Round up #37: Take a poll, Amazon orders tablet?

 Round up #37: Take a poll, Amazon orders tablet?

Amazon tablet rumors

I’ve written a number of times about the idea that Amazon will release a tablet (possibly Android).  I’ve said I hope they don’t call it a Kindle, and I’m guessing that it would focus on other media for Amazon (streaming video, music, apps, games).  I do think it would display Kindle books, and that it could be called “Kindle-powered” or “Kindle-enabled”, something like that.

There have been quite a few rumors, and quite a few indications.

I was hoping they would do it soon (I would buy an Amazon tablet tomorrow), but this

CrunchGear article

suggests it will be for the holiday season this year.

Some other sources are calling it an Android tablet, which seems likely…but for me, not certain.

A closer to the source article might have been this

DigiTimes article

It has some very interesting things to say…as usual, I recommend you read the original article. 

This was one of the most interesting paragraphs, I think:

“The sources pointed out that Amazon’s Kindle still has strong sales, but the e-book reader is currently still unable to successfully cut into the markets outside of North America and Europe; therefore, Amazon internally plans to reduce Kindle’s market price to attract consumer demand from the education and consumer market, while will push tablet PC using its advantage in software and content resources to challenge iPad2.”

The screen technology is reported to be FFS (Fringe Field Switching), which is actually AFFS (Advanced Fringe Field Switching) now, I believe.  It would be color, and it would look reasonably good in bright light and have a wide-field of vision.  However, being backlit, I would guess we aren’t talking about Kindle-level battery charge life.

I’ve also notice this is saying the second half of 2011…that might be sooner than the holidays.

Is this for real?

It looks pretty real, unlike the vague rumors we’ve been hearing before.

All I can say is, “Bring it on, Amazon!”  I like that…it’s a tiny rhyme.  ;)

Where do you buy your armchairs?

Sorry…I had to learn that phrase in a Russian class many years ago, and for some reason, it often comes back to me.  :)  We sort of use it like an insult in my family…like “You and what army?”  Yeah, we’re weird like that.  ;)

Anyway, author D.D. Scott of the The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing, had an  interesting observation about the books section being moved to the back of a Target store (I made a fairly lengthy comment there).

The armchair thought came up because of a related post in another Scott blog.  They are running a poll, asking people where they buy their books.  There are a lot of choices…you might have fun voting in it.  Unfortunately, I don’t think you can see the results of the poll without voting, and I voted hours ago..so I don’t see a way to see the current standings.

 Letting the chat out of the bag

Recently when I went to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

I had a new option.  Not just E-mail or Call us…but live chat.

That option is not there now…I suspect it’s only there during certain hours…they may not chat in the middle of the night (hey, they don’t want to wake up Jeff Bezos, who unlike many CEOs, is reported to often get a full night’s sleep).  :)  Anyway, you might notice it.  I like live chat, because I like to record what the person says, and that’s often the easiest way.

The romance of e-books

Amazon announces in this

Press Release

that they are adding yet another publishing imprint.  This one is called Montlake (after an area in Seattle) and will be frontlist romance novels (including historical romance and paranormal romance).

They also are now pushing themselves as a publisher (so the next time somebody corrects someone else who thinks Amazon publishes books, you can gently remind the pundit…Amazon is a publisher).

They now have a special site for publishing:

Amazon Publishing

That covers all four of their imprints: AmazonEncore (which brings books to a wider audience); AmazonCrossing (translations); the new Montlake Romance; and “Powered by Amazon”, which is more of a program than an imprint…it won’t have a consistent identity, I think, but bring different groupings of titles.

Interestingly, Amazon Publishing is also hiring right now:

http://www.amazon.com/b/?node=2474888011

They are looking for “Acquisition Editors”, which means they are serious about development as a publisher.

They have a lot of positions, including senior management.

Not all of the positions are in Seattle…there are a couple in New York.  Into the lions’ den…and I’m not talking about the public library.  ;)

With this and the hiring at Amazon’s fulfillment centers, they are doing their part to knock down that unemployment rate.  :)  No, I don’t think they contribute to it because Borders is closing…I don’t blame that on Amazon.

If you’ve wanted to work for Amazon and have real experience, this seems like a great opportunity.

Are they going to lure some people away from the tradpubs?  Maybe.

I think Amazon getting more into publishing is a very positive thing, but I know not everybody is going to agree with that.

Well, there are four interesting stories!  What do you think?  Have you noticed Target (or other incidental booksellers) moving the books away from the front?  Does your grocery store still have a section of books?  Is Amazon getting into publishing like the old “studio system”, where studios owned the movie theatres, too?  That was broken up legally.  Are you going to apply for a job with Amazon Publishing? 

Feel free to let me know…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.
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18 Responses to “Round up #37: Take a poll, Amazon orders tablet?”

  1. Sherri Says:

    I’m looking forward to an Amazon tablet, too. Maybe it will be announced this summer, for shipping in early September, so that they have time to work out the supply chain kinks before the holiday season.

    The books in my local Target have always been in the back of the store, next to all the other media, beside the electronics section.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Sherri!

      I would think ready by September would net them a lot of back to school sales. This could be that educational market device that the Kindle DX turned out not to be.

      The books in my Target we’re towards the front. Well, left front. Americans supposedly tend to turn right when they enter a large store. If one followed the entire perimeter of the store, that would put the books in the home stretch.

      However, a lot of people cut the loop short…they don’t go “all the way to the back” of the store (there’s a central path that allows that). That puts the books in the front half of the store for me. I’m picturing that the books went to kitty corner from the entrance, from what D.D. Scott said.

      Oh, and my Target also has the books across from the electronics. Makes sense: the software is with the books. :)

  2. Common Sense Says:

    I think it’s clear that there’s an Amazon tablet coming. They’ve added streaming video for Prime members, the Cloud Drive for music, and the Android Store. I think it’s a good thing because the quality will be good as well as the price. I still don’t think a tablet would be useful for me, it seems to be more of a toy. I won’t read on it, I don’t watch movies on small screens, I don’t watch TV at all, and I rarely play games. I have a laptop, a Kindle, and a smart phone and just don’t see the point of a tablet.

    I buy my books from Amazon. Before my Kindle, I bought my books from Amazon, the grocery store, Target, and B&N.

    The Targets here in Colorado all have the books near the electronics section with the music and movies, which is usually at the side of the store, not in back like Walmart. It’s always been in that location, for as long as I can remember. For the Super Targets, electronics are on one side and groceries are on the other.

    I would love to work for Amazon but I don’t live anywhere near where they do business and won’t relocate. It’s great that they seem to be such a driving part of the economy, expanding, hiring, and innovating. We need more companies like them.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I’ll try and be brief and answer two of your questions. Here in Florida all 3 of the major supermarkets (Publix, Winn-Dixie, Albertson’s) all still have book sections — they are not very large, and selection is pretty thin.

    I have consulted for Target for about four years dealing with technology infrastructure in some of their newer stores (mostly SuperTargets, but also some intermediate “prototype” stores). At all Targets books (actually music, movies, books or “MMB” in TargetSpeak) is colocated with electronics.

    Historically, Target has always kept very accurate statistics on crime and theft at their stores. Whenever a store is designated as a high facility, MMB and electronics is physically located at the back.

    Recently, they have begun to move all electronics and MMB to the back at all stores — partially for improved crime control, but also because the back of the store has proved to be the best place to locate TV display walls, and the back is close to the stockrooms — making access to over-sized electronics items, and high value items (kept in locked cages in the back) quicker for customers. Wheresoever electronics goes, MMB goes with it.

    BTW book shelf life at Target is very short: for romances two weeks or less; for most mass market books 4-6 weeks. They effectively rebuild the whole MMB every Tuesday to reflect new releases, and best seller stats (the better sellers are kept to the front of the department; the slower sellers are moved to the back; and eventually to the compactor when their run is done).

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      That’s very interesting information! When I managed a bookstore, “shrinkage” (shoplifting and loss to damage, basically) was a real problem. I’d heard the rate was highest in bookstores (when looking at different types of retail), partially because it was so easy to turn them into cash. Take a book to a used bookstore and sell it…it’s tougher to do that with electronics. Our goal was eight percent shrinkage…that’s very high.

      People may wonder about a couple of things in your comment. Why move high theft items to the back? The hard part is getting out of the store, so the closer you are to the front door, the easiest it is. We used to find “poacher piles” in the brick and mortar store. Thieves would stack up books on a shelf near the front of the door…or near a hallway that went straight to the front door. Walk around with one book, add it to the stack. Eventually, they’d swoop it up and run out.

      When teams shoplifted (yes, that happens), the goal was to draw the one salesclerk away from the front door (we weren’t a huge store with a security guard and such). One person would come in, looking very ratty, and asked to be shown things like expensive art books (they wouldn’t say “expensive”…but they were). Meanwhile, another person in a three-piece suit is actually stealing the books.

      People may also be curious about the high rotation of books. I’ve written about this before, but outside of salaries, one of the main things you are fighting in a physical store is rent. Every day that a book is in a store, you make less money on it…because you pay rent on it that day without selling it.

      Finally, there’s that “compactor” thing. :) I’ve written about that as well, but what happens is that stores are guaranteed that they will sell the books (they get credit for future purchases). The store has to prove it didn’t sell the book, though. With paperbacks, you tear the cover off the book and send it back as proof. You are prohibited from selling those books (or donating them) after you attest you haven’t sold them by sending the cover back. Why can’t you donate them? That is because the publishers donate books and get a write-off for doing so. If readers have a place (like a community center) that needs books, and it’s a non-profit, they just ask the publishers for books.

      Thanks again for some great insight!

  4. Common Sense Says:

    Interesting post and reply Edward and Bufo. I only worked in retail in high school and wasn’t aware of all of the inner workings.

    Our Targets have an “Asset Protection” force, basically young unarmed security guards.

    In our SuperTargets, there are two sets of doors, one on each end of the front. So the electronics/books/music/movies section is closest to the doors on that end. In the store we use the most, it’s also at the opposite end of the building from the docks, the grocery section is the closest.

    From a shopper’s perspective, I think the MMB section should be near the groceries since you’re likely to pick up a book or a movie with your food. We don’t shop the rest of the store as often. It’s a big store and a long walk to the opposite end, especially if you’re in a hurry.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Common!

      It’s funny…when I’m in a grocery store, I want to get out quickly. When I was shopping for paperbooks, I wanted to take my time. I don’t really see them as similar shopping experiences. My grocery store does have a DVD rental kiosk, and a small section of books. I never really put those two shopping categories together, though.

      Security can be helpful, of course. I never had the luxury. I’ve also always liked the way Disneyland does it: there are visible, obvious Security folks (so people can ask for help), but there are also people you would never know were Security (so the “bad guys” can’t simply avoid them).

  5. Common Sense Says:

    Different shopping habits I guess. All of our grocery stores have a good selection of paperbacks, magazines, and some hardbacks. They frequently have the best prices and will even have sales on top of that.

    Before I had my Kindle, I would always browse books and magazines at the grocery store. I also pick up a magzine or book when grabbing flowers and/or a card for someone who’s sick.

    What’s different for us is that our preferred grocery store closed and now we use SuperTarget for most of our grocery shopping. Since they sell all of the non-grocery stuff too and is so much larger, it takes more effort to just pick up a few things.

    My daughter really enjoys the “Asset Protection” guys. They’re always young and “hot”. I’m sure that they don’t really stop professionals, but they would be a deterrent for casual shoplifters like kids.

    One thing I do remember from my retail days is that most shrinkage comes from employees. I always found that appalling.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Common!

      Oh, employee theft is the worst! What I remember when I was a retailer was that employee theft was the number reason retail stores closed in the first few years. Why? It’s because amateurs don’t build it into the business plan. If you aren’t going to be strictly a family shop (and there is even a risk there), you can’t completely prevent it…so you take it into account.

      Dealing with it was never fun…I had to do it a few times. It’s especially bad, because it is often someone you like.

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I’ll just add a few comments to Common Sense. The Target layout you describe is one that is fairly common at Super Targets. Almost all of this type of store throughout the US are identical (save for some mirror imaging of the layout — do you turn left into MMB/Electronics or right?). All of these stores have one big drawback beyond asset protection: that is that they have 3 separate stockrooms: one dedicated to electronics/MMB at the front of the store, one behind grocery (this is the only one with access to the loading docks, and a third behind some other corner of the store — usually containing unused store fixtures, and softlines product. From an operational viewpoint, this three stockroom layout is a nightmare involving a lot of unnecessary product movement behind the scenes.

    Target is slowly revamping the physical layout of all its stores to address this. Moving MMB/Electronics to the rear usually accompanies this revamp (at least it has with all the stores I’m familiar with).

    I’m with Bufo on the location of MMB. Going forward there’s going to be increasing synergy between electronics and MMB which also reinforces the colocation. As electronic content proliferates I don’t see much expansion of MMB. It would not surprise me if they drop books entirely — within MMB books have always been the poor stepchild. But sales of Music and Movies are also off drastically.

    BTW MMB is handled within Target through a management/marketing organization completely separate from the rest of the store. MMB only has a very loose reporting relationship through the store manager. Almost all of the operational, marketing, and physical layout decisions for a store are made by this separate MMB organization.

  7. Common Sense Says:

    Thanks Edward, I’ll have to check it out the next time I visit.

    BTW, the other SuperTarget near us is actually in a mall, so they have the two front entrances plus the huge mall entrance in the back. It’s also different in that the grocery side is on the inside next to the mall, instead of the outside where you would think the docks are.

    When I compare what you’ve said to our Sam’s Club, it’s also interesting. The electronics section is closest to the doors in the front. MMB are towards the front in the center with fresh and frozen food in the back. I don’t think I’ve seen an obvious security person there, but I know there are cameras all over.

  8. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I really don’t want to hijack this kindle blog too much, but every shift at Target has at least one asset protection team member in plain clothes. If you know who they are, you’ll often see them lurking around the video game cases or the new release DVD endcaps.

    From a behind the scenes viewpoint, their behavior is comical in the extreme.

    I’ve never seen a Target attached to a mall. Here in Florida they prefer the big box free-standing layout.

  9. Morgan Says:

    i read your whole article and every reply but this “compactor” issue is really stuck in my craw. I feel compelled to comment even though it’s a tangent…. they throw all those unsold books out (if they don’t keep records/data to support sending them back)??????????????? That really upsets me; it seems like such a waste of books and money! And as a person who works in data, I fear that most companies toss the books as opposed to keeping great records. i understand that a 501c3 could contact the publisher to receive a donation but many wouldn’t/couldn’t find the time to reach out but they would love a bundle of books to magically appear via a donation!

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Morgan!

      I understand your reaction. I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw it in the bookstore…people tearing the cover off the paperbacks. I had one employee who would then tear the books in half…like cutting up a credit card. I suspect it’s a holdover from when the data wasn’t as easy to track as it would be if the system was starting now. However, I also felt that it was people who only saw the book as a commodity, not as a book.

      Fortunately, e-books eliminate all those physical returns. The book (what the author wrote…and the editor edited and such) is increasingy safe.

  10. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I guess I’ll harden jaws some more with this, but at Target it’s not just books that go in the compactor, but potentially anything in the store including “high value” electronics and furniture.

    From time to time the product mix in a store changes, and some items are “discontinued”. Some discontinued items are returnable, but the vast majority are not — they go on “clearance” and a timed kabuki dance of ever increasing markdowns begins that can last weeks/months. After the “final” markdown it goes on “salvage”. “salvage” items MUST go in the compactor. This is a legal and FASB (accounting standards body) requirement — no exceptions! If this were not done, there are too many possibilities of “gaming” the system to feed product to favored entities, or for store management to manipulate the store’s financial position. Any team member attempting to take “salvage” out of the store is fired (or in some cases arrested).

    Only assistant store managers and above have keys to the compactor. Disposal of salvage reminds one of a bunch of DEA agents dumping a load of illegal drugs into an incinerator :-).

  11. Common Sense Says:

    Wow! I had no idea! I thought they sold that kind of thing to places like Big Lots or gave it to charity for the write off. What a waste!

  12. A Tale of Two Middles « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] I reported recently, they now have four imprints (in addition to public domain books they [...]

  13. Amazon launches another publishing imprint « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] a way similar to Montlake, their romance imprint, this one focuses on a genre…in this case, mysteries and [...]

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