The traditional publishing industry was dealt another blow by the digital winds of change this week when top business author Stephen R. Covey signed an exclusive deal with e-book retailer Amazon. The fear among traditional book publishers is that they will grow irrelevant as top authors ink deals with e-book retailers, bypassing them altogether.
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Covey is one of the most successful business authors of the last two decades, and several of his books (like "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "Principle-Cantered Leadership") will be sold exclusively though the Amazon e-book store, and also on Kindle devices for a year.
The exclusive deal has two main ramifications: firstly, it confirms the continuous rise of the electronic book market and the fears of publishing houses, which are bypassed by big-name authors, in search of a bigger cut of the sales profits. Also, exclusive author and book deals for the Kindle will easily set apart Amazon's e-book reader from fierce competition from the likes of Barnes & Noble and Sony.
Barnes & Noble started selling earlier this month the Nook e-reader, which sets itself apart from the Kindle by having a secondary colour touch screen used for navigation, text input and multimedia browsing. The Nook is also the only other e-book reader to have wireless connectivity next to the Kindle (though Sony is expected to launch a similar device soon).
Unlike the Kindle, the Nook also features WiFi (limited to in-store browsing), but Barnes & Noble's reader is momentarily plagued with several software problems, which should be remedied in January with an update. However, the superior hardware specifications of the Nook could be overshadowed by Amazon's bookstore for the Kindle, if other exclusive deals such as the one with Covey will be inked.
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This way, the difference between the Kindle and the Nook would be similar to the differences between the iPhone and Google Android phones: several Android phones such as the Verizon Droid or the HTC Hero have superior hardware to Apple's, but the sheer number of exclusive app in the iTunes App Store swayed many more customers to the iPhone. The same could apply if Amazon will hold an advantage over the Barnes & Noble bookstore with several exclusive deals.
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