Publishers have been grumbling for some time about Amazon.com’s grip on the digital book, newspaper and magazine market. Now, they’re doing something.
Five major publishers — Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc. — announced Tuesday they will join forces to develop a technology format and online storefront to rival Amazon.com’s Kindle. The reason: Publishers want to be able to set their own terms, including retail prices and how much of that money they get to keep.
Newspaper and magazine publishers have openly chafed at getting 30 percent of the sale of their content on Amazon’s Kindle. And book publishers worry that Amazon’s $9.99 pricing for newly released bestsellers could erode the more lucrative market for hardcover books that have sold for $25 or more.
The companies involved in Tuesday’s announcement are primarily magazine and newspaper publishers but said their venture would also apply to comics, books or other media.
For readers, the venture promises the ability to buy content once and then read it on multiple devices. Currently, newspapers purchased on the Kindle cannot be read on Sony’s Reader, for example.
“Once purchased, this content will be ‘unlocked’ for consumers to enjoy anywhere, any time, on any platform,” said John Squires, the group’s managing director.
The publishers also envision a color screen that would be able to play video and audio, allowing them to embed “highly engaging, interactive” ads to supplement their revenue.