Kindle for Web
Amazon's plan to succeed in the digital books game is becoming clearer and clearer--it will maximize its income by pushing Kindle content onto every possible platform. Now its new Web portal means you can even read 'em on your TV.

Moments after the BlackBerry PlayBook was revealed, Amazon announced it was going to launch a Kindle app for the new RIM product. It wasn't unusual for Amazon to take this step, given that the BlackBerry is such a prominent device and the PlayBook may see some of its own success, but the speed of the announcement was surprising.

Now it seems Amazon was clearing the decks for its announcement today: A Web portal for Kindle content. It's far more than a Web adaption of the existing Mac and PC apps. You can preview books more easily, then buy them from the same interface--and even embed clips from texts into your website (which lets you earn referral payments if your site's visitors then buy the text). There's one drawback of the Beta version: You can't read whole texts here yet. You have to use a full Kindle app on an e-reader, smartphone, Mac, or PC.

Nevertheless, Kindle for the Web may be the most potent tweak to the Amazon ecosystem yet. In one swoop, it brings e-book reading (backed by Amazon's own archive of texts) to any pretty much every screen that sports Web access. That means set-top boxes, games consoles, and every other device that connects to the Web using a browser. Amazon intends to get on your TV--and whatever device you use as your main screen in the future, Kindle has you covered.

You can find Kindle for Web here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?docId=1000579091

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Amazon's obviously proud of its Kindle e-reader, but this morning its execs may have something to worry about: Barnes & Noble may be about to stamp on the Kindle's future hopes... with a slick color e-reader from Plastic Logic.
Books, Magazines, eReaders
Yes, the phrase "Kindle killer" is a bit clichéd, and it's been applied several times to different devices--we used it in July to reference Plastic Logic's hotly-tipped grayscale e-reader device, after PL brokered a deal with AT&T to use the network in the U.S. and partnered with Barnes & Noble for content. This set up the device to be a real competitor to Amazon's Kindle. It has the right technology, and its design outclasses the rather '90s feel of the Kindles. But this morning Barnes & Noble has revealed that there's actually a color version of the device on the way... and that would outclass Amazon's offering in a single stroke.

Speaking at CTIA a B&N spokesman, Daniel Joresson, spilled the beans--a color Plastic Logic device is due in Spring 2010. It's possibly going to follow a grayscale version of the device, which is strongly rumored to arrive before the end of the year, and it tallies with text on Plastic Logic's own Web site which notes a paperback-sized color display is "around the corner." Check out the video of the news from blogger JBruin:

Spring next year is an astonishingly soon date, and its particularly aggressive given that Amazon's own Jeff Bezos has noted a color version of the Kindle is "multiple years" in the future because Amazon thinks that existing color technology on offer from its screen supplier E-Ink isn't up to quality. The other thing to note is Joresson's mention of the "Barnes & Noble e-reader application." That tallies with all sorts of other rumors online today that the e-reader will be running Android, and the e-reader app will be available on other platforms like the iPhone.
In its simplest terms, Barnes & Noble and Plastic Logic are very much taking the fight to Amazon... and with concerns that Amazon's fluffed the international launch of the Kindle, it looks like the newcomers really might have a chance.

Original blog post from Kit Eaton and can be found here: http://bit.ly/1sz6Ps
 
More proof, if you needed it, that e-Readers are a busted flush.
Kobo eReader
Borders has slashed the prices of E-Readers Kobo and Aluratek by $20, illustrating just how meh they've become in the tech world. The price drop is nothing new--both the Kindle and Nook, Amazon and Barnes & Noble's market leaders, have seen their prices slashed recently, and they're thought to be the most exciting brands in the sector. Nevertheless, whom does the news bode worst?

Well, on one front, it shows that Borders is in a bit of trouble (not unlike its main competitor, which is closing stores). It's throwing everything it's got at the e-Reader market--with iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps for the Kobo, as well as a bunch of freebies for consumers willing to back the Borders e-burro. And it's not just up against B&N and Amazon, which has now partnered with Staples to begin selling the Kindle in stores this fall. Both Apple and Google are also ramping up their assault on the printed word, with Apple's iBook store already on the market, and Google Editions on its way.

But most of all, this news proves that, as my colleague Kit Eaton pointed out a few months back, this is about as good as it gets for the e-Reader. It is not quite dead, but it's looking a bit peaky, like. The reason is, of course, the tablet. We all know about the iPad and at last, some competitors seem to be showing their faces. Moreover, this, of course, renders the e-Reader if not quite chocolate teapot territory, then one of those crappy ones made out of metal that burn your fingers when you pick it up by the handle.
This post was by Addy Dugdale of FastCompany and can be found here: http://is.gd/fOeiX
 
E-publishing pretender to Amazon's crown Barnes and Noble has just launched the "PubIt!" self-publishing platform, designed to bring digital publishing within the reach of more authors. It also promises "no hidden fees."
Picture
B&N's press release notes PubIt! is an "easy-to-use platform that offers independent publishers and authors a lucrative way to digitally distribute their works through BN.com and the Barnes and Noble eBookstore." The product is trying to differentiate itself from market-leader Amazon's own efforts in this direction by making things extremely simple.

The words "clear and competitive terms" and "no hidden fees" will be appealing to may self-publishers who are looking for a novel way to access the nascent e-book market. B&N even helpfully notes it's a nice way to get your works in front of "millions of new readers" (while carefully neglecting to mention that you actually have to promote your works, and get them popular in order to actually sell them--just as you would for a paper copy.)

All accepted titles are wrapped into B&N's electronic bookstore ("one of the world's largest digital content catalogues") speedily, within 24 to 72 hours after upload. That is faster than Apple's record of accomplishment of accepting apps into its app store, and will be of great interest to authors who write time-sensitive publications or serialized e-books. You will be able to price your work between $0.99 and $199.99, and receive "a competitive royalty" based on the price, given that B&N has to make a profit itself and will have to cover the costs of hosting and distributing your texts.

Therefore, for books between $2.99 and $9.99, publishers get 65% of the list price, and for cheaper books or those over $10 publishers will get 40%. This isn't as lucrative a deal as Apple or Amazon's 70/30 split, and is definitely intended to shape the price distribution of the expected wave of self-published books to a sub-$10 bracket (with a $3 cut-off so that the majority of books have some price-related notion of "quality"). For their pains, B&N notes "publishers can be confident they will be compensated from the list price they set with no additional charges, regardless of file size."

This last point is interesting, since it is a tacit hint that many self-published texts may be image-heavy, which instantly makes you think of university-level (or even school-level) textbooks. Self-publishing for these sorts of books will make a lot of sense for many lecturers who are keen to turn a small profit on textbooks for their lecture courses, without any of the hassle of finding and persuading a publisher of the benefits of their work.

Then our minds instantly turn to the current problem dogging e-books with textbook publications in particular: The lack of colour displays on the leading e-readers. In B&N's case, this is the Nook--which does sport a colour display, but only for the purposes of browsing titles and controlling the device. Though B&N does have e-reader apps (just like Amazon does) for other platforms like the iPad and Android smartphones, all of which can definitely cope with colour images, the Nook's e-paper unit can only manage grey scale. I believe it is about time B&N one-upped Amazon's Kindle with a Nook that has a full-colour unit? It would be a decisive move right now in a highly competitive market.
However,  we understand why it's not quite happening right now: the dedicated e-reader market is all but certain to be squashed by the incoming wave of tablet PCs (led by the iPad) and colour e-paper displays aren't mainstream yet--though Pixel Qi's system is nearing this sort of readiness.

Blog piece by Kit Eaton and can be found here: http://bit.ly/cHctDd