TKC 125 James McQuivey

News – 1) Google finally launches its much-delayed Google eBookstore, as reported by The Washington Post, A Kindle World, and Kindle Nation Daily.  Independent bookstores such as my favorite, the Tattered Cover in Denver, jumped on the e-wagon, enabling me to buy an e-book from the TC for the first time, but not for my Kindle. 2) Amazon countered the following day with plans to expand Kindle for the Web. 4) On December 6th, Oprah gave everyone in her audience a Kindle but still played nice with the Penguin. 5) Seth Godin and Amazon launch The Domino Project. 6) The Grinch keeps Kindles from arriving in Canada until after Christmas.

Tech Tip – Sorry, Kes, I couldn’t find a way to delete your least favorite Kindle screensaver images.

Interview (Begins at 19:14) – I spoke with James McQuivey, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, by Skype on December 8, 2010, about the Google eBookstore.  Two days earlier, he wrote a thought-provoking post titled “Google eBooks Paves the Way for Ad-Supported Publishing.”

Content – Millions of Google ePub-formatted books can be read on the Kindle, as Andrys Basten points out. And Amazon makes it easy to find free classics, too.

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Comments 7

  1. Hannah wrote:

    Regarding your Google Ebookstore purchase, there is a way to verify whether or not the book is available for download to your ereading device or is only available in the cloud. The trick, I think, is that you have to be signed in to your Google account to view the information. It might have something to do with geographical restrictions–that is, they won’t show all the purchase details unless you’ve verified that you’re in a location where I’m allowed to purchase the book. It’s definitely something that’s not obvious from the site–the information for each title seems really sparse. (And don’t get me started about ebook geographical restrictions. I know a lot of people with ereaders who live outside of the UK, Canada, and the US and are continually frustrated that so many books are unavailable to them) If you login to your Google account, under the price of the book it will say “No download files included.” Check the title ‘Anzio:
    Italy and the battle for Rome, 1944′ by Lloyd Clark for an example of this.

    Posted 10 Dec 2010 at 6:00 pm
  2. Bård Aase wrote:

    I find it quite funny listening to your guest saying that he wouldn’t use the mobi format because it’s closed. The mobi format is open, so is the epub format. But the mobi format used by Amazon for books sold on Amazon.com has DRM, and is thereby closed. So is the Google books solution. I own a Kindle, and like it a lot. The reason I bought a kindle was to not have to bring several books while traveling.

    I will not buy an additional reader to get to those books that would only be available on Google books. It’s not going to happen. So, these publisher is excluding me as a customer.

    I can see the argument that they won’t sell through Amazon or direct their users to Amazon, but if they’d put out a mobi themselves or even a non-DRM’ed epub that the customer could convert to mobi, they’d get the sales. Just as Oreilly.com does.

    Posted 11 Dec 2010 at 7:37 am
  3. Errol wrote:

    Excellent interview Len. I really liked the ideas that James McQuivey put forth in the interview. Infact the interview was so good, I listended to it twice.

    Posted 12 Dec 2010 at 10:28 pm
  4. João Carlos de Pinho wrote:

    Regarding the exclusion of screensavers from the Kindle, there is a way to do that: http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Kindle_Screen_Saver_Hack_for_all_2.x_and_3.x_Kindles

    It requires jailbreaking of the device, which for most people seem too risky. However, I did it more than once (not because I needed to do it more than once, but to test the ability to revert the Kindle to ‘non-jailbroken’ status) and in all instances everything ran fast and flawless.

    This method allows not only to exclude the factory images but also to include customized ones. Nowadays, my Kindle has none of the original screensavers and dozens of images I produced by myself.

    Posted 13 Dec 2010 at 11:54 am
  5. Mitch wrote:

    I’m afraid I just cannot agree with your guest’s point of view that advertising in e-books is the way to go. Advertising is becoming so invasive to every part of our daily lives that it is ridiculous. When you go to see a movie at a theater, the first 15 minutes are always advertisements. Rent a movie on a DVD and you’ll often find the same thing with no way to interrupt them until they are over. Watch a Youtube video and you’ll see advertisements embedded into the video. Download a free App to your smartphone and you’ll see ad banners displayed on your mobile’s screen. Turn on the TV to watch your favorite program and there will be not only several commercial breaks throughout it for those increasingly repetitive advertisements, but more recently, you might even see a product advertisement at the bottom portion of the screen for a number of seconds during the actual running of the show. This sort of invasive advertising is becoming more and more common.
    So, NO THANK YOU! I don’t want any pop-up advertisements appearing from nowhere on my Kindle screen hoping to sell me Geico Insurance…or anything else, for that matter!

    Posted 15 Dec 2010 at 5:39 pm
  6. A.O. wrote:

    Regarding Google books, while I am a very tech savvy person and own multiple computers and “smart” devices. I’m not sure “books in the cloud / web” is going to be a 100% solution. I am making an assumption here that Google’s books on the web philosophy requires an always on internet connection. If that is indeed the case, that will be limited in some physical locations. And frankly, if I’m reading a book, why do I have to have a persistent online connection? If this is not the case, than as the old SNL skit said – “Never Mind”.

    This popped in my head while listening to this podcast and may be slightly off topic so forgive me. But it is in regards to the epub / mobi(kindle) debate.

    As someone who works and IT and has to deal with vendor companies, perhaps I have a different perspective on this. While many people who follow the e-book industry get caught up in the cross hardware and openess debate, the decisions that resulted in Amazon having their format and almost everyone else having another format may come down to simple business decisions.

    If I’m B/N or Borders and the 800 pound gorilla of Amazon is taking my business, I don’t have time to develop my own software. It’s a simple case of “buy vs build”. Adobe digital editions is available and it’s simpler to slap DRM ePub on my books and move onto the business of getting into a new marketplace.

    And if I’m Google, my core competency is not selling or making things. It’s monetizing search. So why waste resources when I can just buy something off the shelf for my book format.

    Now there is risk in using another companies software. And the way Amazon did it minimizes this risk. Amazon DRM’d an existing format and in a sense chose to do build when going with a “buy vs build” equation. This gives Amazon complete control and they are not dependent on an outside company for a core part of their business.

    When using another companies software, this puts you in the middle of the user when the software doesn’t work. You can’t fix it, the other company has to fix it. But even with the best contracts and service level agreements in place, problems can arise getting a problem fixed for a user.

    Even if you are a big client for that other company, the other software company is going to do what is best for their company and software. While you might think it would make good business sense for a software company to keep their big clients happy, in reality that is not always the case. That other company may change the format and break compatibility, or may release something buggy that causes problems for your users, or may be plain difficult to work with.

    Then you end up with an unhappy user. And a problem you didn’t cause and may not be able to fix promptly.

    I can understand the reason of buying something to quickly get into a marketplace, but if it’s core to my business I wouldn’t be comfortable being dependent on an outside company for this. But then I’m not sure B/N, Borders, and Google see books as core to their business. But Amazon certainly does. Just based on my experiences with vendor companies, I think Amazon’s approach is the correct one for their business.

    Posted 01 Jan 2011 at 12:25 pm
  7. A.O. wrote:

    Of course, as soon as I hit post I noticed a typo.
    I meant ebooks “But then I’m not sure B/N, Borders, and Google see books as core to their business.”

    Posted 01 Jan 2011 at 12:52 pm

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