Amazon’s latest moves, Kindle Previewer, and more Kindle

We see the new Kindle DX 2 for $379, the introduction of the 70% royalty rate, and the surprise arrival of Kindle for Android – all in the first 3 days of this week. There’s actually even more Kindle related stuff going on and let’s look at some of it in depth.

Amazon introduces Kindle Previewer

At the official Kindle forum Amazon introduce us to the upcoming ‘Kindle Previewer for HTML 5′ feature. In plain English its online samples of Kindle books.

They put a lot of effort into describing it -

sample Kindle books from anywhere. Kindle book previews will be available through your web browser-simply click a Preview button on an Amazon book detail page and a new browser window will open containing the preview.

If at any point while you’re reading the preview you decide you want to buy the full book, simply click the buy button and it will be instantly downloaded to your Kindle or any one of our free Kindle apps.

Apparently HTML5 and CSS3 are a really big deal. Got to love how some people are as excited about HTML5 as we would be about rockets that fly astronauts to Mars.

The good news is this souped up ‘preview’ feature doesn’t interfere with our good old samples on the Kindle – there’s no rational reason to remove samples and these web previews seem to merely be add-ons. It’s probably to help get more people into the Kindle eco-system.

The feature also makes a lot more sense when you consider the arrival of Kindle Web Widgets.

Kindle Web Widgets  

Hand in hand with the HTML 5 Kindle Previewer release is a release of web widgets which bloggers and website owners can add to their blogs and sites. It lets readers read Kindle book samples on the site itself and even order from the site.

It’s an interesting move and lots of bloggers and sites will be tempted to try it out – If the user can read the sample right there and order on the spot that’s going to work out much better than having the user click though to another site and track cookies and user purchases.

Barnes & Noble investing heavily in Nook, eBooks

B&N is seeing two diverging trends – physical store sales are declining and its profits are going down. Meanwhile web sales increased 51% and it claims to have captured over 20% of the ebook market. In fact, B&N is investing so heavily in ebooks that it claims its ebook investments are a major cause of its losses.

B&N stock took a major hit (supposedly a fall of 18%) as that explanation didn’t seem to appease the market. Of course, the market can’t be expected to understand things like building for something that in 10 years will take over all of books. This article at Forbes is worth a read.

Despite the losses B&N’s devotion to eBooks is commendable. If nothing else, it’s helping keep Amazon and Apple on their toes.

Federal Agencies want eReaders used in classrooms to be accessible

It seems that it’s not enough to kick Kindle DX out of public universities. Now Federal Agencies want to put rules into place that ensure any device used in any school or university must be accessible to the blind.

It’s good to have rules to help blind people. However, it’s a little crazy to not allow 95% of people to use a gadget because it’s not accessible. All these roadblocks are preventing the faster spread of eReaders – if eReaders spread faster it would help blind people a lot.

It seems politically incorrect to take the 10 year view – However, just ask yourself what’s better for the blind.

  1. A world where ebooks stall and we go back to physical books.
  2. A world where ebooks prosper and the blind have access via Text to Speech to every single ebook. They would no longer be limited to books Publishers have chosen to provide for the blind.

Yet Blind Associations keep attacking eReaders and stalling their growth.

It would be nice to see a list of the companies and agencies that fund organizations like the National Federation of the Blind and figure out what the cause of this super short term perspective is. NFB couldn’t be any more anti-eReader/anti-eBook if it tried.

Universal eBook Format vs Kindle App on every device

Consider this article on Yahoo News lamenting the lack of a universal ebook format. Well, what about having a Kindle app on every device - Isn’t that nearly the same thing?

Amazon have channels reaching into Android, iPhone, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and iPad. They also have their own devices. Basically, they have most of the channels covered and if they could figure out a way to tap into Nook and Sony Reader they would have created a default universal format. Only it would be a platform and not a format.

A certain group of people wouldn’t be happy with that – for them a universal format has to be ‘open’ and not controlled by a company and not something a company can profit from.

At that point you begin to realize that maybe the whole ‘universal format’ and ‘no DRM’ movement has more to do with being able to steal ebooks than being able to read an ebook on any device.

3 Responses

  1. as a long time web developer (16 years. yes, really. my personal site celebrates its 15th birthday august 23rd) i can confirm that HTML5/CSS3 is indeed a big deal.

    a much bigger deal, however, is what appears to be for the first time a very broad commitment to *standards based* support for HTML5/CSS3 from the browser makers. finally, after almost two decades of BS from certain corners of the internet (im looking at you, microsoft, although there are other guilty parties as well) we should soon be able to get a consistent experience on the web no matter what browser you are using. presuming people upgrade, of course.

    actually, this is more than a big deal… its a HUGE deal. its a deal of epic proportions.

    it also means i wont have to spend half my development time trying to code around browser deficiencies because my clients insist on people using 10 year old browsers being supported… and i wont have to cut features because of inconsistent implementation even across modern browsers.

    if it werent for this BS balkanization of the browsing platforms that has plagued the last 15 years of the web, we would be SO FAR beyond where we are now… we wouldnt be on “web 2.0″ we’d be somewhere around web 5.0+… and once these technologies/browsers reach wide penetration, youre going to very quickly see some things that will absolutely blow your mind… stuff that will completely redefine your conception of what can be done on the web. unfortunately, were still a few years off from that (and the w3c isnt exactly known for its speediness, which is probably as large a contributor to this mess as microsoft)… but finally it does seem like its going to happen and its long overdue.

    i am literally giddy with excitement at the potential future (presuming someone doesnt derail it, which is always possible)

  2. oh and about the “universal format”… it is absolutely possible to have a single non-vendor-specific format defined by a standards group, and STILL have strong DRM. the single format issue is more one of being able to move from one vendor’s device to another without having to re-purchase your library (or violate the DMCA, which doesnt really concern me because i dont recognize it as a valid law).

    an open format that includes DRM in its specification would allow hardware makers to build devices that support format and DRM, and allow the content vendors to distribute their content the same way. it would really open up the market. i mean, think about it, do you believe that DVD would have been successful if instead of a having a single format/DRM defined by a standards body, every hardware manufacturer had their own format and DRM scheme, and only movies bought from that manufacturer would play on their devices? the very thought of such a thing is utter lunacy, and yet that is EXACTLY what we have with the ebook market. and its just as insane here as it would be anywhere else.

  3. “At that point you begin to realize that maybe the whole ‘universal format’ and ‘no DRM’ movement has more to do with being able to steal ebooks than being able to read an ebook on any device.”

    That’s a just plain stupid thing to write. Do you value free speech so that you can steal people’s ideas? Do you like freedom to choose your religion because you want to do nefarious things with people’s faith?

    Paperback books are free and open. When I pass on, my children will inherit my library. I own many books that I bought in the 90′s at Computer Literacy – who is now out of business – and I still have access to those books. But electronic books bound to a single company’s DRM do not contain the same freedoms for me. Will I be able to leave my proprietary ebooks to my children? If Amazon goes out of business or stops selling ebooks arbitrarily, an open format would give me freedom to control my copy of each book. If local brick and mortar businesses disappear, then these freedoms that I now posses may be lost if openness is not considered now.

    Ebooks offer a lot of new potential and may well be the future of books. Are you a citizen that participates in a democratic society? If so, then get your head out of the sand and care about said society. Have a conversation about these freedoms. At the lest, don’t label freedom lovers as people who want to steal just because you don’t care.

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