Andersen on Andersen: "Free" Doesn't Go Far Enough

I bought Chris Andersen's book "Free" and read it cover to cover. This is notable, I think, both for the buying and the reading. First the buying: I bought it hardcover, at my local bookstore, for $26.95 plus tax (I'm sure my friends at Hyperion are pleased). It was available cheaper on Amazon, but I couldn't wait for it; it was available for Kindle ($9.99, previously free); Sony eBookstore ($11.99, or you can get a "bundle" with The Long Tail, for the same price, and I don't see why you wouldn't); it wasn't yet available for the Cool-er Reader on coolerbooks.com.

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Sony + Google: 1 Million eBooks And Counting

The eBook arms race continues.

Today Sony announced that its public domain offerings from Google in its eBook store has reached 1 million volumes. That's a lot of eBooks. For context, the Library of Congress has 32 million books and is the world's largest library; Harvard's collection is 5th largest at 15 million books. (Thanks, Wikipedia.) So we're merrily trucking along at digitizing the world's collection of books.

(By the way, if you've ever wondered how Google goes about digitizing books, check out this cool graphic from their patent.)

This news follows Barnes & Noble's announcement last week that they, too, have a partnership with Google, and will be offering their content in their eBookstore via apps on smartphones and PCs (and eventually the much anticipated Plastic Logic eReader).

Here's what I think the implications are:

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Why Spotify Needs an iPhone App to Get to Market

Spotify’s much anticipated iPhone app has been submitted to Apple for approval and certainly looks the part…in fact it almost looks too much the part.  This level of integration into the iPhone music playback experience may well be deemed by Apple to be too competitive to the core iPhone functionality. There is precedent, the Podcaster app was rejected, reportedly because it was too similar to iTunes functionality (it since developed a scaled back RSS Reader iPhone app).  The Spotify app certainly seems to mimic core iPhone music playback functionality (e.g. utilizing standard iPhone / iPod Touch playback controls) and would therefore be likely to compete with iPhone iTunes music playback. 

 

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Sicilian Musings

I'm currently on holiday in Taormina in Sicily for a couple of weeks and though I come here every year (my wife is Sicilian) I never cease to be amazed by just how different the profile of technology adoption is here compared to northern Europe. Just trying to get online over the last couple of weeks has been a case in point.

 

 I had a few pressing work tasks which I needed to do during my stay so I ensured I was well stocked up with credit on my USB modem.  Unfortunately the Italian network of my UK mobile operator didn’t seem to have read the script about discounted international data roaming fees and I managed to burn through 35 pounds of credit in 2 and a half days (which included 3 extended ‘help’ line calls – I use the term ‘help’ in the loosest possible sense - and getting a relative to buy more credit in the UK).  The fact that the download speed made a 56k modem look like Fiber just added to the pain.  Unlike my friends and family in northern Italy, the majority in Sicily don’t have home Internet connections so I have to resort to Internet cafés, the majority of which share one sub standard connection between a couple of dozen computers.  However this year I needed to connect my laptop directly and my normal Internet café of choice wouldn’t let me plug in my laptop directly.  Finally, I found one with Wi-Fi (just arrived this year) and got online.

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Our Take On Chris Anderson: Why Free Doesn't Go Far Enough

A reporter asked me yesterday whether I thought Chris Anderson was right, or whether I thought he was too glib. I don't think an either/or question.

What I've come to realize while researching and writing reports like our paid content forecast is that yes, free can be a business model--but only for much, much smaller businesses than most media companies as they exist today, with their Manhattan skyscrapers or sprawling Hollywood studios, thousands of employees, unions, factories, warehouses, and debt obligations.

So Anderson is right, but not right enough to be much comfort to the media companies on which we depend.

Here's why. In the digital world:

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WSJ: Publishers Delay eBook Releases; Our Advice To Publishers

Jeffrey Trachtenberg and Geoffrey Fowler's article in the Wall Street Journal today really got me thinking. Trachtenberg and Fowler report that some publishers are withholding the release of eBooks until the hardcover printing has run its course--which we see as the latest manifestation of publishers' shock and denial of the digital revolution and the catastrophic change it will wreak on their industry.

In the article, the reporters quote a literary agent comparing eBooks to DVDs, arguing that the film industry would never release a DVD at the same time as a theater release, so why should publishers cannibalize hardcover sales by releasing eBooks simultaneously? Well, here's why we think publishers are wrong:

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