Barnes & Noble + Microsoft: One Interesting Angle

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

The dust has yet to settle just hours after the announcement that Barnes & Noble and Microsoft will be joining forces to take on Amazon and Apple in the e-book business, yet, the speculation about what it could mean for the e-book business has already started.

I’d like to make an early contribution.

The first take on it is that the move creates more competition in the e-bookseller market, which is likely good for consumers, publishers and authors.

Consumers: More strong e-bookstores means more competition for consumers’ business, which could mean lower prices or better service.

Publishers: More strong e-bookstores means more viable places to sell books, more customers competing for publishers’ business and less reliance on fewer retailers.

Authors: More strong e-bookstores could mean more competition for exclusive content and higher prices paid for that content.

For publishers and authors, having a partner like Microsoft, which can reach hundreds of millions of PC-users around the world, likely means more places for readers to discover content.

These are the story lines coming out of the e-book market experts and observers I’ve been communicating with this morning, many of whom declined to provide their thoughts on the record (I think because it’s so early they want to think it through before giving a reaction they might regret — smart move).

But I think there’s one angle others may not have thought of: Microsoft publishing tools. Could this partnership lead to Microsoft building easy-to-e-book tools into its market-leading MS Office suite of tools? Imagine turning a Power Point or MS Word file into an e-book ready for sale on the Nook and other platforms with the press of a button.

“What would be very interesting if they could now move their office suite along so it automatically exports stuff for full publication — now that would certainly be something to watch,” said Maryn Daniels, a London-based publishing-industry veteran and founder of Opus 57, a consultancy.


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