L’era dei lettori di ebook extralarge e il futuro dei giornali tradizionali

Di   5 Maggio 2009
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Maggio parte con notizie relative al lancio di nuovi lettori di ebook extralarge.
Amazon presenterà il suo mercoledì 6 a New York

The last time Amazon held a press conference in New York City was in February, when it introduced the Kindle 2.0. Now the company has scheduled another one for Wednesday morning at Pace University in lower Manhattan.

Expect a new large-format device that’s optimized for reading newspapers and magazines.

Here’s the full text of the invitation that just showed up in my inbox: “We’d like to invite you to an Amazon.com press conference scheduled for Wednesday, May 6 at 10:30 am ET. The press conference is scheduled to take place at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, located at 3 Spruce Street, New York City. Doors will open for registration at 9:30 am ET.”

Engadget al solito ha già informazioni e immagini fresche

Just got some basic specs on the new, decidedly more newspaper- and college textbook-friendly Amazon Kindle DX. Here’s what we know: it’s got a 9.7-inch display (as opposed to the current six-inch unit), a long-requested built-in PDF reader, and the ability to add annotations in addition to notes and highlights — whatever that means. We’re also hearing that New York Times will be offering a $9.95 / month subscription, a little lower than the current $13.99. Honestly, that all sounds to us like this really is just a Kindle with a larger screen, not the newspaper savior it’s being hyped as, but ol’ Jeffy B. might still have surprises in store, so we’ll see. Seriously, can’t Wednesday just hurry up and get here already?

Ci si chiede in rete se device del genere serviranno a dare ossigeno ai giornali cartacei in crisi economica pesante.. Dal NYT

Perhaps most appealing about this new class of reading gadgets is the opportunity they offer publishers to rethink their strategy in a rapidly evolving digital world. The move by newspapers and magazines to make their material freely available on the Web is now viewed by many as a critical blunder that encouraged readers to stop paying for the print versions. And publishers have found that they were not prepared to deal with the recent rapid decline of print advertising revenue.

Publishers could possibly use these new mobile reading devices to hit the reset button and return in some form to their original business model: selling subscriptions, and supporting their articles with ads.

…Such a Web-connected tablet would also pose a problem for any print publications that hope to try charging for content that is tailored for mobile devices, since users could just visit their free sites on the Internet. One way to counter this might be to borrow from the cellphone model and offer specialized reading devices free or at a discount to people who commit to, say, a one-year subscription.

Then there is the possibility that all these devices from Amazon, Apple and the rest have simply not appeared in time to save many players in the troubled realm of print media.

“If these devices had been ready for the general consumer market five years ago, we probably could have taken advantage of them quickly,” said Roger Fidler, the program director for digital publishing at the University of Missouri, Columbia. “Now the earliest we might see large-scale consumer adoption is next year, and unlike the iPod it’s going to be a slower process migrating people from print to the device.”

Techcrunch è come comprensibile critico sui prezzi dei device e sull’appeal dei giornali negli ebook reader

In fact, I’d argue that it’s the much less sexy textbook business that could be the real key to this big Kindle. Textbooks are an absolute rip-off in print form, with many costing over $100 a book. If Amazon was able to offer textbooks on this large Kindle at a discount the same way it offers a discount on regular books on the regular Kindle, that would be worth the price of admission for just about every college student in the country right there. And a Kindle textbook reader makes sense because it would make bookmarking, taking notes and syncing all of those things up to the cloud, a snap.

But the number one problem with the Kindle is its price. At $360 it’s way too expensive for the average consumer to go out and buy. So how much would a Kindle with a larger screen cost? You’d have to imagine it would be more, if not significantly more. So let’s assume that it’s $500. And if it’s $500, for a device meant to read newspapers and magazines (in grayscale no less), it might as well be $10,000. Again, the only reason the Kindle is selling pretty well at its ridiculous price is because of books. Newspaper and magazine content will not mobilize users in the same way.

Speaking of mobilizing, one reason people still do enjoy newspapers is because they are very mobile. But who on Earth is going to want to take a large screen Kindle on the go? Sure, if it is also a tablet computer that has many functions, it makes sense to carry around — but again, just a device for reading newspaper content? No. And such a device, like the Kindle itself, is just a holdover until all of these devices start to merge. And that’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

Il WSJ amplia il tema proponendo altre piattaforme e altri editori

Behind the publishers’ e-reader efforts are hopes for a digital-distribution mechanism that offers new venues to expand readership and collect revenue for news and information, publishers say. The tablet-style devices play a role in the debate about charging for electronic content. Some publishers regret not charging people for newspaper and magazine subscriptions on the Web. They believe mobile devices — whether it’s the iPhone or e-readers — are new enough that consumers won’t balk at paying for the digital content.

“This channel potentially could revolutionize the consumption of content in much the same way the Internet did,” said Rob Grimshaw, managing director for the Financial Times’s Web site.

Publishers see an opening in the failings of existing electronic reading devices, the Kindle most prominently. The Kindle, introduced in 2007, has the U.S. periodical market pretty much to itself. Sony Corp.’s Reader is sold in the U.S., but it isn’t yet adapted for newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

Sony said it will launch a wireless e-reader device that can download “daily content,” and is currently in talks with publishers. A Sony official declined to say when that device would make its debut.

Gigaom non lascia speranze ai giornali cartacei: non è un problema di device, ma di modello concettuale

The eagerness with which people are assuming that Kindle HD will be a savior for the media business is striking. Comparisons are being made to the iPod, which came at a desperate time for the music industry. But while after eight years, the iPod is a megabillion-dollar business, the music industry is still in the toilet, with digital sales failing to grow fast enough to cover the drop in sales of physical CDs. The most recent reminder of that for me came last week, when I went to the Apple store to pick up an accessory and saw that the Virgin Megastore across the street in San Francisco had closed.

When it comes to the media business, why would things be any different? I’ve spent my entire working life in media — writing for newspapers, news agencies, magazines and web publications. Without a doubt, it can be painful to watch the slow and steady decay of the newspaper and media industry.

What’s more painful to watch is how unwilling so many people in this business are to come to terms with the shift the Internet has brought by wresting control of the distribution of content. The result has been the rise of blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other publishing platforms that are creating micro-brands for what I like to call the Me Media. But the Internet is not solely responsible for the demise of the core media business model; it contains critical flaws. Clay Shirky did a good job of laying out its problems earlier this year, saying: “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.” Spot on. And new business models will emerge. My ex-boss Josh Quittner of Time magazine thinks one of these models will be “appgazines — that act more like computer programs than Web or printed pages.”

James Kendrick over on jkOnTheRun captures my feelings when he writes, “This has desperation written all over this. A large Kindle is not going to stop the death spiral that newspapers are firmly in the grasp of, no matter how cool.” Indeed, Amazon would have to sell millions of these devices to even come close to racking up enough subscriptions to make up for the loss of advertising revenues. The Wall Street Journal in its report on different e-reader initiatives by news companies has this revealing paragraph: