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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Penguin, Overdrive, and Amazon: Kindle Library Lending Gets Complicated

Kindle owners found themselves targeted recently in a fairly unpleasant way.  Penguin USA, one of the largest publishers in the world, decided that it would be a smart business move to pull their entire collection of publications from libraries across the country for Kindle owners.  Everybody else, including owners of competing eReaders like the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch, could still get these books.  Now, while things have been temporarily dealt with since then – Penguin has temporarily stopped singling out the Kindle users entirely – new Penguin books will not be made available anymore and there is reason to believe that the event will recur unless Penguin and OverDrive (the service providing eBook lending services for most libraries these days) are able to work out a deal by the end of the year.

Neither Penguin nor OverDrive has said anything about the exact details of Penguin’s problems.  OverDrive was simply sent word to disable the “Get for Kindle” functionality for all Penguin eBooks immediately.  There was not even a warning sent to the affected libraries before the change took effect, which led to a great deal of ill will.  These libraries purchase each copy of the eBooks they rent out and as such were left sitting on the results of essentially wasted money that could not be lent out despite Kindle-owning customer demand.  The expected outcry for massive refunds, which would certainly have garnered a great deal of public sympathy, might well explain Penguin’s temporary capitulation.

Many have believably argued that this is a direct response to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library that Amazon launched recently for their Prime members.  The timing certainly fits.  Amazon got around the fact that major publishers have refused to buy into this new program by focusing on their KDP titles, smaller publishers, and by outright purchase of each rented eBook that they could get their hands on through wholesale arrangements.  This last move is what causes the ill will since many publishers and authors feel that this exceeds the scope of their current relationships with Amazon.

While nobody involved in the Prime lending library is directly losing money, a major worry in the industry is that eBooks will lose perceived value.  If customers start thinking of eBooks as somehow inherently cheaper that printed books, then printed Book sales will suffer and publishers would be forced to rely on sales of the eBooks, which means being subject to Amazon and Barnes & Noble even more than they are now.  This is the same sort of reasoning that brought on the behind-the-scenes deal with Apple to fix prices of eBooks around the time the iBooks store opened up.

I would say that this is going to go poorly for Penguin.  While their need to react is understandable given that they feel wronged, the targeting was off a bit.  Instead of attacking Amazon directly, they have gone after their own readers.  Yes, the Amazon deal with OverDrive increases the incentive to purchase a Kindle, but going after libraries doesn’t do a lot to make you look better to a customer base that loves to read.  The Kindle is unlikely to be pushed out of the #1 slot in eBook Readers any time soon, even if all the major publishers pulled out of the library system in the same way.  It’s difficult to understand what Penguin is still hoping to accomplish here.

Amazon Expands Prime Video Offerings For Kindle Fire Release With PBS Deal

While it does other things as well, in a lot of ways the Kindle Fire seems to be intended to do for internet video what the Kindle eReader line has done for the eBook.  While Amazon hasn’t quite got the content of, say, Netflix, they’re doing a great job of building up the lists in preparation for the launch of the new media tablet.  Deals have been made with the likes of Fox, CBS, and others to offer a selection that will cater to practically any taste.  The big trick is to get people interested in buying.

In order to ease customers into the experience, new Kindle Fire owners will be getting a month of free Amazon Prime membership.  Now, in addition to the well known benefit of free two day shipping on almost anything Amazon.com sells for the duration of a Prime membership, everybody with said membership get to stream a fairly large segment of the Amazon Instant Video library for free any time they want to.  It isn’t the whole collection by any means, but there’s been some good stuff there.

Now there is even more.  Amazon has arranged to make a large selection of popular PBS titles available as part of the Prime package.  This will include Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Julia Child’s The French Chef, and a great deal more.  All told, over 1,000 new episodes will show up over the next couple months, bringing the general total of this free streaming category to over 12,000.  PBS has declared that this is part of a larger overall strategy to bring their programming to anybody who wants it whenever and wherever they want to experience it.

Obviously this works out well for customers.  Freely available content is nice and it will give people a chance to assess the value of the Amazon Prime program on an individual basis.  For Amazon it’s even more useful since it gives them an opportunity to impress. They’re reportedly selling the Kindle Fire for a slight loss on every unit, which means that money has to be made through other avenues besides hardware.  Amazon Prime membership is one of those.  This means that the company has every incentive to make the service worth the $79 annual fee.  As most people who have used this service come to realize, it tends to be.  It also lets people test out their own situation with streaming video in terms of connectivity and reliability.  Nobody wants to be stuck spending money on video without knowing if they will actually be able to watch it.  The trial is good news for all involved.

It’s likely this won’t be the last we hear about expanded video content in the next few months.  That includes both Prime and regular content, of course, but the service is clearly poised to expand.  With the recent dissatisfaction with Internet Streaming giant Netflix, it’s a good time to be presenting customers with an alternative opportunity.  If you’re a fan of this sort of technology, it’s something to keep an eye on around and immediately following the Kindle Fire launch.