Paid Content: Jane Friedman’s OpenRoad Gets $3 Million Funding For eBooks Venture
Raising three million dollars is not an insignificant task. But I predict failure.
Above is Jane Friedman captured in a video embedded at the Paid Content site.
As innovative as Friedman may have been in her career, I think she is ill-suited to the new world of digital publishing. She is someone who has made her mark, risen to a certain level in life, and is not about to get into the down-and-dirty guerilla tactics of digital publishing. If Jane Friedman was on Twitter, I think we'd see that blatantly. I think Jane Friedman is the type who would do Twitter by proxy.
This is not to be disrespectful of her achievements, but to acknowledge reality. Apple, Google, Amazon, et al, were not founded by Jane Friedmans. And yet the kind of people who created those companies are the very ones Friedman will have to compete against. Three million is a mighty war chest, but if you really think you need that amount of money, you'd either better have one hell of a business strategy or else requiring that amount is an admission of failure at the very start.
Friedman's OpenRoad Integrated Media -- which doesn't even have a website! -- will be going up against agile startups such as Quartet Press. In a year, I think it will be obvious which of these two companies has made a mark. If I had to put real money down, it'd be on Quartet Press.
Over at Munsey’s Technosnarl is a post that raises very uncomfortable questions: Questions For Sony viz Kindle.
I'm not attending tomorrow's Sony event. I wasn't invited and since it's in the bloody morning, I don't want to go anyway (only Steve Jobs could command morning attention from me -- and thank god he's on the west coast, so me being on the east coast works out well). But if I was going, I'd bring along a printout of this and corner Steve Haber and slash him with them.
Another reason, aside from my lack of faith in the Axis of E, for not wanting to go to Sony's event is that I think they've already conceded my point they stubbornly resisted less than a year ago:
When it came to Jim Malcolm, Sony’s Director of Corporate Marketing for Mobile Lifestyle Products, I brought up the hardware pricing issue.
He saw this poll result:
I’ve wailed for lower prices. As recently as this week, so has Dear Author.
This is basically what Malcolm told me. The poll results are from those who are tech-savvy early adopters. They already know the price of things and so, of course, would love eBook reading devices to even be as low as five for $20.00. Malcolm claims that Sony’s own research shows that hardware price is actually not a factor. Can I argue with their expertise and proprietary, professional research?
Yes. I know. I’m stubborn. Or I’m just an absolute eejit when it comes to real-world marketing, but I can’t but help to point once again to the example of Henry Ford and the Model T. Plus, there are the more recent examples of the Commodore-64 and the Asus EeePC.
Emphasis added by me.
Less than a year later, the PRS-700 is gone and Sony is diving in with a $199.00 Reader. I win.
I particularly like this question in the Munsey's post:
Your latest ebook strategy has you making the device and actually selling titles, Adobe providing DRM, Bowker supplying "neccesary" ISBNs, Overdrive on the back-end, and conversion houses like PublishingDimensions producing the content on behalf of a publisher. What manner and quantity of drugs must one take before one can actually believe that strategies involving said middlemen, required by "standard" and all taking their cut, will somehow result in lower ebook prices for readers, and more money to publishers and authors, when compared to the Kindle model of publisher+Amazon?
So much for the world of disintermediation! Hey, Sony! This isn't 2008 anymore. We now have Atlantis for creating ePub and SIGIL for editing ePub. Which part of that sentence don't you guys understand?
Next, both the PRS-300 and the PRS-600 are out in the wild somewhere in Canada. There have been stills and videos posted. I grabbed two screensnaps from a video to make this:
What disturbs me about the 300 is the big text gap at the bottom of the screen. There should be room for another sentence there. The page margins also look to be wider than those on the 505. See a larger version here.
And, finally, a head's-up for those of you with a public library offering eBooks via the OverDrive monopoly system. Returning too many eBooks too soon can get you in trouble!
Shortly after doing this post, I was greeted by a message that prompted me to email OverDrive:
My local library is giving me
Error code: 710
Error details: Early return error
Which aborts the Checkout process.
What does that mean?
We are sorry you are having trouble with your Adobe eBooks. This error is being shown because you have returned an excessive number of Adobe eBook titles in a brief period of time. Please try checking out you Adobe eBooks again in a couple of days. However, you should still be able to check out titles of other formats without difficulty.
Well, look. I don't have an eInk device and didn't want to hold on to all of those titles for the seven day loan period when other people likely wanted to read them.
So let that be a warning to everyone: you cannot even browse eBooks!