Monday, January 21, 2013

Kindle News: The coming Amazon smartphone. Expanded textbook rentals? Reports on the Digital Book World Conference.

More rumors of an Amazon smartphone soon and a widening of Kindle textbook-rental offerings, plus reports on Digital Book World Conference

There aren't many news stories the last few days except the ones that say that, according to the usual Taiwan news sources, Amazon will release a smartphone by summer 2013 and that it'll probably cost between $100-$200 without the need for a long-term contract.  They suggest that Foxconn has already signed a deal and that the "initial order for the very first Kindle Smartphone is said to total 5 million units."

Without a contract? That would be a no-brainer for buyers who just see no need for the latest whizbang smartphone.  As one who enjoys the Samsung Galaxy S2, and its ability to give a few devices WiFi via the tethering feature, I wouldn't be one of that target market, but it's a big segment from what I've seen from friends and family who have no interest in the fancier phones but who do want a smartphone and who don't want to tie themselves down to a 2-yr plan to get a decent price.
  I did get my Samsung for a penny when Amazon Wireless had one of those specials.

  A big-selling smartphone would be another draw for app developers.

Speaking of apps...
 Business Insider's Business Intelligence is selling a full report on "How Amazon is Trying to Create A Huge Mobile Business" and offering a free trial on what would be a $300 to $400 yearly subscription for businesses needing that kind of information.  In the column describing this, they say:
' Software sales:  The Amazon Appstore has been a huge success on the Kindle Fire.  Developers make almost as much revenue per active user as they do on iOS, and Apple executives reportedly worry that Amazon's controlled, iTunes-like approach makes it more competitive than other app stores, including one operated by Google.

  Given strong early results, Amazon shouldn't have a hard time convincing developers to bring their apps to an Amazon phone. '

Amazon and book rentals? - an expansion of textbook rentals
There also has been some excitement about Amazon's apparent testing of book rentals (see Dave Zatz's "Zatz Not Funny" page for the first example cited).  I saw a couple of more rentable non-fiction Kindle books over the weekend but didn't note the names.  The kicker for those hoping that this will include novels is that every Kindle book noted, as well as the two I've seen, is a non-fiction book recommended for classrooms.

Textbooks have had rental plans at Amazon for some time.

I first explained how it works on July 19, 2011, in the blog entry "Amazon's Kindle Textbook Rentals - Up to 80% off"  And this is still something many families don't know about, so it's worth a read 1.5 yrs later.

 The recent ones, though, are "softer" textbooks in that they're not the heavy-duty $100+ textbooks you normally see but they're, so far, published by more academically-inclined publishers.  Would the Big5 publishers be interested in this for the fiction titles? We'll see, but I'm not optimistic.  Still -- better only a few dollars (for rental) than no dollars.

But for now it's good to see the alternative spelled out on the product page for some of the non-fiction books that are not the usual hardcore textbooks.

The Kindle Chronicles' Len Edgerly Details the Digital Book World Conference
The Kindle Chronicles' Len Edgerly offers an extremely thorough three days of detailed LIVE blogging of the DBW Conference that anyone interested in Publishing today should peruse.  This Conference and Expo took place January 15-17 in NY.

  It's capped off by the weekly podcast's interview segment, which this week involves seven interviewees at DBW, including David Burleigh from OverDrive (which handles the Public Library lending of e-books).

  Len links to the work of all those interviewed.  In that list, I saw that Paul Biba, Former Editor-in-Chief of Teleread, reported on the Conference also, as he has for years.  Paul's view of the proceedings is an intriguing read, describing what worked for attendees and what didn't.  You can also read other blog articles he's written for Goodereader.

Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links.
NOTES on newer Kindles.
Updated Kindle Fire Basic  7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$249
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $299/$369
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $499/$599
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $119/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, 3G - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free but slow web
Kindle DX - $379 $299, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £89 Refurb'd
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi
Kindle Paperwhite 3G, UK
Kindle Fire 2, UK
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB, UK

Canada - Amazon Canada
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - $89
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

France Boutique Kindle
Deutschland - Kindle Store
Italia - Kindle Store
Spain - Tienda Kindle
Brazil - Amazon Brazil
China - Amazon China
Japan - Amazon Japan

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. Amazon has not expanded Kindle rentals:

    1. Nate, I did say they were academically-inclined. Academically-associated, I almost wrote. But a couple of the books I saw were more like self-help self-education books and I wonder if they're tip-toeing with some independents into softer 'textbooks' (by their description) for non-fiction and, as I wrote, less hard-core textbooks.

      I didn't say they had expanded but they seemed they might be looking at expanding for non-fiction. Are you saying this isn't a possibility?

  2. I love my Kindle Keyboard (I have had to replace it and even though the touch was out, I didn't got the Keyboard with 3G) and I love my iPhone and iPad. I did try the Kindle Fire for the first two months and finally returned it, it was a great device for the price but I really wanted the iPad and there were serious retina rumors at the time I retuned; honestly, if the Kindle reader on the Fire had been a little better at the time, I'd have been more tempted to keep it, I know they've updated it since then. I LOVE the way my Kindle books sync between the iPhone and iPad apps, always on the same page. Okay, that's my tech/eReader/KIndle background....

    Amazon phone: I'd be excited with something like this IF there were a few features about it-
    1) If they somehow kept the price down on the plans like they have with the tablets that have 3g.
    2) If it supported eInk. Make the front be color/LCD and the back be eInk so that I've always got a way to see in the sunlight and have that book reading experience (but I want all apps to be able to use the eInk)
    2b) Honestly, I could just handle eInk, I don't even think I need the color LCD screen. It would have a killer battery life if it didn't have a backlit color screen. Plus, it'd be lower weight without the screen and the battery.
    3) It'd have to be one of those monster sized phones so I could read books on it (an iPhone is just too small, I turn pages too often).


    1. Gary, the Kindle Fire 4G/LTE has a good (mainly text-only and ultra minimal) $50/yr plan but it's only for the first year.

      I like your point about having a phone with the long life of e-Ink! You already have an iPhone so would not likely be be one of the phone customers though? For me, personally, I think I like color too much when it comes to phones.

      You wouldn't give up your iPhone though!?? I'd have a hard time doing that.

  3. I wonder which no contract carrier Amazon will try to partner up with? In my experience at Radioshack, most non-contract customers tend to buy Boost Mobile or Virgin Mobile because of their affordable rates on smartphones. Both the carriers or on a CDMA network though; if Amazon is planing on expanding globally in the wireless handset market, it would make more sense partnering up with carriers that use GSM networks. Amazon could always offer it on both networks, which would simplify everything in the short run. Regardless of the decision, I look forward to reading more on these developments.

    1. Me too, David, even if I don't plan to get one, as I'm really happy with mine.

      Their early contracts were with Sprint, and then they went with AT&T in 2009 for some of the global models while retaining Sprint's deal for the US-only e-Ink Kindle models at the time, and those Sprint ones continue to work.

      I have a hunch the AT&T-partner access, globally, for roaming capabilities, gives AT&T a lot of leverage due to Amazon's ability then to serve more non-US (and traveling US) customers and maybe some added $-savings. Apple no longer relies on AT&T so that's been interesting.

      It's almost February so we're looking at only a few months.


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