L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

07 September 2007 Blog Home : September 2007 : Permalink

More eBook Buzz

For reasons that are unclear, maybe its just that the time has come? I'm getting quite a few hits from ebook related google searches and seeing comment in other places that seems to indicate that there is significant interest, assuming that the price is right. On that note, this comment from excellent author Michael Z Williamsom at Charlie Stross' blog seems appropriate:

"To read our books, you must buy a 'reader' that costs $300."

"Hmm...no one is buying our $300 reader. Therefore, the consumer has no interest in our books."

I can't even begin to address the stupidity of that paradigm.

Especially when what can be bought to be read on that $300 reader costs $20 and the paper version is cheaper.

The NY Times (yesterday) and Business Week (a week or so ago) write about the Sony reader and the rumoured amazon one. The Sony reader, it seems to me, is a classic dinosaur because it locks you in to Sony. For that reason alone I would never buy the thing, the fact that Sony also have this charming habit of giving their customers rootkits is merely icing and a cherry on top. Sony have lost me as a customer until I see some sign that they grasp "open" and "don't assume your customers are crooks". One thing that cracked me up about Sony was this bit from the BW aticle:

Sony is offering new buyers, who are also registered Connect users, credit for 100 free classic titles, such as Great Expectations and Moby-Dick. "In terms of timing, with people going back to school, there is a lot of interest in classic literature," said Jim Malcolm, director of marketing for Sony Electronics. "It gives people an incentive to buy."

If Sony had an open reader that could read standard HTML then Project Gutenberg would be able to supply Sony customers with thousands of "classic titles" including the very excellent SF bookshelf. It is in fact far from impossible that Sony has simply taken the 100 titles it is distributing from PG and converted them itself.

According to the NY Times, the Amazon reader appears to be outrageously overpriced.

In October, the online retailer Amazon.com will unveil the Kindle, an electronic book reader that has been the subject of industry speculation for a year, according to several people who have tried the device and are familiar with Amazon’s plans. The Kindle will be priced at $400 to $500 and will wirelessly connect to an e-book store on Amazon’s site.

One assumes the Kindle will use the "ever reliable" Mobipocket DRM since Amazon owns Mobipocket. It is also entirely possible that the Kindle will simply be a rebadged Bookeen or iRex. Given the price, there had better be a significant bundle of ebooks included because otherwise Mike's words above apply in spades.

I say the Amazon is outrageously overpriced because Amazon's reader is going to be more expensive than the semi prototype reader inspired by Baen fans - the NAEB - despite having but one advantage: wifi. The NAEB reader is basically a Bookeen with a bit of software customization and it is currently being built for early adopters who expect to be Appled if demand picks up. The current price is a price for small volumes and will clearly drop if volumes rise. My understanding is that the NAEB will have some 200-300 early adopters (including me if I have the money) and should be an open system inviting the early users to add, debug etc.