Monday, September 01, 2008

Media Week 35

The E-Book comes to England and Timesonline is there to mark the occasion:
Electronic books have had a lot of false dawns. People have had the ability to download books to their computers, phones and other handheld devices for years but so far, in the West at least, few have chosen to do so. This week Waterstone’s will be hoping to usher in a new chapter in reading when it helps to bring the Sony Reader to the UK. The Reader is smaller than a hardback, can store up to 160 e-books, comes with a screen that is more restful to read than a computer’s and a battery good for 6,800 continuous page turns — enough power to read War and Peace five times.

German publisher Bauer is a little known lesser version of Bertelsmann (Guardian):
Given the size of the company - in 2007 it was projected to turn over €1.79bn - it is surprising just how little leaks out of Bauer; publicly available information could fit on a side of A4. In fact, one morning after the takeover, Emap employees found a company biography of exactly that size on their desks: Bauer is a family-run company that owns 238 magazines in 15 countries and is now the largest consumer magazine publisher in the UK. It has TV and radio interests internationally too, with 12 million listeners in the UK following the Emap acquisition - and Magic in particular is now performing well at breakfast time with Neil Fox. They have been told little else since.

Apollo enters the bidding for Reed Magazines (Reuters). And they have apparently allowed the bidders to re-submit their order of magnitude estimates of purchase price. Certain bidders said this was needed because not enough information was available. Bids all fell but no indication that this had anything to do with current business performance. (Guardian)
The re-bids, not officially a second round, were allowed because bidders felt they were not provided enough information on the business in the first round, the sources said. After being presented with more information, the newer bids came in "slightly lower" than those in the first round, one of the sources said. All bids were non-binding. Yet more information on the unit is expected to be provided to bidders in the next few days, and a final round of offers will likely be due in early October, one source said. Reed put the unit on the block in February to reduce exposure to cyclical advertising markets.

If I had less important things to do I would have commented on how everyone is falling over themselves to anticipate Kindle revenue or where they will strike next. (Almost) Thankfully no new Kindle this year. NYTimes:
Talk of a new version of the Kindle e-book reader, aimed at college students, has been echoing around the blogosphere and has even reached your dutifully vacationing Bits correspondent. I asked Craig Berman, Amazon’s chief spokesman, for comment on a possible Kindle 2.0, and Thursday he responded
Why would a student who carries their whole life around on their Mac want to augment that with the (un)iconic Kindle? Jobs must be laughing his head off. More from ArsTechnica before Amazon announced there would not be a new Kindle.
It's this "new" version of the Kindle that will appeal to students the most, assuming Amazon decides to go ahead and pursue that market. There are other changes that have to happen with not only the Kindle but the e-book market in order for a "textbook" Kindle to be a hit with students, however. Continued price drops for e-books will help, as they'll be more attractive to students who currently resell their used textbooks at the end of each semester. A large inventory of textbooks will also help (there's no use in getting a Kindle for textbooks if you can only get one or two books on it), and the addition of student-friendly features (such as the ability to make annotations) would round out the list of things that would make such a thing appealing to students. Oh, and a low price would help too.
I don't get why a) this needs to be a 'special' version and b) why this is an opportunity given the lack of formatted content and c) I guess trade isn't actually driving millions in unit sales? For the educational publishers however a bonus, since they will have watched from the sidelines as trade publishers have performed muppet like as they annouced sucessive Kindle initiatives.

Lastly this from Frank Rich in the NYTimes:
We [Journos], too, are made anxious and fearful by hard economic times and the prospect of wrenching change. YouTube, the medium that has transformed our culture and politics, didn’t exist four years ago. Four years from now, it’s entirely possible that some, even many, of the newspapers and magazines covering this campaign won’t exist in their current form, if they exist at all. The Big Three network evening newscasts, and network news divisions as we now know them, may also be extinct by then. It is a telling sign that CBS News didn’t invest in the usual sky box for its anchor, Katie Couric, in Denver. It is equally telling that CNN consistently beat ABC and CBS in last week’s Nielsen ratings, and NBC as well by week’s end. But now that media are being transformed at a speed comparable to the ever-doubling power of microchips, cable’s ascendancy could also be as short-lived as, say, the reign of AOL. Andrew Rasiej, the founder of Personal Democracy Forum, which monitors the intersection of politics and technology, points out that when networks judge their success by who got the biggest share of the television audience, “they are still counting horses while the world has moved on to counting locomotives.” The Web, in its infinite iterations, is eroding all 20th-century media.

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