Hewlett-Packard Has An eBook Reader?

May 26, 2009

I don’t know why others haven’t picked up on what appears to be a leak in a Fortune magazine article about Amazon:

(Other competition is coming from publishers such as Hearst and computing companies, including HP. Apple is rumored to be mulling a reader too. Chances are they will all include some wireless connection.)

Emphasis added by me.

This is the first I’ve heard of hp actively developing an eBook reader.

They’ve shown off a prototype previously:

But that looked so absolutely screwy — screwier than Kindle Mark I — that no one took the effort seriously.

Today I must add that given the Gesture Area on the Palm Pre, the touchstrip interface no longer looks so screwy — and that makes the last ten seconds of this next video a must-see:

hp has also been gung-ho developing flexible displays. They have a video all about that.

Plus, earlier this year hp announced a color flexible display prototype. And while reports indicate it’s several years away from commercialization, color isn’t needed right now for ebooks, so perhaps the monochrome version shown below — impressively resisting abuse — can be used:

What’s also interesting is that hp never released a tablet UMPC. Everyone thought they’d be a natural entrant, but they passed. They did, however, enter the netbook fray with impressive models.

What’s interesting about that is the ten-inch screen. That’s the screen size for the rumored Apple tablet. Whenever I’ve looked at the hp mini in person, I always try to picture it without its keyboard, as a tablet.

And a touchscreen tablet is something hp could do. They have incorporated touch into their TouchSmart line of desktop and notebook PCs. How difficult would it be to graft that onto a ten-inch screen tablet?

An hp eBook reader brings up a whole series of issues:

1) What retailers would carry it?
2) What eBooks could it display?
3) How could eBooks be bought?

Could hp’s eBook reader find its way into the world with a Barnes & Noble branding? With eReader software and ePub support built in? And Fictionwise/eReader as the eBookstore all ready to go?

One other thing I must note about hp’s touchstrip UI idea: it sidesteps the clarity and contrast issues of the Sony Reader 700, which simply placed a touchscreen over its eInk didplay.

Dying Dinosaurs Of Print Dying Faster

May 26, 2009

Amazon’s next revolution

Running on Sprint Nextel’s high-speed data network, Kindle bridges the gap between the perpetual connectivity of a mobile phone and the sporadic connectivity – but superior form factor – of a laptop. There’s no need to plug into a computer, the battery will last two weeks, and there are no connection fees. And buying a book is a snap. Freed considered slower connections, like a pager network or 2G, but ultimately determined that 60-second downloads would spur impulse purchases. See an interesting author speak on The Daily Show? You can start reading the book before the interview’s over.

The plan has worked like a charm. For titles where a traditional paper and an electronic Kindle version are available, 35% of sales already come from downloads, Amazon says. That suggests not only that Kindle owners love their devices, but also that they’re buying impetuously. And the wireless connectivity, which Amazon provides free to Kindle owners, has helped Amazon blaze ahead of its main competitor, Sony’s Reader, which requires users to connect to a computer, la the iPod, to download books.

Emphasis added by me.

Impulse purchases. Impulse pricing.

What part of these two things are difficult to understand?

Here is the beginning of the death knell for traditional print publishing:

Two dollars! Two!

And that’s six-hundred and ninety pages!

All of you dying print publishers, I’ve got news for you. Your mandate has never been to cater to an elite. Reading is supposed to be for the masses.

Keep your prices stupidly high and you’ll continue to your stupid demise.

John Sayles: 20th-Century Crybaby?

May 26, 2009

John Sayles, novelist, seeks a binding agreement

John Sayles, Oscar-nominated creator of “Return of the Secaucus 7,” “Lone Star,” “Matewan” and other movies, is having trouble getting a book deal.

The situation is almost entirely traceable to the publishing industry’s economic woes, and it’s raising eyebrows, because Sayles was an accomplished fiction writer long before he made his first film. Weighing in at a whopping 1,000 typed pages, “Some Time in the Sun” is his first novel since 1990’s “Los Gusanos.”

“This is really astonishing,” says Ron Hogan, senior editor of Galleycat.com, a website devoted to publishing news. “I mean, this is John Sayles! You’d think there would be some editor who’d be proud to say, ‘I brought the new John Sayles novel to this house.'”

Raise your hands, all of you who have read a John Sayles novel.

Cue the crickets.

OK, I thought so.

See, Sayles, there’s this thing now called the Internet. And these other things called eBooks.

You, John Sayles, have the stature, visibility, and savvy to help push the needle away from the dying dinosaurs of print towards the eBook future:

What needs to happen:

ONE eBook gains a Word of Mouth (WOM) reputation
(Note: there are over 16 million eBook devices now [iPhone/Touch])
– genuine word of mouth or PR-assisted?
— PR-assisted cannot move something that’s shit
— only genuine WOM matters
— WOM moved The Fountainhead in 1940s

Unknown contributing(?) factor: Blog Book Tours

An eBook with WOM cachet and must-read-ness that’s available only as an eBook (in a format that cannot be printed out) could help push the needle from print books to eBooks

WOM must be of such scale to achieve Internet escape velocity
– must enter mainstream culture, not be confined to Internet Culture

If you believe in your book, put up or shut up.

Help move that needle, Sayles, and stop feeling sorry for yourself.

No one out here is feeling sorry for you.