Amazon is such a tough competitor (“how tough is it?”) that a consortium of German booksellers, the world’s largest publisher and one of the world’s largest telecomm companies have banded together to fight it.
The bookstore chains Thalia, Weltbild and Hugendubel have partnered with Bertelsmann (Random House parent) and Deutsche Telekom, parent to T-Mobile and other huge firms, have partnered to form Tolino, a company that will produce the Tolino Shine e-reader and sell ebooks. It goes on sale on March 7 in Germany for €99 ($129).
Tolino’s stats are formidable. It starts life for sale in 1,500 retail locations around the country and will have 300,000 titles available for purchase at launch (Amazon’s German Kindle store has over 1.8 million titles, however). One of its backers is heavyweight enough to compete with Amazon – Deutsche Telekom had €58.2 billion in revenues last year compared to $61.1 billion for Amazon.
One problem: The Shine is an e-reader; tablets are the future, aren’t they? Well, in Germany, e-reader sales are projected to keep rising in 2013, as opposed to in the U.S. where they are much larger for now but projected to fall.
Meanwhile, Amazon has its own problems in Germany. Union proponents are demanding that Amazon unionize its workforce after one of Germany’s television networks broadcast a documentary about harsh treatment for Amazon workers in early Feb.
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The rest of the day’s top news:
Mounting Problems for B&N: Is There a Way Out? (DBW)
What should Barnes & Noble do about its mounting problems to make sure that it’s a part of publishing’s future and not just its past? One idea: Do the unthinkable and sell ebooks through its iPad app.
Bad Sign for B&N (The Digital Reader)
Nook devices are being sold at big discounts on Amazon. Why? B&N is way overstocked and needs to get rid of the things. The good news for B&N is that if any of the third-party sellers can move a lot of the e-readers and tablets, they will be signing up new ebook customers for B&N. The bad news is that a fire-sale like this can sometimes presage the collapse of a device brand (see: HP’s TouchPad).
Wool Comes to UK (Express.co.uk)
The UK is getting to know the phenomenon that is Hugh Howey. Fun fact: He worked as a private yacht captain in the Bahamas.
Macmillan Starts Selling Ebooks to Libraries (DBW)
As promised earlier this year, Macmillan started selling ebooks to libraries through the 3M Cloud Library on March 1. It made 1,200 back-list titles from its Minotaur division available for purchase.
Wishful Thinking (paidContent)
PaidContent reporter Laura Owen has dreamed up three handy e-reading tools that she’d like to see. Owen, like many of you, is not the average book reader and so put some high-end, higher-order function tools on her wish-list. Related: Three Kinds of Digital Publishing Start-ups to Be Bullish About.
AAP Meeting Highlights (PW)
PW outlines the highlights of the annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers. This year it was all about copyright and international. Our highlight was former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R., Maine) talking about gridlock in Washington, D.C. Not exactly fodder for a DBW article, however.
Young vs. Old in the Classroom (DBW)
A new survey tells us what we could have guessed: That younger teachers are more comfortable integrating technology into the classroom than older teachers. Another reason that when it comes to digital adoption in the classroom, time is your friend.
The Honest Goodbye (NYT)
You’ve seen the euphemisms before: Leaving to spend time with the family; promoted to vice chairman of the board; etc. You’ve been around long enough to know that when you hear that, likely it means that a very senior executive has been fired. Smarter former CEOs are getting more candid about their axing. With all the tumult in publishing these days, perhaps we’ll soon see some candid goodbyes of our own.
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