Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

The next chapter in Microsoft and e-books

January 18, 2017

The next chapter in Microsoft and e-books

I’ve been seeing quite a bit of reporting this morning on an

MSPowerUser report by Mehedi Hassan

which shows what appears to be a new e-bookstore coming to Windows 10.

At least in the “mainstreamy” tech news, I haven’t seen them referring back to Microsoft’s history with e-books which is, so to speak, storied. 😉

If we start with something recent, Microsoft had invested something like $300 million in Barnes & Noble and the NOOK in 2012…and then, by 2014, was outta there:

Microsoft gives up on the NOOK: a tipping point for B&N?

That was after Microsoft had sued Barnes and Noble in 2011…over the NOOK.

I do think this e-bookstore, as shown, is a serious blow to B&N’s digital literature business…but that’s a bit like discovering a burned out lightbulb on the Titanic. 😉 Not only is Microsoft no longer supporting B&N, they are taking the life raft and slapping them with it. 😉

Just as many reporters aren’t mentioning Microsoft’s history, I don’t think most customers are going to remember .lit and MSReader.

What were those?

Back in 2000, Microsoft released software for reading e-books, MSReader (the book format was .lit). That was seven years before the first Kindle release. It was one of the big formats at the time, and people had faith in Microsoft.

In 2011, four years after the introduction of the Kindle, Microsoft killed MSReader, which sort of stranded people who had purchased .lit books (although they still worked…while you had software with which to read them. Some people converted them to other formats). That left a sour taste for some customers…but I don’t think that’s going to have an impact on the new implementation (which I do think is likely to be real).

If we ignore the past and act like Microsoft is just getting into the e-book market, do I think this will be a success?

Sure…as long as their expectations aren’t too high.

Basing all this on that MSPowerUser report (which I recommend), Windows 10 users will buy books just like they buy apps, videos, and music. There will be a book section. You can buy it right there…and read it in Microsoft Edge (their newest browser), which has EPUB support.

Books shown in the story are from tradpubs (traditional publishers), and include current well-known titles.

They also clearly show that the books will be available on both desktops and mobile (tablets).

The convenience of it is going to convince some people. I think it’s important to note culturally that it puts e-books right into the mix with other digital content. I think it helps illustrate that books are not endangered. 🙂 My intuition is that more books are being read than were being read, say, ten years ago. It may be harder to track that, since books have moved out of being probably 90% controlled by under ten large companies (there used to be “Big Six” of publishers in America, now the Big 5) to hundreds or thousands of tiny publishers (often just the author).

I don’t think it particularly hurts Amazon…it’s not going to much easier to buy a MS book than a Kindle book, even on a Windows 10 device. Microsoft is, interestingly, becoming more of a pop culture ecosystem than it was…but it doesn’t match what Amazon can do for a customer, in part because Amazon can deliver “diapers and windshield wipers”.

One interesting thing: I saw right off a commenter asking if Cortana (Microsoft’s digital assistant, like Siri/Alexa/OK Google) will be able to read the e-books…the way that Alexa can read Kindle store books (unless blocked by the publisher) and play Audible audiobooks. That wasn’t apparent.

Looks like we are likely to see this in April of this year.

Speaking of books still being part of our lives, the TV network Nickelodeon has just introduced

Nick Jr. Books at the Apple Appstore

This looks like an interesting implementation. Part of it is including tips for parents…for example, book club type questions you can ask after your child reads a book.

Interestingly to me, this is not a subser (subscription service)…it’s a “piece purchase” plan, where you pay for each book. You do get three books for free when you first get the app, but that’s an incentive, not a pattern. I saw a concern expressed about that by a commenter…who thought $2.99 was too much for a book. I think subsers are particularly good for kids…many kids read very quickly, and they may have diverse, fickle, and unpredictable interests. 😉

Books are interactive, and can be read offline. There is a reward system (badge style), and overall, it appears to me that they have been thoughtful about this.

It isn’t currently in the

Amazon Appstore (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

or, for that matter, at Google Play.

That doesn’t mean it won’t be there eventually…despite what some people say, Amazon has always carried (some) competitors’ apps in their appstore, including Netflix and Hulu.

I think reading (yes, book reading) is alive and well…and likely to actually be growing.

What do you think? Are more kids reading…and more adults? Will five-year olds now be reading more at 25 than 25 year-olds now? How about at sixty-five? Will you use Windows 10’s new e-bookstore? Do you remember MSReader, and if so, does that affect your feelings about the new store? What about piece buying versus subsers for kids? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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