Recently, Amazon quietly announced a price drop for it’s Kindle 2 e-reader. Slashing $60 from the price to $299, the Kindle is now coming closer to the price of other ebook readers. If Amazon wants the Kindle to be competitive in any way, it had too. Sony, not to be out done, not only slashed prices, but also came out with two new devices. The E-Reader Pocket for $199 and the E-Reader Touch for $299 and will be out by the end of August. The older Sony E-Reader 505 is $279, and can be found at Staples stores now. Bebook, another competitor is also $279. Cooler Books has it’s own e-reader now, the Cool Reader, which looks a lot like an iPod and comes in different colors, and is only $249.
Sony, in an attempt to be competitive with the Amazon and it’s Kindle, announced this week it would be releasing two new versions of it e-reader and a price drop on it’s books. The Reader Pocket edition is slightly smaller than the original e-Reader, with a 5 in diagonal screen, and a price point of $199, $100 lower than the Kindle 2. The Touch Edition will have the standard 6in diagonal screen and has a touch screen with virtual keyboard. The touch screen will give the reader a more book like experience with page turns and the ability to highlight and add notes with a finger or stylus. And Sony will now match Amazon’s price on new, bestsellers of $9.99.
While the drop in prices are nice, and may attract more people to Sony, it still doesn’t have a wireless connection. Users of the Sony E-Reader have to download their books to their computers and then upload them to the E-Reader. After Amazon’s “1984” fiasco, is that really a bad thing? Sure, it might be convenient to be able to download a book anytime (in the US only), but Amazon has shown it can and will take back books from the Kindle. Even though they’ve said they won’t do that again, can they really be trusted?
I think Sony marketing should grab up this ball and run with it! Turn the lack of Whispernet into an advantage, instead of the disadvantage everyone keeps making it. “The Sony e-Reader: No Takebacks.” Push that the user has control over the device and what goes on, AND comes off it. I personally prefer to have control over the content I buy and put on the hardware I buy. I’m enough of an adult to take responsibility for what I download and install, and don’t need a “big brother” looking over my shoulder. If Amazon wants to be another Apple, then Sony should try to be a Google.
Manga’s version of the “Sub vs Dub” debate
And that’s the reason. Semantics is the study of meanings, and to writers and historians, meanings matter. Fans and businesses exploiting the power of the word ‘manga’ are tapping in to one of the oldest magics known to man – the belief that real names have real power, and that attaching a name to a thought or act can give it weight, can bring it into being. But to me, attaching the word ‘manga’ to non-Japanese comics doesn’t change anything important about those comics, and may well dilute and weaken the power of the word in its original form.
This title has not been solicited in Previews! I’ve been watching! Waiting!! It’s the last volume!!! Aw, come on Tokyopop! You got my hopes up by putting up this late last year, and now…what? Will it come out, or won’t it? Why do you enjoy torturing me like this?! I don’t care what kind of paper it’s printed on. I don’t care if it’s only available to read online. Just tell me the truth! Can you or can’t you? Will you or won’t you? Why do you continue with these teasings? Why are you so cruel?!?!??! WWWWHHHHHHYYYYYYY?????!!!!!!!
What would it take to get you to buy a Kindle? Amazon’s ebook reader seems to be selling okay (not that we’ve seen any numbers), but there are a lot of people who haven’t taken to it, or any other e-book reader device. And why should they? Books work just fine, and buying them is cheaper than the electronic gadget. Amazon boasts to have thousands of ebooks, but very, very few that would interest readers of this blog, namely manga. What if Amazon tried to sweeten the deal? Would you go for it?
Amazon.com isn’t resting on it’s laurels with the Kindle. The Kindle 2.0 was only just releases in February, but less than 3 months later, they already have a new model out, the Kindle DX. It features a larger screen, 9.75 in, integrated PDF support and auto rotating from portrait to landscape.
Today, Amazon.com had a big press event to unveil the newest generation of its e-book reader, the Kindle. Speculation has been running about for while now that Amazon would release a new reader with leaked photos, increased orders of screens, and a long reorder wait at the Kindle store.
So, what’s new about it? Well, not much. There were some cosmetic changes, which many people called for when it first came out in late 2007. It’s lighter and thinner, has an estimated 25% increase in battery power, and more memory that will allow it to hold nearly 6 times more books.
What’s in it for manga readers? Again, not much. It does boast a new screen that is capable of showing 16 shades of gray, as opposed to the first generation that could only show 4. This would definitely improve the quality of black and white pictures, which makes up most manga releases.
What hasn’t changed? The two most important things that would make the Kindle relevant to manga readers; price and content. The price hasn’t changed, so it’s still $359. But in this economy, that prices the reader out of LOT of people’s range. Prices under $200 seems to be the magical limit for most consumers. The Kindle was designed to be and remains a tool for the affluent and/or business person on the go. This is most reflected in the content available for it. You can get 103 of 110 New York Times best sellers, 230,000 total e-books, and 250 blogs and 23 newspapers. A search of the Kindle store will give you just three manga volumes; Maximum Rider and World of Quest from Yen Press, and Japan Ai from Go Comi, and zero blogs.
This upgrade of the Kindle is more of a 1.75 than a 2.0. They fixed some little issues and made some cosmetic changes, but little else. There’s still no graphic support without hacking, and although files can be converted, there’s no support for other formats than the Kindles mobibook. The SD slot was also taken out, so your 2GB of memory is it.
Jeff Bezos says “Our [Amazon’s] vision for the Kindle is to have every book ever printed, in any language, all available in under 60 seconds.” I would think that would include manga, manga publishers would have to get serious about the format, and not just scoff it. And then there are issues of licensing and price to consider, with Amazon pushing for lower prices, and taking 65% of that price. Like the Apple Apps store, maybe it’s just not worth it to publishers, which would truly be a shame.
Is the Kindle 2.0 worth it? Unless you’re a tech hound, or travel a lot for business, no. Stay with paper books for now.
Lissa of Kuriosity did some searching of Amazon for Tokyopop titles, and while she spotted some new licenses, I’m more concerned with the fates of older series. Some of my favorites that show their staying power such as Chibi Vampire and Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo appear frequently on the list. Manga based on properties such as TV, video games and Harper Collins YA novels also seem to be doing well for them as they alot as well.
But what really caught my eye was the relisting of Dragon Voice Volume 11! The final volume was cancelled from it August 2008 listing, and I thought it was gone for good. I don’t think it sold all that well, so to see it listed for a July 2009 release raises my hopes some what. I won’t have to live the rest of my life not knowing how it ends! I was also surprised to see that Lupin III: Most Wanted also appeared on the list. I didn’t think that one sold well either, but it’s got two volumes over a six month period, which appears to complete this series as well.
Perhaps then there is hope that Kindaichi Case Files might get it’s last volume? Tokyopop never officially confirmed it’s end, other than to cancel the solicitation for January 2009, and internet rumors. Perhaps the news of its death was premature? I sure do hope so. I’d rather wait a few years to get the end of my favorite titles than to see them vanish forever.
Earlier this week, I ranted about manga publishers and their head-in-the-sand attitudes toward digital distribution of books. One of their seemingly cited reasons for not supporting digital books is the lack of e-readers in circulation. Sony and Amazon seem to be trying to rectify that.
Growing up, my family never had a lot of spending money, and we never got allowances like kids do today! But, when you’re in that kind of situation, you learn a fun, new pastime; Window Shopping. That’s where you go to stores or malls and look at all things you would buy if you had the money.
With the proliferation of the internet, it has become Screen Shopping, I guess. And it’s so much easier now, with the store only being a click away. You can “wander” for hours looking at all the things you want to buy. For me, that’s manga, of course. Amazon.com and Half.com have become my favorite Screen Shopping sites. I’ll drop in on Ebay every once in a while as well, just to see if there are any long runs I might be interested in. I’m not going to buy, just to look. But these sites have a secret weapon to use again us Screen Shoppers; Wish lists. With just a click or two of the mouse, and there’s a long list of wishes just waiting to be granted. For Christmas and birthdays, they’re useful. But for the rest of the year, they’re there, taunting you. Trying to seduce you with super low prices and 4-3 deals.
A few weeks ago, I was able to resist that temptation. My youngest daughter’s birthday is coming up, and we decided to get some books from Amazon, with the 4-3 deal. But to get the free shipping (another weapon they use to get you), we had to order a couple of more books to reach the prerequisite $25. So what’s the first thing I do? Go to my wishlist to see what manga I can get! Oh, it was so tempting too. I have a bunch that are 4-3 as well. And I missed a few volumes too. (With all the series’s I was buying, that’s hardly surprising). I could get the free shipping AND complete some series! But, I also missed a few volumes from series’ my husband and oldest daughter were reading, so I wanted to get those too.
When I finally went to place the order, I start adding books. First, the gifts for my youngest. Then, my husband’s, and finally my oldest. Just with those, we have the free shipping and one free book. With two more, it could be another free book… That temptation fluttered in front of me like a Hell Butterfly… But then, I thought of the piles of books I still had to read, personal and for review. And adding to that pile just didn’t sit right with me. I had said was going to cut down my manga, and I had to keep to it! So with great determination, I completed the order WITHOUT my books!
They are still sitting there, those books in my wish lists. Half.com sends me emails where there have been updates and changes. And just like a good Screen Shopper, I look through them and then delete the email. It’s nice to know that they are there for when I finally get through my backlog. Or maybe I’ll be able to trade for some of them and be able to just delete them. But I know that list will never go away. Just like all the displays in shop windows.