Harry Potter ebook model a success?

Pottermore‘s experiment of bypassing the distributors seems to a be a success.

Is this a peek into the future, where successful authors (or their publishers) will bypass platform owners (Amazon, Apple, and others) and directly offer e-versions of their top sellers to customers?

British versions of the Harry Potter series My...

Image via Wikipedia

Despite the wide availability of pirated copies, the ebook versions of the books have been widely successful.

During an interview with Radio Litopia’s “The Naked Book” Wednesday afternoon, Redmayne said Pottermore sold more than $1.5 million worth of Harry Potter books in the store’s first three days online.

via Pottermore Sells $1.5 Million Worth of Harry Potter E-Books in 3 Days – John Paczkowski – Media – AllThingsD.

What is to be seen is if JK Rowling will follow a similar strategy for the sales of her new novel. Though ebook prices have been announced, it is still not clear if the publisher of this book will bypass the Amazon, Google and Apple platforms. A Kindle version is currently available for pre-purchase, but eventually, this link might forward buyers to the publisher’s website.

The Casual Vacancy

480 pages (approximately)

ISBN  9781408704202   (hardback) price £20.00

ISBN  9781405519229   (ebook) price £11.99

ISBN  9781405519212   (audio download) £20.00

ISBN  9781405519205   (CD) price £30.00

via THE CASUAL VACANCY – Little, Brown Book Group.

Harry Potter eBooks augur changes in digital publishing strategies?

The Harry Potter books are now available for purchase in ebook formats at pottermore.com. Though Amazon lists them as available, clicking on the purchase links redirects users to the pottermore site. Is this a peek into the future, where successful authors (or their publishers) will bypass platform owners (Amazon, Apple, and others) and directly offer e-versions of their top sellers to customers? By avoiding these platforms, will authors / publishers be able to charge more (or less) than the platform driven price tags of $9.99 per book? (The Harry Potter books are available for $7.99 for the first three, and $9.99 for the other four. There is also a bundle price of $57.54 for the whole collection.)

This move comes on the heels of JK Rowling‘s announcement her website that she is working on a new novel, targeted at adults.

Fire Sale of Refurbished Kindle Fire?

Amazon is selling refurbished Kindle Fires for $139 today. Though that is $60 off the full price of a Fire and $30 off the regular price for a refurbished one, expect Amazon to make considerable profits over the lifetime of each new customer its gains from this sale. This also ties in with the rumors of an upcoming upgrade to the Kindle line in general and the Kindle Fire in particular.

Kindle Fire: Out of the Box

Today Only: Save $60 with a Certified Refurbished Kindle Fire, While Supplies Last. Shop Now

Save an additional $30 on the everyday price of $169. Limit 5 per customer. A Certified Refurbished Kindle Fire is a pre-owned Kindle that has been refurbished, tested, and certified to look and work like new. They come with the same one-year limited warranty as a brand-new Kindle Fire. Learn More

via Kindle Fire – Full Color 7″ Multi-Touch Display with Wi-Fi – More than a Tablet.

Amazon acquires Kiva

Amazon.com has acquired Kiva Systems, the manufacturer of warehouse automation robots that are used to great success by Gap, Office Depot, Quidsi and Zappos, among others. The last two of these were acquired by Amazon over the past year.

Kiva’s orange robots, which can slide under shelves and bins of products, are used by Quidsi Inc. — the company behind Soap.com and Diapers.com that Amazon acquired for about $545 million last year.

Kiva Solutions

Image via Kiva Systems

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by Kiva’s stockholders, Amazon will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Kiva for approximately $775 million in cash, as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.

Some videos with Kiva robots in action are below:

Small mobile robots are being increasingly used to automate labor-intensive processes across various industries and are a harbinger of a future of automated, agents with distributed intelligence that can communicate with one another to accomplish large tasks.

Read more at Amazon Media Room: Press Releases and Amazon Acquires Kiva Systems in Second-Biggest Takeover – Bloomberg.

Google Music

With the launch of Google Music, the war for digital content is very much on. Amazon and Google present two formidable competitors to Apple’s iTunes hegemony. Key features of Google Music are:

  • Cloud-based auto syncing music library
  • Sharing of purchased music on Google+
  • Exclusive content
  • Free upload of existing music library (to a maximum of 20,000 songs) to the cloud
Music Beta by Google logo

Image via Google

A feature by feature comparison with iTunes and Amazon Music offers insight into the two critical value drivers behind Google Music – deep integration with Google+ (thus leveraging the social aspects of music consumption) and an almost unlimited capacity to transfer existing music libraries (thus reducing lock-in costs and encouraging users of other platforms to shift).

Read more at Official Google Blog: Google Music is open for business.

Amazon’s new augmented reality app

Amazon’s subsidiary, A9.com has launched a new augmented reality iPhone app called Flow. The app uses visual image recognition and barcodes to detect any product the phone is pointed towards. It then overlays the image of the product with content from Amazon, which includes reviews, ratings, specs, pricing and immediate purchasing options. This will make price comparisons easier and faster, thereby helping to increase Amazon’s sales.

Image via A9.com

Users point to an item and Flow overlays pricing, availability, reviews, media content and other information directly over the item in view.

With Flow, customers can identify books, DVDs, CDs, video games, or millions of packaged household items like a box of cereal. Items can be recognized by pointing the iPhone toward the front cover or packaging, or by the UPC barcodes.

Read more at Flow Powered by Amazon App, Now Available for the iPhone and here.

Amazon’s ‘Netflix for Books’ is here

Amazon has launched its long rumored ‘Netflix for Books’. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library allows Kindle owners having an annual Amazon Prime membership to borrow 1 book per month – free and with no due dates. While this is short of the expected ‘eat as much as you can’ plan, it certainly increases the attractiveness of the Prime service, which adds free books to its existing 2 day shipping and free movie streaming benefits.


Image via Amazon

This also seems to be a test of sorts for a much larger launch – perhaps an eventual ‘read as much as you can’ book rental service.

For the vast majority of titles, Amazon has reached agreement with publishers to include titles for a fixed fee. In some cases, Amazon is purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader under standard wholesale terms as a no-risk trial to demonstrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that this new service presents.

Read more at Introducing The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Windows Azure speediest cloud service?

Microsoft‘s cloud service offering, Windows Azure has beaten Amazon’s EC2 and Google’s App Engine in a year long test of cloud speeds. However, this test only evaluates a specific cloud capability by simulating a 2 page website.

Diagram showing overview of cloud computing in...

Image via Wikipedia

While Compuware’s results may be a good starting point for customers trying to decide between various cloud services, they’re not perfect. For example, Salesforce’s Force.com cloud isn’t tested, even though it may be the most widely used platform-as-a-service cloud.

Read more at Windows Azure beats Amazon EC2, Google App Engine in cloud speed test.

The Kindle(‘s on) Fire

The order book for Amazon’s Kindle Fire is on fire. CNET reports that there were more orders for the Kindle Fire than the other Kindle’s combined. While this many not be a threat for Apple, it spells great news for Amazon’s future sales of ebooks and other digital content (more on this in a later post).

Here’s a look at the Fire’s commercial: