Is The Amazon Kindle An Outright Fraud?

December 28, 2009

Amazon Says Kindle and E-Book Sales Set Records

Amazon.com said Monday that its Kindle e-reader has become the most gifted item in the company’s history, but didn’t provide specific sales numbers.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

This is the game Amazon has been playing since the introduction of the Kindle. A “Look over there!” game of misdirection that smells of outright fraud.

It’s well past time for Amazon to put up or shut up.

Honest companies don’t continue to hide something like this.

Honest companies show transparency.

Honest companies understand that real numbers are related to real shareholder value.

What is Amazon’s game here?

Is it the standard Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt ploy? Put fear in the minds of your competitors, put uncertainty in the minds of book publishers, put doubt in the minds of eBook device buyers?

Listen, it’s been claimed that Dan Brown’s blockbuster The Lost Symbol sold 200,000 eBook editions. But that was available in multiple formats. Plus we’re not even certain that number is either truthful or accurate.

Doesn’t anyone realize what an absolutely crappy sales figure that is given the hype the Kindle has gotten since its introduction?

Sony slogged for years and years and years, plastering ads all over the place — and managed to sell “only” 300,000 Readers.

I put “only” in quotes there because compared to the non-existent number of Kindles out there, that’s the impression left in comparison.

FUD.

We have been through a decade of outright fraud as noted in this New York Times column by Frank Rich. The fraudulent invasion of Iraq, the fraudulent hype of Enron, the fraudulent low-interest mortgages.

I’m saying until Amazon releases a true number, it smells as fraudulent as the rest of those, period.

And all of you publishers in New York City? It’s time for you to grow some balls.

I’m giving you a task: The first week in January, all of you issue a joint press release stating what your largest eBook sellers have been on the Kindle.

I have a feeling all of you are going to be shocked at the low cards you’ve been holding, while thinking your “competitor” has been holding a high card, making money hand over fist via Amazon Kindle Store downloads.

Do it!

Let’s end this stench one way or another.

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Barnes & Noble’s Incompatible Non-Universal ePub

December 21, 2009

I don’t know why this should shock anybody.

Still, it makes the PDF press release [PDF link] title all the more ironic:

Adobe and Barnes & Noble Join Forces to Standardize eBook Technology

By standardizing on EPUB and collaborating with Adobe on a content protection standard based on Adobe technology, Barnes & Noble is delivering the richest range of content available, across a broader array of devices than anybody else,” said William J. Lynch, president of Barnes & Noble.com. “Consumers can feel confident that when they buy their digital content from BN.com, they can read it on more devices than any other bookstore.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Let me parse this.

By standardizing on EPUB — ah, good! Everyone except Kindle is on the same page now. ePub for everybody! You can buy ePub here, there, and even everywhere — at Barnes & Noble and all other ePub-pusher storefronts — and it will run on anything that uses ePub.

Um, no.

Because of this:

they can read it on more devices than any other bookstore — the key words are devices and bookstore. Meaning, those devices must run the software of the bookstore, meaning Barnes & Noble.

Which then makes the next sentence in that press release an outright lie:

This collaboration with Adobe further delivers on our commitment to provide the digital content our customers want, anytime, anywhere and on whatever device they choose.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

What if I choose a Sony Reader? Or a Cooler? Or Astak?

Out of luck.

Because of this:

Adobe is integrating Barnes & Noble’s eReader social content protection technology into Adobe Content Server, Adobe Reader Mobile SDK and, eventually, into Adobe Digital Editions.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Barnes & Noble’s eReader social content protection technology — this is the eReader DRM feature, which places the eBook buyer’s name and credit card number in the eBook file. So, if you pass that file on, there’s your name and credit card number for everyone to see.

No other device aside from the Nook and those running the Barnes & Noble eReader software can deal with this form of DRM.

ePubs purchased at Barnes & Noble will “stay in Barnes & Noble.”

The only hope is that as other manufacturers — Sony, et al — update their device firmware, they will add this method of DRM to it.

It’s not just device firmware, either: Adobe Digital Editions and Sony Library will both require updating too to handle this.

In summary: The Nook can read ePub with the special (for now) Barnes & Noble “social DRM” as well as all other Adobe DRM ePub files (from public libraries or bought even from Sony’s Reader Store). The reverse is not true: No device other than the Nook right now can process the new “social DRM” scheme the Nook uses.

When will ePub again be “universal?” Adobe says by the end of 2010.

How’s that for a hell of a wait?

Additional:

Customer FAQ: Adobe and Barnes & Noble


Multi eInk eBook Device Fondle Report

December 19, 2009


Note: Crappy graphic for illustrative purposes only. Devices are not to relative sizes.

Last weekend I was frustrated in my attempt to fondle a live Barnes & Noble Nook. The only working unit was still locked away in an office and the person with the key wouldn’t arrive until 2PM that day (I was there at 10AM!).

This weekend, I went back to the same Barnes & Noble. What the hell, let’s see.

And they had two live Nooks.

After fondling the Nook, I went on to fondle three other eInk eBook devices and have drawn some conclusions some of you will find surprising.

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Sony’s Howard Stringer’s Ongoing Delusions

December 17, 2009

News Corp. to Sell Subscriptions on Sony Reader

Oh my god. Howard Stringer, blithely leading Sony to its destruction, actually said this:

We feel we’re riding to the rescue of news.

I sit here stunned, wondering what words my fingers will conjure up as my brain tries to parse the absolute imbecility and naivete of that statement.

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Sony: How Can An eBook Go Missing?

December 16, 2009

A retweet popped up today re-announcing Sony’s rechristening of its eBook store to the Reader Store.

Why am I always baited like this?

Naturally, I go to investigate. This is my curse in life: curiosity.

I go look up Ken Bruen, because he’s a writer I like and I noticed earlier that the number of books of his carried by Sony is inexcusably low.

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Quote: Steve Haber Of Sony

October 23, 2009

The Future of Reading: Learning From the Past to Thrive in the Future

[T]he purchasing process for eBooks must be simple, ownership needs to be permanent, file standards should be universal, and devices should support public libraries so that everyone has access to free content.

He’ll be in Boston. This is what he looks like:

Haber100208008

Bring your Sony Reader and a Sharpie. Have him autograph it.