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Industry news: New Kindles arrive, a New Market in China, and French Publishers Want Money for their Online Articles

September 8, 2012

New Kindle Line Introduced

Just in time to create some buzz for the upcoming holiday shopping season (first time this fall you’ve heard that phrase, I bet), Amazon has announced its new line of Kindles. The Kindle Fire HD, designed to compete with the iPad is the same size as the iPad, but costs $300–which is $200 less than the iPad. The most basic e-reader will cost $70. A new paperwhite line of e-readers is lit from the bottom, rather than backlit, is thinner than previous models and turns pages faster. The basic paperwhite model starts at $119. The new line also includes integration with Facebook, Microsoft, and game developers.

What this means to you: That Kindle you bought five years ago is hopeless obsolete, among other things. At one point, Barnes and Noble was considered a key competitor to the Kindle product line. In the article published by the times, Apple and Google were mentioned as competitors. The work nook appeared only once in the article, almost as an afterthought. As the line between e-readers and tablets continues to blur, Barnes and Noble will be harder pressed to compete.

China’s Population Drives a Publishing Boom

Although censorship and piracy are still problems, publishers are finding a fertile and growing market for books in China. According to the New York Times, more than 7.7 billion books were published in China in 2011, making it the world’s largest market. At a time when publication of hardcopy books is not a growth market, China’s 7.5 percent increase over 2010 is attractive to publishers. Among the English-language books doing well in China are Walter Jacobson’s biography of Steve Jobs and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. The Chinese market still faces large bureaucratic hurdles, as well as competition from electronic copies. And piracy is a substantial concern in China, for all electronic content.

What this means to you: Among other things, it means you need to pay attention to foreign rights in your negotiations. As the Chinese market grows, the ability of American writers and publishers to make money there will increase. It could also mean that the next Stieg Larrson could be Chinese.

French Publishers Want to Charge Search Engines for Publishing Articles

Following Germany’s cabinet’s lead, French newspaper and periodical publishers are moving forward to create a bill that would charge search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) for publishing headlines and the first paragraph of their articles. The goal of the proposed legislation is to give content publishers are share of the revenue derived from ads that appear on the news aggregation sites. The logic is that readers don’t always click through the article to the newspaper or magazine’s website, so the content provider doesn’t get revenue for the eyes that partially read their articles. A similar proposal in France failed last year.

What this means to you: Currently, this means nothing. It’s proposed legislation in Europe. However, with newspapers cutting back publication from daily to a few times a week, a new source of revenue will be very attractive. Should such a law be adopted, it would likely change the way news aggregators work to reduce the content charges due from the search engines. Further, the logic being used by the content providers isn’t entirely correct. I use Google news both personally and to research items for this blog. I don’t read the majority of the snippets I see there. I might scan the headlines, but I only read a small percentage of the snippets and a smaller percentage of the articles. I suspect I’m not unique in that regard.

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