Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Mike Elgan says no…

Mike Elgan in Computerworld gives seven reasons why an ebook reader is a bad idea as a christmas present. I’ll let you check them out for yourself– they seem to centre on an expectation that Apple is about to enter the market and take over the way they have with the ipod and iphone. The jury’s still out on that one, so I’ll leave you with his reason # 5:

Two years ago, the Amazon Kindle was the new hotness. This year, it’s old and busted. The Kindle and its major competitors have pretty much the same screen technology. And everybody knows about them, so they’re just not an exciting gift anymore.

Via Macworld

More trouble in the bookshop world

Quick link to one of many stories around the traps which details the woes of Borders in the UK:

Bookseller Borders UK is considering calling in administrators after becoming the latest British high street victim of recession.

Borders, which trades from 45 stores, has been struggling to raise enough cash to trade through the key Christmas period, according to newspaper reports. It has faced intense competition from internet players and supermarkets.



Caught up with a mate of mine last night, currently stuck in Sydney for a couple of days with Chinese visa issues. The last time I saw him was in Washington DC last year – when we went to Borders to buy me a Sony Reader. Unimpressed, he stumped (later) for a kindle. Anyhow, his verdict was that despite there being a thousand reasons why the kindle is an awful device, he’s read more books in the last year than he has in the previous five. Moreover, he’s now got a Kindle DX so all of his work pdfs are read that way too. As for bookshops? He browses the print versions and then buys the Kindle copy.

When I opined that e-ink screen refreshes sill didn’t cut it, he just told me to get over it 🙂

The middle of another end, or something…

Many years ago, BC (before children) I was a hifi nerd. Got a CD player really early and got really excited by products from obscure British component manufactures. I even remember spending a day hunting around Seattle with a fellow tragic looking for a particular replacement part for a valve amplifier. Anyhow, the CD collection grew into the many hundreds and the speakers became ever bigger, until the kids came (ironically the same year as the first iPod) and the collection as relegated to the cupboards to be replaced by first by wiggles tunes and then downloaded replacements – which is where almost all my music comes from today. If I do stumble across a CD, it’s immediately ripped onto the Mac. Anyhow, all this is a long introduction to a link to news that Linn Products, one of those esoteric British hifi manufacturers has now ceased to produce CD players:

Linn Products has become the first manufacturer to announce it will give up on CDs from the start of next year. Instead, the niche company, based in East Renfrewshire, will focus on producing digital streaming equipment.

The firm, which makes systems costing from £2,500 to more than £100,000, said discerning customers recognised the superior quality of digital streaming.

At the one hand, this isn’t at all surprising. After all, the trends to digital downloads are pretty apparent. On the other hand, CDs still dominate music sales – it’s just that they’re trending down whilst itunes et al are trending up. The shift to net-based distribution has been, and continues to be, a fairly long-winded process. Which is just a reminder that it’ll take a *long* time for e-books to become an overnight success 🙂

You made how much?

We all know how hard it is to make money as an author, but cling to the hope that some successful writers are actually making real money. You know, crack the NYTimes best-seller list and you’re home and hosed kind of thinking. Well a posting over at straight goods puts the lie to that. Lynn Viehl, a successful fantasy author lays down the real figures for her book Twilight Fall, which made the NYT Top 20:

So how much money have I made from my Times bestseller? Depending on the type of sale, I gross 6-8 percent of the cover price of $7.99. After paying taxes, commission to my agent and covering my expenses, my net profit on the book currently stands at $24,517.36, which is actually pretty good

At current exchange rates that’s not a particularly good return. It’s less, for example, than a normal postgraduate scholarship here in Oz (when you take tax liabilities into account). And this is for a top 20 book in the USA! Publishers, on the other hand, seem to still do OK:

Speaking of comparisons, the publisher’s portion of sales on this book has grossed them around $453,839.68. I don’t have any hard figures on the publisher’s net, so I can’t give you the bottom line there. If I had to make a guess, I’d say they probably netted around $250K on this one.

Which has got what to do with ebooks? Only that the 450K grossed by the printed book includes printing, distribution and warehousing – and a whole lot of intermediation from the publisher to make all of that happen. What ebooks offer is the opportunity to reinvent the process, maybe 🙂


Kindle Everywhere?

Realising that it should be selling razor blades rather than handles, Amazon is slowly expanding the kindle brand as software, rather than hardware. Yesterday, it made available a PC application (mac version coming they say) which allows users to read kindle titles on their computers. From engadget:

Doing exactly what it says on the (imaginary) tin, this will allow you to read the locked-down Kindle format on your Windows weapon of choice, though Mac users are left with merely the “coming soon” message you see above. Given that you’ll now be able to consume Amazon’s ebooks on your PC and iPhone, there’s a risk that people might entirely sidestep the Kindle and Kindle DX for more familiar hardware, but clearly the company is willing to undertake it in order to get its wares out to a wider client base.

Interestingly, it is downloadable from almost anywhere (it works in Oz, anyway), mirroring Amazon’s recent international push for Kindle. If only they’d get onto internationalising the iphone app, which was *still* not on the Australian app store when I last checked…

Google Magazines

I spent half my adolescents loitering in newsagencies, browsing all manner of magazines – a habit that’s diminished with the onset of the web (and kids!) But anyone who shares my past habits would have checked out google’s magazine holdings – and know how cool it is. But there was never a way to browse the entire lost of available magazines until now. If you click here, you get a terrific digital newsstand.


(via Crikey)