Thursday Midday Links: Kindle 3 Available for Order, Ships Aug 27
Kindles were out of stock and most people (except Gizmodo) thought that new Kindles were around the corner. Most people were right. Kindle 3 is 21% smaller and 15% lighter. Comes in two models: 3G+wifi and Wifi and two colors: White and Graphite. I am a little worried about the thinness of the Kindle. Kindle 2 is already pretty thin.
It has full voice support so it will read aloud the menu items and can be propelled by voice navigation. This seems to respond to the Dept of Justice command that Universities shouldn’t buy Kindles because of their lack of accessibility for vision impaired individuals.
There are two models: a $139.00 one that has wifi only and $189 one that has 3G. These prices are set clearly to undercut Barnes and Noble. I think Amazon did A/B testing with the refurbished models. If you recall, Amazon bought Woot and then Woot’ed Amazon Kindles for the price of $149.99. They sold nearly 5, 000 in under nine hours.
Is it time to buy? I did. Even though I recently purchased a refurbished unit at the $109.99 price, I want to see the Kindle 3 myself. I’m going to give away my Kindle 2 (refurbed unit) here on Dear Author at the end of the month. It is possible that Amazon will drop the price of the Kindle 3 Wifi to near $100 around Christmas time or that BN / Kobo / Amazon will engage in a device price war (yay!), but I will have gotten a good 4 months of reading in on the device by then.
One other thing that I bought was the case. At $59.99, the case is not cheap but I really feel like I need one. What sent me over the edge was that these new cases have an integrated booklight that runs off the power of the Kindle itself. This is pretty amazing to me. I got the Kindle 3 one, in case you were wondering.
Interview with Bezos in USA Today revealed a few interesting nuggets:
- Bezos expects Kindle sales to exceed paperback sales in nine to twelve months
- When asked why Kindle doesn’t follow epub, Bezos pulls out a lame ass answer that the current format allows for incorporation of new things at a fast rate such as Whispersync and font changing. Seriously, who is he kidding here?
- Color screens are not ready for primetime. I take issue with this as well because I have seen the Mirasol screens in person and they are freaking gorgeous.
Pearson, the parent of Penguin, has had a great first half of the year.
Sales at Penguin for the period ending June 30 rose 9% to £493 million ($764 million), while operating profit more than doubled to £44 million ($68 million), compared to £21 million ($33 million) at this point a year ago. In the U.S., Penguin’s market share also grew, from 11.9% to 12.4%, and e-book sales growth more than tripled.
Torstar, Harlequin's parent, had higher revenues at the end of the 2nd Quarter. From the press release was this part relevant to Harlequin:
Book Publishing revenue was $117.9 million in the second quarter of 2010, down $6.2 million from $124.1 million in the second quarter of 2009. Excluding the impact of the strong Canadian dollar, Book Publishing revenues were up $6.2 million in the quarter. The North America Direct-To-Consumer and Overseas divisions had revenue growth in the second quarter that was partially offset by lower North America Retail revenues.
Harlequin’s 2010 outlook continues to be for relatively stable year over year results, including the negative earnings impact of foreign exchange. The growth in the North America digital sales and the acquisition of the other half of the German joint venture in April 2010 will offset the expected decline from the Softbank contribution, lower North America Retail volumes and the negative impact of foreign exchange.
So when you activate the feature, you'll see a dedicated Amazon Facebook page within the recommendations section of your account. For example, you'll see the most popular books, DVDs, and more that are listed in your Friend's Facebook profile. So if you like Radiohead, you can see which one of your friends also likes the band. You'll also see upcoming birthdays and find your Facebook friends' Amazon Wish Lists more easily. And you'll get gift suggestions for your friends based on their Facebook profiles.
This is a natural extension of Amazon's consumer outreach program. Note Brian O'Leary's piece on Amazon's competencies versus publisher competencies.
Sarah Weinman writes that Random House's deal with Janet Evanovich is a risky one. Apparently Evanovich's sales are declining (not surprising given how many of her core readers are feeling antsy about the sameness to each book. I'm not even convinced Evanovich is completely writing these books anymore. I wonder if her daughter is assisting her in crafting the stories).
Fearless Fifteen sold about 977,000 copies, and Sizzling Sixteen, published last month, appears to be on track to hit a similar sales figure, but a big part of Evanovich’s sales come from her extensive backlist, something Random House does not yet have. So if hardcover sales decline, there is no revenue from earlier titles that Random House can use as a buffer.
Richard Curtis, agent and owner of e-Reads, a digital publishing house, notes that Random House's threats against Wylie may be all sound and fury but no action given that Random House made vague threats against the Stryon deal with Open Road and then released those e-rights about four months later. As Curtis says, the first maxim in the law is to not make a threat which you aren't prepared to follow. If I were Random House, I would wait until a poorly funded agent made such a move and then sue that agent and author into oblivion.
Time says its time for digital sales to be counted in the bestseller lists. NYTimes says that its already in the process of figuring something out. The problem may be that Amazon, Apple, and Google may not want to share raw data.
Apple doesn't even want to acknowledge some books exist. The iBookstore has a top free/top paid sales chart and up until two days ago, four erotica titles were on the top paid sales chart. Then they magically disappeared, replaced by non erotica titles. If you recall, Steve Jobs believes that the iProducts should be a place free from porn and if you want porn, you can get some other device.
Finally, this would be an awesome movie. Someone make it, please.