Round up #131: KDP doubles December pool?, 2007 article: Kindle will “be a flop”

Round up #131: KDP doubles December pool?, 2007 article: Kindle will “be a flop”

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

CNET 2007: “Amazon Kindle: Flop”

Thanks to Glenn in the Amazon Kindle community for the heads-up on this one!

Amazon Kindle: Flop

I recently wrote about how the Kindle has changed my world, since the device just hit its five year anniversary.

Of course, I”m not the only person in my world (unless the solipsists are right). Publishers, bookstores, authors, other readers….we’ve all been affected.

So, the coming revolution must have been obvious, right? ;)

Not to everybody.

In the case of the Kindle, not to a lot of people, especially tech bloggers. Who was going to pay that much money to, you know, read, when they could get a gaming system cheaper?  If you were a reader, the Kindle wasn’t going to change anything significant, people said. Also, Amazon wasn’t a hardware company: they weren’t going to get people to buy an Amazon “gadget”.

Well, the article above encapsulates the concerns beautifully. :)

Don Reisinger gives you four reasons why the Kindle will inevitably fail, and offers this advice: “Stick to retail, Amazon. It’s safer that way.”

I think the thing that stood out the most to me was this one:

“I don’t know about you, but I can only read one book at a time and carrying a stack of paper is just as easy as carrying a 10 ounce device.”

As somebody who always carried two books around with me (and kept an emergency book in the car), that’s a bit of a bizarre concept. Sure, I don’t (usually) have two books open at the same time and skip from one to another (although I’ve done that with non-fiction), but I love to bounce around from book to read. The author of the blogpost had clearly never packed a suitcase of books to go on a trip!

So, did the Kindle change Don Reisinger’s world by having the prognosticator laughed out of the business?

Not at all, and it shouldn’t have. Reisinger still writes on CNET.

I’m currently going through Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t (which I think is a significant book…both logical and fun to read). It’s clear from Silver’s analysis of predictions from TV pundits that being right doesn’t necessarily correlate to media success. ;) I think you are more likely to be interesting to the audience if you are bold, even if you are later proven to have been wrong.

I’ve been wrong. :) I thought that publishers would embrace Amazon paying for a technology at no cost to them that expanded the market for their products (text-to-speech). While I do think blocking access is becoming less common, they didn’t retract what I considered to be knee-jerk concerns about it impacting audiobook sales right away, as I thought they would.

KDP doubling pool to $1.4 million in December?

That’s odd! I received an e-mail from Amazon, clicked through it, and I’m sure I saw a splash that said that Kindle Direct Publishing publishers were going to have a “bonus” pool in December…instead of $700,000 to divide for each borrow from the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), it was going to be $1.4 million, and that I saw the word “bonus”.

Now, as I went to write the piece, I’m not seeing it. I wonder if I saw something they plan to announce later?

It would be nice for the publishers, certainly, and the KOLL has been extending to other countries as well. The latter, though, reduces the per title pay-out, since there are presumably more borrows dividing up the same pool (there is one international pool, I believe).

Well, this may really be a case of you read it here first. :) Of course, it might not materialize, and then people would be annoyed with me (see previous story). ;)

“Amazon’s the devil — and I love it”

In this

Salon.com article

by author Art Edwards, we see the portrayal of Amazon and as a predatory threat to books…and yet, the author ironically notes, the Kindle is cool. :)

I thought Jeff Bezos response on Charlie Rose recently about being called a “disruptor” was interesting. The Amazon CEO said that disrupting wasn’t the goal; innovating was the goal, and disrupting was an associated effect. Jeff claims to be working from the customer backwards, rather than specifically targeting competitors (which, gallant as we can count on Mr. Bezos being, was cited as another viable approach). It’s not that Amazon is trying to crush competitors in the described model: it’s that they are trying to do things better, and when they do, that must inevitably upset the status quo.

I recommend the article: it’s an interesting take on this ambivalent viewpoint some people have.

Simon & Schuster & Harper & Collins?

There were articles about this in my Flipboard read this morning, and a reader also sent me a heads-up in a private e-mail.

Wall Street Journal article

It appears that News Corp may be in talks to acquire Simon & Schuster and merge it with their HarperCollins publishing entity.

This would be partially motivated by the recent merger of Random House and Penguin.

One issue is simply to have the resources to compete. Random House is huge, and what they unfortunately elected not to call “Random Penguin” is bigger. If you need to outlay large amounts of money to attract brand name authors, and/or to innovate significantly in your business practices, size helps.

Mergers also can result in eliminating redundant positions, which creates a net efficiency (of course, some people who leave might become competitors, working either for Amazon or publishing independently…the latter much more possible now that you don’t need giant physical book factories and distribution chains to compete).

Eventually, will we just get down to one company which, like the Rollerball movie suggested, might be called just “Books”?

Would this possible merger be a good thing for customers?

I like competition, and I like that publishers have different attitudes. Let’s say that each of these publishers currently has ten risky imprints. When they combine, do they go with twenty niche markets, or do they pick the ten best out of the twenty? I’m guessing the latter is the most likely.

I think these two are a reasonable fit, though, probably more so than Penguin and HarperCollins would have been. HC has Zondervan, an evangelical imprint, and Simon & Schuster has Theshold Editions, a politically conservative imprint. I’m thinking those two can get along…it would be different if you were trying to merge Zondervan and, say, Llewellyn (which publishes New Age, and has had a focus on astrology in its past).

All mergers need approval, and this article suggests these are only preliminary talks.

What do you think? Does it make any difference to you emotionally if publishers merge? Is that a threat to Amazon? Is Amazon the devil? Should the success of the Kindle have been obvious? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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9 Responses to “Round up #131: KDP doubles December pool?, 2007 article: Kindle will “be a flop””

  1. Joe Bowers Says:

    Hi, Bufo,
    Just want to say, I got a kick out of reading in a couple of your posts that you used to keep an “emergency book” in your car. Love that concept, running out of reading material is indeed an emergency!
    Hope you are right about the KDP bonus, I “borrowed” your quote book “The Mind Boggles,” because I believe you said that benefits you more than purchasing it. Am enjoying it so far, and will probably buy it when the month is up also; I continue to be impressed with how much you do.
    I always get a little concerned when mergers occur in any field, competition is usually better for the consumer, but we will see how it all shakes out, I guess.
    I love Amazon and I hate Amazon, they make it easy to get stuff I want and need, and they sure make it easy for me to spend my money!
    Read on, friends and neighbors!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Joe!

      I did always feel nervous if I didn’t have something to read. :) I’d have two books, which I figured would last me, but I would run into cases where I’d finish them both (since I tend to read books in parallel rather than sequentially). In that case, the emergency book would keep me going. :)

      Now, that’s not a concern, which is nice.

      I’m glad you are liking The Mind Boggles! I’ve been spending probably more time than I should doing an update…I’m hoping to post it to the store within a week, and then it can take up to six weeks before Amazon makes it available to previous purchasers. I’ll let you know if that happens.

  2. Zebras Says:

    Thought you’d like to hear that the Kindle Fire made an appearance on Top Chef tonight! The chefs had to make a dumpling from 1 of 17 different countries, and they had 5 minutes and a Kindle Fire to do their research. It was a good way to show you could go from 0 to dumpling research in 5 minutes!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      I see a lot of the cooking shows, because my Significant Other likes them, and I like everything. ;) I hadn’t seen that yet, though…thanks!

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    In an email to a friend yesterday, I commented (tongue very much in cheek):

    Now that Amazon has gotten big and successful, businesses are doing all kinds of consumer unfriendly things: Barnes & Noble won’t sell Amazon-published print books in its bookstores, Google’s Android app store won’t support Amazon Kindle Fires — even though they use Android. There oughta be a law (you democratic party lefty types are all about regulating business behavior — why don’t you do something!! :D).

    And he replied:

    Regarding nobody wanting to play with Amazon – I must say that there’s no surprise there. Amazon’s style of competition is consistently brutish and rude full of in-your-face offensive maneuvers. It’s the behavior of a firm which sees the business world as composed of subsidiaries and enemies and nothing else, so when they go looking for allies it’s a pretty barren landscape.

    His perception is so at variance with mine, and I suspect with the reality (not withstanding the solipsistic imaginings of some :grin). I’m mulling over my response — your post will help.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      If you can see the recent Charlie Rose interview with Jeff Bezos, that may really help with that argument.

      Amazon lets their customers get to a lot of competitor’s products (Netflix in the Amazon Appstore, allowing third party installation of Zinio) that I have a hard time validating your friend’s perception…

  4. rogerknights Says:

    I remember hassling in the comments section with the naysayers in the hierarchy at the Boing Boing site in the wake of the K1’s release. I.e., Cory Doctorow and Theresa Nielson Hayden, a veteran of the publishing industry. The latter made these fatuous statements and assertions:

    That the failure of print-on-demand publishing to support indie self-publishing implied that indie publishing on e-books would also fail, a non sequitur.

    That the failure of e-books to catch on to date implied that they would continue to fail, another non sequitur.

    And this howler: “Believe me, this DRM schema is Amazon’s, not the publishers’.”

    I was so PO’d at her smug insularity that I stopped visiting the site.

    [I] always carried two books around with me (and kept an emergency book in the car) . . .

    Get help!

    (Oh wait, I used to do that too!)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      Nate Silver makes a good argument for being probablistic in predictions…I think that approach is both safer and nicer. :)

  5. Round up #133: “Appan”, KDP select holiday bonus « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] than a week ago, I wrote about about seeing an announcement that Amazon was adding a bunch of money in December to the [...]

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