When it was released a few months ago, the Kobo eReader was one of the first e-readers to sell for less than $150. Alas, it wasn't all that great and it was quickly overshadowed when Barnes & Noble introduced its Wi-Fi Nook for $149 and Amazon later followed with an all-new $139 Wi-Fi Kindle. But now Kobo and Borders, which is an investor in Kobo (Kobo powers Borders' e-book store), are set to release a new, improved wireless Kobo eReader this October for $139.99.
Even though the Kindle doesn't officially allow you to borrow or lend e-books, CNET editor Sharon Vaknin shows you how you can share with your trusted friends.
Perhaps signaling that it's getting more serious about selling e-books, Apple is in the process of hiring a U.S. marketing manager for its iBookstore.
The position is based in Cupertino and according to the job posting, "It will be this Manager's responsibility to drive awareness and sales of iBooks through co-marketing programs with publishers and authors, strategic partnerships, and via online and direct marketing tactics."
Apple is very specific about the type of person it wants. It says that, "The role requires an entrepreneurial self-starter with the creativity and enthusiasm to deliver innovative, impactful, … Read more
The Wall Street Journal reports that iAds may appear in iBooks as publishers watch their profits dwindle amid technology advances like Apple's iPad. The publishing industry has been less than supportive of these advances and the result could come at the expense of its content.
From a business standpoint, though, this makes total sense. Ads have been queued and served in every other form of digital technology for as long as I can remember. Why not add them to books? With heavy competition in the e-book market, prices are dropping and with it, profits. Enter Apple's iAds.
With … Read more
And, lo, the era of the sub-$100 e-book reader is finally upon us! Sears (Sears?) has the Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300BC for $99.99 (plus $7 for shipping and sales tax in some states). It's new, not refurbished.
For years I've been saying (to anyone who'll listen--a surprisingly small group) that $99 is the magic price point for e-book readers like this and the Kindle. (Apparently $139 is fairly magical as well, as evidenced by the immediate sellout of Amazon's new Kindle Wi-Fi.)
Sony's product doesn't get nearly as much ink (no … Read more
Editors' take: With The Wrong Side of the Bed in 3D, children's book author-illustrator Wallace E. Keller founded See Here Studios, turned his own out-of-print title into an e-book, and gave it a 3D makeover. (Narration and musical accompaniment, too.) Any traditional red/cyan 3D glasses will do (you can order a pair from the publisher for $1), though don't expect "Avatar"-level imagery: the effect is fairly minimal. Do expect a cute little story (which can also be viewed in 2D) accompanied by lovely illustrations. The HD version of the app costs $2.99; iPhone … Read more
Editors' take: Toy Story Read-Along is the model for how children's e-books should be done. This highly interactive app from Disney leverages the iPad's potential like few others. Not only does it read the story out loud, it also allows your child to record his or her voice and become the narrator. Each animated page features tap-to-play sound effects and character voices, and some can morph into coloring pages, complete with simple onscreen coloring tools. Songs, movie clips, and mini games round out the experience. Amazingly, the app is free (meaning it's a must-have), though Toy Story … Read more
Editors' take: The title Jack and the Beanstalk Children's Interactive Storybook for iPad says it all. The "interactive" part comes in the form of games, activities, hidden Easter eggs, and the like. Gorgeous artwork, read-along text, and a reasonable price tag of $3.99. What's not to like?
Editors' take: Alice for iPad is a lavishly illustrated 52-page abridgment of the classic tale, which incorporates animation like no other e-book to date. Readers can tilt the iPad to make Alice grow and shrink; shake it to watch the Mad Hatter's bobblehead bobble; and so on. The frantically paced demo video is a little over-the-top, but there's no question this is a showpiece iPad app. Thankfully, there's a free Lite version you can try before splurging on the $8.99 full version.
Recently, I sat down with Ian Freed, an Amazon vice president in charge of the Kindle, to get a sneak peek at the new Kindles and discuss e-books and the Kindle business in general. Naturally, a good portion of the conversation centered on the design and features of Amazon's new e-readers, which you can read about here. But we also chatted about the e-book industry and Amazon's Kindle business in general. Here's a look at some of the more interesting parts of the conversation. Feel free to post your own analysis in the comments section.
CNET: You've been talking a lot lately about the growth rate of Kindle sales. You said it tripled...
Freed: There's actually two triplings. One is the number of e-books sold in the first quarter of 2009 versus the first quarter of 2010. And then the other is after we dropped the price of the Kindle to $189, we saw a tripling of the growth rate year over year [of the device itself].
CNET: How much of the rate of growth on the e-book side is attributable to the iPad and getting your app on these other devices like the iPhone and iPad?
Freed: Excellent question. Some numbers we haven't released before...80 percent of Kindle books we sell are sold to Kindle owners. They may have a Kindle app on a phone or an iPad or Mac or PC, but they at least have a Kindle. So 20 percent do not. I think it's a combination of the health of both businesses. The device business continues to grow with a device [the second-generation Kindle] that's over a year old, and then the content is growing both with the device sales and independently with the apps. We see a lot of customers start with apps and buy a Kindle later.
We see others who've had a Kindle for a year and half and have an Android phone and they've started using the Android phone for Kindle in the last month or so.
CNET: Now that most publishers have shifted to the "agency model" and are setting their own prices, how have the higher prices on many e-books impacted sales?
Freed: Happy to answer that. We have definitely seen a shift. We have data for the last 15 years on books. And since some of the publishers have decided to price their e-book above $9.99, we've definitely seen a shift of customers going to e-books that are $9.99 or less. The good news for them is that the selection of those books is very dramatic. We have about 630,000 books that are not public domain titles and of those 510,000 are sold for $9.99 or less. Of The New York Times best-sellers, 80 of them are $9.99 or less. So customers are voting with their pocketbook... … Read more