include on their own web site links to both the Kindle & Nook versions of their books?

    I think that Nook offering self publishing is potentially a big step upwards for the Nook, without seriously impacting authors. It also keeps Amazon on its toes, which is always a good thing.

    • It is definitely good for keeping authors on their toes.

      However, think about the additional effort – going to Nook forums, linking to the Nook store.

      Plus all of that hurts Amazon since now their competitor is getting more traffic and links.

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