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Amazon, the world largest retailer of books, has announced that its electronic book sales has surpassed the sales of hardcover books in its store.

The Kindle, Amazon's electronic book reader, has been on sale for just under three years and has grown to encompass 650,000 books for sale, including 105 of the 110 books on the New York Times bestseller list. Kindle books are also available for sale on computers and via the Kindle iPad application. In the last three months, the company says that for every 100 hardcover books sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. In the past month, that number has grown to 180 Kindle books sold for every 100 hardcovers.

Price, of course, is the major attractor to Kindle editions: over 510,000 Kindle books are sold at US$9.99 or less, including 75 New York Times bestsellers. 

"We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle - the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189," said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of

Amazon has just released an update to its larger Kindle DX reader, which features an upgraded e-ink screen that is even more like print. 

The presence of cadmium in the printing of Shrek collectors glasses has forced McDonalds to issue a recall. More than 12 million drinking glasses were produced, of which 7 million have already been sold.

The drinking glasses, produced by New Jersey-based ARC International, were found to have an unacceptable amount of the cadmium in the paint. The glasses have been on sale since May 21 on both sides of the border. The carcinogen was discovered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"It is important to note that the glasses were evaluated by an independent third-party laboratory and determined to be fully in compliance with all applicable Canadian requirements at the time of manufacture and distribution," stated a McDonalds Canada press release. In Canada, there are 1.4 million Shrek glasses in circulation.

"McDonald’s Canada has a longstanding, cooperative relationship with Health Canada, and continues to work with them as testing protocols evolve and new scientific information becomes available."

McDonalds has requested customers to stop using the glasses and to contact its service centre at 1-877-495-5502 with any questions. Owners can take the glasses back to any McDonalds for a cash refund.

E-ink manufacturer Plastic Logic has announced it plans to release a colour version of e-ink technology by 2012. While e-ink is still in the process of gaining mainstream adoption, monochrome versions of the technology are currently being used by dozens of eReader devices, such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader.

According to Electronics Weekly, Achim Neu, Director SCM at Plastic Logic, speaking to the International Electronics Forum 2010 in Dresden, announced: "We have built a colour display and it is working at our Cambridge laboratory."

Unlike the traditional LCD technology used by the iPad, colour e-ink only requires power to refresh the screen. E-ink screens also generally fare well under direct light, unlike LCDs, making it ideal for replicating a print experience. Plastic Logic is launching a business-focused monochrome device this June called the QUE. The company is producing readers from its new $100-million factory in Dresden.

Photo by Willow (Chengyin)Apple has started taking preorders for the iPad in Canada and selected regions around the world. Canadian pricing for each device will be $50 more then its counterpart in the United States, despite the exchange rate standing at nearly par.

While the devices have been exported around the world via the grey market, Apple says the iPad will be in customers' hands by May 28. In Canada, Rogers has so far been named as the sole provider of 3G data for the device. Like AT&T, Rogers will offer a 250 megabyte option for $15 a month, however, Canadians will not get the $30 unlimited plan – Rogers will instead offer a five gigabyte cap for $35. A previous announcement stating existing Rogers data users can tie the iPad to their plans has since been dismissed by the company, sparking criticism by potential buyers.

In Canada, the iPad ranges from $549 to $879 depending on storage capacity and 3G capability. In the United States since its launch in early April, the device has sold more than one million units. 

Apple announced that it has sold its one millionth iPad on Friday April 30, just 28 days after its introduction in the United States. The number bests the company's record for sales of the original iPhone, which took 74 days to hit the milestone.

The company said that iPad users have downloaded 12-million apps from its App Store, but only 1.5-million ebooks. This indicates that most users have yet to be converted to ebooks, when it comes to their novel-reading experience.

The company delayed its international launch of the iPad until the end of this month, however, many have imported the device from the United States. Israel, fearing the device's wireless signals would interfere with its own signals, had banned the device's import, but have since removed the ban.

The device has caused a new wave of applications to be developed to take advantage of the iPad's screen and processing prowress. More than 5,000 iPad-specific applications have been released in April. The iPad will also run most iPhone applications, with the exception of those which rely on camera functionality. 

In the United States, the device costs between $499 and $829 (pricing varies based on storage capacity and 3G wireless capabilities). The company has only in the last week started shipping the 3G-capable version, which allows users to surf the Internet wherever AT&T signals are available. In Canada, Rogers has announced it will be supporting the iPad at launch, although pricing has yet to be announced. In the United States, AT&T offers contract-less data plans for the device.

The Canadian government has given U.S. online retailer giant permission to set up a domestic distribution centre. In exchange, Amazon will actively promote Canadian content as well as invest over $20 million in the country.

Amazon has had access to the Canadian marketplace for over eight years through, but shipping was always from the U.S. via a Canada Post subsidiary.

"For Canadians, this means jobs. It also means an investment of over $20 million into the Canadian economy," said Heritage Minister James Moore to the House of Commons. "What this means for Canadian authors is that they will have more opportunity to sell their excellence to an international audience. This is good for Canada."

Funding has also been promised by Amazon to promote Canadian books both domestically and abroad.

Canada is currently the only country in which Amazon sells to, but does not have a local distribution centre. Ownership laws in Canada strictly limit foreign ownership of book publishing and distribution to Canadian firms and Canadian-controlled joint ventures. was previously repeatedly refused any physical Canadian presence, including a brick and mortar store and a telephone support centre. In 2002, Indigo Books & Music challenged's distribution agreement with Canada Post, claiming it circumvented Investment Canada laws. The case was dropped in 2004.

In a candid interview with The Canadian Press, Transcontinental President and CEO François Olivier iterated his belief in the print medium even in the face of emerging technologies like e-books and other forms of digital publishing.

"We see print and the new media co-existing for a very, very long time," said Olivier after an annual shareholders meeting last Thursday.

Nevertheless, Olivier went on to say that he predicts digital versions of traditional print media could take as much as 20 percent away from printing and that it would be "a big big big thing for [Transcontinental]." Transcontinental is heavily invested in both traditional and new media.

Olivier also commented to Canadian Press on the possibility of Transcontinental acquiring portions of CanWest's assets, but told the reporter that the company has no interest in becoming a daily newspaper publisher.

Rémi Marcoux, Executive Chairman of the Board and founder of Transcontinental, said the following at the shareholders' meeting: "The world is changing every day and this is even more true since the recent recession. Transcontinental was born out of change. We will continue to evolve in pace with our customers, whether businesses or consumers, to meet their new needs and new expectations. I view the future with great confidence." 

Read the full Canadian Press report here.

The New York Times Company yesterday announced plans to reintroduce a pay-based metered model for users to access articles from its property, at the beginning of 2011.

The New York Times newspaper, which feeds with much of its content, is described as the third-bestselling newspaper in the United States, behind the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Between 2005 and 2007, The New York Times Company (NYTC) ran an unsuccessful paid subscription service, called TimesSelect, for specific parts of its Website.

New plans for the metered model comes a couple months after Rupert Murdoch announced that News Corp. is to extend its online paywall model beyond the Wall Street Journal to other prime newspaper assets like London's Times. The model is to offer users free access to a set number of articles per month and then charge users once they exceed that number.

"We were also guided by the fact that our news and information are being featured in an increasingly broad range of end-user devices and services, and our pricing plans and policies must reflect this vision," said Janet Robinson, CEO of NYTC, in a press release.

Beyond its 159-year-old namesake paper, NYTC holds two other significant worldwide entities in The Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune, as well as 16 other daily newspapers and over 40 Websites.

"Our new business model is designed to provide additional support for The New York Times' extraordinary, professional journalism," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman of NYTC and Publisher of The New York Times. "Our audiences are very loyal and we believe that our readers will pay for our award-winning digital content and services."

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is to include several e-reader and tablet-computing debuts, including a dual-screen, full-colour, non-E Ink device from Taiwan-based MSI, as well as a $199 tablet reader by Freescale, the chip provider for Amazon's Kindle. On the other end of the size scale, a company called Interead will be introducing the smallest e-reader, weighing in at 5.8 ounces for a 6-inch E Ink screen.

More details have also emerged for the e-reader venture of Hearst Corporation, Skiff. The Skiff Reader, which has a somewhat vague release date of "2010" features the largest e-paper display on the market, a 11.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 pixels.

The large size of the device allows better reproduction of newspaper and magazine content. The device weighs just one pound and features a touchscreen display by LG Display. Connectivity will be handled by Sprint via 3G, but the e-reader is also capable of WiFi connections.

Apple, meanwhile, will be announcing its Tablet device on January 27, at least according to the Wall Street Journal, to be shipped in March.

Hearst Corporation has announced its own consumer e-reading device, scheduled to launch in 2010. The service, named Skiff, will "feature a comprehensive selection of newspapers, magazines, books and other content from multiple publishers, uniquely optimized for wireless delivery to devices and delivery via the Web."

“Skiff’s goal is to connect publishers and marketers with consumers,” said Gilbert Fuchsberg, president of Skiff, which has offices in both New York City and Palo Alto, Calif. “We will accomplish this by delivering engaging reading experiences that consumers will value and a business model that respects publishers’ needs.”

Skiff is a digital content system more than a reader, designed to streamline the digital publishing process for publishers.

“Navigating new digital technologies is extremely challenging for publishers, which is why Skiff exists—it will give publishers a strong partner that can help them succeed in e-reading,” said Kenneth A. Bronfin, president of Hearst Interactive Media. “Skiff will offer publishers a way to participate across the full value chain, from shaping publication design to selling advertising to maintaining subscriber relationships, so that they can better control their destiny as e-reading expands.”

Skiff has also partnered with a company called Marvell, a manufacturer of semiconductors, to create a "system on a chip," which will enable other manufacturers to build-in Skiff and more easily create devices. By supporting a variety of device makers, Skiff will make it easier for publishers to distribute content and advertising broadly across multiple devices from a range of manufacturers. Skiff also will have Sprint wireless capability and Skiff readers will also be sold through 1,000 of Sprint's retail locations in the U.S.

The Skiff platform also has robust support for advertisers, including advanced tracking abilities through Nielsen and comScore to help with advertising analytics.

Amazon yesterday announced that it will now make the Kindle e-book reader available in Canada. The e-reader sells for US$259 in addition to an import fee that estimates to be about $31 per device.

Kindle devices will be able to access content over a 3G cellular network called Whispernet, which is integrated with the AT&T Global Network. However, the company's Website explains that the device's Web browser and blog subscription service will not work in Canada.

"We know that Canadians are passionate about books and reading, and we're excited to make Kindle available to our customers there," said Amazon VP Ian Freed, in a statement. "Kindle enables customers around the world including Canada to think of a book and start reading it in under 60 seconds."

The Globe and Mail and National Post have already announced plans to join the list of newspapers and magazines available for purchase from the Kindle Store, which also provides Canadians access to about 300,000 book titles.

Rupurt Murdoch
Grant Robertson of The Globe and Mail reports on media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s view that Google Inc., by way of its search function, is a “plagiarist” when it comes to linking newspaper articles through Google News.

As Chairman of News Corp., Murdoch, over the past year, has clearly been the most vocal newspaper-publishing executive to express new visions for the struggling print sector.

According to Robertson, Murdoch is preparing to pull his key newspaper assets – The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and The Times of London – from the search engine, stating he would prefer less traffic in favour of paying subscribers.  

Read Grant Roberston’s article.

Worldcolor has launched a new online service which will allow publishers to easily re-purpose existing content into new publications across different media. Called the Worldcolor Custom Publishing Engine, it is a project in conjunction with Mark Logic Corporation.

Using XML, the new application ingests and identifies numerous types of content (text, photographs, video and audio) from various sources and native file types. The software will then allow publishers to "mash up" content and create new publications to be delivered in print, on e-book devices such as the Kindle or in PDF.

Kevin J. Clarke, President Worldcolor Publishing Services Group, stated: "The launch of the Worldcolor Custom Publishing Engine is a key step in the strategy of our Publishing Services Group. We are making content portable, enabling publishers to monetize content across titles, and across their book, magazine, directory, and rich-media assets.  We are committed to leading the way toward new revenue models for the industry."

Amazon announced today that its Kindle e-book device will be launching in over 100 new countries starting on October 19, but Canada is noticeably absent from said list.

“We have millions of customers in countries all over the world who read English-language books,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO. “Kindle enables these customers to think of a book and download it wirelessly in less than 60 seconds.”

Except in Canada.

When a Canadian attempts to order the device, he or she is greeted with the following message: Unfortunately, we are currently unable to ship Kindles or offer Kindle content in Canada. We are working to make Kindle available to our Canadian customers as soon as possible.

The Kindle will be reaching developing nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sri Lanka and will have access to thousands of English-language books and dozens of international newspapers. The service will also cover most of Europe and even Australia.

While Amazon does not explain why Canada was excluded from the international launch, some have speculated it is due to a lack of a sympathetic wireless carrier in the country or the lack of publisher co-operation.

Illustration courtsey of Gizmodo
The fabled tablet computer from Apple gained more attention recently as popular technology site Gizmodo published a new feature which ruminates on Apple's intentions, including a move into the e-book and publication market. Apple, characteristically, has been tight-lipped about the development.

"Long having established music, movie and TV content, Apple is working hard to load up iTunes with print content from several major publishing houses across several media," writes contributor Brian Lam.

According to Gizmodo, Apple is set to announce a tablet device as early as January. Running on a modified version of OSX, similar to the iPhone, the device will also sport a 10.7-inch display (vs. the iPhone's 3.5-inch).

Gizmodo claims to have information about the company in discussions with traditional print publishers such as the New York Times (which already distributes a version of the paper for the iPhone), McGraw Hill, and Oberlin Press.

Read the Gizmodo story here.

PC Magazine's long-time commentator John C. Dvorak also posted his take on the rumoured device. He, too, thinks it is an inevitable product for Apple and one which will generate a lot of attention for "pad computers."


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