Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Since the Apple iPad was announced, there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not the iPad can put the Kindle out of business. Below is a listing with some of the links.
- The Bits Blog has postings from each perspective. Here is a posting with three reasons why the iPad WILL kill the Amazon Kindle and here is one with three reasons why it WON'T.
- CNET created a side-by-side comparison
- TechCrunch lists 10 Reasons why the iPad will put the Kindle out of business
- Forbes lists five reasons why it won’t
- TechFlash argues both sides
What do you think?
Friday, January 29, 2010
Follett has announced that it will begin offering a Try Now, Buy Later program for its CafeScribe eBook platform. Students and professors will be able to download the e-books for free for seven days before purchasing. According to the press release, this will give students a chance to try out the digital version and will assist students that are not able to obtain a print copy of a textbook at the beginning of the semester because it is temporarily out of stock.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
As expected, the iPad is much like a larger version of an iPod Touch. The device has a 9.7 inch touchscreen and comes in three models 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. Each of the models can be purchased as Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G with service options from AT&T. Users will be able to watch TV shows and movies, read newspapers, play music, use the internet, send e-mails, use any app that is currently available in the App Store, as well as new apps that are being designed specifically for the iPad. But more importantly, users will be able to read e-books and textbooks on the device. During the event Steve Jobs commented, “Amazon has done a great job of pioneering this, but we’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a step further.” Jobs confirmed that five publishers (Penguin, Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette Book Group) have signed on to provide e-books that will be available through a new app called iBooks. Details about which textbooks will be offered and pricing were not provided at the event but it was noted that the books will be in ePub format and publishers can add videos to the books. An article from Wall Street Journal provides some information about the pricing for the trade e-books and notes that the Apple business model will provide publishers with more control over e-book pricing. The agreement could also help publishers negotiate with Amazon on future pricing.
The Wi-Fi version of the device is expected to begin shipping in 60 days and the 3G model will ship in 90 days so we can anticipate that more details about the e-book and e-textbook offerings will unfold as the ship date approaches. As noted above, this device has the potential to change the way we think about mobile technology and in addition it could change the way we think about textbooks. If interactive textbooks that enhance the learning experience are offered, the device could be a game changer for our industry.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
We look forward to finding out more this afternoon. The event begins at 1 p.m. eastern/10 a.m. pacific. For those that are interested, Ars Technica and CNET will feature live blogging from the event.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Over the last several months, we have been hearing more and more about interactive digital content. There are already some versions of interactive textbooks available but we can expect that the technology will improve in the coming months and years to provide students with a new way of learning.
Monday, January 25, 2010
According to the report, the amount of time spent with mediums such as music/audio, TV content, computers, and video games increased while movies and print decreased. Print media decreased from an average of 43 minutes per day in 2004 to 38 minutes in 2009. The decrease is attributed to time spent with magazines which dropped from 14 minutes in 2004 to 9 minutes in 2009 and newspapers which dropped from 6 minutes to 3 minutes. Interestingly, the time that children and teens spend reading books has remained steady at 25 minutes per day. In addition, 8-18 year olds now spend an average of two minutes per day reading magazines and newspapers online.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
First, you probably noticed our new logo and look for the blog. The content and approach will remain the same, but with several initiatives starting to come to fruition, over the next few months we will provide updates on what we are doing within NACS and NACS Media Solutions (NMS) related to this area.
Second, we have just launched our new NMS website http://www.nacsmediasolutions.com/ and our Facebook fan page. On our website, you will find more information about how we are working to build and support a foundation of technology, content solutions, and a network of partners that enable collegiate retailers to be an effective and value-adding channel for digital course materials and other pertinent digital content, products, and services. Many of our service offerings are still in development so check back frequently for updates. We are working on some really exciting initiatives and look forward to announcing these in the coming months.
Don’t forget to show your support for NMS and become our fan on Facebook! You can access the fan page via this link or by searching for NACS Media Solutions.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that HarperCollins is in discussions with Apple and will likely make its e-books available on the tablet. Other reports say that all the major publishers are in discussions. According to the WSJ article, the e-books will feature enhanced content and HarperCollins will set the price. It is not clear if the e-books will be sold through a new e-book store or the iTunes Store but Apple will likely receive a percentage of all sales. The article notes that Amazon could face significant competition from the tablet because the new e-books will require color and video capabilities that the current Kindle models do not offer. This would give Apple a new e-book product and an advantage over Amazon. In addition, by working with Apple, publishers may be able gain back some control over e-book pricing which has been dictated by Amazon in recent months.
Amazon has clearly taken note of these recent developments because on Wednesday Amazon issued two press releases. The first press release announces a new deal for Kindle publishers that is similar to the Apple iPhone App Store business model with a 70-30 split in favor of the content provider. The press release notes, “Today, authors often receive royalties in the range of 7 to 15 percent of the list price that publishers set for their physical books, or 25 percent of the net that publishers receive from retailers for their digital books. We're excited that the new 70 percent royalty option for the Kindle Digital Text Platform will help us pay authors higher royalties when readers choose their books." An article from Fast Company points out that those who participate in the new model must meet a specific set of criteria defined by Amazon and the press release is misleading. "Assuming publishers do choose the higher royalty option, there's absolutely no guarantee it'll translate into larger pay checks for the author--it'll depend on contractual agreements between publishers and their writers, and the only authors who'll clearly benefit are self-publishers. Furthermore, the entire press release, spun expertly to look like a positive move by Amazon, is covering up the fact that until now Amazon's maintained a strict stranglehold over its e-book content with a lower royalty share scheme that has increasingly come under fire from the publishing world as a threat to the future of good book writing.”
Amazon’s second press release announces the release of a Kindle Development Kit to give developers the opportunity to build apps for the Kindle. This is interesting news because the current black and white E Ink screens on the Kindle will not support apps the way Apple devices can. Is it possible a next generation device is in the works? If anything is clear, Amazon is anticipating some big news from Apple next week.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Among his list of trend predictions for higher ed IT in 2010 of interest to this blog are the pieces on both gaming and open content. However, most who follow this blog will probably appreciate the following trend prediction most:
(5) The E-Book Reader Grows up and Goes to Campus. 2009 marked the birth of the e-book reader in the university marketplace. The first set of entrants put the already nervous higher education (text)book market on notice. New business models, publishing models, revenue sharing strategies, and new models around intellectual property and the assigned ‘text’ for a course proliferated and served to dislodge the staid legacy economy for many universities. If buying second hand books online was not enough, the new e-book readers were perceived by some to disintermediate traditional providers of services and economic benefit in the college supply chain. In 2010 a whole new generation of e-book readers will emerge as the life cycle of innovation really takes off for this class of mobile smart pads. Dedicated, single purpose readers will be eclipsed this year by new, integrated platforms supporting new functionality, Web services, rich media, open application development environments, and a wide range of new experimental interface approaches. Publishers, bookstores, technology, and entertainment giants will all clamor to the market, marking a significant if not final shift from the traditional bound book toward fully repurposable content for learning, including traditional texts.
This is not the first quarter from which we have heard a similar prediction regarding e-readers and course materials. I would not expect a complete change in this space in 2010, but as Lev suggests, there are some powerful shifts at work here as we rapidly move from one generation, to the next, to be followed by yet another --all within a very compressed timeline. The potential for e-readers and e-textbooks in higher education has not missed the attention of college CIOs, publishers, new entrants, device manufacturers, or a myriad of other players (both new and established).
2010 could very well be the start of a new decade in more ways than one.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
From the opening:
We've been hearing for nearly a decade now that our industry is changing, that stores and publishers alike will have to adapt or be left behind. Some of us have been convinced for years, others have been skeptical, but as the last days of 2009 fly by, even the most hard-core doubters have seen the signs that doing what we've always done the way we've always done it would be courting disaster.And later:
And then further down:
All of this is happening at a time when many of us are harder pressed than ever just to stay on top of "business as usual". As our stores and institutions cope with furloughs, layoffs and attrition from hiring freezes, the phrase "do more with less" is on everyone's lips. I know many days I feel I barely have time to think - let alone think outside the box! Trying a new program, implementing a new strategy, can seem impossible on days when, like Alice with the Red Queen, we're running just as fast as we can to stay in one spot. Nevertheless, carving out time to imagine and plan, and making the decision to act on those plans, is no longer optional. And no store or course materials department is immune from that imperative… not even mine!
The important point is that no matter how well we think we're doing in one area, innovation is still imperative. No matter how busy we already are, we can't tell ourselves we're too busy to try something new. Even if administrators are not banging at our doors we should be imagining what we'll tell them when they do - or better yet, be getting ready to knock on their doors with our own proposals for change.
She goes on to note that this year, the CACS Course Materials committee "will do our best to help our members find new energy for innovation even in hard times."
All I have left to say is "Hurray!" If it doesn't hurt, you have my support.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
What this means is that if you are a bookseller serving a college or university in the state of California you can expect that 100% of the print books you sell will have an alternative digital option available in less than a decade. It also means that if the content is available for California, it is likely going to be available in every other state as well. Therefore, if you are not currently getting experience selling, marketing, and delivering e-books, then you are probably already giving up market share, and will certainly do so in the future. If your store cannot offer digital, then your competitors will (and in some cases already are).
We now have a more definitive deadline: a decade at maximum. Waiting 9 years and 11 months to prepare would not be good business strategy. One could liken this to a tsunami, which may not be all that visible until it gets closer to shore. We may see warning signs, such as the tide pulling out to dramatic levels. Early warning beacons may go off. Waiting around on the beach to see what might happen next is probably not a good idea, no matter how sunny the sky may seem today. We have all the lessons from other industries around us which gives book retailers the best chance of survival in the face of digital. Relying on a future of just print does not serve our customers, and does not position a store for continued success. We have a decade at most before our tsunami hits -- and that is if you estimate VERY conservatively.
So, what are you doing to prepare for digital textbooks today? (Seriously, we would like to hear.)
In addition to the news story, The NYT also has a video on the e-readers at CES. It is 3.5 minutes long and worth watching.
The eDGe made its official debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week and has received lots of press from the show. A demo of the eDGe at CES is available here. The device will begin shipping next month and the Blackboard software is expected to be released in June.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Forgive my bluntness, but it *IS* 2010. If you are a bookseller (collegiate or otherwise) and do not have a website capable of e-commerce transactions, do you really expect to be in business another decade? Can you afford to give up 10, 20, or 50% of your sales to online sources because you do not have an online capability? I could go on, but I am already breaking my New Year's resolution not to get on a soapbox for the 9th or 10th time. My point is, that if booksellers do not want to end up like other content industries being replaced by digital and new channels, they have to invest in the capabilities that allow them to participate in those channels. You have to go to where the customers are -- not expect them to stay with you because they always have. That world just is not our world anymore.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
2010-2011 should be transitional years for this technology as the first “SmartBooks” are being announced at CES – a new product category that will likely replace e-reader devices as they currently exist. There are several interesting innovations here – and most are geared toward textbooks and student usage. The latest rumor is that Apple is projecting to sell 10 million units in the next year – reasonable given sales of 13.5M iphones in the first year. Although this time I think Apple will have some competition. With that many devices, people will want content. E-textbook sales that have been lackluster to this point could be about to hit the knee of the curve—hard. In 2007 we predicted about 5 years to see e-textbooks have a real impact on the higher ed market. The next two years will be the beginning of that impact to be felt. Many other players are moving into online e-book sales recognizing that most books in the future will likely be sold via online channels rather than store channels, and setting up an online store is quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive.
So, some good news for campus booksellers amongst all of this – we are making progress in NMS. We are on schedule to have a number of positive announcements by the time we reach CAMEX. However, the importance of industry education and change management related to the future of these technologies cannot be underestimated. 2010-2014 will be the pivotal years where the fate of physical booksellers will likely either follow that of record/music stores, or create a positive example that other organizations and industries will want to follow. The time to act in an emerging technology market is before other players can take the market away from you. College stores must not let the current low volume of e-textbook sales lull our own actions into complacency. The clock is ticking too quickly for that.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
“This is the decade when book publishing will (finally) be transformed from a business that chops down trees and puts returnable books into bookstores... into one that finds ideas, funds the writers that need it, and uses their (authors' and publishers') leverage and skills to promote those ideas to people willing to pay for them, in whatever format is the most efficient way to get that transaction to occur. If that doesn't happen, and the industry (led by reactionary old-school CEOs) persists in defining itself as being in the book business, it will be 15% the size it is today by the end of the decade. It's our choice."Gallycat also has a number of interesting posts about different e-readers and developments at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) out in Las Vegas. Such as their Video Tours of e-readers.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
One of the devices expected to debut is an affordable smartbook tablet from Freescale Semiconductor. An article from CNET features some photos that show a 7-inch color touch screen that detaches from the keyboard. The specs include 3G connectivity, an Android or Linux operating system, and 4 to 64 GB of internal storage. Another innovation is a platform called “Blio” that was developed by Ray Kurzweil and is intended to run on tablets and other devices. An article from Wired’s Gadget Lab says that Blio retains the layout, typsetting, fonts, and pagination of a books format. Blio also supports video and animation, text-to-speech functionality, and the ability to synchronize bookmarks and highlights across multiple devices. There are also reports that a few Android tablets could be introduced from makers such as HTC and Dell. It is not expected that Apple will make any announcements at CES but a tablet device could be unveiled at an event on January 26th according to the latest rumors.
2010 has just begun but it already looks like it will be a very interesting year.