Apple, Amazon Face Different Outcomes from Booming eBooks Market

Today’s e-reader roundup features a possible pricing settlement of The U.S. Department of Justice with three of the world’s biggest publishers that sells e-books to Apple, Amazon’s launch of the Spanish language Kindle store, and the rise of e-reader reading.

Apple and the US Department of Justice Might Reach a Settlement

The pending lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice about the alleged price regulation on e-books can be resolved as Apple and other major publishers are willing to make concessions.

Referring to well-informed sources, Bloomberg reported the U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to withdraw the lawsuit on three of the world’s biggest publishers on e-book price contracts with Apple and the settlement might be completed within the next few weeks.

CBS’s Simon & Schuster, News Corp.’s HarperCollins and Lagardère SCA (LH)’s Hachette Book Group are in negotiations with the Justice department. They’re is also considering a settlement with Pearson Plc (PSON)’s Penguin Group and Macmillan, owned by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH.

The dispute started when the Justice Department announced in March that it intended to sue Apple and five book publishers for collusion over the pricing of eBooks. E-book publishers have subscribed to the use of “agency model” of sales, according to which the retail price of books includes the traditional 30 percent commission received from the Apple sales.

Apple might use the wholesale model if there is to be an agreement with Department of Justice. This model will put the control pricing of e-books in the hands of retailers, not publishers.  The wholesale model is widely used in the traditional retail newspaper and magazine business.

For Amazon it would be good news, because the main strength of Amazon is the sales of large volumes of products at low prices.

Amazon Announces Spanish eBooks Store for Kindle

Amazon also announced a new Spanish language e-books store for Kindle. The “eBooks Kindle en Español” allow you to buy Spanish-language titles from the company’s website or through Kindle store.

The eBooks Kindle en Español will offer more than 30,000 e-books in Spanish including some best sellers like “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (Cien años de soledad) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Hunger Games” (Juegos del Hambre) by Suzanne Collins, “The Alchemist” (El Alchemist), “The Book of Books” (El Libro de los Manuals) and books from Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. According to the company, Coelho is the author of best-selling works in Spanish in the Amazon Kindle today.

The titles can be purchased through the Kindle and other free reading applications that can be customized to fit the consumption of content in Spanish.

Amazon also offers subscriptions to fourteen Latin American newspapers on their Kindle tablets and a large selection of children’s books.

Amazon is hoping to enter the Spanish speakers’ space in the US, which is considered as one of the fastest growing new U.S. audience today whose first language is Spanish. Amazon is also trying to compete with Barnes & Noble and Apple. Last year, Barnes & Noble said the company’s sales of foreign-language e-books were growing faster than sales of English e-books.

The Rise of E-reading

Pew Internet & American Life Project released a new report titled “The Rise of E-reading”, which finds E-reader and tablet owners read more books and spent more time on both print and digital version than people who don’t own those devices.

In its report, Pew said owners of e-book reader read 24 books in the past 12 months, compared to reading of 15 books by average non-e-book readers. Forty-nine percent of those with an Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook spent time reading an e-book on any given day, and 59 percent spent reading a printed book.

“45% of those who had owned an e-reader for more than a year said they were reading more, vs. 30% of those who had owned an e-reader for less than six months,” as reported in the Pew report.

The Amazon Kindle Fire is still the preferred e-reader and its market share has increased from 5 percent in mid-December to 14 percent in mid-January, thanks to holiday sales. Among tablets, the iPad is still ruling the charts with over 61 percent market share.

On borrowing e-books from friends, family and others, Pew report says “among device owners who read e-books, 71% prefer to purchase their e-books, compared with 61% of all readers. Another 24% of device owners prefer to borrow their e-books, compared with 31% of all readers.”

Young e-readers and tablets owner age 16+ preferred reading e-book as recommended by family members, friends and co-workers.

The rise of e-books represents the shift from printed to digital material as people are getting long-form content such as magazines, journals, and news articles in digital format on an e-book reader, tablet computer, regular computer, or cell phone.

The development of the digital book also offers new opportunities, including the chance for new authors to self-publish their e-books.