observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Monday, November 26, 2007

and now starring Jeff Bezos as Steve Jobs

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos wants it both ways: He wants to change the way we read without making us feel that we have to change the way we read. The manifestation of this lofty goal is the Kindle - the company's first electronic book reader. After testing the device, I found much to like but plenty of room for improvement. At $399, I also think it's overpriced.
The Kindle is hardly a new idea. There have been plenty of attempts in this category, including one called the Rocket eBook reader and, most recently, the Sony reader. But none of those has done much to wean people away from paper books.
But Amazon has something none of the other players can match - the world's largest online bookstore and a powerful position with the publishing community. Its library of 90,000 e-books includes almost all the bestsellers.

I am very interested in this new iPod for the publishing game.

I am not sure it will catch on but the fact that it is produced by Amazon makes it fundamentally different from any other attempt. Previous producers were tech companies like Sony. This is Amazon’s business. They have access to the publishers, the authors and most importantly the readers. To many Amazon is the publishing business. Probably them and Barnes and Noble. I would argue that the majority of people buy their books from those two outlets, their local bookstore and their local library.

This also had me asking a few questions

- How is that the music business can’t keep a retailer like Tower open while the publishing business which is not nearly as big or culturally significant can support a mega retailer like Barnes and Noble?

-Is there still a place for retail in the music business?

-Having access to 90,000 books is great but how the hell do I navigate all those choices. It’s bad enough with all the music choices we have. Books take so much more time

-The music business needs to go through the same overhaul that the publishing business did when other media (radio, TV, Film) kicked their ass. Raise the profile of your industry. Add a real cache to your industry to increase its value. Do something to separate the music industry and its product from the internet, DVD’s, and TiVo
(more on this later)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this product would have been great 10 years ago, but with Audio books now it knocks this out the box. I think publishing stays on it's game because they never forgot about their loyal readers. Yes they try to reach out to the non-readers, but they spend billions on keeping and pleasing the ones who read.

I spent 3 summers in meetings with students who were writing majors, and always got asked the question what would make you want to read more? Since I was in the percentile of non-book readers they were trying to reach out to. I simply told them time, word of mouth, and a since of belonging. Went in one ear and right out the other, they always seem to turn the focus back to the loyal readers.

With music I think it needs to work on getting back to that anticipation stage. Where the fans are so involved because the artist themselves are giving their all. To where it get to a point that they have their own community of loyal fans. Which is why Kanye is so popular, the Neptunes, etc because they know how to connect with their loyal fans, and their damn good at what they do.

That's my take on

November 26, 2007 1:18 PM

Blogger Oh Word said...

Re: the tower vs barnes & noble question...

The publishing industry has the advantage of people favoring the physical product of a book. And valuing these things so highly that they'll pay $25-$50 for them. Up to now it's a very different experience reading text on a screen vs reading text on a book, while it's not at all different to listen to a cd vs listening to an mp3 file.

So with Barnes & Noble the product is still a physical thing and scarce. While digital media can be freely, infinitely copied.

There's more to it of course but I think that's the most key factor.

"Is there still a place for retail in the music business?"

Yes, most likely that place is on the musicians site or shows. There's no need for a big retail industry. The demand to buy music is not there to support it.

November 27, 2007 9:05 PM

Blogger Wes said...

your point about scarcity is a good one. But the the Kindle addresses that point. A getting a book will be as easy as getting an album.

And just as people are impervious to the dergredation in quality from CD to mp3 won't they ignore the difference between physical ink and e-ink. Especially if it gives them convenience and is economical. These e-books are being discounted at almost 60%. Who can front on that?

And I just can't accept that music retail is dead. We can't sit in front of iTunes forever. Music fans want to get together and share ideas, network (in person), and have a meeting place. A place where they can get put on to new music, and get some real life customer service.

Your point about the strength of the live show is a testament to the gutteral need for a human connection.

November 28, 2007 10:00 AM


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