Android 3.0 to power future Tablet PC’s

Android 3.0 to power future Tablet PC’s

Google Android 2.2 may just be an afterthought in most developers of Tablet and Slate PC’S pipelines as Android 3.0 seems to be the more ideal preference.

Many Tablet and PC companies new products will be launching in the last quarter of this year, and Android 3.0 is set to debut around October.

One of the more prominent companies that are sound proponents of the future version of Android is Motorola . Rumored specifications are scarce of this Droid, with 512MB RAM, an ARM processor, and microSD expandable memory. They are looking to make their first foray into the Tablet market around November.

Another company bypassing Android 2.0 to 2.2 is Notion Ink . According to a recent blog entry by the company CEO Rohan Shravan, he said this to say; “There is a big Gingerbread confusion around in the meeting rooms here. Its tricky to explain you all as well. That OS will be lot more superior than 2.2. And there ARE few products hitting with 3.0 soon. It needs to be evaluated that what does that mean. The window is really small for 2.2 devices.”

These two companies are the first ones to publically proclaim that they are shifting to Google 3.0 instead of 2.2, and many more companies with new Tablets coming out at the end of the year, have to be looking at this as “the standard for Android” Companies such as LG, Asus, Toshiba and other companies.

Android 3.0 impact on Slates in the design phase of their product development is very important. What is the main difference in Android 3.0? In essence it focus’s on tablets. It has a strict set of minimum requirements for the hardware such as; 1 GHZ CPU, 512 MB of RAM, and a display screen greater then 3.5 inches. It also gives a boost to the resolution, with a bump up to 1280 X 760. We have all heard the rumors of the next gen of smart phones packaged with a 2 GHZ processor, so tablet manufacturers will go with a higher CPU.

You will see Google Android in future development around October of this year for it to be split into 2 branche. 3.0 for top of the line/high end devices. Cheap, low-end mass market handsets will keep Android 2.1/2.2

There is also murmurings that 3.0 will kill companies custom shells that they make for their devices. If you look at the Dell Streak tablet that showed up in the UK last month and will make the North American Jump in August, it was packaged with Android 1.6 and has a custom interface. They have promised upgrades for 2.2 available in September. Other companies that do custom GUI for their devices include; HTC Sense, MotoBlur, and others.

One of the big drawbacks of companies resistence to upgrade Google Android is because they have massively complex Shells, or GUI’s and upgrading them is an arduous adventure. With the eliminate of custom shells with the Google 3.0 update, it will uniform a standard operating system on smartphones, but more importantly Tablet PCS.

With the rise of a more uniform operating system, it will allow for more complex Android Applications that can function as Widgets, and GUI add on’s done by the community, which would be viable on all platforms using Android. This is a boon for the independant developers that make their living on applications, and having the ‘de facto’ standard of apps, would open up a much wider market.

A fair number of companies that use their own shell, usually have their own app market place, or company portal of recommended apps. They do this partly because many apps do not work on their devices, because of the custom Shell. Android 3.0 would eliminate the need for companies to suppor their applications and allow for a more public forum.

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Android 3.0 to power future Tablet PC’s

Indie Authors Are Spending Too Much Time On Social Self-Promotion

Indie Authors Are Spending Too Much Time On Social Self-Promotion

There are thousands of eBooks released every single week by indie authors and sometimes they feel a need to stand out in the crowd. Most turn to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or participate in the Goodreads community. Some people think that authors are spending too much time on social self-promotion at the expense of honing their craft.

In a recent BBC interview, author Jonathan Franzen lamented, “What I find particularly alarming, again, from the point of view I care about, American fiction, is that it’s a coercive development. Agents will now tell young writers: ‘I won’t even look at your manuscript if you don’t have followers on Twitter’. I see people who ought to be spending their time developing their craft and people who used to be able to make their living as freelance writers. I see them making nothing, and I see them feeling absolutely coerced into this constant self-promotion.”

In a recent article in The Guardian, Nesrine Mailk said, “A distinguished British author and historian recently told me in a private conversation that his publisher had forced him to go on Twitter in order to promote his latest book. Having joined just for this purpose, his timeline was an unbroken litany of self-advertisement. He soon realized that the constant promotion was backfiring, and that his ‘brand’ was being tarnished as followers were beginning to snipe at his hitherto exalted status. Indeed, the whole exercise was creating the impression that he was a pompous bore whose brash self-promotion did not match the profundity of his work – but he did not know how to rectify that.”

Barbra Freethy recommends to avoid social media distractions altogether, and just to write the next book. “I’ve seen writers waste too much time planning Facebook parties and posting on Twitter. All of that is important, but the best thing you can do for yourself and your growing fan base is to write the next book. It’s much easier to sell the third, fourth, fifth, sixth book, then the first or second. I try to limit marketing to no more than an hour a day and the rest is spent on writing. You have to prepare for the long haul. You don’t have to sell all your books in a week or a month. You’re going to be selling your books for years, so spend time making them really good, and the readership will grow!”

The only thing that can be counted on to enhance your visibility as a writer is to interact with readers in a real, honest, and generous way. If you are dead bent on using social media, focus all of your energies on a singular platform. Hugh Howey said he focused on the readers he already had instead of trolling the universe for more. When you create the kind of goodwill and loyal fan base he has, word of mouth spreads about your books. That way, you get those “1000 true fans” instead of amassing pointless lists of numbers.

Instead of focusing all of your marketing efforts on Twitter and Facebook it is important to establish your brand. You simply cannot do this from scratch and I recommend to join RedRoom, SheWrites, Wattpad, or myWANA—sites where both readers and writers congregate and foster meaningful dialogue.

Failing that, you can take the advice of Bret Easton Ellis ‘s friend, who reportedly told him at the Vanity Fair Oscars’ party: “You need to get off Twitter. People think you’re crazy.”

Indie Authors Are Spending Too Much Time On Social Self-Promotion

Seven Years of Digital Publishing: What Have We Learned?

Seven Years of Digital Publishing: What Have We Learned?

The Digital Landscape

Seven years after the launch of the iPod touch and the opportunities for interactivity it brought to digital publishers, what have magazine publishers learned? We know that app consumption is continuing to rise and that time spent with mobile apps now exceeds desktop web access. According to Gartner, 800 million tablets will be sold in 2015. It’s not unlikely that emerging countries will go directly to tablets, bypassing desktop computers and even laptops entirely.

Making content available on tablets has become as important as having a website. That need is increasing worldwide. Tablets’ and smartphones’ market share is not the only important factor: technology adoption is a key point, too. Some countries show a widespread use of smartphones but not a lot of app downloads. When choosing the platform they want to distribute on, publishers have to determine where consumers are the most active and if they buy content or only access what is available for free. That’s why Apple represents an important platform: iTunes is one of the first places to distribute digital content. If it’s not necessarily the distribution platform with the most important or largest volume, it is the most profitable one. And for media publishers, this is a key point – but not the only one to take into consideration.

Digital is a fast-changing market, and publishers have to accelerate their process. New versions of tablets and smartphones appear every six months, so publishers need to be up-to-date and ready to evolve to the next important platform. The adoption rate of digital reading is growing so as the benefits from additional platforms such as Android, Kobo and Amazon. That’s why it’s necessary for publishers to go multi-platform. But how can you go digital and multi-platform amongst the challenges many magazine publishers now face, and without increasing costs?

Lessons From Successful Publishers

As a technology provider for digital publishing since the beginning, we, at Aquafadas, have seen successful magazine publishers that are leading the way. They start by analyzing their market as well as the general public. They want to know who their target audience is, when they are connected, what kind of information they are looking for, what level of enrichments they enjoy. Based on that information, they plan a digital strategy, taking into account not only year one, but also year two. That means that they don’t publish one single amazing and super-expensive app – they develop a plan to publish on an industrial scale.

These publishers keep cost recovery in mind; they want to build a wealthy digital market for themselves. Because digital publishing is less expensive than print, this part is not as tricky as it may sound. Some publishers were able to recover their costs simply by offering the digital version for one more dollar to their current print subscribers or by sourcing one single sponsor. Because those publishers want to sell their digital content and therefore benefit from it, they are attentive to the reading experience and to how they can add enrichments and further enhance the app in the future.

The marketing of the app is the other important part of many publishers’ success. Communication around the launch of the app is key. Building a digital community is also a factor of longevity. The most successful publishers make community development a big part of their digital publishing strategy. They leverage digital publishing technology to interact with the community on a regular basis and in a clever way. Features like account creation, push notifications, profiling and more allow them to understand digital readers’habits and form better relationships by delivering the right content when and where they want it.

Whats next?

As technology progresses, we can see boundaries between the various media blur even further; it’s vital that we are ready for these changes. TV, radio, mobile and web will eventually converge, and asset-centric tools will leverage associated metadata (content, video, audio, still image) to create incredible user experiences with no limits. At Aquafadas, we are witnessing an exciting change in our market, and it’s thrilling to be part of it.

Seven Years of Digital Publishing: What Have We Learned?

Bookstores: Survival of the Fittest

Bookstores: Survival of the Fittest
From the mega-chains to storefront hometown locations, bookstores as a whole are floundering. Some sites are even keeping a running death knell, announcing the demise of more bookstores almost every day. Borders is out, Barnes and Noble is still in negotiations with Liberty Media that are rumored to be stalled over a lack of reliable financing, and indie book stores struggle to keep up with Amazon and the digital revolution.

Some brick-and-mortar stores, however, are still thriving by adapting to the demands of a new market. Book Nook in Sylacauga, Alabama, so-named before the e-reader device of the same name, has maintained its hometown business by specializing in older collectible books, while Vroman’ s, Southern California’s oldest independent bookstore, continues to attract customers coming with several author appearances a week, education classes, art exhibits, and more.

One of the best models of literary adaptation may have to be Canada’s Indigo Books , who has managed to maintain sales in the digital book age. From the start, Indigo worked with e-reader force Kobo , helping the digital leader increase sales from just over $800,000 in its first year to well over $60 million up to April of this year. Rather than fight against the trend towards e-books, Indigo embraced it, despite its origin as a print bookstore. They’ve also shifted some of the focus to encompass not just books, but toys, games, and soon, home décor.

At this year’s BookExpo America , Barnes and Noble’s Theresa Horner, VP of Digital Content, detailed how the leading brick-and-mortar book selling chain has incorporated ebooks into its in-store model. Nook owners receive special discount offers and incentives when they enter a Barnes and Noble location with their devices. In addition, Nook users can read any ebook in the entire catalog for free, as long as they are in the store; this model has taught Nook consumers that they still need the old fashioned bookstore, while translating into increased sales for B&N in products besides books.

As publishing industry executives continue to promise that print and digital will prosper side-by-side, this evolution of what consumers expect from a bookstore will continue to adapt in order to stave off extinction.

Bookstores: Survival of the Fittest

Why Was Agency Pricing Established? To Save Our Bookstores

Why Was Agency Pricing Established? To Save Our Bookstores

Over the course of the last five years, e-commerce giant Amazon has definitively captured the vast majority of the ebook market. When Apple decided to launch its iBooks digital storefront in 2010, the company needed an edge to be competitive. Steve Jobs met with executives from Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, Harper Collins, Random House, and Simon and Shuster. They ironed out a scheme that would level the playing field and establish ebook pricing that all resellers had to abide by. This allowed Apple to gain traction with its new digital bookstore and allowed smaller retailers to offer the same pricing as Amazon. The US Justice Department took exception to this collusion and a lengthy court battle has ensued. One by one, every single publisher has settled out of court and only Apple remains in a proxy battle against Amazon.

Amazon has long controlled the ebook market and stiffed competitors by offering electronic books cheaper than the competition. The company would buy digital books in bulk and sell it below cost, which ruffled the feathers of all the major publishers. The public started to ask “Why should I pay $30 for a hardcover, when I can buy the ebook for $9.99?”

What new company on the market could afford to sell books at a loss, in order to compete against Amazon? There is no way a small start-up could have the deep pockets to buy enough ebooks in bulk and not go out of business. Apple is playing the hero, saying it has no intention with settling with the court and reserves the rights to conduct its business the way it sees fit.

The EU and US Justice Department both stated that the agency model as a whole is not the problem, it’s how the process was established. Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President in charge of competition policy at the European Commission, said “While each separate publisher and each retailer of ebooks are free to choose the type of business relationship they prefer, any form of collusion to restrict or eliminate competition is simply unacceptable.” You can think of what Apple did as establishing a “price fixing cartel,”  which is illegal in the EU and mostly in the US, too.

In 2013, the Agency pricing model is all but dead. The vast majority of the big six publishers have all re-negotiated contracts with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Kobo. eBooks can be discounted once again by 15% of the cover price, but you won’t see the large gulf in prices as before. This is partly because the entire digital industry has really grown up in a short period of time. The entire global industry was said to have garnered over $854 million dollars in 2012, and many publishers now see 21% of their revenue stem from online books.

Do you know the real reason the agency model was implemented in the first place? Sure, Apple played a small role in putting all the major players in one room, but all of those companies were not doing it to help Apple or stop Amazon. The real reason, that no one talks about, is that drastically slashed ebooks were destroying public perception of the cost of digital vs. the cost of print.

The major publishers had all agreed that if the public perception was that ebooks were dramatically cheaper than their printed counterparts, then people wouldn’t buy them. Establishing a common ground for digital pricing meant that they could control the pricing for both the tangible and intangible and make sure the physical bookstore would continue to survive. Regrettably, this decision came too late to save the stores they were trying to protect.

The Death of the Modern Bookstore

Why Was Agency Pricing Established? To Save Our Bookstores

Borders bookstore started its first location forty years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The world of book selling and publishing was a very different place, and is a case study on what the entire industry was doing wrong. In the 1990’s, the chain was facing declining revenues and decided to spice things up by selling CD’s. This was around the same time the Apple iPod first came out and customers were gravitating towards the digital space. Borders was stuck with storefronts that were expanded to sell media that was not profitable and put a hefty financial  burden on the company.

Borders heard about the whole ebook revolution that was occurring and decided to get in bed with Amazon to turn its fortunes around. When you visited the Borders eBook page you were re-directed to the Kindle Bookstore.  This encouraged people to buy all of their content from Amazon, Borders would not really see any cumulative digital revenue from digital purchases. Next, they turned to Kobo, who was all to happy to give Borders commission for every digital copy sold. This put Kobo in bed with Borders and the two sides signed off on an exclusive distribution agreement for the US.

By 2011, Borders was on the verge of collapse and its attempts to turn its prospects around were futile. The company ended up filing for bankruptcy in late 2011, shuttering 300 stores and putting 11,000 employees out of work. The main  contributing factors that destroyed the company were not developing its own e-reader (like rival Barnes and Noble did), and not developing its own ebook ecosystem. Borders instead relied on selling low-margin hardware and made next to nothing on ebook sales. The day Borders assets were auctioned off, news broke that ebooks have outsold print for the first time.

When Borders was going through liquidation, the exclusive contract it established with Kobo hung in limbo for almost a year and a half. This was the main reason the USA market never really opened up for the company. It simply could not legally do business with any other major retailers to put the Kobo WIFI and Kobo Vox on the shelves. This was the only confirmed occurrence of a bookstore going under and taking a digital company along with it.

The United States is not the only market that has felt the effects of the burgeoning ebook industry. All around the world, major bookstore chains have been going out of business. Whitcoulls, Angus & Robertson, and parent company REDgroup all closed up shop in 2011. Senator Sherry in Australia said at the time, “the dramatic growth of internet book sales had reached a tipping point that would soon leave just a few specialty bookstores operating in capital cities.” She also predicted that “Bookshops will be wiped off the map inside five years.”

Europe Largely Immune to eBooks Cannibalizing Tangible Book Sales

Why Was Agency Pricing Established? To Save Our Bookstores

As much as people talk about the “death of the bookstore,” the problem is mainly contained to North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

In France, there are only 1.4 million tablets being used and most are used to consume media and not read books. The e-reader population is generally paltry with only 145,000 registered devices. Kindle and Kobo currently dominate the landscape and it is much easier to procure the Kobo Touch, which is distributed by Fnac. In 2010, e-readers never really gained much traction due to an influx of substandard ones from Cool-ER, Bookeen, and Cybook. Major publishers such as Hachette have claimed that only 2% of their digital sales stem from France. Bookstores, such as Fnac, Gibert Joseph , and Flammarion , do quite well and have over 400 stores combined.

The German market is facing a lot of the same issues as France. e-Reader and digital publishing companies are finding it hard to get one of the largest markets in Europe to adopt ebooks. This is not from a lack of trying, both tablets and e-readers first hit Germany in 2009, but they have remained a fringe niche. The biggest challenge is that 78% of the population claim not to want to read from a screen, while 85% say they love printed books too much. The entire country has a very established publishing industry, and the second largest book market in the world. It was estimated that in 2011 that the entire book industry was worth 9.73bn Euros. Chains like Thalia, Verlagsgruppe Weltbild, and Hugendubel account for over 700 physical stores.

Spain is seeing a wider adoption of digital publishing and over 75% of all publishers are employing an ebook strategy. There are an estimated one million tablets and e-readers currently being used in Spain, with over 285k e-readers sold in 2011. Libranda is one of the largest ebook distribution platforms that was founded by the big three publishers in Spain: Grupo Planeta, Random House Mondadori, and Santillana. One of the largest concerns in Spain right now is the price of ebooks in general. If you look at the VAT prices on printed books it currently sits at 4% while ebooks are much more expensive at 17%. The high taxes have been a large barrier in mainstream adoption of digital content. The entire Spanish bookstore scene is as vibrant as ever.

The ebook market was worth about 18m Euro in 2010 (0.6% of the industry), with no more than 90,000 ebooks in various formats – many PDFs included. Max 8% of printed books are available as ebooks, though many of the main European publishers have built content distribution platforms like Numilog (Hachette), ePlatforme (Editis), and Eden (Gallimard/Flammarion/La Martiniere).

The United Kingdom is one of the only European countries to see a profound change in the bookstore landscape because of digital sales. The main victims are small and medium sized stores, while the chains continue to do well. There are only 2,178 high street bookshops in Britain as of July 2011. Back in 2005 there were 4,000, and this has left almost 580 towns without a single bookstore. There were two major contributing factors, one was the shift to digital and the other was super market chains getting into the book business.

The major bookstore chains, such as Waterstone’s, Blackwell’s, WH Smith, and Foyles have largely been immune to the e-reader and ebook revolution.  All of these companies started offering e-readers and ebooks when they first started getting popular in 2009. In recent years all of these shops have inked deals with Kobo, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble to sell devices and get a cut out of each digital sale. This has allowed continued digital revenue to be generated, rather then just the initial sale of the hardware.

Nielsen BookScan shows physical book sales in the UK have declined every year since hitting a peak of £1.8bn in 2007 – the year the final Harry Potter installment landed in bookshops. In the first 10 months of 2012, printed book sales were down 3.5% year on year in volume terms and 5.5% by value. Overall digital sales of general consumer titles  increased from £30m to £84m between January-June 2011 and 2012. These increases reflect overall growth of 89.1% in digital sales (from £77m to £145m.)

Agency Is Dead, Now What?

Why Was Agency Pricing Established? To Save Our Bookstores

There is no denying that ebook sales in most developed countries are consistently rising and some markets are enjoying robust sales. Now that major online retailers can once again establish discounts on new and backlist titles, bookstores will have to struggle even more. It is very hard for a mom and pop shop to have to sell a book at the listed cover price, while a competitor lists it online for 1/3 of the cost. Still, indie bookstores do have alternatives than just offering price.

The American Booksellers Association and UK Booksellers Association have all inked deals with Google, which never really worked out. In 2012, they started to do business with Rakuten owned Kobo. The essence of this program is that it allows small shop owners to sell e-readers, ebooks, and have access to marketing materials. Small bookstores have seen a rise in business with the sale of hardware and the commutative digital commissions they receive when a customer purchases a digital book.

If indie stores belong to each booksellers association, they can opt into this new program and it is in Kobo’s best interest to keep the bookstores alive, whether small or large. The company has quickly grown in market stature, partly due to all of the agreements they made with stores all over the world. Kobo’s success has been partnering with as many bookseller associations and getting hardware into as many stores as possible. This is the only company that has a vested interest in the survival of the bookstores, if they sink, so does Kobo.

Small stores all over Canada, US, and the UK are going out of business. You would be hard-pressed to go a few weeks, without one closing in your town. The trend I have noticed is all the stores that close resisted digital to their dying breath, or just wonder where all the people have gone. Small and medium sized bookstores HAVE to embrace digital if they hope to survive at all.

Wrap Up

Why Was Agency Pricing Established? To Save Our Bookstores

Digital Retailers are seeing record levels of business! Kobo reported 4 million new customers within the last six months to bring its total to more than 12 million. On the worldwide stage, Kobo now controls around 20% of the entire e-reader market and is poised to continue its accelerated growth patterns in 2013. Amazon sold $383 million worth of ebooks in 2012 and controls 45% of the global market. Barnes and Noble is thought to control 25% of the US market and generated over 3 billion dollars with Nook hardware and ebooks in 2012. B&N announced yesterday that the store sales were down 10% in the December quarter from the same quarter a year ago—driven in part by an 8.2% drop in store sales—and the company plans to shutter 30% of its retail stores in the next decade.

Industry Specialists agree that e-reader sales are on the downward trend, as the public is gravitating towards tablets. Research firm iSupply notes that e-reader sales hit their peak and are being outpaced by iOS and Android powered tablets. The hardware is changing from dedicated e-ink readers to multipurpose tablets. Aside from the shift in technology, the one consistent fact is that ebooks, digital magazines, and digital newspapers are seeing increasing profits, and will continue to do so.

There is no denying that the agency model is dead and online resellers can price war with each other in a bid for your digital dollars. The brick and motor stores in the US, Australia, UK, and New Zealand are all seeing declining print sales across the board. The bookstore, as we know it, is on the ropes and will see a dramatic scaling back in new stores opening.  People are gravitating towards digital and the abolishment of the agency model effectively put another nail in the coffin.

Why Was Agency Pricing Established? To Save Our Bookstores

Why Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble Need Dedicated Self-Publishing Sections

Why Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble Need Dedicated Self-Publishing Sections

Many of the leading digital book stores all offer self-publishing programs. Kindle Direct Publishing, Nook Press and Kobo Writing Life all are viable platforms for indie authors to submit and sell their eBooks on a worldwide scale. Even Apple has got into the game by pulling curated content directly from Smashwords. All of these stores have a single thing in common, they list self-published titles side by side with traditionally published books. This is not a viable long-term strategy and these stores need to revise their approach.

A recent firestorm has erupted due to hundreds of adult eBooks with topics ranging from threesomes to incest are being listed in the same category as kids books. This has resulted in UK bookstore WH Smith shuttering their entire online bookstore. Kobo is has deleting close to a thousand titles on their platform and giving a scolding to the vanity presses who are responsible. Amazon and Barnes and Noble are addressing this issue in their own way, but are not publicly divulging anything.

Why hasn’t the industry embraced a dedicated self-publishing section and instead are listing the books right beside traditional published content? We have asked this very question to all of these companies at Book Expo America, Future Book and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Most have said their is no distinction between a self-published title and one done with a major publisher. A self-published section by its very nature might have a negative condentation. The bookstores basically have a vested interest in selling indie titles intermixed with everything else, because they make their commissions either way.

I think its very important for all major bookstores to have an indie section because small publishers and indie authors are abusing the system. I have seen many duplicate content with different titles and cover art listed in different categories in order to be visible. You might have an hardcore erotic book listed in Romance, Paranormal, Mystery and Thriller. Indies know that the more categories you are in, the more likely you will sell more titles. In other cases indie authors are stuffing their description and meta data with specific keywords to try and get their book to show up amidst popular searches. You even now have authors changing their pen name and book title to be very similar to popular authors. E.B James is one example of an author who capitalized on the whole 50 Shades of Grey gravy-train.

Major Publishers such as Penguin and S&S have seen their digital revenue increase to 24% within the last year. eBooks are doing nothing but generating more money and self-publishing is on the rise. With more titles being added every day by anyone with a word-processor the old way of listing the titles in the bookstore are not cutting it anymore. The firestorm about Kobo, WHSmith and adult content is nothing new, these books have been there for a longtime. If digital bookstores continue to maintain the status quo this can be an even bigger problem within a few years. eBook discovery will suffer and parents who buy innocently sounding books like “Daddy’s Playtime” might scar their kids for life.

Why Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble Need Dedicated Self-Publishing Sections

Pocketbook in a Precarious Predicament Due to Crowded e-Reader Market

Pocketbook in a Precarious Predicament Due to Crowded e-Reader Market

Pocketbook USA is in a precarious position for the first time and runs the risk of seeing tremendous lack of revenue due to a crowded e-reader market. The company is seeking to stay relevant in a very competitive North American market dominated by Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Kobo. These companies can offer steep discount on their e-readers which puts pressure on a independent company trying to stay afloat.

Pocketbook has been in business for over four years and has issued many e-readers and tablet computers. The hardware is sound, frequently offering WIFI, Stereo Speakers and a solid build design. The company lacks three primary factors that contribute towards their lack of success in the business market.

The two main concerns with Pocketbook is the cost of the units. The average price for their e-reader is from $180 to $500. This pricing model is too high for most people to afford and they end up switching to cheaper models. This is mainly due to higher importer rates from Europe where the e-readers are manufactured and ultimately distributed to other markets for resale. Another huge concern is the lack of a ebook ecosystem. Most devices that do well in the market offer an ‘all in one’ solution. They offer the hardware and an expansive bookstore for people to purchase magazines, newspapers and ebooks. Pocketbook has a paltry selection of international books via their “Book World” portal that mainly has open source books and not very viable towards your average reader. Lastly, Pocketbook simply has no visibility in North America or in a retail environment. Many companies such as Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble sell their e-readers at major big box retailers like Walmart and Best Buy. You can even find them within bookstores and electronics chains. It is so easy to buy one online or walk to a retail location and purchase one. Pocketbook is not sold in any stores, although they have experimented with Kiosk locations. With no real marketing budget and being virtually unseen in the retail sector, it is easy to see where things are going awry.

One of the first signs that the company was in trouble when they did not attend the popular CES show in Las Vegas earlier this year. Pocketbook has been as staple at the conference for many years and did not have a booth or token delegation. Their new A7 Tablet PC has been pushed back for another six to eight weeks and is currently in limbo. Sources at the company have told us that they have sold less then 20 units in the last three months and are being strangled in the market by lower cost devices.

The company hopes to turn things around by establishing relationships with Chinese manufacturers. They intend on buying very low end devices and marketing them for $75 to $120 to appeal to a broader demographic.

Pocketbook in a Precarious Predicament Due to Crowded e-Reader Market