Round up #124: iPad Mini helps Fire’s sales, no NOOK on Surface

Round up #124: iPad Mini helps Fire’s sales, no NOOK on Surface

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

iPad Mini like spinach to Kindle Fire’ s Popeye ;)

“Kindle Killer” fans, lose one turn. ;)

Amazon told

All Things D

that Wednesday, October 24th, was the biggest sales day to date for the  Kindle Fire HD.

The day before, Apple had announced their long-awaited iPad Mini.

Is it reasonable to conclude that the announcement of the Mini helped Kindle Fire sales?

I think so. I suppose its possible that every day for the Fire has been the best sales day to date, and that it would have been even higher if the Mini had not been announced, but I doubt that’s the case.

Why would the biggest brand in the world announcing a potentially competing product help your product?

My guess is that a lot of people were holding off on buying a smaller tablet until they saw what Apple was going to do.

They saw it; they didn’t like it.

The clearest negative is price, as I addressed in this earlier post. At $329, it’s just too much compared to the $199 Kindle Fire HD or $159 Kindle Fire SD. Comparing it to the former, which is the more comparable model, it’s like Amazon has a $20,000 car…and Apple is selling a $33,000 car. You can certainly sell cars at $33,000, but they better have a whole more going for them…and I don’t think, in a fair comparison, that the iPad Mini does.

While Apple is certainly likely to pile up the cash in the near future, this move has people wondering about the longer term:

Forbes: “Tim Cook Dumps Steve Jobs’ Product Strategies With iPad Mini”

No NOOK app on the Microsoft Surface

I don’t know…don’t you think that after Microsoft gave Barnes & Noble $300 million, Barnes & Noble could have spared less than one percent of that to make a NOOK app for the Surface? ;)

This has people scratching their heads:

Wall Street Journal article

I have no doubt that B&N will have a lovely app and bookstore for Windows 8 and the Surface tablet soon…but meanwhile, all those people who decided to go with a Surface will get hooked on Kindle. It’s like showing up to the World Series three innings late; it doesn’t mean you can’t win, but…

Supreme Court to hear First Sale Doctrine case on Monday

Back in 1908 (which is a long time ago, but more than a century after the founding of the USA), the US Supreme Court heard a case. A publisher, Bobbs-Merrill, had put a notice on one of their books that it could not be sold for under $1.

The R.H. Macy department store sold it for eighty-nine cents.

The publisher asserted that violated its copyright.

The case got all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the retailer.

FindLaw text of the decision

Copyright did not extend to control of a copy after it was initially sold. The rightsholder still holds rights to the book itself (what the author wrote); just because you bought a copy of a paperbook doesn’t give you the right to turn it into a movie or make more copies and sell them. However, that copy you buy is yours to control; sell it; give it away; burn it.

This was made part of US copyright law in 1976:

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.pdf

Section 109 reads in part:

“§109 · Limitations on exclusive rights:
Effect of transfer of particular copy or phonorecord
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106(3), the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court may take up a case about the First Sale Doctrine, and in a lower court, the publisher has been upheld.

Here’s the basic thing:

Publishers may sell books for different prices in different markets around the world. That makes sense: the economies are different, distribution costs are different, and so on.

In the case at hand, a student bought textbooks overseas (or had people buy them) cheaply, then imported them to the USA and sold them here for a profit.

Washington Post article

There is a lot of speculation out there that, depending on the ruling, this could mean the end of used bookstores, the end of Netflix renting DVDs…heck, practically the end of garage sales.

I don’t think the Supreme Court is going to rule that broadly.

The argument by John Wiley & Sons, the publish is, I believe, that the First Sale  Doctrine does not apply to those books that they manufactured overseas.

That’s a narrow argument. The Supreme Court doesn’t have to say whether it should apply or not, just whether it does.

Go back to the part I quoted. Here’s the key phrase to me:

“…copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title” (emphasis added)

Those books abroad are not made under Title 17 of US law…so Section 109 doesn’t apply.

Essentially, the Court could do a few things, as I understand it:

  • Let the lower court decision stand: the student who imported the books would owe the publisher money, and people would not be able to import copyrighted materials from overseas and sell them here if the copyright owner was here and did not give permission
  • Overturn the lower court, meaning the student didn’t owe anything
  • Say that the First Sale Doctrine does not apply any more…to anything

I think the bottom one is unlikely, but you never know.

If the first choice was made, you could see publishers move a lot more manufacturing overseas. Cutting out the used book market might certainly sound attractive to them, although no doubt some people have significant “discovery” through used books. For example, a person might get a book by a particular author for fifty cents at a garage sale, then go on to buy the author’s newest book for $20 from a bookstore.

If the First Sale Doctrine went away in the USA, hypothetically, the price of textbooks could come down. Supposedly, part of the reason they cost so much is that they are commonly resold several times.

I wouldn’t count on that, though. :)

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Trying to go netbook-less

I’m trying to make the transition to using my Kindle Fire HD and a Bluetooth keyboard to replace a netbook we own, so my Significant Other can get the “small laptop” back. :) I’ve monopolized it for a long time.

So far, the results are uneven. I can type on it just fine; better, in fact, than on our desktop, since the keyboard sits more comfortably.

The problem has been in copying and pasting, and launching things effectively.

I seem to have no problem copying anything, but getting it to paste into some boxes on the internet is hard. The biggest problem is that I can’t seem to paste where I want to paste effectively when writing a blogpost in WordPress.

I am, though, able to respond on the Kindle forums just fine…even pasting a URL, for example.

One negative is that I know I haven’t been quite as responsive to comments on this blog (although I think I’m still pretty fast when doing it).

I also have to take my hands off the keyboard to use the Fire to tap, say, a “post” button. I think I’ll be able to work out that part of the juggling; I’m hoping to find an effective keyboard way to do it.

I think when I have my larger screen Kindle Fire HD that will also be easier…it’s a tad small to see the 7″ when I’m typing away. I’m a touch typist, so I don’t have to look at it all the time, but I do need to see it sometimes. :)

What do you think? Will the Supremes overturn the First Sale Doctrine? If so, how does that affect the migration from paper (where people resell extensively) to e-books (where they don’t resale, generally). How big a misstep is the iPad Mini price (if you think it is one at all)? Was Barnes & Noble just behind a deadline, or is there something more fundamental happening? Does it mean anything that Microsoft didn’t hold the launch for them? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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10 Responses to “Round up #124: iPad Mini helps Fire’s sales, no NOOK on Surface”

  1. larry james Says:

    I loved the “Collections” on my Kindle Keyboard, and really miss it on my Fire (first edition). Is there any app available to hold your books in categories on the Fire? If so, could you do a post on it, or shoot me an email? Thanks. – Larry

  2. rogerknights Says:

    I read a comment on the Seeking Alpha financial site defending Apple’s pricing. It said that the company calculated how many it could produce in the next few months and then set the price at a level that would sell all those and no more. Presumably the price will be cut thereafter.

  3. Harold Delk Says:

    Fire vs iPad Mini: I opened the Amazon home page this morning to discover a quote from Gizmodo which was quite negative toward Apple. Below it is a “comparison” of the Fire with the iPad Mini. Looks to me that Amazon is taking Apple on head to head in the tablet market with no holds barred. I think the competition will be good for the consumer.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      I’ve seen a complaint about the language in the quotation they used from Gizmodo…and I can understand the concern. It uses an anatomical slang term for…um, I’m going to say egotistical self-assertion.

  4. D. Knight Says:

    You said: “If the first choice was made, you could see publishers move a lot more manufacturing overseas. Cutting out the used book market might certainly sound attractive to them…”

    I don’t understand this. How would moving manufacturing overseas cut out the used book business? (And I’ve see this stated other places so I must be missing something.) Okay, I can see how manufacturing overseas might prevent the retailer from selling the book at a discounted price, but once purchased from the retailer, wouldn’t the consumer then fall under “first sale doctrine” and be able to sell the book used if they want?

    All I can see it doing is forcing retailers to sell at a certain price, probably causing discount chains and big box stores not to carry as many books (they would then have a better use for the floor space that books take up), which in turn would sell less books overall, which would probably in turn motivate more people to switch to e-books. (Okay, this scenario would dry up the used book market, but not directly).

    So what am I missing?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      The issue in this case is an individual who purchased books overseas and then brought them to the USA and sold them here for more money.

      If you bought books in, say, Kentucky, and sold them in California, that would be protected under the First Sale Doctrine (which is codified in Section 109 of Title 17). The argument is that the First Sale Doctrine doesn’t apply to books manufactured abroad and sold abroad, since they don’t fall under USA copyright law (which is what codifies the First Sale Doctrine).

      The lower court has agreed with the publisher on that.

      So, let’s say that the US publishers move to printing all of their books in Mexico (which has a big publishing industry). The books would not be “copied” in the USA, and wouldn’t, therefore, fall under the First Sale Doctrine, if the Court lets the lower court ruling stand.

      Therefore, you couldn’t buy a book that was manufactured in Mexico and sell it to a used bookstore…or anybody else, for that matter, without permission.

      I think perhaps your presumption is that the First Sale Doctrine applies by default…that if nothing is said legally, you have that right. It works the other way, as I understand it: unless the right to re-sell is granted, you don’t have it. The right to re-sell foreign books is unaddressed.

      Does that help?

  5. Round up #129: touchless screens, color E Ink next year? « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] I’d written previously about there not being a NOOK reading app for Windows 8 when it was first released. That was odd, because Microsoft recently invested a lot of money in Barnes & Noble, and you would think they would be shooting for synergy. [...]

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