2010 Predictions
Has the Magazine Industry Heard of the iPhone?

Eliminating the Kindle Content Middleman

NewspaperDirectDear content owners/producers/publishers, please wake up!  Why does everyone assume that you have to go through Amazon if you want to reach Kindle customers?  That's simply not true and NewspaperDirect is the latest service to prove the point.

One of my biggest frustrations with the Kindle is the limited content that's available for it.  300,000, 400,000 or even a million titles sounds like a lot...till the title you want isn't included in that total.  That happens to me about half the time and it's an even bigger problem with newspapers and magazines.  The Kindle is more than 2 years old and for the longest time there were only a couple dozen newspapers available for it.  Even today there's still less than 100, and that number includes a lot of recent (and if customer comments are any indication, lame) additions to the service.

Enter NewspaperDirect.  As their press release indicates, they're offering Kindle versions of more than 1,400 newspapers and magazines from 93 countries.  1,400+.  Wow.  OK, the downside is that you have to manually load the content from your computer to your Kindle via USB cable.  Bummer.  Why don't they just partner with KindleFeeder and enable wireless delivery like KindleFeeder's RSS service?  (And even if Amazon ultimately deems that a violation of its terms of service, how about creating a simple desktop app that automatically pushes the content to my Kindle if it's connected via USB so that I don't have to do it manually?)

Btw, one of my other complaints about Kindle newspapers is how they're rendered on the device.  All the Kindle newspapers and magazines I've subscribed to scored well on text but poorly on design.  NewspaperDirect's approach is far from perfect, but as you can see from the demo video below, at least they let you see the original formatted page.  Come on, Amazon...why haven't you already implemented this feature on your own subscriptions?!

My employer, O'Reilly Media, Inc., also sells Kindle content directly, btw.  We sell it from our own website as well as on Amazon's site.  I'm amazed that almost no other publisher has gone with this same two-pronged approach.  The e-content world needs more NewspaperDirect's and O'Reilly's to prevent Amazon from becoming the only outlet for Kindle content.


Bradley Robb

The largest reason I've seen for people holding off on skirting Amazon to get to the Kindle is DRM. To my knowledge, the only DRM that the Kindle supports is that attached to the AZW files (Amazon's twist on the .mobi format). Of course, O'Reilly doesn't need to worry about that, but less forward-thinking or risk-averse companies still think that DRM is a good thing.

The other major reason I've seen is that the easiest way to get people to buy eBooks is to make the process as easy as possible. It's hard to get easier than the Whispernet.

Chris Bates

I too am at a loss why publishers are not pushing content for Kindle directly from their own sites. It seems like a no-brainer. If only because I tend to search for reading content via Google and not Amazon. Google is my - and millions of others - retail window display. Sure, I don't buy from Google, but that's the door I walk through to get to O'Reilly, Amazon, etc.

Surely publishing companies realise they can direct sell Kindle content from their own site? Or do they believe Amazon is the only distribution point in a medium where the distribution channels have truly broken down?

This is kind of like visiting a post office and asking to use their computer to check your email. Then flicking them a buck for the privilege. Pretty dumb. Not to mention suicidal for your bottom line.

Oh, well, I guess such lazy retail practice keeps Jeffro happy over at Amazon.

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