Kindle pre-pub lockup on potential first ladies’ bios: Yet another argument against DRM and eBabel?
September 10, 2008 | 2:28 pm
Amazon, at least for now, has a Kindle lock-up on a Michelle Obama biography and one of another potential first lady, Cindy McCain. The Obama bio is out today; the McCain one, on September 15, Monday. You’re SOL if you want to read either e-book on your Sony, Palm or iPhone, and so on. Not even the Amazon-owned Mobipocket format will do as of now. Talk about the whims of would-be monopolies and their friends of the moment!
I’m all in favor of publishers and Amazon making money, and I love The Global Pequot Press‘s strategy of, in effect, "We’ll do the Cindy McCain p-book only if her husband is White House bound." No political commentary here. We’re talking about commerce. The Obama book should sell better, simply because she’s done more with her life and there’s more to tell.
Global Pequot’s disservice to the publishing community
But is this the best way for Amazon and Global Pequot to serve readers, and what about the implications for the book world in general? I much prefer a multiplatform approach where books can compete as books rather than through DRM- and eBabel-enforced business arrangements. Meanwhile retailers can battle in more constructive ways, such as through ease of searching and interactivity. That kind competition adds to value for publishers and consumers. DRM and eBabel subtract from it. Let’s make e-books as widely available as possible in a consumer-convenient way. Global Pequot and other publishers with Kindle-centric strategies are doing the publishing community a major disservice, at least in cases where they have the resources for a multiformat approach. Global Pequot definitely does.
Except from Amazon release:
Amazon Kindle customers are getting an exclusive opportunity to download and read Cindy McCain’s biography, "Cindy McCain: Elegance, Good Will and Hope for a New America" by Alicia Colon, and Michelle Obama’s biography, "Michelle Obama: Grace and Intelligence in a Time of Change" by Elizabeth Lightfoot. The Obama biography is available exclusively on Kindle starting today; the physical book is scheduled to be available later this year. The McCain biography is scheduled to be available on Kindle this Monday, September 15; the book will only go to print if John McCain wins the election. These books join many other popular political books available on Kindle in less than 60 seconds, such as "The War Within" by Bob Woodward, "Change We Can Believe In" by Barack Obama, and soon to be available on Kindle, "How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down" by Sarah Palin.
Questionable statement from the Global Pequot Press: "There are no real other options to make an e-book available, other than Sony," says president Scott Watrous. "Because the Kindle is so accessible and because Amazon is such a visible vehicle we decided that was the best way to go." As described by PW, Watrous "said he is not worried about other accounts reacting negatively" to GPP’s Kindle-oriented approach. Anyone in a coma? Sounds that way. If Watrous’s assessment is accurate, someone must be asleep, given the long-term ramifications of the Kindle deal.
Global Pequot pages for books involved: Michelle Obama book here and Cindy McCain book here. Interestingly the pages don’t mention the "If" factor for the P edition of the Cindy McCain book. Was the Amazon deal a last-minute one? Also note the "availability" and "publication" dates (Oct. 15 and Nov. 26, respectively). Both p-books have a $17 price listed. An e-mail form is on each page to keep customers posted. To answer the obvious question, no, I couldn’t find the McCain book listed yet at the Kindle store, the reason you’re seeing just the Obama cover.
Related—on the happier side: Clueful words from Pan Macmillan exec on her house’s DRM-shedding efforts.