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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Barnes & Noble and Microsoft Form 'Newco'--A New Chapter for Ebooks

Once upon a time - seems like a long time ago - there were two massive companies controlling their markets: Microsoft had a death-grip on computer operating systems, browsers and office/productivity software; Barnes & Noble led the bookselling industry with stores across country and by 2000 was the second-largest online bookseller in the United States. Today, both are struggling. MS never figured out social media and their stiff-arm tactics (within the industry and with users) enraged many - along with their products that were buggy, overpriced and constant targets of spam and viral attacks. Despite deep pockets, MS has been little more than an also-ran in today's mobile, online environment. BN hasn't the deep pockets to wage a serious challenge to Amazon. MS may have the money, but no serious products to wage battle for position in the marketplace.

Perhaps it was bound to happen, money meets a poorly-funded but competent challenger to Amazon's ebook throne - and Newco was born. Details on the collaboration are still being roughed-out, but I was able to get what information is now available for a news blog on Information Today's NewsBreaks. The blog entry is "Barnes & Noble and Microsoft Form 'Newco'--A New Chapter for Ebooks" and you might want to give it a read.

Can Microsoft regain its footing and successfully move into this arena? MS was perhaps the most important proponent of electronic books in the CD-ROM era - can they recapture their mojo here? Will an infusion of much needed capital help Barnes & Noble and their Nook product take on the current champ?

The ebooks story continues to unfold.

The Ebook Wars Continue

Ebooks are providing a very interesting drama today, due at least in part to the dislocations in major industries due to technological change and the rise of a truly mobile, online 24/7 global culture. Judge Denise Cote recently rejected a motion to dismiss antitrust charges against Apple and major book publishers - so the cases go on.

For anyone around in the 1980s when MPEG, JPEG and other standards and industry changes were in play, watching this ebook saga is particularly interesting since back in the 1980s the stakes weren't as immediate and the 'deals' were worked behind closed doors at very initial stages of what was then called multimedia. Today, perhaps due to the arrogant attitudes of JP Morgan exes and others who feel above the fray, companies and individuals are amazingly (and arrogantly) open about their intentions and efforts to grab power and dominance. Check out the Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs bio for some amazingly open comments on Apple's efforts to control markets.

An article I wrote on some of the latest twists and turns to the ebook story have been published in the May SEARCHER magazine as "The Ebook Wars - Amazon Versus the Rest" and it was posted publicly. You might want to give it a good look.

And....keep tuned in, this story is far from over.

Your thoughts?