David Kirkpatrick

August 23, 2010

The death of print

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:57 am

Wired‘s Chris Anderson has revised his prediction on electronic versus print delivery of content. Two years ago he said ink-on-paper would be the main delivery mechanism for magazines.

From the link, here he is this year:

In light of these developments, I emailed Anderson to ask whether or not he’d like to revise his estimate for the death of print.

He said, perhaps not surprisingly, that he now believes that within a decade most reading will be done on e-readers and tablets.

“I still think that ten years from now we’ll still have lots of print magazines, along with lots of print books, and they will be more-or-less like they are now. What I’ve changed my mind about is what fraction of the market they will be. E-readers, from tablets to smart phones, have matured faster than I thought they would back in 2008.”

That predictions for the “death of print” changed so drastically in the span of just two years tells us something about where we are on the hype and/or adoption curve of e-readers and their ilk.

Which is to say: we are coming up on an inflection point, beyond which rates of adoption explode, feedbacks and network effects kick in, and total market penetration becomes inevitable.

This is an interesting ongoing conversation. A conversation newspapers pooh-poohed to their great detriment. I love print. I read a novel last night on print, not on an e-reader. I love magazines and I love newspapers. But even though I held a book in my hands yesterday evening, right now all my magazine subscriptions have lapsed — down from a high of around 15 or so a number of years ago — and I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal online and have for years. I let my local paper subscription go several years ago when the total page count dwindled to almost nothing while the price rose almost monthly. Plus I realized I had already digested almost all the news and op-ed pieces long before the paper arrived on my doorstep.

So as much as I love print and physically holding, smelling and interacting with books, magazines and newspapers, the reality is I do almost all my considerable daily reading online now, and have for many years. The effective death of print might actually come to pass — maybe sooner than later.

January 31, 2010

E-book price issues already cropping up at Amazon

The e-book space should get really interesting over the next year or so. Amazon is dumping Macmillan’s hard copy and e-books over an e-book pricing issue. Right now all e-books are $9.99 at Amazon and Macmillan wants to charge more for e-books at the outset before lowering prices.

This move is pretty significant because here’s part of Macmillan’s roster: “Macmillan is one of the world’s largest English-language publishers. Its divisions include St. Martin’s Press, itself one of the largest publishers in the U.S.; Henry Holt & Co., one of the oldest publishers in America; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; and Tor, the leading science-fiction publisher.” That’s a lot of quality books that Amazon is willing to lose over a couple of bucks.

Is Amazon running scared from looming competition a bit? I’d say yes.

From the link:

Macmillan CEO John Sargent said he was told Friday that its books would be removed from Amazon.com, as would e-books for Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. Books will be available on Amazon.com through private sellers and other third parties, Sargent said.

Sargent met with Amazon officials Thursday to discuss the publisher’s new pricing model for e-books. He wrote in a letter to Macmillan authors and literary agents Saturday that the plan would allow Amazon to make more money selling Macmillan books and that Macmillan would make less. He characterized the dispute as a disagreement over “the long-term viability and stability of the digital book market.”

Also:

But, he wrote, the digital book industry needs to create a business model that provides equal opportunities for retailers. Under Macmillan’s model, to be put in place in March, e-books will be priced from $12.99 to $14.99 when first released and prices will change over time.

For its part, Amazon wants to keep a lid on prices as competitors line up to challenge its dominant position in a rapidly expanding market. The company did not immediately return messages seeking comment Saturday.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Sony Corp.’s e-book readers are already on sale. But the latest and most talked about challenger is Apple Inc., which just introduced the long-awaited iPad tablet computer and a new online book store modeled on iTunes. Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, suggested publishers may offer some e-titles to Apple before they are allowed to go on sale at Amazon.com

January 28, 2010

Watch out Kindle …

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:09 am

the iPad is about to start breathing down your neck.

From the link:

The Kindle DX is the same size as the iPad. It has a black and white E-Ink screen, 4 gigabytes of internal storage, 3G access and costs $489. Meanwhile, the cheapest version of the iPad has a full-color touch screen, a powerful processor and graphics chip, 16 gigabytes of flash storage, Wi-Fi and sells for $499.

The cheaper iPad might not have 3G or the same battery life as the Kindle DX (up to 4 days), but on every other count it wins. It has both a gorgeous screen and vastly more functionality. And, while Amazon has established an excellent, easy way to buy books, iTunes, which already has some 125 million customers, will give it a run for its money.

December 12, 2009

The publishing industry getting greedy

Filed under: Arts, Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:33 pm

The New York Times has an interesting story today on e-books, copyright and backlist titles.

Here’s the key point with this particular publishing issue:

While most traditional publishers have included e-book rights in new author contracts for 15 years, many titles were originally published before e-books were explicitly included in contracts.

And here’s where the publishing houses are getting greedy:

Several publishers who say they retain e-book rights on old contracts are working to amend those agreements to insert digital royalty rates. A spokesman for Simon & Schuster, Adam Rothberg, said the company has amended many old contracts. “Our plan is to publish all our backlist in e-book form,” he said.

Contracts were signed with no idea the concept of a digital book would ever exist. Those contracts are for the rights to publish those books as physical, bound copies of the text. Publishing contracts are very specific on what rights are conferred, even to the point many publishers don’t include international rights to the books they sign for U.S. rights. E-books certainly fall under the category of an entirely new class of rights, not something that can be “ameneded” after the fact and after the author of those books, and signer of the contract, is no longer around to agree to any amendment. If the heirs to the author’s copyright want to take electronic rights elsewhere, they should be free to do so.

If publishers want to include e-books in older contracts, those rights should be separately negotiated, not amended. I hope the courts come down on the side of the artist on this issue.

Traditional publishing is dying an increasingly quick death right now. I wonder why?