Category Archives: amazon

Some quick links

Taking a gander at how to handle footnotes in ebooks (O’Reilly)

A study at Princeton (PDF); using the Amazon Kindle DX to reduce paper consumption and enhance the classroom experience (full report here, also PDF)

And Suzanne Collins discusses how to use Twitter to get a job in publishing – great read!

Standards & Amazon

Today’s DBW roundtable discussed standards – more specifically, a bunch of acronyms I need to begin to memorize, including ISTC, ISNI, NISO, IDPF, BISG, and GS1. (My head is spinning.)

An interesting point that I asked and had wonderfully answered by Todd Carpenter of NISO dealt with Amazon’s proprietary standard for its e-reader (.AZW) and how that would influence EPUB3’s development and use. Carpenter responded, essentially, that the value of EPUB stems from its ability to be used in different distribution channels. This in itself is valuable to publishers – you reach more devices through those channels, and in turn, contact larger audiences. Laura Dawson of Firebrand Technologies asserted that Amazon moving to accept EPUB on its devices is not happening anytime soon; Joshua Tallent agrees.

And why would it? This question boggled me because yes, Amazon is doing well without reading EPUB, and conversions from EPUB to .mobi/.azw can still happen through KindleGen. While I in general don’t particularly want a Kindle and don’t see myself using one in the future, the fact that it still doesn’t read EPUB bothers me. It bothers a lot of people because Amazon is ignoring a standard. But should we fault Amazon for ignoring what’s becoming considered a universal standard (as I see it) and creating their own?

This move bothers me as a reader (if I were a Kindle user) because I potentially have fewer options. I am limited to what’s available in the Amazon Marketplace unless I take to converting titles myself.

This move also bothers me as someone looking to become involved in ebook production because, hey, it means more work for me – work that is essentially unnecessary. But I suppose you can argue that work is still going to be there because, lo and behold, every e-reader renders an EPUB file in their own way.

Even though there are more people using the Kindle than other readers, I still think EPUB has the edge. Though the question that still lingers in my head is, who really wants EPUB? I am guessing this audience is somewhat limited (among average readers); I doubt the average Kindle user knows what EPUB even is. Though I could be wrong on both counts!

E-Reader Wars

It’s amazing how intense the battle has become between the various companies slinging their latest devices for reading e-books. I remember the exact moment when I first heard about the Amazon Kindle. In fact, I said, “Really? That would never sell.”

… yeah, don’t put me in charge of business predictions, folks.

As you know, the Kindle is the leading e-reader among buyers. In 2010, the Kindle sold about 22 million units. Meanwhile, major-minor players like Barnes & Noble and Borders tried to play catch-up with their own respective launches. Then Apple’s iPad hit, and while iBooks makes it seem like a major player in the game, the fact that it’s more tablet than e-reader places it within an entirely different arena.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like the Nook and Kobo – in fact, I own a NookColor and love it to pieces. I never liked the Kindle for aesthetic reasons; I don’t like black text on a gray background, the Kindle does look like a huge calculator, and while eInk is really neat, I’m not crazy about it.  I know a lot of my preferences stem from the fact that I’m a cartoonist and love the world of color too much – hence my current e-reader of choice.

For whatever reason, though, the Kindle has become insanely popular and continues to have a strong hold on the e-reader market. I see people reading all the time on their Kindles while riding the T – as a native Miamian residing in Boston, it is a lovely thing to witness on public transportation.

But what about the Kobo?

Honestly, I don’t know much about it. I thought Barnes & Noble had a lot of work to do to compete with the Kindle, but the Kobo is in an even worse spot. The company is doing good things, though: as a result of its “Read On Revolution,” Kobo donated 100 of its devices to a high school, as well as $3,000 worth of e-books.

Additionally, according to The Toronto Star,

In the U.S., Amazon.com’s Kindle is the market leader with a 41 per cent share, followed by Barnes & Noble at 27 per cent. Kobo ranks third somewhere “in the double digits.”

What are “double digits”? At least 10 percent, I guess. But Kobo needs to step up its game in order to really compete with Nook and Kindle. I have a pretty extensive selection of e-books through B&N, as well as magazines. Oh, and apps, including one of the angry bird variety.

What does the Kobo bring to the table?