Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BPN 1361 eReader war coming up in the USA

So far was dominating the US eReader and eBook market, overruling Sony who was the first player on the US market. But now it gets competition from Barnes & Noble. And in the wings Hearst is still waiting. Only Sony is present in the European market.

The book chain Barnes & Nobles (B&N) returns to eBooks. From 2001 till 2003 it was offering eBooks, but it stopped trading them due to a lack lustre market. The book chain will now return with a vengeance. The eBook shop will serve the whole eBook market. It has a portfolio with 700.000 eBooks, of which half a million public domain titles. However it promises 1,25 million eBooks titles by next year. It will keep the books down to 9,99 US dollar. B&N will serve the whole spectre of eBook readers. Barnes and Nobles will have its own exclusive ultra thin 8.5 x 11 inch wireless eReader, to be produced by Plastic Logic, exclusively for B&N. The book chain will also exclusively deliver books to Plastic Logic. And it has already eReader software for the iPhone, iPOD, Blackberry’s and smart phones. Also PCs and Mac computers can download the B&N books. The books will be delivered in the ePUB format, setting it aside of Amazon and Sony; the books can not be printed. The eBook portfolio includes DRM-free books from Fictionwise’s catalogue. Designed with the book reader in mind, B&N eReader client software provides an easy-to- use interface to access the B&N Bookstore and to manage their personal eBook libraries. It features powerful tools to optimize the reading experience, including the ability to modify type size and font and annotate and bookmark text, as well as an innovative auto-scroll feature enabling users hands free reading. In addition, users can shift from reading their eBook from a smartphone while commuting to a notebook PC or eReader device at bedtime.

The B&N re-entry will be a shock to Amazon. The company has been a long reseller of eBooks. Since 2007 it has launched the Kindle and sold 500.000 units of the Kindle eReader. This eReader has now three versions, which can hold 1.500 eBooks. Amazon has 275,000 titles are available in the Kindle format. Recently, Amazon’s CEO Bezos claimed that for every three print copies it also sells one Kindle e-book. The total sales of Amazon of eBooks, eReaders and devices will reach 1.2 billion US dollar by 2010.

The re-entry of B&N is not a surprise. In March 2009 B&N acquired eBook seller Fictionwise for $15.7 million in cash. Fictionwise, which runs a trio of sites, Fictionwise, eReader and eBookwise, operates as a standalone business unit under founders Scott and Steve Pendergrast. First-time users of the eReader will have the opportunity to download free eBooks, including titles such as Merriam-Webster’s Pocket Dictionary, Sense and Sensibility, Little Women, Last of the Mohicans, Pride and Prejudice, and Dracula.

The re-entry of B&N will have an impact on the US eBook scene. B&N is a big print book player in the US and the UK and its contact with publishers is more symbiotic than that of Amazon and Sony. B&N promises a larger portfolio of eBooks than Amazon en Sony; despite the half a million public domain titles from Google, it will have 750.000 titles by next year. And as B&N will officially start its bookshop in September of this year, it will be ahead of the publisher Hearst, which is supposed to launch a large display eReader in the fall. There will be a real competition in the US market by the Christmas season.

So far B&N has announced to limit its eBook market to the US, leaving Europe aside like Amazon and most likely Hearst. So far only Sony is active in the UK and some larger European countries. A host of eReaders from several European countries are trying to gain local market. A fight is said to be brewing in Germany between Vodafone and T-Telecom as well as txtr. Also in France some eReader designers are fighting for a piece of the market. In the Netherlands BeBook is fighting Irex eReaders.

Blog Posting Number: 1361

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