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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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October 2016
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Kindle Fire 2 To Get July 31st Launch Event With Front-Lit Kindle eReader

Naturally, there is a new Kindle Fire on the way.  We are also expecting there to be a new E Ink Kindle eReader released alongside it.  The Kindle Fire 2, or whatever Amazon decides to label their new device, has aroused a lot of interest over the past few weeks and the release of a Kindle that matches or exceeds the capabilities of the Nook Simple Touch w/ GlowLight will be a big thing for the company.  Now, citing reliable sources rather than simply the less than reliable DigiTimes reports, CNET has come up with a July 31st launch event to introduce both of these products to potential customers.

Rumors have indicated that the Kindle Fire 2 will be improved in a number of ways.  It will have a higher resolution 1280 x 800 screen while maintaining the same 7” size, according to most of the rumors today.  This latest report indicates that it will also have a camera and physical volume control buttons.  Both of these features will be welcome additions for many Kindle Fire users.  One can only assume that with the addition of a camera Amazon will also have seen fit to include a mic to make their tablet into a viable communication tool.

The new Kindle eReader will also have minor improvements across the board.  The most important of these will obviously be the ability to light up the screen.  We saw several months ago that Amazon had bought a patent that would allow them to add a refraction layer for front-lighting their eReaders, but Barnes & Noble beat them to the punch.  Given how well B&N has done in making a great lit eReader, we have to hope that Amazon has used the intervening time to improve more than just the lighting.  Expect to at least see physical page turn buttons return to the Kindle Touch version of the next generation.

Amazon is expected to be selling these new devices for the same price as current models.  The new Kindle Fire 2 will be going for $199 while the basic model of the new Kindle eReader will be just $79.  While it is too early to say for sure, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to find out that Amazon was including lighting in all their eReaders at no extra charge, thereby undercutting Barnes & Noble’s prices yet again.  The Kindle Fire that we know today will continue to be available in its present form for the indefinite future, but it is believed that the price will drop to just $149 as the new version hits shelves.

None of this tells us anything about a new larger Kindle Fire model.  While reports still indicate that such a tablet is on the way, the rumor mills are surprisingly quiet about the details.  Presumably it will be more powerful and have features comparable to other large tablets, but things like price and release date are completely unknown and barely speculated on.  We’ll try to bring you more on this when the information becomes available.

Kindle Prices Still Too High!

The Kindle line basically started the digital reading revolution.  They were neither the first nor the best when they appeared, but Kindles were the driving force behind it.  Amazon got too powerful, customers likes affordable eBooks too much, and publishers freaked out to the point of getting involved in what seem to be fairly illegal activities while trying to counter all that.  We’ve been over all that before.  The big question now is “Why are Kindle eBook prices still so ridiculously high?”

I’m not just talking about the results of the DOJ suit against the publishers over their adoption of the Agency Model.  I’m glad that’s happening, and I wish them all the luck in achieving a decisive conviction, but even those publishers who have chosen to settle already will not have had much of an effect just yet.  I’m more concerned with common sense.

The most obvious side of this is the obvious dislike of the format.  Publishers want physical media to be favored because it is more easily controlled.  eBooks are too convenient and most especially too easily pirated, so we have to expect these publishers to try to persuade people to stick to proven methods, right?  Some variation on this argument is likely to come up in any defense of the Big 6.

I’ll be honest, I’m not even going to address it at length here beyond saying that it flat out ignores the facts.  Study after study demonstrates that piracy either increases  or fails to affect overall spending as a trend.  It’s unintuitive, so I don’t blame them for being slow to catch on, but surely somebody employed by these companies could do some research that goes beyond ominous warnings of the dangers of piracy like those thrown around by the MPAA.  Maybe I’ll go into more detail on that another time.

Even assuming that was too hard to grasp, however, there is plenty of easy to understand information about adapting to a market that does away with the concept of limited supply.  The most dramatic example comes from the video game industry where Valve CEO Gabe Newell explained a while back that briefly discounting media by 75% had unexpectedly resulted in sales numbers jumping by a factor of 40.  I’m not saying the two industries are directly analogous, but clearly there are signs that digital distribution needs to be approached a bit differently.

There have been a few signs that publishers were tentatively trying to figure all this out.  Some short-lived discounts have popped up, and last summer’s Kindle Sunshine Deals promo comes to mind as a large effort to feel out the market.  It still seems like the biggest motivator for these publishers is a desire not to change.

They have a good thing going and can basically control the entire publishing landscape when they work together.  The Kindle, along with its eReader competitors, is an unknown.  If it were embraced, somebody else might figure out how to do things better and that would be bad.

I have no idea when this will change, but it can’t come soon enough.  All that publishers have managed to accomplish with this ridiculous behavior is temporarily setting back Amazon by shooting both themselves and their customers in the foot.

Nobody really wants traditional publishing to be completely out of the picture, but lately they’re doing more harm than good.  One of these days they will have to realize this and Kindle owners everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief while stocking their digital libraries.

Amazon Kindle Loses Access to 5,000 Titles in IPG Dispute

In response to some arm twisting by Amazon, the Independent Publishers Group has decided to take a stand and pull all of their titles from the Kindle Store.  While the Kindle is a great device and the Kindle platform is possibly the best on the market for the consumer right now, this is a move that both makes sense and needed to happen.  The only question now is whether or not either side will be willing to explore the options presented by the situation rather than simply holding their ground and waiting to see who blinks first.

Basically, the problem is over pricing.  The Big 6 Publishers have enough clout to force Amazon to accept the Agency Model price scheme with all of their titles.  I’ve gone into why this is not a good thing plenty of times before and will do so again in the future, so it isn’t really worth indulging in today.  Smaller publishers, including the IPG, sell their content to Amazon wholesale.  This means smaller profits on each individual sale and it allows Amazon to exercise more control over the prices offered to readers.  This is also not necessarily a good thing, as in this case when Amazon is using their position as the main supplier of eBooks in the world to force their suppliers to offer more favorable terms than they can afford.

So we have Amazon wanting to lower prices on Kindle Editions and the IPG wanting to maintain their profits at a level roughly similar to what is made off of print books (based on statements taken from the IPG’s main site).  What we really need is not for one side to win over the other so much as a more adaptive model to emerge.  It makes sense for new releases of Kindle books to be priced similarly to their printed counterparts.  There should always be a premium on new media like that, although the savings inherent in using the eBook format should still be reflected in the price for readers.  When it comes to older titles, though, something else needs to be done.  Unlike physical reprinting, there is no ongoing cost of production.  Aside from the author royalties, they are pretty much pure profit for publishers and distributors.  Perhaps a tiered system would make more sense?

Regardless of any proposals for revamping the system, this is probably going to end messily somehow.  While the loss of a mere 5,000 eBooks won’t make a huge dent in the Kindle’s selection, the press surrounding the drama taking place won’t help Amazon any.  They are as likely to be persuaded to offer somewhat better terms just for the PR boost as to ignore the problem entirely.  On the other hand, the IPG is going to be hurting fairly quickly from the lack of Amazon as a channel.  They can’t last forever.  Where this goes will be based on the support they receive and the pressure that can be brought to bear on Amazon.  If you get the chance, lend your support in some way.  They’re going to need it, and Amazon is going to need an overhaul of some sort sooner or later to keep quality content coming in for their Kindle customers.

HarperCollins Might Also Push Amazon To Increase Kindle eBook Prices

harper_logo_small-1Looks like the publishers are not through making Kindle eBooks over all a much pricier place. After Hachette followed in MacMillan’s foots steps, it looks like Harper Collins might be the next publisher to re-negotiate their terms with Amazon. Rupert Murdoch has expressed his dislike of Amazon’s $9.99 policy for eBooks and he says that it hurts hardcover editions of the the same books.

Rupert Murdoch is the chief at News Corp, the company that owns, amongst multiple other media outfits, publishers HarperCollins. Hence, if he thinks Amazon is hurting Harper Collins book sales, there might be trouble for Amazon. Yet again that is.

It hasn’t been all that long since MacMillan settled their deal with Amazon to have their books priced higher on the Kindle. Murdoch has mentioned that even though Amazon pays them the usual $14 or whatever wholesale price they do charge, the ultimate low price hurts over all book sales from other outlets. According him, Amazon is willing to sit down with them and renegotiate the terms.

Even though he puts it as if they will talk things over, there is no doubt that he will really try to push Amazon into accepting a higher pricing scheme for HarperCollins eBooks. If this goes through, it might become the turning point in Amazon’s eBook pricing scheme. Once three such major publishers force their deals through Amazon, there will be little in the hands of Amazon to change the over all pricing of eBooks.

Of course, a lot of people will see opportunity in this and will offer books for cheaper than the major publishers. For light reading thus, a lot of people might choose cheaper alternatives. But for best sellers and major titles, buyers are the ones who will bear the price difference. Interestingly, Amazon will finally be gaining money on &9.99 books instead of losing it as they do now. But it will serve to lower their appeal to buyers, which is ultimately not a good thing.