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
A few months back I told you about five amazing iPad e-books for kids, noting that Apple's tablet is arguably the single best platform for reading (and, thanks to various interactive features, experiencing) children's books.
App developers and book publishers seem to agree, as the App Store is now home to dozens, if not hundreds, of kid-friendly e-books.
Here's a look at five more (seven if you count the Seuss stuff) that are sure to please wee readers and parents alike.
1. Aesop's Wheel of Fables No children's book collection is complete without Aesop's Fables. This app serves up 20 tales, all of them showcased in a spinning wheel that adds a bit of tactile fun to the story-selection process. It also has spot-the-difference games that get unlocked as you read, and an option for parents to record their own voices for kids to listen to in place of the prerecorded voice. The app's on sale for $6.99 until August 5, when it goes up to $8.99.
2. More Dr. Seuss Oceanhouse Media continues to crank out terrific Seuss classics, all of them optimized and enhanced for the iPad. The latest releases include "Green Eggs and Ham" ($3.99), "Gertrude McFuzz" ($1.99), and--yay!--"Yertle the Turtle" ($3.99). If only my kids weren't on the verge of outgrowing these! Hmm, maybe I should have one more...
3. "The Little Mermaid" Not the Disney version, but the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale, here brought to life with animated, interactive elements reminiscent of the now-classic "Alice for iPad." Beautifully illustrated and thoroughly engaging, the $8.99 app also includes "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "The Happy Family."… Read more
In case you missed it, Amazon told the world yesterday that for the last three months it was selling more e-books than hardcover books and in the last month it sold 180 digital books for every 100 hardcover copies. It was one of those great self-serving press releases that had a terrific headline and all the blogs and major newspapers jumped on it.
Well played, Amazon. As your CEO Jeff Bezos succinctly put it, "We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle--the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189.&… Read more
Not to be left out of the fast-growing e-reader and e-book arenas, Borders now has its own e-reader, the $150 Kobo eReader. With it, you can read e-books purchased from Borders' online store, which is powered by Kobo.
As the price suggests, the Kobo, which has the same-size 6-inch e-ink display as the Kindle and the Nook, is something of a no-frills e-reader: it doesn't have Wi-Fi or 3G wireless connectivity (and the screen has 8 levels of gray, not 16). However, it does offer a Bluetooth connection for "wirelessly syncing with select smartphones and updating your reading … Read more
The iPad is rapidly becoming a Swiss army knife for e-reading apps of all types. Just in case you find Apple's iBooks disappointing (and most of us do), there are the Kindle, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble apps. While each has its advantages, they're generally not compatible with each other. They also make sharing and file-format recognition beyond their e-books pretty difficult.
Well, here's the good news: Stanza just hit the iPad last night.
Stanza has been a longtime favorite of iPhone and iPod Touch users--it accesses a variety of e-book stores directly, can read several formats, and has an amazing amount of font, spacing and color customization. It was a bit of a surprise to see this latest update, simply because Amazon acquired Stanza last year to create the backbone for their Kindle app.
The universal iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad app update that has just arrived, version 3.0, looks superficially just like Stanza did before, albeit on a larger iPad screen. Unlike the Kindle and Barnes & Noble apps, Stanza can still browse Feedbooks, Project Gutenberg, and several other book collections directly within the app. The app doesn't connect with Amazon, nor does it offer any indications of an Amazon link.
The additions to this version, however, are eye-opening: Stanza now supports PDFs and comic book files in CBR format (yes, full-color ones). That comic book reader we were excited about that costs about 7 dollars? Irrelevant.
And here's the final kicker: Stanza also happens to be free. … Read more