iRex Technologies Developing a High Quality, Full Color Digital Reader.

I don’t often direct link to press releases but everyone goes on so much…to a fault…about Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader that we kind of help set the stage for their posturing. There are lots of competitors out there, like iRex Technologies who brought the popular iLiad Reader to the European market. They’re now announcing the upcoming release of a Full Color Digital Reader. Read the release here. We know it will be expensive, with the grayscale display iLiad Book Edition ringing in at a whopping $599…or the iRex Digital Reader 1000S thundering in at $899…. but those prices will only come down if iRex Readers are acknowledged as open competition to the the self-declared American front runners.

More interesting moves in the eBook Revolution

The Financial Times reports a story here about the Taiwanese screen-maker for Amazon’s Kindle, Prime View International, cutting a check to buy E Ink, the US company that owns key tech for making the screens. The $215 million purchase is going to get North American and European publishers howling about monopolies…especially since they’re all seeing a digital future as the only future. This will get the pot boiling, yah?

And Google’s jumping into the game as a direct competitor to, now opening up its services to publishers for direct sales to consumers. They’re not interested in controlling format (like Amazon’s Kindle-only reads and purchases) and are leaving the pricing open to the individual publishers. (Something analysts say will get more publishers into the game because they can start jacking their prices up again). Read the full story here.

Again, I hate to say it, but all of these players keep leaving the key component of new (digital) market forces out of the equation. The article suggests Google’s move will start a pricing war that will force the price of eBooks up. Perhaps, in the beginning, as greedy publishers try to force the digital world to accept their old bricks and mortar business model. But we know that overpriced digital content just encourages piracy and diminishes sales in the long run. The true nature of these digital market forces, as has been proven with digital content like music, is to drive the price down while  pushing product availability and market size through the roof.

That’s good for readers and authors. (Especially those who communicate directly.) And it will be grand for publishers and resellers that have the vision to leave the past behind and embrace the broad scope of the digital age. 

This is going to be brutal but fun to watch.

Not exactly news but…

Lance Whitney of cnet news has laid it all out there nicely for us, with a graph and everything. Read the article here. More talk about what seems fairly obvious now. Amazon and Sony can’t just declare themselves the winners in an evolving marketplace. And as long as their eBook Readers (Kindle & Sony Reader) do not offer enough to justify netbook or iPhone prices, they’ll leave gaping holes for similarly priced machines with more to offer or for low-priced competition to fill.

I’m in full agreement but will add this to the mix, something I find noticeably absent from the discussion. They talk about publisher’s percentages and Amazon’s big bite of the profits, but analysts keep leaving out the obvious. Writers and readers can communicate directly through the Internet.  When writers and readers realize that they do not need all these middlemen, then we’ll see some drastic changes to eBook and eBook Reader prices, yah?

I mean, with a bit of technical know-how and minimum start up money, a writer can finish a book, pay someone to edit it, lay it out and design a cover. Then all he/she needs to do is open his/her own eBook Store. Writers have already been forced to take a big hand in their own promotion anyway (and the smart ones have established themselves on the net), so this should be a no-brainer. In a case like that, it’s just pure content delivered to the consumer from the creator. Then all the creator has to charge is enough to cover his/her royalty, and maybe a bit more for production costs.

How’s that going to change eBook pricing? And here’s another one. What if Stephen King did that with his eBooks?

$199 eBook Reader coming from BeBook.

GalleyCat and TeleRead enjoyed an exclusive first look at BeBook’s $199 Mini Ebook Reader slated for release June 30, 2009.  Read the full article and specs here.

They call it perfect for the businessman to “stuff” in a pocket and journalists on hand found it easy to use. The price is getting into range for mainstream adoption. (I’m thinking the average household will need at least two eBook Readers per…) I’ll predict the $149.00 eBook Reader will be the start of the end for traditional book reading, yah?

Printing Moves Closer to the Readers

We’ve been waiting for print-on-demand kiosks to break out, and it looks like it’s finally happening. The Ingram publishing services on-demand book printing unit has started delivering digital books for printing on compact Espresso digital printing machines at retail centers and libraries.

The machines are being called the “ATM” of on-demand book printing. (I knew the traditional publishing industry thought they were printing money, but I never thought they’d come out and say it. You can see where their heads are at.) Others of us call the machines the still exciting “print-a-book-while-you-wait” device, yah?

Read the full story here at Graphic Arts Online. As I’ve said before, this is what Amazon and other book resellers and publishers should have been worried about, not Kindle competition.

Watch this story develop.

More interesting deals…

I thought I’d add this item to my conspiracy theory of yesterday, where I intimated questionable integrity on the part of the New York Times’ coverage of the Kindle phenomena.

Here we have a well-written article in  Wednesday’s (May 27/09) online edition of the New York Times called: “Don’t Quit that Kindle Just Yet” by David Pogue that starts as a fair and detailed appraisal of the up and coming $250 Cool-er e-book reader by British company Interead. Read it here.  Honestly, it’s an excellent article and gives the complete lowdown on this new device, clearly designed with the common reader’s budget in mind.

Now, to draw your attention to the fact that the New York Times has a content deal with Kindle, it isn’t surprising when this article begins to focus on the Cool-er’s deficits or, the very qualities that make it affordable.

I wish I could read that article and not wonder if the NewYork Times had an ulterior motive for publishing it, yah?

USA Today Boasts Arrival of Kindle Rival

You know this article kind of spoils the announcement of the Plastic Logic eReader’s  impending release by disclosing that USA Today has ‘e-inked’ a content deal with them. How can they be impartial reporting on this topic? USA Today has a vested interest. So the online version of a struggling newspaper likes the Plastic Logic eReader. Since they hope this eReader will save them from extinction, it’s hardly surprising that they’re impressed by the thing. Read the Plastic Logic story here.  The same murky integrity surrounded the New York Times’ positive impression of the Kindle DX because they’ve got a content deal with Amazon.

I mentioned Plastic Logic’s eReading machine back in January before any mention of content deals and as machinery goes, it’s a beautiful piece of tech. Take a look, yah?

Random House Group Sees the Light!

An article here at announces the unbelievable. Venerable publisher Random House Group has joined the eBook Revolution by releasing mass market editions for sale at the Apples Apps store .

Listen to the way RHG’s digital publisher says this, it kills me: “The iPhone and iPod are fantastic convergence devices and we’re delighted customers can now enjoy digital versions of some of our bestselling books on a device which fits neatly in their pocket.”

When you put it that way, it all sounds so classy, yah?

p.s. Their titles list at £7.49. (That’s 12 BUCKS in US dollars, which is still too high for eBooks…but they’ll get the hang of it.)

Clearing the air at Publisher’s Weekly.

Publisher’s Weekly writer Rachel Deahl wrote an excellent article “The eBook Pricing Conundrum” in which the murky eBook pricing procedures of leading publishers are taken to task. Read the story here. Deahl sets out the twitchy mathematics publishers and resellers use to justify their high prices on eBooks, and shows what shaky ground they’re on. I get a kick out of the publishing source that blames the high price of eBooks on (can you believe this?) the greedy and overpriced AUTHORS. What a crock, yah?

The truth is, people who read eBooks are tech-savvy enough to know when they’re being ripped off, and that’s what Amazon and the old publishing industry are doing, pocketing the costs that formerly went to the manufacturing, shipping and storage of actual paperbacks and hard covers. The rest of us understand that this is the digital age. One digital file = limitless copies. Internet = virtually free shipping.

Wait until everyone figures out that eBook resellers like are not much different from Google in the end. I mean, you have to know the title you’re looking for or at least the name of the author before you have to ‘search’ for the product you want. These publishers and eBook resellers should be playing fairly and finding ways to remain relevant. They’re this close to becoming simple search engines dependent on adsense for profits.

Tuesday, quiet on the digital front…

Even saying that, I know that something’s going to break out the second after I post this. In lieu of any breaking news, and to save you from my usual eBook Revolutionary blather, I’ll offer a link to an interesting article by Marion Maneker from The Big Money. Read it here.

Maneker links publishing’s fertile past to the exploding phenomena of digital publishing, acknowledging the lowly book’s historic power and cultural influence that decades of profit-driven publishing empire have obscured. The book has never been a thing of the past, according to Maneker.

On the future of digital publishing Maneker says: “Digital publishing is still in its gestation period. What it will look like, how it will function, and what its impact will be are all up in the air.” While I agree with Maneker about digital publishing’s nascent and protean form, I do think its function and impact will be determined by more than the vertical drop. The reader, the writer and commentators like Maneker now have an active role in what final form and direction digital publishing will take. Writers, readers and publishers now enjoy (or dread) an immediacy (and intimacy as Maneker states) from which all will profit, yah?