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Hearst Launching Kindle Competitor and Platform "By Publishers, For Publishers"

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the thinking-bigger-picture dept.

Books 155

The Hearst Corporation has announced their intention to launch an e-reader competitor to Amazon's Kindle and a supporting store and platform that is much more "publisher friendly." More details are available form their official press release this morning. "Launching in 2010, Skiff provides a complete e-reading solution that includes the Skiff Service platform, Skiff Store and Skiff-enabled devices. Skiff will sell and distribute newspapers, magazines, books, blogs and other content. Skiff gives periodical publishers tools to maintain their distinct visual identities, build and extend relationships with subscribers, and deliver dynamic content and advertising to a range of dedicated e-readers and multipurpose devices."

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Publisher friendly? (4, Insightful)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327782)

Translates to: Screw the authors & screw the customers.

Re:Publisher friendly? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30327802)

Exactly what I thought. As a customer, why do I want a platform that caters, not to me or the author, but to the publisher?

Re:Publisher friendly? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328618)

Apparently a lot of people don't mind a reader that caters to the book seller rather than the reader (Kindle)....

Re:Publisher friendly? (5, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327918)

Executive Summary: We are out of our frigging minds and don't realize this is going to bomb faster than the orginal DIVX.

Even worse (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30327986)

The unit has two spikes that can deploy on command/DRM violation, rendering the user blind.

But it does have a nice display.

Re:Even worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328798)

Wait, I thought the Wizzo company made chocolates not e-readers!

http://www.google.com/search?q=whizzo+chocolate+company

Re:Even worse (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329112)

"The unit has two spikes that can deploy on command/DRM violation, rendering the user blind."

Your ideas intrigue me and my company would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Publisher friendly? (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328218)

Translates to: Screw the authors & screw the customers.

Are you so sure? Alienating customers won't help publishers any, since they're where the money comes from. I'm sure the prevailing slashdot assumption will be that publishers somehow fail to realize this, but I doubt that. The fact is, both parties in any business transaction are participating for their own benefit; that doesn't preclude rational self interest, i.e. providing value, too.

So here is why this might work: Skiff eliminates a middleman, namely Amazon. Thus consumers could end up paying less, while publishers (and even writers) get more. You can go on all you like about how evil and stupid publishers are, but they're already part of the process; the only difference is, no Amazon. What if Skiff ends up a lot like Kindle, but with a lower price for professionally written and edited content?

Re:Publisher friendly? (3, Informative)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328424)

Actually, Amazon has also been getting rid of the other middleman, publishers. I've been finding a few decent short to novel length ebooks in Amazon's self-published section for quite cheap($2-4).

Until somebody starts reviewing them, they aren't easy to find and there is a much higher chance of crap without the filter of marketability, but that filter works both ways. I've read a few I know would never have been put in print because they were too niche.

Plus, I know the authors get a better cut than if I had bought the hardback.

Re:Publisher friendly? (2, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329340)

Yup, Amazon and Publishers are both "middle men", between Authors and Customers.

My guess, is that at least ONE middle man between the two is ideal, a bazaar, a single place where authors can meet and sell to their customers. It would require standards.

I can even seeing a couple three alternative choices out there, including Amazon and the Publisher's Marketplace, and perhaps one built by and for authors.

Layers and layers of "middle men" are not needed anymore. I am about to self publish a book, so I would love to have a couple options available where I can market it, directly. I really don't want to tied to Amazon/Kindle if I don't have to be.

Re:Publisher friendly? (2, Interesting)

stripes (3681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329730)

Layers and layers of "middle men" are not needed anymore.

Or more to the point, each layer of middle men need to add value. Between author and reader the author wants someone to deal with all the bother of collecting money, the reader wants someone to deal with filtering out all the obviously bad works, and either or both the author and reader wants someone to fix up the language usage and the other nice stuff the publisher's editor normally does. There are some other tasks in there that are useful as well.

There is no need for that to be spread across two middle-men (publisher + bookseller), but there is no special need for it to be one middle man vs. one per operation as long as having 12 companies touch the book doesn't make it cost more then only having 1 or 2 touch it.

With the current state of things the publisher filters out the worst of the bad writing (that is to say 99.998% of what they get), fixes up the english usage, remind the author when the sex of one of their characters changes midway through the book, when things get talked about in Ch4 but don't happen until Ch7, and all that kind of nice stuff. Then Amazon makes sure the book got nicely "kindle formatted" puts a price on it, handles some of the money, arranges network service for Kindle devices (iPod touch and iPhone users get to manage that on their own), handles long term storage of customer purchases.

All of those are valuable. If we stuff all that into one company that charges me less, I'm happy. If we stuff that all into one company that charges me the same amount, I'm still happy. If we break that out into 1 companies that charge me the same or less, well I'm still happy. If we charge more, I get cranky. If we do less stuff for the same money, I get cranky. If we charge less for less I probably still get cranky.

So I'm less happy by the proposal of a bizaar. Sure I probably pay less, but did the author hire a proofreader? How do I find the tiny number of authors that don't suck? It would work out well for authors who are already successful under the existing system. I know some of their past works weren't crap, so their new works have enough chance to be not crap that I can "afford" to spend the time to read a review or just buy the book. I know they have published stuff in the past, so they will know the value of a good editor and hire one. I might even pay less. It will totally suck for knowing what new authors I could buy from and not run into extremely poor writing, or a good story but no proofreading....

Solvable problems, but mostly by adding middlemen back in (for example, tags for "professional editing", tags for "slushpile review" and the like). They may not be middlemen in this model, but they still operate on the text, and then a tag gets affixed to it, and I filter out stuff lacking the tags. How they get payed might be the only difference (plus the "in theory" difference that people could choose to buy stuff that didn't pass a slushpile review, or wasn't edited by anyone....but I doubt enough people would do this to make dismantling the current system a good idea!). If we move the way something gets a slushpile review we could also break the value of that system. Currently a publisher does that, and if a publisher culls too many books they can lose good sellers. If they cull too loosely then they run the risk of people deciding "oh they publish crap, I won't risk reading that". If the "publisher middleman" goes away and an author has to pay for a slushpile review then they have incentive to pick registered slushpile reviewers that rubber stamp the most content. There may be ways to fix that, but struggling to get "as good as the existing system" while offering no real advantages doesn't sound exciting.

Re:Publisher friendly? (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328426)

Skiff eliminates a middleman, namely Amazon...

Which is a worthless point since that elimination will not be passed on to the consumer in the form of "cheaper than Kindle".

Re:Publisher friendly? (0, Redundant)

fredjh (1602699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328692)

I'm sure the prevailing slashdot assumption will be that publishers somehow fail to realize this, but I doubt that.

Does success mean "not alienating?" All of these successful DRM practices alienate customers, it's just that there's enough who are disinterested to make up for it. I give the example of audio cassettes which, despite opposition by recording companies, not only gave them a new outlet for their music, but made vinyl MORE worthwhile because the consumer had more options. Ditto video cassettes... they whined and whined until they found out they had a whole new revenue stream, at which point they were making more money than ever.

Are they shooting themselves in the foot? I don't know, maybe not, maybe it'll be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I really don't believe it's naive to distrust publishers.

Re:Publisher friendly? (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328844)

Customers are not the primary source of income for publishers.

Ads are.

What this will be is Kindle--, now with extra ads. Ads you can't skip. Ads interrupting you every 60 seconds while reading a story. Ads that pop up between stories and can't be avoided.

Did I mention the ads?

What timeOday Said Plus.... (2, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328846)

Most of you are perfectly okay with companies treating their customers like cr@p. It's called the entertainment industry.

Bluray is even worse than the DVD in terms of limiting your clearly defined rights to personal use and dramatically raising the costs of entertainment. How many of you are loading up on those BluRay players/content this holiday season? You are happy about it too.

I think the basic notion that this will fail is right. It will fail because they will seek to extract similar profits AND lard on costs so early into the project that it won't ever have a chance.

Re:Publisher friendly? (1)

pydev (1683904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328854)

Are you so sure? Alienating customers won't help publishers any, since they're where the money comes from.

Works for anybody with a monopoly. Since they will have exclusive rights to a lot of content, they'll be able to screw anybody who really wants access to that content.

What if Skiff ends up a lot like Kindle, but with a lower price for professionally written and edited content?

What if all men just united in brotherly love, lost their selfish instincts, and peace reigned on earth?

Re:Publisher friendly? (2, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328856)

No. Skiff eliminates Amazon, to be replaced with itself. This is just Hearst wanting a piece of Amazon's pie, and they think that appealing to the content distributors is going to be the way to produce a better product... yeah, I'm not following either.

Re:Publisher friendly? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328892)

You can go on all you like about how evil and stupid publishers are,

Yes, we can.

I'm not so sure about evil, but most publishers really are fucking stupid. Not just slightly dumb, but so stupid you wonder how they put on their shoes in the morning. Which makes it unsurprising that they would fall for a plan like "Skiff." I can just see them ooohhhing and aaahhhing at the Powerpoint presentation and the fancy buzzwords.

Re:Publisher friendly? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329030)

That's not just publishers. Most execs are too stupid to realize that powerpoint presentations do not equal success.

And they wonder why their employees doze off in the middle of their presentations where all they are doing is reading the Powerpoint slides off the screen.

To them, genius looks like a few KPI charts and some clip art borders. It's a wonder that businesses still even function at all these days.

Re:Publisher friendly? (3, Interesting)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329182)

This is great in theory, but not how it works in practice.

In practice, publishers are terrified, because they make all their money in hardbacks. But nobody except for a few freaks (the "I'll never touch a paper book again!" crowd) is actually willing to pay hardback prices for an e-book. eBooks are a much better natural competitor to mass market paperbacks.

Well, okay, that's great, but why not just sell the ebook for cheaper? Amazon would love to. The problem is that the cost to print and bind an individual book (the unit cost) is pennies. Most of the price of a book is in the fixed (i.e. not-per-unit), upfront cost of editing, putting the files together, and (the big one) marketing. (And that's not just subway ads. It's mainly marketing to bookstores, and to the TINY HANDFUL of buyers who actually get to decide what books Borders and Barnes & Noble carry, and thus what Americans read.)
Publishers cannot cope with this. Their business will collapse if they release ebooks at the same time as hardcovers, because the ebook would horrifically undercut their hardcover margins. But they cannot afford to set a market expectation that an ebook costs a reasonable (i.e. under-$15) amount. They cannot afford to do anything that discourages people from buying hardcovers; why cannibalize your own business? And they will not get fully behind the ebook platform so long as that fundamental logic stays the same.

That's for book publishers, anyway, which is what the parent was about. From TFS, it sounds like this is as much about the newspaper and magazine business, who seem to think that people will magically want to pay for their content if you put it on e-paper instead of the e-, er, internet. GLWT, lemme know how it works out, I'll just be over here browsing the real web from my smartphone...

Re:Publisher friendly? (1)

stripes (3681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329854)

But nobody except for a few freaks (the "I'll never touch a paper book again!" crowd) is actually willing to pay hardback prices for an e-book.

There are some people that are extremely space constrained (fulltime RVers for example) who won't buy paper books, but I would't say are freaks. Well, technically they are more weight constrained then space constrained for books. I don't think many of them want to pay hardback prices for ebooks, but some will. The people that pay hardback prices for ebooks tend to be the people who were aware of why hardbacks really cost more and come out sooner. They are just a way for book publishers to rent seek (get the highest price people are willing to pay). That could actually be done even better with ebooks. Start the price at hardback level, and decay the price each week, hitting a somewhere under paperback price about a month after the paperback is out.

In a perfectly rational world it would work well, people would buy when the price hit what they are willing to pay to read it now...and since it has more steps then the current scheme many people that would pay a little more to read it "now not next month" but not "a whole lot more" can actually do that (this works better with a series of novels that is still being added to, or a author with a distinct style). In the real world however it does run the risk that it will just piss people off because they don't like rent seeking except when they are the seeker.

Re:Publisher friendly? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329604)

We've already seen publisher's attempts at e-book readers. They failed, the industry gave up a while ago. Amazon decided to give it another whack and got it, if not right then close enough with Kindle. Personally, I think Kindle has not enough features and function, too much cost and too many restrictions and scary factors (Amazon can brick my device remotely? They can delete content I paid for? No thanks.) How will publishers possibly produce a device that is more attractive to both customers and to them? Either they have to reduce the price of the device (not likely), increase the features (possible, not likely), reduce the restrictions (Hahhahaa!), reduce the price of content (possible, but not likely) or stop offering any alternatives (choke out the Kindle by refusing to publish on it). I'm betting that they're going to go for some combination that includes increasing restrictions, choking out the kindle and keeping more or less on-par with Kindle's features. This should be an amusing failure.

Re:Publisher friendly? (5, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328288)

Translates to: Screw the authors & screw the customers.

Many don't know that copyright in England was originally put in place to protect the authors from the publishers, not the readers with their pirate ink plates.

Re:Publisher friendly? (-1, Flamebait)

DShard (159067) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328404)

no, originally copyright was put in place to censor content the king did not want spreading. The author is now and has always been an afterthought.

Re:Publisher friendly? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328620)

hey, that's not the *official* line. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright#History [wikipedia.org]

Most publishers worth worrying about can only exist as creations of government as well, so it's quite the tangled web.

Re:Publisher friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328672)

No, copyright was an agreement between publishers who wanted (previously not legally enforceable) price-fixing and the King of England wanting censorship.

Re:Publisher friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328598)

Yeah, cause I was just thinking to myself, "Shit, I'd buy a Kindle but I wish it were even more Orwellian and there just aren't enough ad's crammed into my reading material. Oh, and you know what... more paid subscriptions would be a good addition."

Easy for publishers? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327796)

Who's their purported customer?

Despite all the problems with the Kindle -- poor PDF support, low-contrast screen, Orwellian fears -- it makes for a mighty-fine reading experience for users. From a publisher's perspective it stinks, with Amazon reportedly sucking down 70% of a sale's proceeds.

How much of a markup does a brick and morter store that sells dead tree books have? I've heard that it's about 70%, so what's their problem, anyway?

Skiff promises better graphics and better layouts of digital content, which is encouraging, but it'll also allow the easy injection of advertising into paid content -- something we're less happy to see making the transition over from print.

That's a deal-killer for me; the first time I see an ad in a book I'll return the damned thing where I bought it. If you're going to put ads in your books, I'd damned well better get it for free or there's NO SALE.

I'll put up with ads in a printed magazine, because all I'm paying for is paper and ink, ads pay for the rest. I'm not going to pay for electronic media with ads; no paper and no ink. That's just ubergreed, double dipping, and is completely unwarranted and unacceptable.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327846)

How much of a markup does a brick and morter store that sells dead tree books have? I've heard that it's about 70%, so what's their problem, anyway?

70% markup != you get to keep 30%. If you only get to keep 30%, that's a 233% markup not a 70% one.

Re:Easy for publishers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329240)

I thought markup was relative to the sale price. i.e. a 50% markup means the dealer acquired it for half what they're selling it for.

Re:Easy for publishers? (2, Informative)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327936)

With a brick & mortar store, that 70% (gross) pays for: insurance, property taxes on equipment and real estate if they own the property, building, employees pay, utilities, rent, etc....

Amazon: that 70% (gross) of the price of an electronic copy of a book that has an marginal cost approaching zero is just about all profit.

Personally, I think when it comes to electronic books, the royalties to the author should be based upon what a printed book would cost, the publisher works out a cost plus system for charging for the copy wholesale, and then Amazon adds their mark up. Charging a price close to a paper book for an electronic book just seams wrong to me - one of the largest costs of a printed book is its paper and ink.

Amazon is making a killing off of Kindle books and they're not passing that on to subsidize the price of the Kindle device. Without subsidies, they could sell that device for almost half and make a decent living on it. With subsidies, they could those suckers for $50 - easily.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328272)

I never could understand why ebooks were so expensive, and it's one reason of many I don't own a reader. I don't see any reason why a paperback version of a book should cost less than an electronic version.

Re:Easy for publishers? (3, Insightful)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328420)

I don't see any reason why a paperback version of a book should cost less than an electronic version.

Me neither.

The Kindle device has a life of what? Five years? Ten, maybe if its taken care of really well? And all the kindle books are tied to that device - are they not? That paperback book will be around for decades after that Kindle has had to be thrown into the garbage - along with all those expensive Kindle version of those books.

Re:Easy for publishers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328658)

Kindle books can be transferred to multiple devices (it's a limited but sufficient number) including the iPhone. much like the with Apple iTunes, you can unregister a device to open up a slot to move the book to an additional device. So no, Kindle books do not die when the Kindle you purchased them on is dies.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328674)

I don't see any reason why a paperback version of a book should cost less than an electronic version.

Me neither.

The Kindle device has a life of what? Five years? Ten, maybe if its taken care of really well? And all the kindle books are tied to that device - are they not? That paperback book will be around for decades after that Kindle has had to be thrown into the garbage - along with all those expensive Kindle version of those books.

No, the books are tied to your amazon account. If your Kindle dies you can link another kindle to your account and re-download all your books. You can get a second kindle for your wife linked to your account and you both have access to your entire library. You can get the kindle app for the iPhone and read your entire library there as well. AND if you have a kindle and an iPhone and read for awhile on one, when you open that book on the other device it picks up where you left off on the first device!

Re:Easy for publishers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328928)

If your Kindle dies you can link another kindle to your account and re-download all your books.

My WebTV [wikipedia.org] box just died. Microsoft'll get me another one, right?

And could your Grandma get a replacement for her I-Opener [wikipedia.org] after three years (while the company was still in business, although it had ceased hardware support and told its users to use a PC and Earthlink dialup account), let alone ten years? Like WebTV, the I-Opener's also about ten years old today.

A book is static. You may not be able to buy a replacement if it burns down with the house, but unlike WebTV set top boxes, I-Openers, or a million idle Geocities sites, it doesn't require external inputs (be it electrons to spin disks, or infusions of capital to pay for the bandwidth and business model) to last for decades. Books decay naturally with the passage of time, but they do so so slowly that most books outlive their owners.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328956)

I still have the paperback versions of LOTR and Foundation. LOTR I bought around 1970, Foundation even earlier. Of course, the pages are brown and the covers are coming off, but they're still readable and have been read many times.

If I'd bough hardcovers with acit-free paper they'd likely still be like new.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

Scorchio (177053) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328612)

The ebook prices are ridiculous. I was tempted to download a book for the Kindle app on my ipod touch. Amazon cheerfully informed me the digital version was $9.99, the paperback was $7 new or around $2.50 used. What?! This is exactly the reason that I haven't bought an actual Kindle device.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329068)

The thing about paperbacks is that they often print too many. Therefore, storing the unsold copies becomes a burden, so the seller wants to get rid of the stock to use that storage space for something else. The whole thing is an exercise in waste. Funny how people are always attacking oil and car companies over environmental concern, but the publishing industry somehow escapes a lot of criticism, because books are 'quaint' or aesthetically appealing or something.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329392)

This is a really common question, and it has to do with the economics of book publishing. Sorry for linking you to my own post, but the odds of you going back up to see it are slim, so: see here [slashdot.org] .

Re:Easy for publishers? (2, Insightful)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328624)

Amazon: that 70% (gross) of the price of an electronic copy of a book that has an marginal cost approaching zero is just about all profit.

I'm pretty sure that amazon has to kick some cash over to the wireless carrier(Sprint) to cover whispernet. And maintenance on the servers, IT guys saleries, etc. The biggest piece being the payment to Sprint.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329388)

Amazon: that 70% (gross) of the price of an electronic copy of a book that has an marginal cost approaching zero is just about all profit.

I'm pretty sure that amazon has to kick some cash over to the wireless carrier(Sprint) to cover whispernet. And maintenance on the servers, IT guys saleries, etc. The biggest piece being the payment to Sprint.

I am sure of that and agree. I hope I didn't give the impression that Amazon had no costs associated with the distribution of the Kindle books. But do you really think that overhead adds on that much cost - as much as an individual store has to apportion to the books they have to sell?

An individual store has to pay their overhead with the thousands of books under their roof. Whereas with regards to the e-books, the cost of the bandwidth, servers, IT salaries and other infrastructure costs dedicated or apportioned to the Kindle stuff is pennies per "book". Based upon the odd data I've been seeing in the business press, I really believe that Amazon is making a killing on Kindle.

Re:Easy for publishers? (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328994)

Amazon is making a killing off of Kindle books and they're not passing that on to subsidize the price of the Kindle device. Without subsidies, they could sell that device for almost half and make a decent living on it. With subsidies, they could those suckers for $50 - easily.

I think part of the problem is that they can't make them fast enough to meet demand. This is just speculation based on the availability problems the Kindle has had, but it wouldn't surprise me at all. E-Ink displays aren't exactly a common consumer technology at the moment. When it does become common, and manufacturing issues are sorted out, you probably will see those kind of prices.

If you can't make enough to meet demand, why would you lower prices?

Re:Easy for publishers? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328268)

I'll put up with ads in a printed magazine, because all I'm paying for is paper and ink, ads pay for the rest. I'm not going to pay for electronic media with ads; no paper and no ink. That's just ubergreed, double dipping, and is completely unwarranted and unacceptable.

Let me get this straight. You acknowledge in your first sentence that ads are largely what makes the production of the content possible. Then in your next sentence, you turn around and say "But I won't take an electronic magazine that has ads". Who exactly is being greedy here?

Reading comprehension? (2, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328700)

He puts up with ads in a print mag because his money pays for the ink and paper and the ads pay for the content. He means that if an electronic magazine had ads, he'd expect to get the magazine for free. The reason being that the ads pay for the content and the user pays for the delivery mechanism. He's already paid for delivery of his electronic book when he bought the reader and downloaded the content. He paid for the delivery of the paper mag content when he drove to the store and paid for the bound paper and ink.

If you don't like copyright infringement, make something that can't be copied.

Re:Easy for publishers? (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328824)

Look, you need more coffee or something, or maybe I'm just not being clear. When I buy a paper magazine, I'm paying for paper and ink. The advertisers are paying for everything else. No paper and ink, either don't have ads or don't charge me.

For books, I've never bough a book with ads and I'm not about to start now.

Re:Easy for publishers? (1)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328778)

I've had books published (one even reviewed here), but that was almost 10 years ago, so YMMV (but IAAA (I Am An Author)):

How much of a markup does a brick and morter store that sells dead tree books have? I've heard that it's about 70%, so what's their problem, anyway?

It's usually on the order of 100% markup (so a $10 book from the publisher goes for $20). I should also note that authors get a percentage of the publisher sales price, so if a book sells for 30% off or at full price, the publisher and author receive the same amount.

Despite all the problems with the Kindle -- poor PDF support, low-contrast screen, Orwellian fears..

Having owned a Kindle 2 for the past two months, the PDF support doesn't bother me (and is apparently fixed in the latest release). The screen and form factor are FAR better than I thought they'd be. It's easy to read in just about any light, and it's as easy to hold as a thin paperback book. As for the Orwellian fears, I have to admit the first thing I'm doing with the Kindle is getting books I already own, but want to reread so I can donate the book to the library or some charitable organization - did I mention I have a LOT of books?. As long as the Kindle and my e-books will be around for a long time, it doesn't matter if I have the physical book anymore. So I'm more worried about Amazon going out of business or getting out of the ebook business and my ebooks become unusable.

For who? (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327830)

They appear to ahve mid-identified their customers.

Re:For who? (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327840)

or, you know, have misidentified. I think I shall go trade in several of my thumbs for fingers.

Spliff? (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327834)

Love that their logo has a lit joint in it.

"allow the easy injection of advertising" (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327842)

I'd say this skiff was dead in the water.

Crash (3, Insightful)

hackus (159037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327850)

and BURN baby....burn!

Hey I got a great idea? Lets make everyone pay for a crummy E-Reader at high prices PLUS make them pay for the book subscriptions, PLUS sell advertising to make the reading even less enjoyable after the user gets the bill!!

PLUS we can just kill the book we sell, so the customer can never have a copy and of course, we can sell the same book to them twice!!!

-Signed...your average everday greedy American Corporate Scum.

Re:Crash (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328392)

Do you think they intend to torture consumers until they buy the device? Or something like that?

And force authors to use that publisher? Why not just self-publish using PDFs? Many authors could do that, you know. And if you get so outraged at publishers and the way they treat their authors, then maybe don't read the authors that consent to dealing with those publishers (probably for monetary gain, I suppose?).

I don't know how Hearst is going to MAKE everyone pay for a costly e-reader.

Re:Crash (1)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328944)

Do you think they intend to torture consumers until they buy the device? Or something like that?

And force authors to use that publisher?

No, they're going to make it attractive for publishers, pay them for exclusives, make it not super inconvenient for readers, encourage subsidized reader programs in schools, give them away like iPods, sell them to college students promising cheaper textbooks, etc. Then they're going to torture the customer, once they've become a preferred conduit for the paperback market.

Re:Crash (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329514)

and BURN baby....burn!

You bring up a good point.. How are we supposed to have a good, Fahrenheit 451 style book burning, with E-books?

they require way too many accelerants to burn with the same intensity!

Don't care. I'm boycotting it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30327854)

The Hearst Corporation was launched by the son of George Hearst - the heartless maniac who ordered the killings of multiple people on HBO's Deadwood miniseries.

Take your ebook reader and shove it.

great for publi$her$? (4, Insightful)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327862)

More competition and new products entering the E-reader market? Awesome. I love it

If they think I'm still going to pay the price of a hardcover book for nothing but a digital copy that can be revoked from my reader, I'M STILL NOT BUYING THIS JUNK.

Re:great for publi$her$? (2, Insightful)

Lazlo Woodbine (54822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327922)

Maybe if the gave it away like the CueCat? My hope is that it will be possible to use this device in ways that weren't foreseen.

Re:great for publi$her$? (1)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328982)

The CueCat is a fabulous example of how not to give away free technology.

They need to give it away like the iPod - in contests, sweepstakes, Oprah shows, affiliate deals, car trade-ins and open houses.

Re:great for publi$her$? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328128)

The more competition there is, the more likely that'll go away.

Just like higher competition in the online music sales market basically killed DRM for online music.

Re:great for publishers? (0, Offtopic)

daVinci1980 (73174) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328712)

Here's my slightly offtopic rant for you slashdotters that think it's funny or clever to replace an 's' with a dollar sign.

I get it. You think that the entity being referred to is greedy. Here's what you don't seem to get. It's childish, and it does one of three things:

1) It gives the impression that your rhetoric wouldn't be strong enough to stand on its own--therefore you need a gimmick to ensure that people really get your message.
2) It's unrelated to your rhetoric, and therefore distracting from your overall message.
3) It makes you seem to be an uninformed, out of touch individual who has no concept of how things work in the real world.

I'm going to offer a bit of free advice, whether you want it or not. Spelling and presentation matter. And do you know why they matter? They matter because you're trying to convey a message. Your readers and listeners only have so much concentration they can or will devote to understanding your message. If we have to spend effort translating your spelling or grammatical errors, or we have to perform in-place symbol substitution, that is distracting us from the point you are trying to make. Do yourself a favor, and give up on these childish devices.

Here's a short list of the slashdotisms that need to die:

- Substituting '$' for 's'
- ^H (acceptable for Funny posts only)
- Calling Microsoft employees or users Microserfs

Re:great for publishers? (3, Funny)

fotbr (855184) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329002)

Calling Microsoft employees or users Microserfs

Shouldn't that be:
Calling Micro$oft employees or users Micro$erf$

Re:great for publishers? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329164)

Calling Microsoft employees or users Microserfs

Has this actually happened on slashdot since 1999?

DRM (0, Redundant)

eav (701231) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327886)

And if it has DRM I am not buying it.

Hmm, where is the customer in this? (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327904)

The Kindle for all its annoyances attempts to be as customer centric as possible.

But this, "publisher centric" model seems really l8me... EG, advertisements built into the fabric?

Mystery, unavailable devices?

An over-leveraged print empire driving it?

Re:Hmm, where is the customer in this? (2, Interesting)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328196)

Iunno, the Kindle makes a lot of sacrifices to publishers. Including incredibly stupid sacrifices like allowing them to disable text-to-speech for whatever books they want (I don't have a Kindle but I know some people that work for Amazon, one of whom does marketing for Kindle).

Amazon's model seems to be centered around itself foremost, and clearly it must balance customer and publisher demands. If this other company wants to cater more to publisher demands I guess they can try it that way. But don't tell the public that!

Re:Hmm, where is the customer in this? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328244)

I don't find that sacrifice to be all that stupid, text-to-speech is generally terrible, and something the size of a book makes for a horrible audio device (sure, there are certainly people who want to listen to books that aren't available as audio, but that market isn't big enough for Amazon to care much about).

Re:Hmm, where is the customer in this? (1)

vcgodinich (1172985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329510)

Meh. I haven't bought a book on my kindle yet, just reading the classics that are free.

That being said, I haven't once felt like Amazon is doing anything, or that anything about the Kindle 1 or 2 wasn't / isn't designed / done with the customer in mind.

Sure, the prices for books are high, but they make every effort to help you get your content on your kindle, whether you got it from them or not.

Yes, i like real books, but any book that you really love you will buy hardback anyway. Am I concerned that in 10 years my copy of Dan Brown's crappy book is tied to Amazon will disappear? Not really. I have backups of my books on my computer, in well known DRM free formats, and i can transfer then to whatever device i am using then.

People seem to be freaked out about being locked into a product, or a company, but honestly it isn't a big deal with the Kindle. There are easy to use converters on the web for free, and its not like your files are hard to get to.

So all in all, the people out there complaining about the kindle probably don't own one, or probably don't read a great deal. For those of us who do, the Kindle is fantastic. Perfect? No, but i think anyone using one wouldn't think that Amazon is doing anything other than working hard to make the experience good ffor the customer

Re:Hmm, where is the customer in this? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328476)

But this, "publisher centric" model seems really l8me

Rather "late me?" Do you mean "14me"?

Re:Hmm, where is the customer in this? (3, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328570)

Close, but your accent is a bit off. Try pronouncing it more like "|4|\/|3"

Re:Hmm, where is the customer in this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328562)

l8me

Mod parent down.

Welcome to the land of fail... (3, Insightful)

BrianRaker (633638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30327950)

I wish them luck in this venture... they're going to need it with a market that already has widely accepted semi-user-friendly devices (Amazon Kindle, Sony eReader, etc).

Also, haven't they learned their lesson already in other markets? Publisher (content-owner) friendly rarely ever is accepted by the marketplace as it wasn't designed with the end user (the people PAYING for this "service").

For Publishers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30327968)

Shouldn't publishers be for all platforms in order to get the largest audience? It seems fairly trivial for them to change their prices for different providers to get the same margins everywhere and it's not like it's technically difficult to deliver different formats.

Big mistake (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328160)

Any product not designed "By Customers, For Customers" is doomed to failure. Seriously, I don't want an e-book reader that makes the publisher's life easier; I want an e-book reader that makes MY life easier! And since the customer, not the publisher, is the one purchasing this device, I don't anticipate a huge number of sales.

Re:Big mistake (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329200)

Any product not designed "By Customers, For Customers" is doomed to failure.

Any product designed by the customers is doomed to failure. Do you really think that the customers have any idea about how to design/engineer a product?

e-readers ARE publishers, not for/by publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328232)

I just don't get it-- seems like the whole benefit of an e-reader is to remove the need for old-style publishers.
Authors, editors, reviewers, and users are still a requirement of course, but it seems like e-readers could just as easily be called e-publishers.

Re:e-readers ARE publishers, not for/by publishers (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328834)

I just don't get it-- seems like the whole benefit of an e-reader is to remove the need for old-style publishers.

And that's the key.

This is an old-style publisher trying to avoid being eliminated and bankrupted as the readers desert old-style publishers for new-style "content delivered electronically" (publisherese for text documents).

By trojan-horsing a "publisher-freindly" e-book reader he hopes to hang on to some of the future market.

IMHO even if he could have gotten away with it he doomed his project by letting the readers know up front that the engineering is being done with the publishers' interest prioritized above the theirs.

But who knows? Maybe it will have enough bells and whistles, a good enough initial cost structure and advertising campaign, and/or enough desirable exclusive content (ala VHS drubbing Betamax) that he'll acquire a following.

Time Enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328236)

After society is dead and gone, and there's no more electricity... these things will be useless... but... I'll still have my paper and ink books... until my glasses fall off my face and break.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Enough_at_Last

Because, of course... (2, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328274)

...the publishers are the reason it all exists. Long live the middleman!

I PREDICT... (0, Redundant)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328276)

...EPIC FAIL...

Why not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328338)

a PattyPad ? to soon?

Advertising is clearly the endgame (1)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328520)

Quote: Skiff gives periodical publishers tools to maintain their distinct visual identities, build and extend relationships with subscribers

Translation: Skiff gives periodical publishers tools to mix advertisements within content and to shove said ads down the throats of their subscribers.

I agree that the Kindle is far from perfect, but I can't say I'm too excited for this Skiff thing either.

Re:Advertising is clearly the endgame (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328726)

If the periodical subscription is free to me then I can live with the adds.

For the record I don't disable adds on slashdot either, even though I have addblock plus installed.

Re:Advertising is clearly the endgame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30329738)

FFS, it's ADS not ADDS!!! Did you fail second fucking grade?

Heasrt e-Book Reader? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328546)

I'd say this one is DOA.

Why Should I Buy It? (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328572)

So, why should I buy a product designed with the publishers' interests in mind over a product with the customers' interests in mind? I don't particularly care about the publishers' interests, but I do care about mine.

Canada? (1)

colesw (951825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328594)

Who ever releases a decent e-book reader in Canada with connectivity included will have my sale. I want my global market place!

Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328652)

I think many are missing the point. When it says "for publishers", I think they are referring to the ability to have better graphics and better typography. Sounds like a huge step forward for these mainly black and white devices. I know there is this whole idea that stuff like this is driven by greed, but this device may pave the way for future devices which have more features. Think about how websites used to look in 1998. It's only because of professional webdesigners trying to maximize usability, time on site, ad clicks, and return on investment that we've moved to the sleek look of what is web 2.0 which has been used for so many free and open projects (most of which are supported by ads).

I don't see the problem. (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328880)

I hope a lot of publishers go and buy these things, they'll apparently be really happy with them. I just hope they aren't expecting consumers to actually buy any.

Delivering a Press release is easy (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328924)

Delivering a product is hard.

By publisher for publishers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328938)

Wouldn't it be better to be "by publishers for readers"?

First Marijuana now this!!??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30328976)

Weren't they happy enough with lobbying for banning Marijuana, and now THIS?

I can see this being useful if they give it away. (1)

corran__horn (178058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30328978)

I can see this style of device being accepted if it comes with magazine subscriptions (free reader with your newsweek subscription, reader copies only), but otherwise I would anticipate it flopping. People don't like cash outlay for products to use other products, leading to the razor/razorblade phenomenon.

Sounds nice... (4, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329074)

targeted ads, complete publisher control. Where can I pick mine up, and how much will I get paid per month to use it?

"By publishers, for Publishers" (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329174)

Great. Then they can use the friggin' thing, because I sure won't.

ummm no (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329248)

Another expensive ebook reader. I'll stick to my 7" Chinese Chuwi M70 PMP. No it's not e-ink but I don't care for e-ink anyways. I don't need any proprietary formats or DRM either. I want a adjustable brightness/contrast back lit ebook reader (text format) which my Chuwi does flawlessly and plays most music formats and HD videos as a bonus. I don't have to worry about my connected device deleting paid for books at the command of a publisher either.

Customers first (1)

Kimen (1594743) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329322)

Perhaps they should be more concerned with customer friendly than publisher friendly. Even though we like having competition, I am very suspicious of a company that uses phrasing like this. It usually is an indication of an underlying viewpoint and in this case I am led to believe that viewpoint is decidedly not customer centric.

By publishers for publishers? (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329728)

Do they mean to suggeest that the only people who read papers and magazines are the people who publish them? If so this industry is in more trouble than I expected. Either way this is a moronic stance to take. Where does the customer come in?

Hearst Corporation! Sound like a job for... (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30329864)

Sounds like a job for... the Symbionese Liberation Army!

(Those who wish to mark this off-topic are respectfully invited to get off my lawn!)

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