Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: Amazon.com

Why I don’t own a Kindle

The Kindle seems neat and all, but I’m not going to pay for books that I don’t actually own.

Amazon.com’s album art library

I wonder if a dollar value could be assigned to the free service that Amazon.com unintentionally provides by keeping a library of the album art for nearly every CD ever issued. I’ve probably copied hundreds of CD cover images from Amazon.com to fill out my MP3 collection, and I have obviously never paid a dime for any of them.

There are plenty of ways to access Amazon.com’s library of album art without even visiting the site directly through various applications and Web sites. (See here, here, or here.)

AllCDCovers is trying to build a business around offering album art, but Amazon.com is easier to use.

Amazon.com facilitates this usage by allowing customers to upload product images. For most CDs where Amazon.com has only a thumbnail of the album art, customers have uploaded full sized versions that you can download instead.

Some enterprising economics graduate student should figure how much the service is worth and write a paper on it.

Don’t miss the punchline

I was more impressed by Amazon.com’s iPhone application before I learned how it works. Even so, pretty cool.

More on the state of publishing

Last week I made a flip remark about 10k forms in linking to Tim O’Reilly’s comments on Amazon.com competing with publishers. I wanted to link to his post again and urge you to skip down and read Tim’s responses to commenters to get a better idea of exactly what he’s talking about.

Tim points out that right now, there are only three wholesale buyers of computer books, and two of them are ceding a large part of the market to the third. Here’s his example:

Let me give you an example of how today’s much more consolidated marketplace makes it harder to place publishing bets. Borders and B&N have largely thrown in the towel on many high end books, saying “Amazon’s going to get that business anyway.” So they’ve shrunk their computer book sections, and are taking zero copies of important books, even from important publishers like us. We recently told them of our plans for a Hadoop book for instance, and both B&N and Borders said they won’t carry it. That leaves us with Amazon. Amazon will pre-order only a couple of hundred copies.

I’ve had to fight with my publishing team to get this book approved, since they’re worried that they won’t make back the investment it will take to bring it to market. It’s a lot easier to be sure of making money on a book like Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, to which the chains will commit an advance order of thousands of copies. Now that’s also good publishing, but you can see how the opportunities are shrinking.

Links for April 16

Links for April 14

My prediction for music DRM

It seems that the recent trend in the music industry has been to make tracks available without DRM but to snub Apple by refusing to allow them to sell the DRM-free tracks through the iTunes Music Store. I suspect that this is a sort of vigilante antitrust action by the record companies that they hope will enable them to recapture a bit of power relative to Apple.

Currently, there are a lot more DRM-free MP3s available for download through Amazon.com than there are through iTunes Music Store, and Sony’s catalog hasn’t been made available yet. It was supposed to be available from Amazon.com at the end of January, but it looks like they missed their date.

I suspect that once Amazon.com has captured a good chunk of the market, the labels will migrate their catalogs to iTunes Plus so that both sites can compete with one another on equal ground. In the meantime, they’re playing favorites to escape from the clutches of Apple. One thing that’s interesting to me is that Amazon.com is actually lowering the price of music downloads, I’m not sure where that fits into the labels’ plans.

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