Kindle Fire, Kindle arriving at 16,000 retail locations including WalMart

Kindle Fire and Kindle will be arriving at a staggering 16,000 retail locations starting on November 15th.

Stores include – Best Buy, WalMart, Target, Staples, Sam’s Club, RadioShack, Office Depot.

It’s all very puzzling.

The Madness of the Retailers?

It’s absolutely inexplicable to me that stores like Best Buy and Target and WalMart would sell Kindles and accelerate their own demise. Do they not realize that Kindle Fire is a direct connection to Amazon.com? That Kindle and Special Offers will end up eroding the sales of the retail stores?

With B&N we can rationalize that perhaps all these retail stores can’t think that far ahead. However, with Amazon – it should be obvious what’s happening.

Here’s what BestBuy’s senior VP says -

“We are excited to work with Amazon to provide consumers the opportunity to touch, test, try to buy the Kindle Fire in all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores nationwide,” said Wendy Fritz, senior vice president of Computing at Best Buy. “The Kindle Fire and other new products in the Kindle family will be some of the hottest gifts this holiday season and we are delighted to offer these devices as part of our ever-expanding tablet and e-reader selection at Best Buy.”

She might as well say -

We are getting tired of selling all these electronics. So we though we should let Amazon get a direct connection to our customers and shift them over to buying from Amazon.com.

The strangest store on the list is WalMart.

Isn’t WalMart supposed to be Amazon’s mortal enemy?

My understanding was that WalMart sees Amazon as a major threat and has started WalMart.com in part to address this threat.

Why then, is WalMart strengthening Amazon?

WalMart is literally selling its customers mini-Amazon stores. That its customers will carry everywhere with them. It’s incredibly shortsighted and hard to believe.

Target’s One-Stop-Shop Strategy

The irony -

“Target is offering the new family of Kindle devices, including the Kindle Fire, to ensure Target is a convenient one-stop-shop for all of the season’s must-have gifts,” said Nik Nayar, vice president merchandising, Target.

Target wants to ensure its the one-stop-shop. So, what does it do? It starts selling its customers mini-Amazon Stores that will, in future years, be the one-stop-shop for these customers.

How is all of this not painfully obvious?

Perhaps there’s something I’ve missed.

How does it help retail stores to build up Amazon? How does it help them to accelerate the trend to online and mobile shopping? Are they really not concerned that people will start doing their shopping through Kindle Fires and at Amazon.com?

It makes zero sense. To sell some extra devices this holiday season, all these retail stores are going to sell away their customers to their most dangerous competitor?

Steve Jobs is dead

It’d be inappropriate to discuss the ramifications of this until later.

Here’s the tweet – AP on Steve Jobs.

Here’s an article in the Chicago Tribune – Steve Jobs.

It’s unfortunate that after reviving Apple and taking iPhone and iPad to huge success, Steve Jobs didn’t get very long to enjoy his victories. 56 is way too young.

 

Kindle Library Lending starts Beta in Seattle

The Kindle is now getting a Beta of the Library Lending program in Seattle. Thanks to ThePogue for the scoop – it seems that Kindle Library Lending might arrive sooner rather than later.

Briar Dudley’s Blog in The Seattle Times has the scoop -

A beta test version of the service now being offered by the Seattle Public Library and King County Library System, which are letting people select and place holds on Kindle versions of books.

“We launched yesterday,” said Marsha Iverson, spokeswoman for the county library.

Early reports seem to suggest it isn’t very smooth. The one thing that seemed annoying is advertisements to buy books on the last page of the checkout process. Free Library Lending with Special Offers?

Finally, someone goes after the Agency Model in a court of law

A very interesting bit of news today – Lawsuit claims Apple and Publishers colluded on eBook pricing in fear of Amazon.

A Seattle Law Firm is saying that 5 Publishers and Apple ‘colluded’ on ebook prices and ‘increased their profits illegally’ and forced Amazon to ‘abandon its pro-consumer discount pricing’.

Perhaps a more appropriate claim would be – Publishers were desperate and totally incapable of competing technologically, so they used Apple to bring about ‘The Agency Model’. Apple was happy to play along as it knows that it’s competing with Amazon for all sorts of digital product sales and it feels that people should be buying Apple products instead of products from anyone else.

It’s great to see someone contest the Agency Model pricing on legal grounds. There’s absolutely no way $15 and $17 new ebook releases are anything but price collusion.

Here are a few juicy snippets from the Press Release (It’s embedded in the article at the above link) -

… publishers believed that Amazon’s wildly popular Kindle eReader device and the company’s discounted pricing for ebooks would increase the adoption of ebooks, and feared Amazon’s discounted pricing structure would permanently set consumer expectations for lower prices, even for other eReader devices.

Apple simply did not want to enter the ebook marketplace amid the fierce competition it knew it would face from Amazon and its discounted pricing … So instead of finding a way to out-compete Amazon, it decided to choke off competition through this anti-consumer scheme.

Berman pointed out that The Kite Runner, for example, costs $12.99 as an ebook and only $8.82 as a paperback.

This is beautiful.

While it’s obvious that Amazon was doing cut-throat pricing as much for itself as for customers, it is us customers who got hurt the most due to the Agency Model.

Kudos to the law firm for correctly going after the Publishers and Apple, for pointing out that ebooks should cost less than paper books, and for pointing out cases where ebooks now miraculously cost more than paper books.

The Class for the Lawsuit includes any consumer who purchased at least one ebook priced above $9.99 since the advent of the Agency Model. If this succeeds, and don’t see why it wouldn’t, then the Evil 5 Publishers are going to really, really regret the Agency Model.

There’s more information related to the case at the Law Firm’s website –  Evil Agency Model and the Lawsuit. It seems to be a pretty big and successful Law Firm with lots of big cases and settlements.

Update on eReaders & eBooks in the UK

Courtesy The Bookseller we get a lot of interesting updates about what’s going on with eReaders and eBooks in the UK. You can click on the link and the main page links to stories covering every storyline discussed in this post.

UK Publishers & Libraries struggle over eBook Lending

The key details -

  1. Libraries are asking Publishers to allow ‘1 ebook, 1 loan’ lending like OverDrive enables in the US. Assuming this means that a library that buys two copies of an ebook would be able to make two loans in parallel – And then the number of loans over time would be unlimited.
  2. Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Faber, and Quercus are among Publishers declining to agree. Penguin and Lonely Planet have agreed. HarperCollins has agreed but is considering imposing a 26 loan limit (same as what Harper Collins US has done in the US).
  3. The Society of Chief Librarians has said that Publishers’ baseline position on library ebook lending is of very limited practical use for readers using libraries.
  4. OverDrive declined to comment on whether Amazon-OverDrive library book lending would be coming to the UK.

It’s interesting how badly libraries are being treated by everyone (especially the Government) in the UK.

Penguin’s eBook Sales double in Q1, 2011

Penguin saw its Q1 ebook sales in 2011 double from the year-ago quarter. Its CEO is predicting that eBooks will make up 4% of Penguin sales in 2011 (up from 1% in 2010). Didn’t know ebooks were such a tiny part of the market in the UK (1% is almost meaningless).

Misleading Headlines about the iPad and Books

This is strange.

  1. Simba Information did a survey and everyone’s reporting the same headline – iPad users may not become book readers.
  2. How interesting. Until you read the actual statistics – 40% of iPad owners have not read a book on it. Why on Earth would Simba Information not focus on the fact that 60% of people who own an iPad have read books on the iPad?
  3. It reminds us of the time when Steve Jobs made his famous ‘no one reads any more’ comment – 40% of people in the US did not read a single book last year. Like lemmings the entire Press jumped on ‘how no one reads any more, 40% did not read’ instead of realizing that 60% of people do read books. Perhaps Steve Jobs trained them so well that they still haven’t realized 60% is more than 40%.

Another interesting finding – Women outnumbered men as ebook buyers. You can buy the entire report for $3,250 at the Simba Information website. Of course, that will only get you an online download. If you also want a hardcopy, you have to shell out $600 more. Such a Publisher thing to do.

Agents expect Escalators in eBook Contracts to become the norm

Lots of juicy details from the UK (good news for authors everywhere) -

  1. Agents have already negotiated escalators into some eBook contracts.
  2. Escalator = Royalty Rate changes based on the level of sales.
  3. Agents think it’s one way for Publishers to compete effectively against upstart digital publishers.
  4. Agents don’t expect the current ‘25% of net receipts for authors’ ebook contracts to survive much longer.
  5. Apparently, the Big 4 Publishers in the UK (whoever they are) are not yet including escalators. Agents are confident that despite the ups and downs escalators are bound to appear.

Publishers, not surprisingly, declined to comment.

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