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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Price drop fuels Kindle sales

Originally written for eBookGuru - The Digital Magazine Devoted to eBooks

Amazon.com issued a press release on Monday (July 19th) stating that they have

“… reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle–the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189″

Regardless of whether it was the introduction of the iPad (which as I asserted in a previous post [The $50 eReader] hasn’t - and won’t - hurt Kindle sales) or the lower price point on the Kobo, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have recently reduced their eReader prices.

So what’s next?

The Kobo, while still a viable alternative, needs to lower it’s price point in order to make up for the lack of wireless connectivity. It recently received a favorable review from Engadget

“…its thinness, lightness, and comfort in the hand is far and away its strongest feature, and one that it beats a lot of its more robust competition prettily handily.”

“The rubbery “quilted” back is tacky enough that you can hold the 6-incher comfortably with just one hand, a move we’ve never perfected with the Nook, Kindle 2, or iPad.”

“Kobo’s device is, in practice, pretty awesome feeling”

but Engadget also mentions the lack of wireless access, calling it a

“huge drawback..”

It will be interesting to see who makes the next move, especially now that Sony has reduced the price of the Pocket Edition of their eReader to $149 as well. Of the 3 eReaders priced at $149 - the Kobo, the Sony Pocket Edition, and the Nook, only the Nook has wireless access in the form of Wi-Fi. Despite it’s bare bones approach, the Kobo clearly has an edge in usability. Combine this with a price drop and some firmware tweaks and the Kobo has the potential to become the eReader of choice for the budget conscious reader.

Also of interest in the press release is the increase in sales of Kindle eBooks.

Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books.This is across Amazon.com’s entire U.S. book business and includes sales of hardcover books where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.

Due to it’s proprietary format the Kindle is the only reader capable of reading Kindle eBooks which makes it easier to track usage of the Kindle. As I stated in the previous post (RIP Cool-er?) the AAP reports growing sales of eBooks in 2010 vs. 2009. The Amazon press release makes reference to this, stating that

“Kindle book sales in May and year-to-date through May exceeded those growth rates.”

Other interesting stats provided in the press release:

On July 6, Hachette announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million e-books to date. Of those, 867,881 were Kindle books. [76%]

Five authors–Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts–have each sold more than 500,000 Kindle books.

Clearly other eReaders have their work cut out for them if these stats are any indication of overall eBooks sales. All the other eReaders together, all of which support the more open ePub format, appear to account for fewer eBook sales than the Kindle alone. Of course the Kindle has the dual advantage of Amazon marketplace and easy, instant access to that marketplace via Whispernet.

I envision even more changes in the eReader market in the near term, especially given that 2 major sales opportunities remain for 2010 - back to school and Christmas.

Who knows? Perhaps we see a $99 eReader before the end of the year.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RIP Cool-er?

Originally written for eBookGuru - The Digital Magazine Devoted to eBooks

I first wrote about the Cool-er eReader (Price Matters) about a year ago but even then the prognosis didn’t sound good, especially after Wired Magazine paned the reader.

“Cool-er E-Book Reader Leaves Us Feeling So Very Cold”

The one thing that the Cool-er did have going for it was price but with the recent proliferation of eReaders that apparently wasn’t enough, especially with the way the increased competition has resulted in a price war of sorts.

There’s hasn’t been much press on the Cool-er since it’s release - the release of the iPad from Apple, not to mention the Nook and the Kobo eReader - seemed to have dominated the news. However a quick search seems to indicate that the problems that plagued the Cool-er weren’t fixed.

As a result, while it is disappointing to learn that Interead, the company behind Cool-er, has been ordered to to wind-up it’s business, it is not all that surprising. eReaders and eBooks are a tough sell and a substandard product just won’t cut it - not unless the price differential is substantial.

The AAP - Association of American Publishers - reports in their May Statistics Press Release

“Year-To-Date E-book sales of the 13 submitting publishers to that category currently comprise 8.48 % of the total trade books market, compared to 2.89% percent for the same period last year”

Clearly eBooks are becoming more popular, helped in large part by the publicity surrounding the iPad and Apple’s foray into the eBook market with iBooks. With almost 300% growth year over year, there is obviously room for more than many players in the eBook market.

Unfortunately it appears that Cool-er will not be one of them.

posted by David at 1:01 am  

Monday, July 19, 2010

Venus Inferno

Originally posted on Champagne Books Blog

Click cover for an Excerpt from Chapter One

Venus Inferno comes out very shortly and I’m very excited by it. It represents a couple of firsts for me and one second.

It is my very first - but probably not my last - novella. I rather enjoyed this shorter format, although at times it was difficult to restrain myself from dropping an element into the story that would come up later. There wasn’t going to be a later so if I wanted to say something, I had to say it now. I also didn’t get the chance to interweave very much social commentary into the story, which I missed more than the chance to expand on the storyline.

It is also the very first story I wrote in the first person, which was very usual. I’m used to the third person and being able to provide different vantage points to allow the reader insight into what is happening. It is also odd using the personal pronoun ‘I’ all the time. One can’t help but to identify with the main character. Admittedly this is an occupational hazard for writers but even more so in this case.

Venus Inferno represents my second published work with Champagne books. Hopefully there will be many more but having a second story accepted and published make it seem all the more real.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about Venus Inferno was that all of the main technology there is real.

Ion drives are real. They are slow compared to chemical rockets but they do exist.

Tellurium is real. It really is one of the nine rarest minerals on earth and it really does fall as snow on Venus.

Thermoelectric Materials are also real. And tellurium - in the form of bismuth telluride and lead telluride - really is a working element of thermoelectric devices.

Who knows? Maybe one day in the future they will be as commonplace as they are in Venus Inferno.

Let’s hope so.

posted by David at 11:59 pm  

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Review for The Gender Divide

Just got a new review for The Gender Divide from The Scattering.

Review is in 3 parts - Now Reading, Meet the New Boss (hysterical - made me laugh out loud when I read it), and Verdict.

Now Reading - http://thescattering.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/now-reading-the-gender-divide-by-david-boultbee/

Meet the New Boss - http://thescattering.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/meet-the-new-boss-review-the-gender-divide/

Verdict - http://thescattering.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/verdict-the-gender-divide-by-david-boultbee/

Some quotable lines

In the tradition of other socially-conscious science fiction, Boultbee’s novel incorporates contemporary issues of gender disparities into a future world, without (thank god) getting too preachy.

Descriptions of biological enhancements and Ryan Peters’s weaponized “nanites” are detailed and believable, but just as believable are the portrayals of social and psychological changes in a radically different world.

and my favorite

The result is a novel with the appeal of both a unique concept and a cast of characters embroiled in the classic drama of a love triangle.  David Boultbee’s The Gender Divide is, first and foremost, an engaging story, but does an excellent job as well in following in the tradition of science fiction as a mirror—not for the future—but for the present.

As a reminder, an excerpt of Chapter 1 is available on the website for The Gender Divide at http://www.thegenderdivide.com/?excerpt . Chapter 2 is also available for those interested - just email me and I’ll sent you the ’secret’ link ;)

posted by David at 10:26 am  

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Male Birth Control Pill

When I first came across this article on the male birth control pill I wasn’t sure what to think of it.

Birth control is a tricky subject, even leaving aside any ethical or religious issues. Regardless of who is responsible for birth control, it is the woman who is the most impacted by a pregnancy.

She is the one who has to suffer the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortunes known as pregnancy and childbirth. Oft times she is accompanied and supported by a partner but in many cases she is all alone. Sometimes she is the one who is left to make that most difficult of all decisions regarding whether to allow the pregnancy to continue or not.

So it is hard to argue for a male birth control pill when it is the woman who is affected. Harder still to imagine a woman relinquishing control of her body to someone else. A condom is a tangible form of birth control, something that a woman will know if a man is using or not. A pill? Not so much.

Admittedly men are put in this position every day but the impact of a mistake or worse, a calculated deception, isn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very real consequences for men in situations like this but nothing like those faced by women.

So I can’t see this becoming casually common, not like the female birth control pill is. The consequences of a mistake, not the mention the risk of unprotected sex, are too great.

However there is a place for the male birth control for couples in a committed relationship.

The article states that during animal test (mice),

“…all their sex behavior was retained, which is a very important consideration for human men. A man who takes this pill could also be sexually active later on and have children.”

“Rather than undergo an irreversible vasectomy, a man could sterilize himself for short periods…

It also provides another option for Jewish couples.

“…it should be well received by religiously observant Jews. According to Jewish law, castration of any animal - human or non-human - is forbidden; not to mention that ’spilling seed’ or ejaculating outside the female body is not permitted. “

Despite it’s inherent limitations, it will be interesting to see what role this pill plays and how it affects the dynamics of a relationship.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

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