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There’s an eBook Lock-In War Going On 2011/08/13

Posted by nydawg in Digital Archives, Information Technology (IT), Intellectual Property.
Tags: , , ,

Many friends of nydawg are well aware of previous discussions we’ve had about vendor lock-in with Kindle texts, so this may not be “news” per sec, but it is worth a little consideration in light of the fact that Amazon was      “The fight has largely gone on behind the scenes – the most obvious consumer-visible part of it has been the fluctuating prices for ebooks. Now it threatens to burst into full public view, with a class-action lawsuit filed in CA this week alleging that ebook publishers colluded (illegally) with Apple to fix the prices of ebooks.

The simple view of things – as presented in the suit – is that Amazon was working to force e-book prices down and the publishers decided they didn’t want to play ball. In fact it’s a complex situation revolving around who gets to set the prices for ebooks and whether or not a publisher will be locked in to a model or technology.  Initially, the retailer (Amazon) set the prices we would pay for ebooks as they do with physical books. Publishers charge the retailer a price but the retailer had the freedom to charge more or less than that price. In order to encourage adoption of its Kindle and to boost the nascent ebook industry, Amazon priced the ebooks low – often well below hardcover and even paperback prices. ”   Read about the “copyfight” here: http://copyfight.corante.com/archives/2011/08/12/theres_an_ebook_war_going_on.php

and this all reminds us of a story earlier in the year when The NYTimes announced “e-Books Outsell Print Books”:

“Since April 1, Amazon sold 105 books for its Kindle e-reader for every 100 hardcover and paperback books, including books without Kindle versions and excluding free e-books.  “We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, in a statement. “We’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years.”  But people should not exile their bookshelves to storage quite yet, many analysts warned. Over all,
e-books account for about 14 % of general consumer fiction & nonfiction books sold, according to Forrester Research.

or do you remember from 2009 when Wired covered “Amazon’s E-Book Strategy Re-Kindles Debate on Open Standards” : While many salivated over this week’s arrival of “theiPod of the book world,” supporters of open e-book standards are opining anew that the Kindle’s proprietary format is not only bad for readers but, in the long run, probably for Amazon as well.

Either Amazon will succeed in locking people in, at which point it will become a kind of mashup of the worst elements of the Recording Industry Association of America, Microsoft and the mafia, or they’ll fail,” said Cory Doctorow, open source advocate, science-fiction author and co-editor of Boing Boing.   The issue isn’t about DRM protections on the books, but on Amazon’s decision to create — and now perpetuate — a non-portable format that a) denies readers the ability to read e-books they buy from the company on another device and b) books they might buy from an e-books competitor on the Kindle.



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