Everyone on the Lendle team is incredibly excited about the new Kindle lineup. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber sums up the appeal of the Kindle Touch perfectly: “Everything good about last year’s Kindle remains, everything bad about last year’s Kindle is gone.”
There’s a lot to say about the Kindle Fire, but we’ll leave it at this: For the first time ever, Lendlers will be able to use Lendle on an actual Kindle. We think that’s huge.
To mark the occasion, we’re going to give away 1 Kindle Fire ($199 value) and 1 Kindle Touch 3G ($189 value).
The rules are simple:
Every new user you refer WITH YOUR REFERRAL CODE counts as one entry. All existing referrals will count retroactively. All referrals until the day we end the contest will count.
Every new user who signs up with a referral code is entered to win. All existing users who signed up with a referral code are retroactively entered to win.
Contest is open to Patrons and non-patrons. No purchase necessary. When the contest ends, we’ll pick two random entrants. First pick wins a Kindle Fire, second pick wins a Kindle Touch.
Expect full details for both giveaways in Monday’s newsletter and in an update to this post.
Meanwhile, what are you waiting for?
Way back when we were all living in the same city, we headed out to our local Junior College to watch a live satellite feed of one of Steve Jobs’s first keynote presentations as CEO of Apple. (The one where Noah Wiley walked out on stage as Steve Jobs.)
This morning, we didn’t get to see a live satellite feed, but we did follow along with This is My Next’s liveblog of Amazon’s Kindle announcements, headed up by Jeff Bezos.
- The whole event was very, very Apple like. 1) Lead with impressive stats. 2) Show off the new products. 3) There is no step 3.
- Barnes and Noble? OUCH. Our headline is a joke, but you can bet the Nook Color won’t be $250 for much longer.
- Apple? On notice, but price seemed like the only factor that should cause any real concern for Tim Cook and Co.
- There are now 4 Kindle models. That feels like 1 too many. (Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle Touch 3G, Kindle Fire.)
- $79 Kindle nixes the keyboard, but isn’t touch-able. Questionable choice. This is the model to nix.
- $50 premium for 3G when Wi-Fi is ubiquitous seems a bit steep, even for a lifetime of 3G connectivity. Seems a safe bet to say the Wi-Fi-only model will be the bigger seller by a wide margin.
- The “Silk” web browser was talked-up and hyped almost as though Bezos considers it to be the Kindle Fire’s killer app.
- Probably because, as reports had suggested, there is no built-in email app.
- There wasn’t a lot of talk about reading on the Kindle Fire.
- Would have been nice to see any of the above on stage.
- We saw apps, but we didn’t see the underlying OS. That’s sort of a big deal.
- Bezos knocked the idea of syncing, but people like the comfort of having a local backup. Cloud-only seems premature.
Of course, all of these thoughts come with the caveat that live blogs are often hard to decipher, and light on detail. We may have missed some of the nuance.
After an incredibly brief (1 day!) beta period, it looks as though library lending for the Kindle is now live in 11,000 libraries across the nation.
Sorry, other countries. You lose again.
We’ve not really had a chance to try this out, yet, so we can’t say whether the experience is good, great, or awful. We suspect your mileage may vary, depending on your local library’s specific OverDrive implementation. (Let us know your experiences.)
We’re launching a brand new feature today: Referral codes!
As of about 10 minutes ago, every Lendle user now has a unique referral code. Find out what your code is by clicking the Find friends link or by visiting your account page.
Tweet it, update your Facebook status with it, email it, get a tattoo of it, shave it into your head — do whatever you like with it — and when someone signs up for Lendle using your referral code, you’ll earn two borrow requests.
New users have seven days to enter a code (the option to do so is located on that user’s account page) so if someone you’ve referred forgets, they have plenty of time to get your referral in.
Even better, if someone signs up using your code, you’ll automatically follow each other.
There’s no limit on how many people you can refer, so get busy, help us grow Lendle, and we’ll help you read the books you love!
In other news, Google is “in talks” with the music industry. Anyone here buying songs from a music service powered by Google? Yeah. We’re not either.
At any rate, we were asked if we’d seen the recent Wall Street Journal news report that Amazon is currently negotiating a “Netflix-like” subscription service for books. We hadn’t, but now that we have, we’re not going to lose any sleep over it.
First, we’re hearing that these talks aren’t very far along — this isn’t something that is likely to launch soon, and certainly not alongside Amazon’s impending Kindle tablet.
The paucity of detail in the WSJ piece — paywall ahead — makes this feel like a coordinated leak, a bargaining tool meant to kickstart a discussion rather than finalize one.
What little we kinda sorta know:
- The service would likely be tied to Amazon Prime, which currently runs $79 a year.
- “Older titles.”
- There may be a per-month limit on the number of books a given user could read.
- Amazon is promising publishers a “substantial” cut of the $79 fee.
Amazon’s pitch is likely this: “We’ll give you a cut of every Amazon Prime membership, even when people don’t ever download a single book under our subscription plan. This way, even assuming some people use our service rather than buying books, you’ll still come out ahead.”
In other words:
“You won’t really be selling books, anymore, you’ll be an add on incentive for one of our services.”
Which leads us to this:
It’s unclear how much traction the proposal has, the people said. Several publishing executives said they aren’t enthusiastic about the idea because they believe it could lower the value of books and because it could strain their relationships with other retailers that sell their books, they said.
There’s nothing new or surprising about publishers expressing public skepticism about new and innovative business models — check Lendle’s library for evidence of that — but the skepticism is understandable in this case, because it’s definitely unclear how well a “Netflix-like” model will translate to books.
Reading isn’t quite like listening to music or watching movies — and our gut tells us that purchasing habits are different, as well. Let’s assume that there are three categories of readers:
- People who don’t read
- Casual readers
- People who read obsessively
Now, let’s assume a model, based on what we know:
“User pays $79 for the ability to read 5 books a month from a limited back-catalogue of titles.”
Those in category A don’t read, so they’re simply not interested.
Those in category B probably don’t read enough to get anything out of the service, and what they do read (new, bestsellers) most likely won’t be included anyway.
Those in category C read dozens of books in a month, in which case they’re suddenly paying a subscription fee for a mere five books a month and then a la carte for anything above and beyond those five. Sounds like a great deal.
What does all this mean for Lendle?
It’s hard to say, really. Optimistically, Amazon offering any service that doesn’t directly compete with Lendle is good news. Pessimistically, Amazon could eventually decide that lending isn’t going anywhere — and ditch it altogether in favor of a subscription model.
If we had a say, $79 (or whatever they raise the price to) would involve everything described above, but Amazon would also work to convince publishers that it also buys lending rights — as they exist today — for all titles, even newer titles, when bought a la carte.
Doing so would provide a value-based incentive for customers to continue to buy books alongside the ability to stream them, which would go a long way toward placating an industry that doesn’t want to lose the ability to sell an actual product.
(Frankly, we wish Amazon would put some negotiating muscle behind their existing lending service — which is still half-baked — before they start talking about new services. It’s all very wishy-washy.)
First things first: For those planning on using this with an iPad via Mobile Safari, make sure to click on the “Add to Home Screen” bookmark button to install a one-click Cloud Reader web app. You can, of course, use Mobile Safari instead — but you’ll be stuck with a visible toolbar if you do.
(Seems like something Amazon should make more clear.)
Cloud Reader also works with Chrome and Safari for Mac OS X, but let’s be real: This is about the iPad.
The first thing we noticed is that it’s not very stable — we’ve experienced crashes both in Mobile Safari and the Cloud Reader web app. (We’re using iOS Beta 5, so we suspect the crashing is beta related, more than anything else. We’ll have to wait and see if those running iOS proper have the same issues.) Scrolling and page turning and initial loads are definitely slower than in the native app, as well.
Not surprising, really: Welcome to the Cloud.
“Cloud” in Cloud Reader means that your books aren’t actually stored locally on your device. They’re loaded from Amazon’s servers, on the fly, as you read them. It is possible to download books for offline reading, but this is a book-by-book operation, and must be done in advance, or you’re out of luck.
Given all that, why use Cloud Reader instead of Amazon’s native app?
There’s an integrated Kindle store, and it’s way better than using Mobile Safari to browse the Kindle store on an iPad, because it’s “optimized” for tablets.
That’s it, really.
You can probably see where this is going: Apple recently put the kibosh on linking away to an app store for purchases, so Amazon hits back by releasing a web app that lives outside Apple’s App Store rules. (Feel free to insert the word “draconian” into that last sentence, if it’ll make you feel better.)
Pundits see this as Amazon’s salvo against Apple, but Apple has always supported (and even encouraged) web app development as an alternative to the “closed” nature of developing for the curated App Store. Native Apps are subject to Apple’s rules, web apps are not. This is no surprise attack. And, ultimately, it means that Kindle reading has a guaranteed home on the iPad. Burn! Apple must be so angry!
The upshot, though, is that Kindlers now have a decent buying experience on the iPad and Amazon now has a viable alternative to developing native iOS apps if’n ever they decide playing by Apple’s rules is more trouble than it’s worth.
Don’t hold your breath.