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Forrester Research eBook Expert James McQuivey on iPublishers, iPrices, and iPads in Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles Interview

Ever since it first appeared in the Kindlesphere back in July 2008 Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles podcast has been a wonderful source of great information and insight into the Kindle Revolution, and Len’s interview with Forrester Research ebook expert James McQuivey in this week’s TKC #90 is an especially good take. I’ve snarked at McQuivey a bit in the past, but as developments continue to unfold his thinking seems to be ever more smart and more bold about what the future may hold and which new products and features may turn out to be gold if and when they are unrolled, get sold, and take hold.

Here are a few of McQuivey’s points that I found especially thought-provoking:

  • He believes that, now that the “agency” price-fixing model has been established for the retail ebook prices of bestsellers and new releases, those prices will again migrate down to the familiar 9.99 price point because “market pressure will force them to and they won’t be able to blame it on anyone else.” Publishers then “will find themselves at $9.99 giving up 30 percent of their revenue in perpetuity to folks like Apple, whereas [until] now prices [were] at $9.99 and they actually [made] more than $9.99. So I think they are going to regret that in the future,” McQuivey says. “Now that could be a year away, it could be two years away before the average price comes down to 9.99. We know that we’ll certainly have some prices back at 9.99 within a year just because the market’s pushing it that way…. We’re not in a market where it makes sense to charge consumers more than $9.99 and 10 years from now we might see 9.99 as even a high price for certain categories of books.”
  • “Who knows if there’s going to be any Federal Trade Commission look into how these publishers all happened to manage to change their strategy all simultaneously and commit to it,” McQuivey said. “I’m not sure that it’s necessary that the FTC go there but someone could push it if they wanted to.” (Recently it has been my own view that Amazon is unlikely to lead or bring an anti-collusion civil suit against the Apple 5 publishers because, among other reasons, it could be destructive to the supply-chain business partnership between Amazon and the publishers, but that problem would not be as difficult in the event of regulatory scrutiny by the FTC.)
  • McQuivey gave Random House some respect for staying away from the agency model and likened the current spectacle of the Apple 5 big publishers committing to the agency model without Random House to the U.S. basketball “dream team” of a few years back showing up for the Olympics without Michael Jordan. Leaving Random House off the team allows Random House to promote books at all kinds of prices, learn from the difference, and perhaps sell more of their bestsellers because they are significantly cheaper than their competitors’ bestsellers. McQuivey estimated that Random House’s decision to stay out of the fixed-price iBooks Store translates into a hit of “20 to 25 percent” to Apple’s potential ebook sales.
  • He was unimpressed by the long-term significance of any feature advantages that one ereader app might have over another on the iPad device, saying that such features that are easily replicated and “they’ll essentially match each other feature for feature.”

The only instance where I thought McQuivey had it seriously wrong was in his brief discussion of the iBooks Store vs. the Kindle Store as ebook vendors. He said “so far you can’t buy books in the Kindle App on the iPad, and that is a detriment.” But in emphasizing this distinction he seems to be handicapped by his self-avowed “conscientious objector” status relative to the iPad.

In the Kindle for iPad app, you get to the Kindle Store with either one (from the Home screen) or two (from within a book) clicks, and then you are in the extremely familiar, time-tested and user-friendly Amazon book retailing environment where you can download any Kindle title seamlessly and have it sent to your Kindle for iPad app (or any other registered device) within seconds. 15 years of online book retailing translates into tremendous strengths for Amazon, and the Amazon and Kindle Stores are far more conducive to searching, browsing, and sorting for books by title, author, subject, keywords, sales ranking, customer ratings, customer reviews, publisher, or publication date than the iBooks Store or any other ebook vendor’s site.

As with the Kindle Store, you can get to the iBooks Store with either one (from the Home screen) or two (from within a book) clicks, but once you get there the selection and buying/downloading processes are actual slower than those in the Kindle App due to the more difficult search/browse/sort processes described below and the fact that you actually have to type in your iTunes or Apple Store password (not your iPad passcode) from scratch each time you make a transaction.

And for now the iBooks Store is severely limited in several ways that aren’t surprising given the Apple has arrived a little late to the ebook party, including:

  • Catalog (there are about 15 times as many books in the Kindle Store after one subtracts the roughly similar public domain catalog in each store)
  • Customer ratings and reviews for content, which Amazon had the advantage of being able to migrate from print-formatted editions to Kindle editions when it launched the Kindle Store in November 2007. There are very few reviews or ratings for books in the iBooks Store.
  • User-friendliness for serious readers when it comes to the kind of powerful search, browse, and sort architecture that was developed over a decade and a half by Amazon and has proven to be the most powerful content marketing architecture ever developed by a retailer.

Apropos of nothing, by the way, I had to compliment Len on the creative casting masterstroke that was so evident in his selection of a well-known Disney classic canine cartoon character to read the Robert Scoble lines in the Scoble interview snippet Len chose (and included at exactly 7 minutes into this week’s show) to explain how Scoble’s “reading” practices may influence his choice of reading media.

Lastly, if you happen to hear Len’s discussion of the exciting progress of his fledgling eBooks for Troops project and would like to follow up as a participant, here’s a link to make the process friction-free: http://ebooksfortroops.org/

Here’s a Way for Kindle Lovers to Help Give Support to Men and Women Deployed in Afghanistan

If you love the Kindle and you’d also love to find a way to help give support to the men and women who are deployed in Afghanistan with the U.S. military, Len Edgerly has an idea for you.

Len is the founder of The Kindle Chronicles podcast and he has come up with a projects called Kindles for Kandahar, or K4K. Kudos to Len and those who are supporting the effort. Here’s a link and the essential text:

K4K Launched to Provide Kindles for Troops

Yesterday I launched a project to provide free Kindles for U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.  I chose Kandahar because of the letter K, but also because it’s the general region where Army Sgt. Andre B. Corbin will serve when he deploys later this month.  He will be toting a new 6-inch Global Wireless Kindle and accessories, all donated by M-Edge Accessories in a sponsorship for which I gained quick and enthusiastic support from Patrick Mish, CEO of M-Edge.  You can listen to the interviews I did with Sgt. Corbin and Patrick Mish in Episode 84 of The Kindle Chronicles.

It was during those interviews that the idea of Kindles for Kandahar arrived, and I’ll be working with Andre and Patrick to develop the project. Andre this morning left the following message on my Reading Edge Facebook page:

“As the Kindles become available, I will provide to you a name and address of one of the Kandahar soldiers who will find great pleasure in receiving a Kindle. I will donate the money required to cover the postage.”

I appreciate that donation, Andre!  I realized yesterday, when the first contribution arrived, that PayPal is charging a small transaction fee, so I will donate that money back to K4K, so that we can assure donors that every dollar contributed will go toward a Kindle for the troops.  I haven’t had a chance to talk with Patrick Mish yet about M-Edge’s involvement in this next phase, but I’m hoping he will consider contributing a protective cover and an E-luminator 2 light for each of the Kindles we ship to Kandahar.

Andre has another idea we’ll pursue, which is to figure out a way to donate Amazon gift certificates for purchasing content on the K4K units.  I loved his signoff on the Facebook entry today:

“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”

I hope you’ll consider becoming one of the first contributors to Kindles for Kandahar. To do so, simply click hereor on the logo above or the PayPal button.  If you have your own PayPal account, you will be able to use it for the contribution.  If not, there will be credit card buttons available. I don’t have nonprofit status set up for this yet, so for the moment your contribution will not be tax-deductible.

Your Humble Scribe Appears on The Kindle Chronicles Podcast: The Kindle and Book Publishers, eBook Prices, and the iPad

I’ve had some great discussions about book publishers, ebook pricing, the Apple iPad, and the Kindle Revolution lately, but one of the most interesting is now available for your listening pleasure.

With the aroma of blueberry pancakes in the air in my Arlington, MA home, I sat down with podcaster extraordinaire Len Edgerly to record an interview for this week’s episode of The Kindle Chronicles. Len is such a great interviewer that he can make a ham and egger like myself come across as a reasonably intelligent and thoughtful man, so I keep coming back, and my lovely and talented friend Betty has photographic gifts of similar impact.

Click here to tune into the podcast, available for listening at any time of your choosing.

For Kindle Owners New or Seasoned: Tips on Sharing Your Kindle Account and Books

For Kindle owners who have several Kindles in your household, your book group, or among your closest, most trustworthy friends or classmates, sharing one or more Kindles across a single Amazon.com Kindle account can work very well. The feature is usually limited to 5 or 6 devices in order to protect copyright holders, but if used appropriately it can save you money on content and make it easier to share Kindle books the same way you might share your favorite hardcover or paperback reads.

But don’t take my word for it! Instead, I recommend you give a listen to the latest edition of Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles podcast. Len interviews his wife Darlene and two people (her sister and a friend) with whom she shares a Kindle/Amazon account, and the interview brings out all the nuts and bolts and potential concerns involved in such sharing.

Now Live: This Week’s Issue of The Kindle Chronicles

TKC 56 Steve Shank

Steve Shank of Arizona is a Kindle fan with 35 years of experience introducing new technology, dating back to his days as an early employee of Apple.

And now you can list The Kindle Chronicles directly on your Kindle “Home” screen each week and listen to the podcast using the same full set of features to navigate, skip ahead or behind, or replay the audio file that are available to you while listening to an Audible.com file on your Kindle. For instructions see Chapter 10 of FREE: How to Get Millions of Free Books, Songs, Podcasts, Periodicals And Free eMail, Facebook, Twitter and Wireless Web With Your Amazon Kindle.

Speaking of Blue: Tune in to This Week’s Kindle Chronicles Podcast for Blueberry Pancakes With Windwalker and Len Edgerly

If I say so myself, I think you will enjoy the conversation that Len Edgerly and I had about all things Kindle on this week’s Kindle Chronicles podcast almost as much as Len and I enjoyed the fresh blueberry pancakes I cooked up for the occasion Monday morning. Len should have the show “up” by this (Friday) evening, so click here to listen in and you’ll know the new show is live if you see something like this at the top of your screen:

And by the way, those of you who (like me) follow the Kindle Chronicles closely, should also be able to figure out what, as of this week, I have in common with Steve Martin (as opposed to Alec Baldwin, John Goodman, Buck Henry and Chevy Chase). Sorry Darlene, immediate family members do not qualify.

How Many, How Many I Wonder, But They Really Don’t Want to Tell

(Weekly blog post at TeleRead.com)

By Stephen Windwalker, with apologies to songwriters Don Robertson and Howard Barnes and artists Elvis Presley, Eddy Arnold, Les Paul and Mary Ford for the title of this post

Even if I had never been a guest on the show, I’m sure I would make a regular weekly routine of listening to Len Edgerly’s Friday Kindle Chronicles podcast. Today Len deserves kudos for landing and conducting an interview with Ian Freed, Amazon’s vice-president for Kindle, and for utilizing the wisdom of crowds….

Read more….