The hype machine is in full gear and we suppose this will not end until the Kindle Fire is out on sale. And God help us if this new gadget has a massive sales weekend. The cacophony of noise will certainly be unbearable. Having said that, let us wait till November 15 before any further comments. 

The short video below shows more on the Kindle Fire and of course other Kindles. For those already "Kindlefied", we suppose no convincing there, for those not convinced, why not watch a few more videos and maybe, just maybe, give it a try. You decide.
 
Amazon has now unveiled its new tablet - Kindle Fire. And yes Mr Jeff Bezos did the honours of telling that message. If you haven't seen it, here it is. Let us know what you think. Enjoy!
 
Authored by MG Siegler of Techcrunch and can be found here: http://is.gd/khkNC
Breaking news: old school publishers seem hell-bent on insuring their content doesn’t catch on in the red-hot tablet space. A story in the Wall Street Journal this evening details how Google, Apple, Amazon and others are all racing to try to do deals with major publishers in order to set up their “digital newsstands”. 
Of course, all of this has been going on for months now as publishers seem to be aware that tablets (okay, really just the iPad so far) are actually taking off this time, and they’d be wise to get on board. The problem, naturally, is that they want to be on board on their terms. And those, naturally, are old school terms. In other words, out-of-date and somewhat sleazy terms.
Nook + Kindle
Here’s one main blurb of the WSJ piece:

Apple is planning to share more data about who downloads a publisher’s app, information publishers can use for marketing purposes. According to people familiar with the matter, Apple would ask consumers who subscribe to an iPad version of a magazine or newspaper for permission to share personal information about them, like their name and email address, with the publisher.

Some publishers remain unhappy with this arrangement because they think few customers would opt to share such data, according to these people.

So what the publishers seem to be demanding is that Apple opts users into sharing information without telling them. Or, to put it another way, “make it opt-out or we opt-out”. Classy.

Of course few customers would opt-in to sharing such data. Because who the hell wants to be marketed to relentlessly just because they signed up for a magazine subscription? No one. Except that’s the way the magazine subscription model currently works. Not because it’s a good model, but because in the days before technology started destroying print, people were naive enough not to realize what was going on. Obviously, the publishers would like to transition that happiness in slavery to the tablet space.
And while Apple doesn’t appear to be biting on that at this time, the publishers apparently are turing their sights towards chief rival Google. From the piece:

In recent weeks, these people say, Google has told publishers it would take a smaller slice on any sales they make of Android apps than the 30% cut Apple typically takes on iTunes sales. Google has also proposed giving publishers certain personal data about app buyers to help with marketing related products or services.
It’s not clear if in the Google scenario this would be opt-in (like Apple is proposing) or opt-out. But if Google wants to secure these deals ahead of Apple, it’s pretty clear what they’ll have to do. Hopefully they won’t do that.

Apple is also apparently on the verge of a new feature in iTunes that would allow for publishers to offer simple content subscription services. This too has been rumored for some time, and makes a lot of sense. After the initial interest wore off, it seems that most magazine apps are dwindling in sales numbers. The reason for this is obvious: they’re far too much money and too much of a pain to download. To get Time each week, you have to pay $4.99 each time. There is no subscription option. Others, like Newsweek, do have a subscription option, but it’s a bit convoluted. And others, like the Wall Street Journal, have an option (their own) that’s even more convoluted.
In order for the digital newsstand idea to work, it has to actually be a newsstand. As in, a centralized place where you can find and buy anything you’re looking for with a few easy clicks. You know, like iTunes. The stand-alone app model isn’t working for this content. But the publishers are wary of iTunes because they don’t want to give Apple the 30 percent cut, and, more importantly, they want that subscriber data.

And so we appear to be where we were a few months ago, at a stalemate. Talking to Google about a rival newsstand seems like a good bargaining tool, but the Android platform still doesn’t have a tablet that’s nearly as popular as the iPad. Amazon has the popular Kindle device, but it’s in black and white and doesn’t exactly seem like the future of magazine content consumption. You can be sure that Apple will want something like this digital newsstand in place by the launch of the iPad 2. And as they like to do, they’ll probably launch it even if they only have a few publishers on board.

And there will be some on board. Because they stand to lose a lot more than Apple does if they don’t get their content to hit on the iPad.
 
Borders Logo
The book-seller Borders may become the first casualty of a changing publishing industry. According to reports, the company has been delaying payments to book publishers in order to help refinance its debt.

Borders is the second largest book retailers in the U.S., after Barnes & Noble, but even so, Borders says "there can be no assurance" that these refinancing efforts will be successful in keeping the company afloat.
Electronista likens Borders' downward spiral to that of Circuit City, noting the similarity between the companies' "lack of faith" from suppliers who no longer trusted credit from the chain. According to the blog, Borders has lost $74.4 million in its most recent quarter and has lost money in most every quarter for the past two years, save during the holiday season when sales helped prop up profits.

It isn't simply a downturn in the economy or in the publishing world that has put Borders in trouble. Unlike Barnes & Noble and Amazon, Borders has not built its own e-reader hardware. The company has partnered with Kobo, a spin-off of Canadian publishing company Indigo Books & Music, and offers a branded Borders e-bookstore and reader but only via the Kobo software and hardware.
As e-books have exploded in popularity, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have found themselves well placed, and there have been rumors of Borders buying Barnes & Noble, in no small part in order gain a share of the lucrative e-book business.

If Borders does go belly up, the results could have a ripple effect on the e-book industry. Kobo would clearly suffer by losing its major partner, a shame as Kobo is one of the few supporters for open-formats for publishing. But there seems to be plenty of other companies - Apple and Amazon - that have the (DRM) e-books ready to deliver.
Blog piece by Audrey Watters of ReadWriteWeb.com.
 
Giant online retailer Amazon.com announced Monday that the latest version of its popular Kindle e-reader has become the top-selling item in the company’s history — surpassing the previous champ,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7).

On Christmas Day, Amazon said, more people activated new Kindles and bought more e-books than on any other day in the company’s history. Kindle (Wi-Fi) and Kindle 3G devices were the best-selling products on Amazon this holiday season, the company said.
Amazon Kindle
As usual, Amazon did not say exactly how many Kindles the company has sold, but Forrester Research’s James McQuivey has estimated that by the end of the year, Amazon will have sold about 6 million units.

Company CEO Jeff Bezos did use the occasion to take a veiled shot at those who said that fancier tablet computers like Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Android-powered Galaxy Tab — which are much more expensive than Kindles and offer more features — would crush Amazon’s signature e-reader. Not even one year ago, tech pundits were predicting Kindle’s demise at the hands of iPad.

“Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies and web browsing, and their Kindles for reading sessions,” Bezos said in a statement. “They report preferring Kindle for reading because it weighs less, eliminates battery anxiety with its month-long battery life, and has the advanced paper-like Pearl E Ink display that reduces eyestrain, doesn’t interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime, and works outside in direct sunlight, an important consideration, especially for vacation reading.”

“Kindle’s $139 price point is a key factor — it’s low enough that people don’t have to choose,” Bezos added.
To be sure, Monday’s announcement is almost entirely self-serving on the part of Bezos and Amazon, but you have to give the company some credit for managing to withstand the onslaught of smartphones and tablets that pose competitive threats to the Kindle.

The simple fact is, the product is a hit.

Ben Schachter, an analyst with Macquarie Research, believes that Amazon is poised to continue its strong performance.

“Amazon has rewarded the bulls and confounded the bears for years,” Schachter wrote in a recent note to clients, in which he initiated coverage of the company with an “Outperform” rating. “Through it all, very few would argue that the company’s execution has been anything other than remarkable. Even fewer would argue that the secular shift of retail to online from offline will abate.”

Schachter has a $205 price target on the stock, which closed trading Monday at $182.14.

Follow us for disruptive tech news: Sam Gustin and Epicenter on Twitter.

 
The e-book market is unstoppable. Barnes & Noble's Nook and Amazon's Kindle are flying off the shelves--the latter actually completely sold-out this week from holiday sales. Nevertheless, this burgeoning industry might be hampered by everyone's least favorite obligation: taxes.

Kindle & Nook
According to a report by nonprofit consumer advocacy group MyWireless, state and local taxes on e-books could bump up the total price of digital literature by 21%. While e-books have always been far cheaper than their hard-copy counterparts, such high taxes could drive costs higher than physical books, reports SmartMoney.
Meanwhile, with budget deficits booming and states required to balance their budgets, the likelihood of state taxes on downloadable products is only going to grow.

The going rate for an e-book is $9, so even a 20% tax would only spike costs by a few dollars. However, the industry as a whole is set to surpass sales of $1 billion this year, a figure that will likely triple to $3 billion by 2015.

Local government's take from taxing e-books? We are looking at between $200 million and $600 million in the coming years. That's great for profligate legislatures--but it also looks suspiciously like a tax on literacy.
Original post by Austin Carr of FastCompany and can be found here: http://is.gd/jjMFZ
 
There was a time, not so long ago, when chain bookstores had a bad reputation. Barnes & Noble and Borders were seen as predators eager to destroy local booksellers — and neighborhood bookstores were weathering threats from all sides. Megastores like Costco started selling bestsellers and encroaching on local shops; then came a little company called Amazon, and the rise of online book buying. The indies were struggling to make ends meet, and many had to close their doors.
Book shop
However, these days, independent bookstore owners Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo of Greenlight Books in Brooklyn argue that the struggling local bookstore is a thing of the past.

"That was the only story people — especially in media — could wrap their heads around," Bagnulo says. “‘Oh isn't it sad that all the independent bookstores are dying and they are being destroyed by chains!'"

Now, the tables have turned. In the era of online buying and the e-book, both currently dominated by Amazon, the big chains are in trouble — and new technologies may provide independent bookstores with a lifeline.
A Local Touch

Defying all the naysayers about the future of bookstores — especially in a tough economy — Fitting and Bagnulo opened Greenlight in the Ft. Green section of Brooklyn a year ago. They knew the neighborhood they moved into desperately wanted a bookstore. And that local support has proven to be invaluable.

The store has lots of regular events, like Saturday morning story time for children and high-profile author readings from the likes of Jennifer Egan and Jhumpa Lahiri. But on any given day, it attracts locals like Ft. Green resident Roxanne Powell.

"It's good to have it here and to see it flourishing," Powell says, as she browses the store's collection. "I even feel like I have to stop going to Barnes & Noble and support my local bookstore."

Fitting and Bagnulo know that a delicate combination of factors has to come together to make their particular neighborhood bookstore succeed. But they believe this could be a good time for stores like theirs everywhere. According to Fitting, it's the chain stores, not independent booksellers, which belong to another era.

"I kind of feel like we're coming to end of the age of dinosaurs and there's all these warmblooded animals running around instead," she says.

If the dinosaurs are the two big chain stores Borders and Barnes & Noble, the latest news has not been good. Last week, Borders reported a third-quarter loss of more than $74 million, and confirmed that it is closing 16 stores. Despite its precarious state, one of Borders' biggest stockholders has offered to finance the purchase of Barnes & Noble, which put itself up for sale last summer. That offer helped boost Barnes & Noble stock, but many observers think a merger of the two chains is unlikely. Barnes & Noble says it is considering a number of options, including not selling itself at all.

For her part, Bagnulo sees the chains' woes — and the recent news that Google is entering the e-book market — as something of an opportunity.

"The potential is for there to be two trends," she explains. "Digital content — which is ubiquitous and everywhere — and the local, boutique, curated side. And the chain stores unfortunately don't have the advantage in either of those areas. I mean, they can't carry every book in the world in their store, and they don't have the same emotional connection to their neighbourhood that a local store does."
E-Books: Threat Or Opportunity?

It's really hard for me to be sympathetic to the chains," says Elaine Petrocelli, the co-owner of Book Passage in San Francisco. She's been in the business since the 1970s, and has not forgotten when a chain store moved into her neighbourhood and almost put her out of business.

The most recent threat to bookstores like Petrocelli's is the emergence of the e-book and Amazon's dominance of the market with its e-reader, the Kindle. So Petrocelli was heartened by the news that Google will make it possible for independent bookstores to sell e-books from their websites.

"I think it gives us a chance," she says. "I don't think it's a panacea, but I think it gives us a chance."

Petrocelli views e-books as a new marketing challenge, especially now that she can sell them herself.

"I think that it's possible that the Kindle could turn into the Betamax," she says. "That's my nasty wish, because they won't share with other people. You need to buy your book through Amazon in order to use your Kindle. [On] all of the other readers you can work with the Google editions [of the books], and so I think that's going to be the next thing."
Len Riggio
Len Riggio, the CEO of Barnes & Noble — the very chain that once threatened Petrocelli's business — thinks that the two of them have something in common.

"I think the biggest threat to Barnes & Noble is the same threat that exists to independent book sellers and to anyone engaged in the sale of printed books," he argues. "It's all about the Internet itself."

Book sales have declined for everyone, says Riggio, because whole categories like reference books and travel books are no longer needed, now that such information is available for free on the Internet. That is why Riggio, like Petrocelli, is banking his stores' future not on books alone, but on the sale of electronic devices. Prominent among them is Barnes & Noble's own e-reader, the Nook, and its latest iteration, the Nook Color. But as important as the Nook is to Barnes & Noble, Riggio says the strategy for the future is to be device agnostic. The potential market is huge.

"We really don't care if someone has an iPhone, because you can read Barnes & Noble e-books on your iPhone," he says. "You can read Barnes & Noble books on your iPad or your BlackBerry. So we don't consider the other devices to be competitive, and we may very well sell some of those devices in our stores."

The sale of those devices, he adds, would then support the sale of traditional books.

An Uncertain Future

This past year, Riggio fought off a hostile attempt to take over the Barnes & Noble board, and along with it, his chairmanship. He will not comment on the potential sale of Barnes & Noble, though a decision is expected early next year. Still, he says this is an exciting time to be in the business, and he is anything but downbeat about his company's future.

"It's pretty heady times," he says, "and we don't know how it's going to turn out. But if you want to count up the people who will have a say in how it will turn out, put us in as one of them."

And what about the independents? Will they just become precious reminders of a time when  most people read books made of paper? Not a chance, says Elaine Petrocelli. All bookstore owners know that the digital future is now. It is up to them to work it in a way that keeps their doors open and their shelves filled with actual books.

"I don't think we're going to become precious," she says. "I think we're going to be a vital part of the future, but we're going to have keep growing and changing."


Original Story by Lynn Neary and can be found here: http://is.gd/j3eag
 
Newly approved Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is a Kindle user, while longtime conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wields an iPad.
This nugget of information appeared in a recent video clip on C-SPAN. Both justices use the devices (plus hard copy printouts) to read the vast quantities of written material they must wade through — up to 40 or 50 briefs for each case, Kagan says in the video above.

The news, however, made us wonder about something of far more pressing national importance: Is this a deep ideological divide on the Supreme Court?

Would Scalia see things differently if he read opinions on the monochrome Kindle? Does Kagan need a dose of iPad color, and maybe a round or two of Flight Control HD between court sessions?

Are Kindle-wielding Justices writing angry “Mactard” and “fanboi” comments on the opinions of their opponents, while the Mac-loving faction refuses to talk or even think about anything that wasn’t designed in Cupertino?

Nah, that doesn’t seem realistic.

Thanks, Jeremy!


Original post by Dylan F. Tweney and can be found here: http://is.gd/iT5TY
 
Advances in digital bookselling have usually pushed independent bookstores further and further out of the literary game. However, Google's new store is dealing them back in. Here is how.

If you stroll on over to your corner bookstore this week and ask the person behind the counter about Google's new eBook store, which launches today, you probably won’t be greeted with the kind of teeth-gnashing that has accompanied other digital developments, like Amazon's online bookstore or the advent of proprietary e-readers. 
Google eBook Store
Instead, you might actually be greeted with some excitement and delight. That’s because Google is taking a different approach to selling e-books than Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Rather than create a closed system that leaves others out in the cold, Google is actually collaborating with independent bookstores to sell its wares--and share the profits.
Google's e-books program will act as much as a distribution system as a retail outlet. You can buy Google’s e-books directly from the company’s ebookstore, if you like. But if you’d rather support your local bookstore, you can buy the exact same books on their site. Rather than holding on to every part of the chain, the way Amazon’s Kindle program does, “we’re building an ecosystem,” Google Books director of product management Scott Dougall tellsFast Company.
There are a few reasons Google is going a different way. The ebookstore emerged from the Google Books program, which did not start out as a potential revenue stream. Instead, the company’s book-scanning project was simply a program to help the company fulfil its mission to make all of the world’s information accessible. Since so much information is contained in books, the company wanted to make sure that if you were using Google Search to look for a particular topic, it would be able to point you to books containing information about that topic, in addition to relevant web pages. 

Then, as Google Books began collaborating with publishers and contemplating a program to sell books in addition to just making them searchable, it made a philosophical decision that brick-and-mortar bookstores are critical to the literary ecosystem. “A huge amount of books are bought because people go into a physical bookstore and say, 'Hey, I want this, I want that,'” Google Books engineering director Dan Clancy told an audience at the Computer History Museum last year.
Michael Tucker, president of the American Booksellers Association, which negotiated the deal to distribute Google's e-books through independent bookstores, points to another reason Google is dealing the booksellers in: Google is fundamentally a technology company, not a retail enterprise. Moreover, it is certainly not an expert in the book business. “They recognized that they are not a bookstore,” Tucker tells Fast Company. “They wanted to be able to access [the skills of booksellers].”

Google says it has deals to sell books from almost 4,000 publishers, including all the major houses, and that "hundreds of thousands" of books will be available for purchase. Google has arranged to get 30% of every book sale, with publishers retaining the remaining 70%. In its deal with the ABA, bookstores that sell Google e-books will get a portion of that 30 percent. Neither Google nor Tucker would divulge the terms of the deal, but Tucker said it was “more generous” than the deal booksellers currently get from Ingram Digital, the other major supplier of e-books to independent book stores.
Bookstores seem to be cautiously optimistic about the Google program. A person who answered the phone at St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York said, “We’re looking forward to it,” before referring Fast Company to the ABA. “We’re really pleased,” said Mark LaFramboise, a buyer at Washington D.C.’s Politics and Prose. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
Darin Sennett, director of strategic partnerships at the famous Powell’s book shop in Portland, Oregon, is particularly excited about Google’s technological model. The Kindle, the Nook, and the Sony eReader all use the traditional approach to e-books: They sell DRM-protected files that customers download to devices and which must be read with specific e-reading software. 

Google, however, is using the cloud. Its e-books will be stored on Google servers, and readers who have purchased them will access their books via a browser. Unlike in the Kindle system, where Kindle e-books can only be read on Kindle devices, Google e-books will be able to be read on any device that has a browser. Until now, independent bookstores have been effectively shut out of devices like the iPad and smartphones (which are emerging as many customers’ reading platforms of choice) because the e-books available from other distributors were either not compatible with those devices or the formatting was so clunky as to make them effectively unreadable.

“Kindle and Nook are formidable technologies, but they’re islands,” Sennett tells Fast Company. “There are so many [devices and readers] outside those islands. What Google does is fill the oceans between them.”
Readers who prefer to own their own copies of Google e-books will be able to download them, in either PDF or ePub format. But Google anticipates that most customers use the cloud because of its convenience: They’ll always have access to their books, no matter what device they have with them at any particular time. (On the down side, however, using the cloud requires having an active Internet connection.)

Politics and Prose’s LaFramboise says Google's program gives independent bookstores an effective avenue for staying in the bookselling game as some readers’ preferences shift to digital formats. “When people come to us and say ‘We really love independent bookstores and we want to buy our e-books from you,” now we can say, ‘You can.’”
Blog post courtesy of E B Boyd of Fastcompany. The original can be read here:  http://is.gd/iuymW
 
We may get to check out Google's long-anticipated entry into the digital-book sales market before the end of the year.
Google books
Google Editions, which was announced in spring and expected to launch in summer, is expected to be available in the U.S. by the end of the month, Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung told CNET today. In September, Hornung talked with CNET about some of the difficulties in launching the ambitious project, saying, "The real answer is, we'll launch the service when it's ready."

Google Editions is expected to open up a new distribution channel for digital-book publishers and give Amazon and Apple a new competitor in the booming digital-book market. However, a key difference is Google's "buy anywhere, read anywhere" approach, which means customers, will purchase titles exclusively through a Web browser, instead of through an online store, as Amazon and Apple customers do. Customers will also be able to use any Internet-connected device--be it a personal computer, smartphone, or tablet computer--to access the books on Google's servers.
Google hasn't revealed who or how many partners it has in the effort. But traditional revenue-sharing models could be upset by the fact that customers wouldn't actually have their own copy of the books they purchase.

Amazon is the dominant player in the e-book field, claiming to command upward of 80 percent of the market. However, in an apparent effort to stave off defections to rival e-book sellers, Amazon recently announced plans to give newspaper and magazine publishers a greater share of the revenue it collects.

Google is no stranger to digital books; the Internet giant announced plans in December 2004 to scan, digitize, and make searchable the collections of five of the largest libraries in the world. However, the effort quickly became embroiled in lawsuits and negotiations over copyright issues.
Post by Steven Musil. Steven is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers. Email Steven.