on Amazon’s Digital Book Lending Service

Amazon is now a library – sorta. Last week, Amazon launched the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library which gives Kindle users who own an actual Kindle device (and not just use the Kindle app on other devices) AND are Amazon Prime subscribers access to 5,000+ books they can “borrow.” A few things worth noting: 1) this is probably the first example of a subscription service for digital books. …

When eReaders grow-up to be Tablets

What happens when eReaders grow up to be tablets? This morphing is already well underway. Barnes & Noble has always referred to the Color Nook as a tablet eReader – with tablet being the operative word. At their event this week. B&N claimed the Color Nook is the top selling android tablet in the market. Amazon – the current king in e-ink eReaders – is getting set to launch potentially two new tablet-oriented devices.  E-ink is actively working to bring to market color e-ink screens and other eReader players are treading towards tablet-like devices.  But this evolution has important implications.

First, network economics for text are very different than they are for video and more data-intensive applications. One of Kindle’s opening hallmark features was the ability of the user to download books via the cellular connection without having to independently contract with the service provider.  In fact, at one point Amazon switched Kindle cellular service from Sprint to ATT and users never took notice.

This won’t be the case as users gain access to more data-intensive offerings. These services are more bandwidth intensive (and therefore costly) than delivering text over the network.  Even though our research has constantly shown most tablet users primarily connect via Wi-Fi, the existing service contracts can’t work when devices are more than books. This will be a key element in the new tablets being launched by Amazon.

App usage on apps-enabled devices will crowd out book usage.  This has ramifications for device pricing.  In the early days of Kindle, Amazon subsidized the content instead of the hardware. This changed as Apple moved into the book business and subsequently eReader OEMs began selling ebooks at the publisher price and subsidized the hardware prices (or atleast began selling them at very low margin).  If the margin is made on the ebooks and their are less ebooks sold as a result of changing use-case scenarios – OEMs will be in search of a new business model to driven margin.  …

Evolutionary Currents: Adding Context to the Nook Color Upgrade

This week Barnes & Noble upgraded the software running on their Nook Color e-reader tablets. Users can now access apps, have email pushed to the device and watch flash videos.

There are a variety of reviews on the web (see: here, here, and here) discussing the anticipated update so here I’ll take a differ tack and discuss two things: what we learn about the evolution of technology in the Nook and what it means for adjacent categories like tablet computers (as opposed to tablet e-readers).

While their initial foray into personal electronics with the original nook might have been more than just an experiment, B&N moved relatively quickly onto the Nook Color. The original Nook was launched in November 2009 and while it was largely sold out during that introductory holiday season, there was likely very little opening stock available. By June 2010 the price had been cut consistent with pricing cuts across the entire e-reader category. Within a year of the initial Nook launch, B&N had a higher-end, full color screen e-ereader tablet and the Nook line collectively was “the company’s biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history.”

Kindle v. iPad: Value Positions, and Why Selling Hardware on Specs Alone is Dead

        On Monday Amazon premiered a new Kindle commercial during Good Morning America. The ad (above) portrays two individuals trying to read poolside – one on an iPad and one on the new Kindle.  The essence of the commercial touts the relative readability of Kindle’s e-ink display in direct sunlight.     Commentary (for example: here and…