Articles by Kirk Biglione

Kirk has spent most of his life working in, and analyzing, the Media. A self-described music-geek, Kirk has worked in radio, written for music industry publications, and developed scores of websites. Kirk's consulting firm, Oxford Media Works, specializes in development of digital media strategies, web publishing systems, and WordPress CMS training for small businesses. Follow Kirk on @kirkbiglione

How the Apple Tablet Will Help Amazon Dominate the eBook Market

After two years of non-stop rumors and wild speculation the Mythical Apple Tablet (aka the Unicorn) will apparently become a reality later this month.

Among other things, the Unicorn is expected to single handedly (hoofedly?) save newspapers, magazines, and book publishers, while simultaneously killing Amazon’s Kindle. That’s a tall order for a device that no one outside of Apple has actually seen yet. These expectations are not surprising considering the amount of wishful thinking that has been projected onto the device by print industry insiders desperate for salvation in a world that is increasingly turning digital.

I have no intention of adding to the ill-informed speculation about the Unicorn’s specifications or magickal capabilities. Instead, I’d like to take a moment to dissect the claim that an Apple tablet will somehow kill the Kindle.

The logic seems to be that Apple’s tablet will provide a superior user experience to the Kindle (a reasonable assumption), and that consumers will favor a multi-purpose device over a dedicated reading device (probably true). As a result, the tablet is expected to become the digital reading device of choice. In other words, the Kindle is toast!

Well, maybe. (more…)

Book Piracy Is on the Decline

Finally, some good news for publishers.

All year we’ve been hearing predictions that the book business is on its death bed — about to be completely transformed by ebooks, then eaten alive by pirates. Yet, despite recent reports to the contrary it turns out that book piracy is on the decline.

Based on piracy loss estimates published by the International Intellectual Property Alliance and generated by the Association of American Publishers, book piracy dropped over 13% between 2005 and 2007 (the most recent year that data is available).

The numbers look like this:
(more…)

Is Book Sharing Really a Threat to Publishing?

Last week bookseller Barnes and Noble unveiled the Nook, its long-awaited eReading device. Although ill-named, the Nook is a worthy competitor to the Kindle, offering a number of features not found on the Amazon device, including LendMe, a feature that allows for controlled sharing of ebooks. While the sharing feature comes with a number of limitations, it would appear to be a small but important step towards making DRM-restricted content slightly more flexible for consumers. There’s just one problem — publishers want no part of the Nook’s LendMe feature.

Publishers Lunch reported last week (registration required) that many large publishing houses have indicated that they won’t participate in the LendMe program.

To be clear, the LendMe feature is extremely limited. Books are lent for a maximum of 14 days. And unlike the library, there are no extensions. When a book is lent, the lender loses access, and once the book is returned to the lender it can never be lent again.

So, why are publishers opposed to the Nook’s crippled ebook sharing scheme? As one Unnamed Publishing Executive told Publishers Lunch:

“if publishers agree to lending then every ebook offer now and in the future will come with this consumer feature. Over time, I’m concerned that lending won’t grow the market and in fact could hurt it.”

What Unnamed Publishing Executive seems to fear most is a sense of consumer entitlement. If consumers have the right to share ebooks now, they’ll expect to have that right until the end of time. Never mind the fact that consumers share print books all the time. Since the sharing of books is apparently a bad thing, we can only assume that the ease with which consumers share printed books is a flaw inherent in the print format. Fortunately publishers can correct that flaw in the digital realm through the liberal use of oppressive DRM.

I suppose this worldview shouldn’t come as a surprise. If the history of digital media has taught us one thing it’s that media companies see the digital future as an opportunity to exert extreme control over how consumers use and interact with content.

(more…)

TOC Frankfurt Wrap-Up

In some ways, TOC Frankfurt was like every other TOC conference. The event brought together the usual assortment of publishing professionals, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders to discuss the future of an industry in the midst of a massive transformation. Over the past three years TOC has emerged as the go to source for publishers looking to expose themselves to innovative ideas and the cutting edge technology that is shaping the future of the book business.

TOC Frankfurt differed from previous TOC conferences in a few notable ways, however. First, the event lasted just a single day, rather than the usual three. As a result, attendees got what might best be described as a concentrated dose of the TOC vision. Then there was the fact that the conference was being held in Europe for the first time. The Frankfurt conference had a distinctly more international feel to it than previous TOCs. And finally, there was the post-conference media coverage, some of which was less than flattering.

(more…)

Dear Google: My Name is Not Monday

Google Snail Mail SPAM I used to think of Google as a friend in my personal battle against spam. The company has done an exceptional job of keeping my inbox free of unwanted pharmaceutical ads. Unfortunately, I’ve recently come to realize that Google may have a double standard when it comes to physical junk mail.

Over the past few weeks I’ve received several marketing letters from Google by way of the U.S. postal service. Each letter was unremarkable by itself. Each included an identical offer of credit towards the Google AdWords service. The only thing notable about these letters is that each one was addressed to:

Monday February
Captain Copyright Has Left the Building
Medialoper

If I understand this correctly, someone at Google thinks that Monday February is a person who works in the Captain Copyright Has Left the Building department at Medialoper.

The first time around I found the letter amusing. The second time I began to wonder how a Google bot could make such a careless parsing error. By the time I received the third letter I became convinced that something truly odd was happening. (more…)