Archive for Business News
E Ink Holdings, best known for the screens found on the Kobo Aura, Kindle Paperwhite, and Nook Simple Touch, is raising some money. The company is selling 60 million new shares in a bid to get enough working capital to sustain its business.
The e-paper company has seen some dramatic loses in 2012 of around $25.4 million. The company axed its former CEO Scott Liu, who had been with the company since 2009. E Ink is in a state of flux, as the current climate of the e-reader market is not enough to remain profitable.
In order to sell more shares of the company, E Ink was showing off Seiko electronic watches, credit cards, and electronic shelf labels at an event in Taiwan. The company is hoping to diversify the number of products in its portfolio and reassure investors.
We have talked to a number of key people in the e-paper industry and they are drawing parallels between e-Ink and Neonode. Neonode once had 80% of the e-reader industry using its IR display screens. The first generation Kindle, Kobo, and Nook e-Readers all used this technology to power their screens. The biggest customer Neonode had was Amazon, which accounted for 40% of their business in 2011. Barnes and Noble was the second largest customer with 26%, followed by Sony at 21%, and Kobo with 11%. This amounted to a grand total of $5.8 million dollars earned in 2011. In early, 2012, the CEO of Neonode announced that it lost Amazon as a customer and then lost everyone else. Most of these companies switched to the capacitive touch screen technology and higher resolution that E Ink was offering.
The industry is worried right now that E Ink might meet the exact same fate as Neonode, and both companies have failed to remain relevant outside of the e-paper segment. Still, E Ink does have contracts with a number of large e-reader companies, and its business should be sustainable for the next twelve months. There will be a new Kindle, Nook, and Sony e-reader released within the next five months using the new HD displays.
Hotels are starting to adopt tablets more and more into the business and guests are starting to benefit. In our last article we talked about a recent survey of 53 hotels across the USA found that 82% of guests who had access to the in-suite tablets used them an average of 11 times per stay. Of the guests who used the hotel in-room tablets, 41% ordered in-room food, 21% requested a wake-up call, and 7% called for a housekeeper, according to the study by Intelity. Many guests who were surveyed said they would visit the same hotel again during their travels, because hardly any hotels actually make them available to their guests.
One of the best examples of a hotel adopting tablets is a high-tech boutique hotel called CitizenM, in London. The hotel forgoes the traditional concierge. Instead, guests check themselves in and out on touch computer screens. In each room, a personalized Samsung Galaxy tablet greets guests and lets them control everything from the blinds to the lights on the tablet. Internet access is free and there’s no password. Netflix movies can be watched on the TV from the tablet for no charge. CitizenM says it wants to make guests feel like they’re at home.
Today, we are going to look into each aspect of tablet integration in the traditional hotel and make suggestions on how they can easily be implemented into the existing structure without a ton of investment.
Tablets at the Concierges
Often the concierges need to know the lay of the land and point out local attractions and must see events. Tablets can benefit this sector because they don’t need to carry around bulky maps or outdated pamphlets. Digital tablets can give guests the ability to utilize Google Maps on how to get to a particular destination. Often digital is the best way to go because maps and guidebooks often get outdated very quickly, new restaurants pop up all the time and digital is the way to go.
InterContinental Hotels was the first hotel network to supply their concierges with tablets in April, 2010 in order to provide rapid response to their clients’ requests.
I would recommend not only to outfit your front-end staff with with tablets but to make them available in the hotel lobbies. There is plenty of out of the box Guide software that would inform the guests of local area activities and businesses, including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, spas, and retail stores. Each station would contain a tablet with touch screen technology that allows hotel guests to navigate through activity categories, find where they want to go, and make the most of their time in the city. This is perfect for high-traffic hotels and give guests a chance to interact with a person for advice if they want, or figure things out on their own.
Tablets at the Bar or Hotel Restaurant
More hotels are starting to employ digital menus instead of the more tangible editions. The digital edition allows the hotel to update their menus more often, and cuts down on printing and design. The big buzzword in the hospitality industry is being Eco-friendly. There is nothing more most cost effective and good for the environment then going digital. Hotels can simply make a web version of their menu and have it pop up by default, the tablet locks the customer into only the web-browser and prevents them from accessing any other part of the tablet.
Hotels can update their menus on-demand by making simple front-end web-adjustments, without the need to rely on complicated programing. Drink specials, seasonal specialties, and chefs recommendations often change often, having outdated menus limits a hotel in appealing to their guests. This is also perfect for boutique hotels that have wine tasting sessions and the bottles often change.
I would recommend that hotels invest in a good pedestal and tethering system. This would allow guests to easily interact with the tablets and would prevent theft, but also make them look stylish.
Tablets in the Hotel Rooms
Many hotels are starting to adopt tablets in their boutique hotels, because fewer rooms have a lower overhead than a larger hotel with hundreds of suites. I would recommend if an established hotel is looking to get into offering tablets in the rooms that they be made available in select rooms that are geared towards VIP guests. Guests can gain access to the same data the main concierge offers.
If a hotel is more connected or wired, the tablet would allow customers to adjust the room temperature, air conditioning, order room service, or automatically checkout. They could let the maid know their room is available to be cleaned and even access Netflix and other streaming services on their television to cut down on cable costs. Obviously, most hotels are not really wired too well and it would warrant an investment in a solid wireless solution.
I would recommend that if a hotel wanted to make tablets available in the rooms that you adjust the wording in the check-in document, so that it is clear that if they abscond with it, the cost of the device and software is billed directly to their credit card. Hotels can also charge extra fees to have them in their rooms. Normally $9.99 per day is the industry standard and free for VIP clients.
“For a lot of hotels, it’s an extension of the kiosk mentality,” says Michael Planey, a travel technology analyst. “The app economy is about giving people control of their own environment.”
Tim O’Reilly announced today that the annual conference will be suspended and the company will no longer run its digital publishing conference in New York.
Since 2007, the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference has been the seminal event for professionals and companies engaged with the challenges and opportunities of new publishing technologies and business models. The company had engaging speakers and was often one of the best breeding grounds for new ideas and for industry professionals to meet up and chat about the current state of affairs. Tim mentioned in a statement today, “The decision to discontinue a popular conference was not one we made lightly. But after TOC 2013, we realized that a conference was no longer the best vehicle for us to contribute to publishing’s forward movement.”
O’Reilly seems to be doing away with conferences and focusing more on its tools group. It seems as though the company has all of the intelligence it needs and a better understanding of the industry to push out a series of digital publishing tools that it will market online and offline. The new project is called ‘Atlas’ and is a work in progress.
Tim wrapped up a digital publishing legacy by saying, “TOC was a great ride, and we’ll miss many things about that annual gathering of the future-positive publishing community. Ideas and connections from TOC will continue to inform our work and, we hope, yours. I especially want to thank TOC program chairs Kat Meyer and Joe Wikert for the passion, creativity, and commitment they brought to their work. I wish them well, and am confident that they’ll continue to help shape the publishing industry’s future.”
2012 saw the rise of the digital book and the entire book industry in the United Kingdom is growing. Total digital sales increased by over 66% to £411 million, meanwhile total fiction digital sales up 149% to over £172 million.
Richard Mollet, chief executive at the Publishers’ Association mentioned that schools and education are seeing the largest growth, but still don’t account for very much. “It’s still early days with schools, but their digital sales were up 50%, although only 4% of the total market,” he said. “In academic, digital sales were up 23% to 16% of the total market, and the overall market was just over £1bn, up 0.5% on the previous year. Because we’re such a diverse sector, there are a lot of areas where things can go right to give us the same performance next year. The underlying trend with digital innovation shows we are set fair to perform well, and if the wider economic performance improves in the coming year, that will help.”
One of the big reasons why digital soared to such great heights was the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Many people ended up buying e-readers with promotions that gave them the entire series loaded on their device and carried an anonymity factor. Publishers will have to innovate in new technologies in order to facilitate further growth.
Another big reasons digital caught on in a big way was because both Barnes and Noble and Amazon entered the market and offered their entire line of hardware and ebook distribution systems. This gave the devices more retail visibility, and as the companies battled each other for market share, it lowered the entry level prices.
Over 2,115 book publishers registered for VAT in 2012, which shows that the UK digital scene is vibrant with new players displacing the ones that go out of business. The entire UK book industry saw a modest 4% growth in both digital and tangible.
FastPencil is a multilevel ebook distribution platform for both indie and established authors alike. The company provides cloud software that allows authors to upload their ebooks and then sell them via Apple, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and Kindle. Last July the company ironed out an agreement that will allow its authors the opportunity to have print editions of their books placed in select B&N physical locations. This will potentially put their titles in front of browsing consumers, as well as provide Barnes and Noble with carefully screened content for its stores. FastPencil has announced it has sold its business to the Courier Corporation.
Courier Corporation is one of America’s leading innovators in book manufacturing and content management. The company is heavily invested in the arduous process of manufacturing books with numerous locations spread across the US. Courier has over 1500 employees and was founded in 1824. It first spread its wings in the digital development field, but was doing everything in-house. The FastPencil acquisition gives Courier a solid infrastructure for a continued digital focus and its established relationships with Ingram and Barnes and Noble.
“FastPencil is both a great fit for our existing customer base and a superb means of entry into one of the fastest-growing segments of our industry,” said Courier Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James F. Conway III. “Our current publishing customers will appreciate the extra options presented by FastPencil’s cloud-based collaborative platform, intuitive design and development tools for both print and ebooks, and integrated use of social media at every stage from concept to distribution. And self-publishers, who are already taking advantage of FastPencil’s easy-to-use technology and licensing expertise, will gain tremendous added value on the print side through Courier’s ability to deliver top-quality books at attractive prices, on short order and in virtually any run length.”
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Courier,” said FastPencil co-founder and CEO Steve Wilson. “In doing so, we are not only gaining a world-class print partner, but also enabling our authors to reach out to a far wider audience and increase their potential sales by an order of magnitude.
The president of Bolivia Evo Morales has signed a new law today that removes the 16% tax levied on digital book and physical book sales. The new law also calls for improvements in the country’s libraries.
A number of publishers will benefit from this new law and are likely see more book sales, due to the reduced prices in their physical and digital counterparts. Scholastic is one of the largest companies that has a presence in Bolivia. Perhaps the company that will benefit from this law the most is Bolivian publishing house Martínez-Acchini, in association with McGraw-Hill. Together, these two companies have been actively selling 310 digital textbooks exclusively through a network of brick-and-mortar bookstores. The titles often sell for less than 40 % of their print counterparts and are available immediately.
Bolivia has the dubious distinction of being one of the most pirated book countries in the world. Many major publishers actually stopped selling books and textbooks to that country due to the black market. Fortunately, organized networks of irregular printers established during the ‘90s, both in the country and in Peru, have the power and the tools to all but instantly reproduce any paper book that reaches the market, thus undermining the industry. This has driven up the price for the legitimate textbooks, which most often have students paying a deposit and waiting three weeks for the title to be mailed out to them.
In the most ironic twist to this new law, the president of Bolivia simply hates to read. During a recent press event he said “I have that problem, I don’t like to read.” Here is hoping that his fellow Bolivians do not echo his sentiment.
HarperCollins intends on launching a new digital imprint entitled “Witness” this October. The publishing giant already has close to 100 titles ready to be published, but will start with 10 in the first month. One of the most exciting elements is the royalty payment structure; the company has announced it will pay its writers monthly, to better compete with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.
Witness will feature the same royalty structure as William Morrow/Avon’s other digital-first imprints. Authors receive a 50% royalty once their book sells 10,000 copies (initial royalties start at 25%). Digital first imprints often do not give advances on the titles, such as Karina Press by Harlequin.
Digital first publishing houses often take gambles on unknown writers in the hopes they will sell enough copies to warrant a print edition. Since HarperCollins has an established distribution pipeline with thousands of bookstores, and the company hopes to sway over aspiring writers to their imprint, away from Amazon.
Witness will feature digital versions of Agatha Christie’s short stories. In the fall, Witness will release all the “Hercule Poirot” short stories as digital singles, and then together in a single omnibus edition with a foreword by Charles Todd.
Trekstor has seen a little bit of success with its Pyrus Mini e-Reader in Europe, but is virtually unknown in North America. Today, the company announced a new device that should resonate a little bit better, mainly due to its eight inch screen. It should fill the gap in the market with the severe lack of larger screen e-readers currently being offered.
The Pyrus Maxi features an 8 inch display screen with a resolution of 1024×768 with 160dpi. It has 4 GB of internal memory and the ability to enhance it further with a Micro SD card up to 32 GB. It will be able to read ePUB, PDF (including Adobe DRM), TXT, FB2, RTF, and PDB ebook file types. It also has a solid amount of language support with the ability to read English, German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, and Ukrainian
This device is fairly basic with no audio functionality, no touchscreen, and no WiFi wireless connection. Instead, you will navigate around the e-reader with physical buttons, like the older e-readers of yesteryear. Considering the entry level price of €149, when it comes out May 14th in Italy, it will be quite expensive if you consider what you get. It is also currently available via pre-order via Amazon.de for 160 euros.
Trekstor might see some difficulty in the global e-reader market mainly due to a lawsuit filed in November from E Ink Holdings. The company has been sued over two patents that have to do with electronic screens. This lawsuit basically made the Pyrus Mini e-Reader unsellable until the trial, which is set to formally launch within the next four months. The Chairman of E Ink Holding commented: “We have filed suit because E Ink intellectual property is unfairly exploited. E Ink is the market leader in the manufacture of high-quality intellectual property in the field of electronic screens and strives together with customers, suppliers and industry partners to build a sustainable eco-system. Our intellectual property is one of our major capital investments, which we have built with the hard work by hundreds of scientists and engineers for many years and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development. ”
Trekstor is not using E Ink screens. Instead, it is using display screen technology from Technologies Co. Ltd. Guangzhou OED, which is made in China. It could be considered a knock off, and E Ink is going after any company selling similar screens with extreme vigor. It remains to be seen if E Ink will seek an injunction against this new device.
Barnes and Noble has slashed the entry level price point for a large number of its tablet and e-reader lineup in the United Kingdom. In addition to the discounts, B&N is also donating 1,000 of its NOOK Simple Touch e-Readers to Beanstalk, a national literacy charity that recruits, vets, trains, and supports volunteers in schools.
The UK e-reader scene is quickly getting crowded with Kobo, Amazon, and B&N all vying for customers attention. In order to facilitate more sales and a larger footprint, B&N has reduced the entry level price-point for every single device it is currently selling. The NOOK Simple Touch is now £29, down from £79, while the The NOOK Simple Touch GlowLight is just £69, down from £109. The tablets have also seen a dramatic drop in price with the NOOK HD now available for £129, down from £159 and the NOOK HD+ is now selling for £179, down from £229.
The new pricing for all of Barnes and Nobles devices is partly attributed to a campaign called Get London Reading. Get London Reading was a campaign run by Booktrust, in association with the Mayor of London, to encourage Londoners to make more time for reading, and to celebrate London as an international center for books.
Booktrust issued the Get London Reading Challenge to booksellers, libraries, publishers, and arts organizations to get them to come up with ways of getting Londoners reading. Barnes and Noble says the new pricing scheme is for a limited time only, but my impression is that the company is dropping the prices to compete with other tablets and e-readers commonly available.
The entire publishing industry is undergoing a paradigm shift, as all players are trying to adjust to an ever shifting landscape. Next month at Book Expo America there will be a major keynote session that will seek to address what the future of the book is.
Ingram Content Group Chair and CEO John Ingram will moderate the panel of four industry leaders: ABA Vice President Steve Bercu, co-owner of Austin, Texas’ BookPeople; Jane Friedman, CEO and cofounder of Open Road Integrated Media; Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Book; and Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette Book Group. The discussion will focus on how the shift from print to digital has altered the way books are acquired, developed, distributed, sold, and read. This is a must attend session for any publisher involved in conventional publishing and wants insight on the digital realm.
“Shaping the Future of the Book” is open to all BEA registrants. The event will be held on Wednesday, May 29th, from 1:45 pm to 2:45 pm, in rooms 1E14 – 1E16 at the Javits Convention Center.
Hotels are beginning to move into a more eco-friendly direction to save energy and money. Hotels encourage you to reuse towels, bed sheets, and bath robes a few times before they dispense new ones. Major hotels are looking to differentiate themselves from the competition by providing VIP members with iPads, giving you the bible on a Kindle or booking your entire stay on your tablet.
Gideons International distributed more than 84 million printed copies of the Bible around the world to students, hospitals, members of the military and, of course, hotels, where they are a ubiquitous sight in bedside tables. In order to reduce the carbon footprint, InterContinental Hotels Group has outfitted each of the 148 rooms at the chain’s Hotel Indigo in Newcastle, England with a copy of the bible on an Amazon Kindle e-Reader. Given the high price tag, Hotel Indigo is keeping close tabs on the devices. Just like with fluffy hotel robes, the full cost of any pilfered Kindle will be charged to a guest’s credit card. For the first two weeks of the program, the hotel is allowing guests to download any other religious texts they like, up to $8 in value, for free.
The San Diego Bayfront and the Boston Marriott Long Wharf are doing very interesting things with the Apple iPad. The hotels are providing the concierges with tablets to provide inquiring guests images of the restaurants, clubs, and tourist attractions that they’re recommending. “Today, all of our concierges have most of their restaurant choices and tourist attractions on the iPad. In an old-fashioned hotel, they’d flip through a three-ring binder,” says Marc Hoffman of Sunstone Hotel Investors, which owns 26 upscale chain hotels.
Once you settle into your hotel, often a trip to the bar is one of the first stops you would make, to unwind from a flight and decide what is next. The Hilton San Diego Bayfront has just installed six iPads at the main bar, which function as your own digital menu. If a drinking bar is not your style, the Eventi in New York City, one of Kimpton’s boutique hotels, has changed its business center to be a “Business Bar.” There, guests can choose from a number of options, including six iPads, two iPad Minis, and a reading tablet. You can get productive and play around with a device you wouldn’t normally have access to. Hundreds of other hotels are also incorporating iPads at the front desk, bars, and in the rooms. A few travel websites have cropped up to help point travelers in the right direction.
Many hotels are beginning to provide guests with tablets in their room, which goes far beyond just playing a round of Angry Birds. The New York Plaza hotel has outfitted all of the suites with iPad tablets that allow you to order room service, make restaurant reservations, give wake up calls, check your airline schedules, and even print your boarding pass. The iPad can even control the room’s lighting, heating, and air conditioning, as well as offering guests access to the web.
Travelers are starting to forgo watching television in their rooms and instead reading digital newspapers or ebooks. Many hotels are starting to give guests free access to newspapers on any tablet they might have via Press Reader. Instead of buying issues or subscribing to the service, they will give you free access to over 1,200 international editions, which is a boon to international globetrotters that could care less about the local paper left outside their door.
Tablets in hotels are starting to catch on in a big way. A new study found that 53 hotels across the USA found that 82% of guests who had access to the in-suite tablets used them an average of 11 times per stay. Of the guests who used the hotel iPads, 41% ordered in-room food, 21% requested a wake-up call, and 7% called for a housekeeper, according to the study by Intelity.
In the end, digital adaption in hotels is still a painfully slow process. Many of them are only running pilot programs or only giving access to VIP guests. The vast majority of tablets are locked down into public areas to discourage theft or are reserved for the very loyal members. It seems the hotels most likely to have tablets in the rooms are boutiques or higher end places that might sway someone on the fence with their technological offerings.
Betaworks garnered some attention in the tech world when it purchased social media site DIGG. Today, it was announced that the company has absorbed the read-it-later service Instapaper.
Instapaper originally launched in 2008 and quickly became one of the most beloved apps for the read it later crowd. It is available for PC, MAC, iOS, Android, and a myriad of other platforms. Registering with the PC service only involves choosing a login name and password, no other information is needed. This software basically prompts you enter a slew of links to websites, such as http://goodereader.com/blog/, and imports the entire website into Kindle friendly format or ePub. Once these ebooks are saved on your PC, you can load them onto your e-reader or tablet via Windows Explorer or Calibre. Betaworks also has a bevy of dedicated apps that you can read on, too.
Some cool options that this gives is being able to save an entire website to text and then change the font, font size, margins, and more. Once you get it looking the way you want, you can save it as an ebook. The mobile apps for iOS and Android both cost money, but are a worthy investment.
There is no word yet on the direction or future of Instapaper and how it will look in a year’s time. The main developer has promised to stay on as a consultant, and likely will see further integration with Digg.
The New York Times announced today that it is removing all videos on its website from its Paywall. In the past, you could only watch 10 per month before you had to pay a monthly fee to watch more videos and read articles. Now, it is possible to watch unlimited content without ever having to pay.
The New York Times Paywall system has been live in some form or another since 2011. The shift to giving people enough free content and then making them pay was a savvy one. In the last quarter, circulation revenue rose 16.1% to $257.8 million mainly because of growth in digital subscriptions. NYT currently has a digital subscription base of 640,000 and seems to be increasing by double digit figures every quarter.
The majority of digital subscribers use the website and various apps for mobile phones/tablets to catch up on the days news. The New York Times basically dangles a few free stories to rope people into paying, but there are common ways in the internet browser to bypass it. The shift to free videos will put more eyes on one of the few global newspaper brands and hopefully increase the digital subscription rate.