Amazon Wins? (Roundtable: 7/22/10)
The Roundtable is a live, interactive webcast gathering some of the most outspoken industry professionals to debate the hottest publishing issues of the week, as being discussed in traditional media, the blogiverse and on Twitter. From celebrity book deals to eBook rights and pricing to [insert YOUR pet topic here] — if it’s related to books, it’s on the agenda.
Topic: Amazon Wins?
This episode of The Roundtable was webcast live at 1pm EDT on Thursday, July 22, 2010.
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Sarah Weinman, Publishing Reporter, AOL’s DailyFinance
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Dir. of Programming & Business Development, Digital Book World
Depending on where you get your news, and how far beyond the tweets and catchy headlines you tend to read, yesterday’s well-timed press release from Amazon (they release their 2Q report on Thursday) either came as a shocker (TIPPING POINT!) or an interesting soft data point in need of further clarification.
Amazon chooses its words carefully; in the midst of the Kindle hype, Bezos made a point of noting that ”our hardcover sales continue to grow.”
Interviews with several major trade houses found all acknowledging that they were selling at least as many e-books as hardcovers through Amazon with one major publisher reporting that in the last couple of weeks the ratio had been higher than the 143 e-books to 100 hardcovers Amazon reported for the second quarter. “[E-book] sales are growing week by week,” this publisher said.
Amazon is a master of selling paper books online and still offers the best user experience. It has transitioned that experience over to the e-book world and Kindle Store and clearly had much success. But in the digital book world, where pricing is largely fixed now (at least for traditionally published books), you’re starting to see a more level playing field as Barnes & Noble invests millions in its online arm and Apple knows a thing or two about user interfaces. Sony and scrappy upstarts like Kobo are also trying to get in on the e-book game, though consolidation seems inevitable.
And marketing can make the difference between an OK product selling OK and selling in gonzo numbers. The Kindle was an OK product — that is, it could read books and make buying them easy, but the hardware design was from Bizzaro World, with buttons that could be easily hit accidentally. But people put up with that OKness for the ease of buying, the lowered expense of buying, and the ability to read with less clutter and less weight.
The literary agent Andrew Wylie, who has announced that he will publish digital editions of works by some of his clients. Mr. Wylie said his new company would focus on older titles whose digital rights are not owned by traditional publishers. The books will be available exclusively at Amazon’s Kindle store for two years.
Twitter (as RTd by @digibookworld):
RT @Knownhuman: #DBW Have we really only been in a Kindle world for 33 months now?
RT @eBookNoir: #dbw – so who will the battle will be between? Amazon and google and apple? Is kobo and the rest going away?
RT @Knownhuman: #DBW Didn’t Amazon directly court several power agents directly late last year? (Yes. Was Wylie one of them?)
RT @susanmpls: #DBW Worth pointing out Wylie is working w/ successful authors, not new/unknown/debut authors who have no existing audience.
RT @MoriahJovan: No, why did he [Wylie] go with Amazon versus APPLE??? That’s the better question. #dbw
RT @eBookNoir: #dbw What if apple sends iBooks out to the world for other devices, will that change things if apple gets their act together?
RT @jfallone: #dbw ePub is now last hope of being Kindle Killer. Enhanced functionality & open source dev could leapfrog closed Mobi format.
RT @MatthewDiener: Is Amazon really putting the pressure on IDPF w/r/t ePUB: How do they keep ePUB standard from becoming irrelevant? #dbw
RT @neustudio: Amazon wins? Noooooooo. . … mobi is a pain to code!!! Format exclusivity is evil!! #DBW #ePrdctn
RT @MatthewDiener: Amazon Kindle /Mobi won on easy to convert (Amazon did it for free/percentage points). Result: more books, faster. #dbw
RT @MatthewDiener: ePUB is harder to create, though more robust. Makes the standard slower to adopt because less titles are available. #dbw