Saturday, October 17, 2009

Amazon and Walmart/Google bookwars

Walmart, taking a digital leaf from Amazon's Kindle books, is pricing ten of the top-selling hardcover books for $10 each, a new development which is sending even more shivers through publishing circles already upset at the $10 pricing for the Kindle books.  Walmart's $10 titles include Stephen King's latest book Under the Dome and Palin's Going Rogue, as well as books from James Patterson and Dean Koontz.

  Walletpop reports that Amazon fired back with $10 pricing on those books as well, which apparently caused Walmart to drop and shoot $9. Amazon did the same! And lowered the Kindle pricing as well for those books.  Customers won, Publishers zero, practically.  Most agree, both companies are apparently willing to lose money.  And publishers are right to worry that customers are being trained to expect a $10 price for books -- bad enough (for them) with e-books but on hardcover books also?

  Wall St. Journal had the best quote:
' "If there is going to be a 'Wal-Mart of the Web,' it is going to be," said CEO Raul Vazquez in an interview. "Our goal is to be the biggest and most visited retail Web site."

Wal-Mart's $10 promotion applies to the top 10 books coming out in November but the company is also selling 200 best-sellers for 50% of their list price. '
That's huge.
And Walmart's $10 pricing will include free shipping.

The WSJ also points out that
' Amazon has managed to encroach on Wal-Mart's general-store status online by steadily increasing the range of products it sells.  While it is best known for selling books and music, Amazon's second-quarter North American sales of "general merchandise" -- including everything from diapers to vacuums -- were for the first time larger than its sales of media.

It recently acquired shoe and apparel seller And taking another cue from Wal-Mart, Amazon has steadily increased its range of private-label goods. '
So, this is actually more generalized war :-)  And again borrowing from Amazon, Walmart will start selling products from less well-known retailers, for a share of the receipts.

Google announced it will be offering 500,000 e-books for any device with a web browser.

 I love my 10" screen netbook, which has a great screen, but I have no interest in reading books on it, via a web browser or any other program.  There's a big difference between surfing for hours (feasting on large bites here and there with the distraction and relief of multimedia) and linear reading of tremendous blocks of words, with that light shining into your eyes.

  Gartner analyst Allen Weiner is skeptical, citing Google's lack of experience selling media, and questions the effectiveness of offering e-books through Web browsers.  The only e-reader with a web browser at all is the Kindle which won't have a web browser enabled for some time in Europe or most of the rest of the world (though Kindles in Japan, Hong Kong, and Mexico will have that capability enabled).

EWeek adds some interesting info:
' As for the details of Editions itself, Google said it will offer in-print books from publisher partners, giving them 63 percent of revenues and keeping 37 percent for itself where it sold e-books directly to consumers.

Customers will be able to buy the books from Google directly or from other online stores such as or  Where e-books were bought through other online retailers, publishers would get 45 percent and most of the remaining 55 percent would go to the retailer, with a small share going to Google. '
Competition is a great thing. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!


  1. Google Editions is an interesting e-book distribution model. Both publishers and third-party retailers will be able to sell books in the Google Editions bookstore. I'm curious if popular online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble will want to participate since they have their own stores for selling e-books.

    While making e-books accessible by a browser is a good idea, I think that additional formats are needed for the Google Editions bookstore to be a huge success. Google is offering the public domain books that it scanned in EPUB format--why not the Google Edition books also? I read reference material and short articles in browsers all the time, but wouldn't read a novel on a back-lit device. Unless manufacturers start including robust browsers on their e-readers (better than the experimental Kindle browser), the Google Editions bookstore probably won't sell a lot of books to avid readers who prefer an e-reader with an e-ink display for reading.

  2. Thanks Andrys for this valuable info. I had no idea a price war was going on. Anyway - I just took advantage of it and ordered 3 hardcover books from Amazon for $27 (which of course includes free shipping). SUCH A DEAL!

    I may be a Kindle fan, but I still like my hardcover books too - especially when they are dirt cheap.


  3. Kelly, I'm with you when it comes to reading books on a web browser on an LCD screen and am wondering about the idea someone else posted in another area, that Google "proposes" to let the user keep a local copy of the HTML file.

    That sounds very nice, but what would publishers and authors have to say about the idea of a rights-Unprotected file that can be sent to thousands at once via email or FTP?

    That's been at the heart of the problems we see, pro and con, with respect to file compatibility.

    Barnes & Noble sells e-books that we can read on our pc's or Macs but not on a Sony or Kindle e-reader.

    As for the willingness of either Amazon and Barnes and Noble to accept a Google page link-to-buy going to their page, when accounting would need to be done to split the sale 3 ways as Google proposes, that's a very good question. Amazon wasn't very friendly to Google's proposal to 'allow' them to also sell the orphaned books under contention. My understanding there is vague though.

    - Andrys

  4. SloopJohnB,
    Me too. I was at Barnes & Noble preparing for a trip and bought 4 gorgeous books, 2 of them in hardback.

    I've never understood the ferociously anti-Kindle people who seem to feel that it's either Kindle or Print books. I love both, though I'm very partial to reading on the Kindle when it's mainly text, because of the inline-dictionary and annotation tools as well as the effective search processes.


NOTE: TO AVOID SPAM being posted instantly, this blog uses the "DELAY" feature.

Am often away much of the day, and postings won't show up right away. Posts done to use referrer-links may never show up.

Usually, am online enough to release comments within a day though, so the hard-to-read match-text tests for commenting won't be needed this way.

Feedback and questions are welcome. Thanks for participating.

Technical Problems?
If you're having problems leaving a Comment, Google's blogger-help asks that you clear the '' cookies on your browser's Tools or Options menu bar and that will fix the Comment-box problems (until they have a permanent fix).

IF that doesn't work either, then UNcheck the "keep me signed in" box -- Google-help says that should allow your comment to post (it's a workaround to a current bug).
Apologies for the problems.

TIP: There's a size limit. If longer than 3500 characters or so, in a text editor, make two posts out of it.

[Valid RSS]