Round up #66: Unused Kindle gifts, pubs love B&N?

Round up #66: Unused Kindle gifts, pubs love B&N? 

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

New York Times: “The Bookstore’s Last Stand”

New York Times article

Does Barnes & Noble hold “…the fate of American book publishing in (their) hands”?

That’s the contention of this article by Julie Bosman.

If that’s the case, we’re in serious trouble.

I don’t think it is, though.

While publishers may be waxing all apocalyptic in the article, I don’t think they believe it, either.

It’s all up to Barnes & Noble if: chain bookstores are necessary to sell enough paperbooks, and if paperbooks are necessary at all for the publishers to succeed, and if no other chain bookstore arises.

I’m going to take these in reverse order.

I think the last one is somewhat unlikely…at least in the form we’ve seen before with large generic stores. There may be other brick and mortar channels for books that happen…even things like print-on-demand book vending machines. I don’t think that there is a vacuum to fill with Borders gone…and I think that’s still true if Barnes & Noble stopped having paperbook stores (even if they had games, toys, t-shirts, and a cafe).

As to the second one…I don’t think paperbooks are necessary for the traditional publishers (tradpubs) to survive. I think the nimbler tradpubs will switch over, find a way to secure a market slice. They adapted to mass market paperbacks, and they’ll adapt away from those, too. That’s why I don’t think they believe that their survival is dependent on Barnes & Noble.

I also, as I indicated above, don’t think that chain bookstores (the big “dinostores”, as I call them) are necessary even if they do keep paperbooks as significant in the mix. The internet is one reason for that: publishers may start selling directly and effectively. I also think specialty bookstores, or rather media stores, have room in the market.

At any rate, it’s a very interesting article, and I recommend it. Oh, two other key points I will mention (and this doesn’t take too much away from the article: it suggests a new NOOK this Spring; and the NOOK being sold overseas.

By the way, this

TechCrunch article

came up with a very interesting stat, using one of the numbers in the New York Times article. According to them, Kindle sales grew 177 percent during the “nine-week holiday period” of 2011, compared to 2010. At the same time, B&N device sales grew…seventy percent. Amazon did have the Kindle Fire , but Barnes & Noble also introduced a tablet, so I don’t think that’s an unfair comparison.

Bloomberg: “Amazon Fire Tablet Leaves Google Apps Behind: Tech”

Bloomberg article

Okay, maybe this one belongs in a Firestorm round-up…you can skip it if you don’t want to read about the Fire. The next one is more general interest. 🙂

The basic idea is that Amazon (and some other hardware makers) are using Google’s Android operating system, but not including the Google apps.

That may put a drag on Google’s revenue protections…they certainly may have hoped that Android would promote Gmail and such.

Google can’t make them do it, by the way. Some of you may remember when there was a flap about Microsoft basically making Internet Explorer part having Windows for hardware manufacturers. That was about ten years ago…here’s a

New York Times article

for nostalgia’s sake. 😉

PC Advisor: “Amazon Kindle tops list of ‘unused’ Christmas gifts”

PC Advisor article

This was a fascinating little survey.

Have you ever gotten a Christmas gift, opened it, and then never used it?

Even a pricey gadget?

I have to say, and my family laughs at me about it, I use every single gift I get (unless I’m returning it because it’s the wrong size or something…or it’s a gift card) within a day or two. That’s because, when I was a kid, my parents had us write thank you cards for the gifts…and you couldn’t honestly say what you liked about a gift if you hadn’t used it. Hmm…I wonder if those sorts of things my parents did have anything to do with me being a blogger today? Maybe…

In the survey, done weeks after Christmas, 48% of respondents said that they had opened a gift and not used it yet. Of those, 22% (the highest number) said it was a Kindle.

Remember that the UK (where the survey was done) did not have the Fire yet, so we are talking about RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles…anything but a Fire).

Why hadn’t they used it?

More than half said it was because they hadn’t download a book on to it, yet.

I’ve always sort of scoffed at the idea that some other EBR (E-Book Reader) manufacturers put free public domain classics on their devices when you bought them. I figured I wanted to pick which books were on there.

However, I wonder now if it wouldn’t make some sense. I noticed that Amazon did put a couple of books in my Kindle for Android installation. Maybe part of the welcome letter could be something like, “Get started right now! Download any of these ten classics for free!” That might actually work very well…that way, you could skip it if you wanted…and they could put another link in the same place for “Shop the store” that took you to the bestsellers as a gateway.

That might get people into using the Kindle right away…and then, they are far more likely to get hooked.

What do you think? Do publishers genuinely see Barnes & Noble as necessary, or are they just trying to make Amazon jealous? 😉 How bad a thing is it if people open Kindles they get as gifts…and then not use them? Is it scary for Barnes & Noble that the Kindle growth rate is so much higher? Do we need paperbook stores…and if so, what will they look like? Feel free to let me know by commenting this post.

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

8 Responses to “Round up #66: Unused Kindle gifts, pubs love B&N?”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Did you happen to see this article?

    It always amazes me the conclusions some folks leap to about e-books. For me, the “instant gratification” of the “immediate download” is just a bonus. My main reason for loving the Kindle is because it enabled me to read again. I have a visual impairment that cannot be fully corrected by lenses. With the Kindle, I can adjust the size of type to fit whatever my eyes need to avoid strain on any given day. And on days when the blurriness comes anyway, I can use text to speech to have the Kindle read it to me. Yeah, restoring the ability to read books for those of us with ocular myasthenia is certainly going to bring civilization to a dead standstill!

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I don’t know what publishers think about BN and their respective futures (lately, I’ve begun to wonder whether publishers are thinking at all — they appear to be in ostrich mode :D). I agree with you that as we transition to a mostly ebook world, I think brick and mortar outlets will be viewed as a distribution channel once important, but now increasingly irrelevant. (big uncertainty here is how quickly the ebook transition will happen)

    I also agree that it will be possible for tradpubs to survive in an ebook world — although this transition makes that fiendishly more difficult for them.

    I buy a ton of technical and professional ebooks every year — all direct from the publisher or their distribution arm. Most will offer the book in any (or all) of the formats: epub, pdf, mobi — although in this space pdf is generally regarded as the lingua franca.

    One thing that I’ve noticed in recent years in this market segment is that the distribution arrangements for ebooks is evolving rapidly. For example WROX and Microsoft Press used to do their own production and distribution; that is now handled for them by O’Reilly (a big technical publisher in their own right). O’reilly jointly owns Safaribooksonline with Pearson which means that all of the Pearson academic and technical titles are available as ebooks as well.

    Pricing for these is interesting too. For most of these kinds of titles (where Amazon carries them) Amazon is cheaper than the publisher’s direct ebook price; save that for a few (O’Reilly being one) if you are a frequent shopper they give you a 50% discount off the ebook direct price (which beats Amazon handily), and you get 3 versions: pdf, mobi, epub where Amazon only gives you mobi. For some technical books only pdf will do — mobi is not up to the job.

    I wonder if the technical book marketplace is the harbinger for the mass market space?

  3. Pam Says:

    I bought a K1 for my son, wife, and 10 and 12 yr. old granddaughters for Christmas several years ago. My DIL likes to read as well as grandgirls. They never tried it and it was in a drawer last I knew and were thinking of selling on eBay. I was shocked as they are all very computer literate. And at that time, the Kindles were pretty expensive. They looked at me like I was from planet Mars! Live and learn!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Pam!

      Well, initially, there was some resistance to Kindles from book lovers, just as I’m sure there was to paperbacks. However, my experience has been that the more you love books, the more you love a Kindle.

      My guess is that the people who will eventually learn in this case are your relatives. 🙂 It might not be with that possibly $399 Kindle 1, but I think they’ll eventually read e-books…and perhaps laugh at themselves for keeping a gift horse in the stable. 😉

  4. phylis49 Says:

    Although I am an avid reader and always have been, and I absolutely don’t know how I ever survived before I got mine, I have to admit; I still will buy a paperback once in a while. Especially at the airport while waiting to board my plane. Sometimes it’s about actually holding the book in your hands. Also, for reference type books, where I tend to make tons of notes, I prefer a “real” book as I go back and forth in it sooooo much! Does that make me dislike my kindle or like it less? Absolutely not! Like I said, I don’t know how I ever survived before I got mine!! This is the third one I have had and I have the Kindle Fire as well and I am very happy with them all.
    As far as the google apps, I do wish they were available to use but that’s not a major concern for me. I look at it as their loss on a huge market that they choose to pass up… Oh, well!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, phylis49!

      I think my Significant Other had the best line. Someone said to my SO, “i like the feel of a book in my hand.” My SO said, “I like the feel of a hundred in mine.” 🙂

      I don’t buy paperbooks any more…the text size just doesn’t work comfortably for me, and I do think e-books are more ecological (not having to be trucked from place to place, for one thing).

      I understand flipping back and forth in a reference book…although, when I need to look for something specific, I do find e-books easier for that.

      I’m glad that e-books have given you another way to enjoy literature! 🙂

      You can use the Google apps by hosting them on another computer and using Splashtop to link your Fire to the computer, but that’s not very convenient…

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