Will Publishers, Apple really push $13 to $15 ebooks?

Apple Insider writes that Apple and Book Publishers are in negotiations to provide books for the Apple iSlate with new hardcovers prived at $12.99 to $14.99.

That sounds like a rather unreasonable rumor to me.

Will Publishers use Apple iSlate to attack $9.99?

This section from the Apple Insider article is key -

 Apple would rather charge a higher premium for its content, sources told the Journal.

It said the tablet will create a major battle between Apple and Amazon over how books are priced and distributed.

It also said that while Apple would recommend prices of $12.99 and $14.99 for new bestsellers, publishers would be able to establish their own prices and “re-set the rules” with the tablet.

Wait a minute -

  1. $13 to $15 prices for ebook versions of hardcover bestsellers. 
  2. Letting Publishers set their own prices.

Those are both major threats to $9.99 and not exactly progress.

A lot of this doesn’t make sense

  1. Why would Publishers choose 70% of $12.99 (which is $9.09) or 70$ of $14.99 (which is %10.49) over 50% of list price from the Kindle Store (which is usually $14 or so).
  2. Why would readers choose $12.99 or $14.99 over $9.99?

Are Publishers counting on users paying a premium to get ebooks at the same time as hardcovers? Or do they expect a premium simply for being able to get ebooks on the new magic iSlate?

$9.99 can’t be beaten by eBook release delays or Using a Different Device

This is a pipe-dream.

People are not going to go back to another pricing paradigm – $9.99 is set and past efforts to go higher haven’t worked well.

  1. First Publishers tried to sell books at $14 or so and they didn’t see good sales so they had to go back to $9.99. 
  2. Next Publishers tried the ‘delay ebooks by 2-4 months’ strategy and users killed them with 1 star reviews and boycotts.

Publishers are pushing their luck again.

Is the Apple iSlate going to improve the reading experience and justify higher prices?

Publishers might have deluded themselves into thinking they could do things like add color author interviews and charge $3 to $5 more.

However, it’s a book.

  1. The Kindle and eInk readers are  great for reading.
  2. There’s not much that can be done to improve the book.
  3. We aren’t talking about games or movies or even illustrated textbooks – these are books that are just fine on black and white eReaders. 

The higher prices aren’t going to work – If anything, it’s a great way for Publishers to ensure the iSlate doesn’t have massive impact on eBooks and eReaders.

Besides you’re going to have Kindle for iSlate and that’ll have ebooks at $9.99.

Kindle vs iSlate – Review of Apple iSlate patent

Kindle vs iSlate seems imminent - It turns out that Apple owns the iSlate.com domain name and have booked a conference venue for January 26th.

Let’s consider Kindle vs iSlate, review the latest iSlate developments, and see what impact the iSlate might have on the Kindle.

Kindle Vs iSlate - Apple owns iSlate.com domain name

MacRumors did some sleuthing today and found out that before the ownership of iSlate.com was hidden behind a shield of privacy it was registered to Apple Inc. using its Cupertino address. 

While there are some harmless possibilities -

  1. Apple is just hoarding up domain names people might use to get to Apple’s Tablet. 
  2. That it is one of the last few contenders and we might see iTablet be the actual name. 

There are also some signs that iSlate is indeed the name of the Apple Tablet -

  1. Bill Keller had referred to the Apple Tablet in October as the Apple Slate
  2. iSlate is more in the vein of the iPhone and the iPod.  
  3. No Tablet has been a success and it would make sense to start off with a new name - create the perception that this is a revolutionary new product and not just a new form of a tablet.

Is the iSlate set to debut in January?

The Financial Times has the scoop on a potential Apple iSlate release announcement in January -

The company has rented a stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco for several days in late January, according to people familiar with the plans.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster thinks it’s the iSlate -

“We believe there is a 75 per cent likelihood that Apple will have an event in January and a 50 per cent chance that it will be held to launch the Apple Tablet,”

“If Apple announced the Tablet in January, it would likely ship later in the March quarter.”

The number of rumors and news items and the amount of solid facts is higher than at any other point. January is probably it for an iSlate formal announcement.

The recent updates of Apple’s computer lines, not to mention the updates of the iPhone and iPod in the 2nd half of 2010, suggest the January 26th event will be all about the Apple iSlate.

Kindle vs iSlate - Review of iSlate’s multi-touch tactile keyboard

Apple Insider has the scoop on a new patent filed this week that suggests the iSlate will use a dynamic surface that gives users tactile feedback as they type.

Using an “articulating frame,” the surface of such a device would create physical bumps or dots for the user to feel when it is in keyboard mode.

It is detailed in an application entitled “Keystroke Tactility Arrangement on a Smooth Touch Surface.”

Quite frankly, the idea is brilliant -

  1. When sliding gestures or clicks are detected then the surface behaves like a smooth touchscreen. 
  2. When you place fingers on the home row of the keyboard it changes i.e. the physical frame morphs into typing mode and gives you tactile feedback.

It makes me wonder whether the keyboard might be on the back of the device in addition to the screen.

Apple Insider point out that related patents were also filed in 2007 and earlier in the year.

The latter patent is very interesting as it was a surface that could detect 10 individual fingers while ignoring your palms resting on the screen. Combine that with the tactile feedback and you have an actual ‘feelable’ keyboard built into the touch screen.

 iSlate 7″ and iSlate 10″ – Taking on both Kindle and Kindle DX

UK gadget website T3 think that Apple is buying up 7″ touchscreens to the point that it’s almost impossible to get any. Various other sites (including Boy Genius Report) have had sources hint that there will be two models of the Apple iSlate -

  1. A 7″ screen model which compares well with most eReaders i.e. the Kindle, the Nook, etc. 
  2. A 10″ screen model which compares with the Kindle DX’s 9.7″ screen.

This makes a lot of sense because these sizes fit in very well with users wanting various combinations of portability and screen size. These would also fill the void between the iPhone and the MacBook.

It does seem strange that the iSlate would debut with two sizes – Would’ve thought Apple would start with one size and then expand later.

Kindle vs iSlate - How much of a threat is the iSlate?

We keep coming back to this question and it’s best to think of people who want an ebook reader as two groups -

  1. People who want a dedicated ebook reader. The Kindle, or a similar dedicated eReader, will always be the first choice for this group.
  2. People who want to be able to read an occasional book on their device. The iSlate fits in perfectly for these people.

Reading Devices are going to be a huge market and there will be more than enough space for both the Kindle and the iSlate. Kindle vs iSlate decisions come down to what your primary purpose for the device is and they aren’t really competing against each other.

Any Kindle vs iSlate review or comparison ought to start off with the disclaimer that these are entirely different devices targeted at different purposes.

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