Today is probably a very bad day at Amazon and Google.
Whereas Amazon will keep most of the profits when they offer the SAME EXACT DEAL (except infinitely worse, because the only people who can buy Amazon products are those who bought Kindles or who have iPhones), Scribd is offering an 80 / 20 split in favor of writers, and are also letting publishers choose whether or not to encrypt their ebooks.
To make matters worse for Amazon, books available on Scribd can be read in .pdf form, meaning that you can read them on a Kindle, too, unless Amazon stops supporting .pdfs. Publishers will also be able to set their own prices for Scribd books, giving them self-determination when it comes to value. So, really, writers have absolutely no incentive to deal with Amazon anymore as their "bookstore," especially since the next generation of ebook readers will surely be touchscreen netbooks, making the Kindle look like a Tiger handheld next to the future's Game Boy.
Additionally, unlike the way Google will run their book selling project (which will be the way they run YouTube), Scribd will not be censoring or removing "objectionable" content, and will be instead letting U.S. law dictate what is safe for people to read. Since they are trying to create a SERVICE for publishers instead of REPLACING publishers, Scribd will be content-neutral, and will not be manipulating content in order to control the market. Getting your books delisted or deranked from Scribd's site will never be an issue, because there won't be a "ranking" or "listing" service, beyond a "best sellers" list.
Right now, the top Scribd best-seller is something called "New Zealand Adventure Guide."
From the New York Times:
"Scribd hopes its more open and flexible system will give it a leg up on Amazon, which has become the largest player in the burgeoning market for e-books. Amazon sets the retail price for books in its Kindle store and keeps the majority of the revenue on some titles, which has publishers worried that Amazon is amassing too much control over the nascent market. Amazon also allows those books to be read only on its Kindle devices and in Kindle software on the iPhone.
"One reason publishers are excited to work with us is that they worry that publishing channels are contracting as Amazon and Google are gaining control over the e-book space," said Jared Friedman, chief technology officer and a founder of Scribd."
If Scribd is smart, they will do the following things:
1. Support audio files that people can also upload to go along with the ebooks
2. Support flash and animated .gifs within ebooks
3. Let people design their own Scribd stores for their web pages using embeddable purchase models
4. Invest in ways to make their documents more like little embedded web browsers with hyperlinks and videos
The first ebook host that develops systems to deal with the evolving shape of ebooks (and which will let ebook publishers be as creative as they want with design and code) will win.
Posted by miracle on Mon, 18 May 2009 11:10:47 -0400 -- permanent link