Amazon to Lexcycle: NOM NOM NOM

My Give-a-Shit is long broken, but given my reaction in the last 20 minutes, my Holy Shit is in fine working order.

From Brad Stone’s New York Times’ Bits & Bytes section, by way of R. Nash’s Tweet feed comes the stomach-dropping news that Amazon has acquired Stanza-creator Lexcycle.

It is not clear how much Amazon is paying for the year-old company with offices in Austin and Portland. But the move indicates Amazon wants to consolidate its position on mobile devices, particularly within Apple’s ecosystem, which may include a tablet computer later this year.

According to the Lexcycle blog announcement,

We are not planning any changes in the Stanza application or user experience as a result of the acquisition. Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from our many content partners. We look forward to offering future products and services that we hope will resonate with our passionate readers.

Behold, a list because my brain is spinning.

- My stomach literally dropped when I read that.

- Amazon doesn’t support ePub – is this a sign of changes to come? And how does Stanza/iPhone/Apple play out with Amazon/Kindle platform? What’s the ultimate result in terms of format, reader device, and reader option going to be? Where does this leave Fictionwise?

- Similar to the possibilities of the Barnes & Noble/Fictionwise merger, this acquisition raises a wealth of possibilities, only instead of excited, I’m nursing some serious dread in terms of what the monolith could do with Lexcycle.

- Marc Prudhommeaux, Neelan Choksi and crew are some fine, hardworking people who really are, frankly, visionaries. And as Jane pointed out some weeks ago, Bezos himself is a visionary in terms of how he has positioned Amazon to become a true monolithic entity in all media publications, including becoming a publisher.

Putting aside my regard for Amazon for the moment (which is to say, the fact that I have very little) I imagine this is a huge deal for the Lexcycle crew. Congratulations guys – I imagine this is life-changing for you.

- I, along with many other ebook fanatics who are not as in favor of the Kindle as we are of the Sony Reader family are all wondering at every angle what this means. Judging from the Twitter feed, “concerned” is probably the most gentle word I could use.

ETA: My request for a quote from Lexcycle was directed to an @amazon.com email address – so information looks to be short and minimal for the time being. As of this posting Neelan’s twitter feed has nothing, and the information I can find direct from an individual, beyond a statement from a corporate source, is scarce. No word on price yet, either. I’m predicting at least $10mm, but wouldn’t be surprised if it was more.

What do you think it means? And what’s your over/under on the price tag?

 

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  1. 1

    Not happy with this conglomerate growing bigger and stronger. Already determining what we can and can’t find to read with restructured search parameters. What next?

    problem34? I’ll say.

  2. 2
    Elle Parker says:

    Oh man, I hope to hell they don’t screw with my ability to read what I want on my iTouch…. I bought one based on the glee that is Stanza.

  3. 3
    Teresa says:

    Way back in the last century I used to be an attorney for the Antitrust division of the Justice department. At the time, Ronald Reagan was in power and the Division didn’t spend much time on monopolies. The demolition of Ma Bell was complete and a new vision and weird, incomprehensible formula for finding monopoly had taken over the Justice Department.

    All of this to say that I don’t really know what constitutes a monopoly under the law any more. I don’t even think this action is one that would trigger an FTC/Antitrust division review. But at some point, Amazon will go too far and be subject to our antitrust laws.

    Hmm. Wait. Now that I think about it, Microsoft took a hit for monopolistic practices and I’m not sure much changed other than now Microsoft computers come with more crappy software in addition to the crappy software from Microsoft. Perhaps all is lost after all.

  4. 4
    lilitu93 says:

    Not happy about this. I liked Stanza because it could read books bought from lots of different stores. It’s also disturbing, since I live in the UK. I buy most of my books from Fictionwise. Hachette decided to stop letting me buy their US books (while only offering some of their books in the UK and only in ePub/Adobe DRM, which is currently useless for the iPhone). Mobipocket sells to the UK, but Amazon doesn’t. There’s no Mobi app for iPhone, but there’s a Kindle app which is US-only. What’s to stop them making Stanza also US-only until they launch the Kindle store officially over here?

  5. 5

    Amazon has had an iPhone/Touch app to sync to Kindle for some time.  They’ve also owned mobipocket for several years.  I think this is actually a natural step for them.  I know everyone hates Amazon, and I agree with some of the reasons (though others seem trumped up to me), but they’re a business and this makes perfect sense to the “business” side of my brain. 

    Amazon is a distribution channel.  They make money when people choose their channel over any other, so they want to make sure that no matter what end product you like, they are the channel that provides it to you.  If you have an iRex or Bookeen reader, and you choose a mobipocket-formatted book to read on it, Amazon gets money.  If you don’t have an eReader, and you buy a book and choose to use Amazon as your store, Amazon gets money.  If you have a Kindle and download books to it, obviously Amazon gets money.  Why wouldn’t they want to have something like the oh-so-cool Stanza app for those who choose to get content for their iPhones? 

    Amazon has made me some boneheaded moves, and I am sure they will again.  But they haven’t eliminated mobipocket as a format in the years they’ve owned it, and I don’t think they’ll do anything to Stanza, either.  It wouldn’t pay.  (Sony’s made some majorly boneheaded moves, too, IMHO.  For example, they forced me into Kindle usage by refusing to make their reader accessible for Macs.  Given how little that would have cost, and how many Mac users are total geeks, that seems incredibly shortsighted.)

  6. 6
    Jessica D says:

    I can’t seem to come up with anything more coherent than “Oh, shit.” And after all my iPod Touch proselytizing, too.

  7. 7
    Melissa S. says:

    I don’t know how I feel about this, but I can tell you my Sony Reader, Charles aka Chuckie, is not too keen.

  8. 8
    ev says:

    Sticking with my Sony, thank you.

  9. 9
    KCfla says:

    Damn it!
    Do not mess with my favorite app( aside from twittfon)
    Kthxbai

  10. 10
    Diana Hunter says:

    After the recent #amazonfail debacle (for which Amazon STILL has not bothered offering an apology), this concerns me a great deal. It is far too easy for certain books with certain themes to get “lost” via the search function when one person in front of one computer can “glitch” an entire system.

    Yes, I’m still angry and won’t take my business back there (or point my website in their direction) since they obviously don’t care about little people like me who lost sales because of their mistake.

    Sorry.

    Diana

  11. 11
    katieM says:

    Isn’t this entity now becoming one of those “too big to fail” monstrosities?  Aren’t such mergers supposed to monitored by the Feds and then prevented?  Ma Bell was broken up because of the monopoly it had over telephone communications.  It seems as if Amazon might just be getting too big for its and our own good.

  12. 12
    Nadia Lee says:

    IMHO—Stanza isn’t big enough to bother the USAG.  If it’s B&N merging with Amazon, I’m sure it’ll be different.

    I’m not sure if sticking with Sony is necessarily better.  Sony is just as “too big to fail” as Amazon (actually BIGGER than Amazon).  The only reason why Amazon’s acquisition of Stanza looks so bad is because AMZ has made its name as a book e-tailer, while Sony hasn’t.  But Sony is an electronics company with its core strengths in design and hardware, so for it to acquire Stanza would be silly.

  13. 13
    GrowlyCub says:

    This sucks.  Just like BN buying Fictionwise.  I just found out that the majority of the titles on my wish list are now only available as Mobi files and many new books as well.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t be buying much there any more!

    There goes a great company! :( 

    I’m sure Amazon is going to do everything it can to make sure that we get the short end of the stick with Stanza as well.  I’m all for companies making money, but there’s too much bs going on at Amazon to consider ANY acquisition by them in a favorable light.

  14. 14
    Beau says:

    What does a company who’s business model is even more exclusive and controlling then Apples’ want with a business that has been about being able to be inclusive and adaptable.

    Whatever you might think about the rest of Amazon’s business, the ebook publishing arm has so far focused on proprietary drm, oversight of your lease on a book and the exclusion and control of formats and therefore reading devices. (the move to allowing Kindlized content to iphones not withstanding.) Stanza up to this point had been giving them competition and readers options. The adoption of stanza as a well functioning epub program had much to do with publishers recent attention the epub format and the increased production and sales of epub formatted books. IMHO, stanza was starting to be accepted as the epub “standard” reader. This was a threat to Amazon’s attempt to hawk mobi as the standard reading format and to funneling ebook purchasing to their site.

    Epub is open…. no one pays a license fee to use it to produce epub formatted ebooks. Guess who gets the license fee when publishers produce a mobi/kindle formatted book? Amazon loses twice: the sale and the licensing fee.

    Wait, oh yeah, they don’t. :(

    This doesn’t seem promising for readers AT ALL.

  15. 15
    Jessica G. says:

    The real important thing here is….Sarah, have you converted to Sony? Heh, sorry.

    Sony is a big electronics company, but they are struggling right now and I don’t think they have the resources to put full into a fight against the Kindle. Just sayin’.

    I really don’t know how I feel about this. Amazon could go in several directions with this- some good and some bad. It always gives me an icky feeling when a big company buys a smaller one though.

  16. 16
    cursingmama says:

    I was just about to purchase an ipod touch to use as my ereader too; this changes everything.  I do wish that we could have one or two formats that worked on any kind of reader.

  17. 17
    Beau says:

    I was just about to purchase an ipod touch to use as my ereader too; this changes everything.  I do wish that we could have one or two formats that worked on any kind of reader.

    The good news about that is epub is open source. If Amazon chooses to stop supporting or innovating with Stanza, Some other company is sure to come along and create another epub reader for the ipod. Despite my rant above, I know epub is not going away, though its adoption could be slowed significantly if Amazon interferes with the smooth flow of consumer and product in some fashion.

    Get an ipod! there’s books and music and web surfing to be had. I have and do use the ipod touch, a Windows smart phone, a Sony reader and of course a computer to read. Epub moves across all three. Non drm’d epub anyway.

  18. 18
    Nick Pilon says:

    Stanza’s sudden absorption by Amazon is indeed shocking, but it’s not the only ePub reader. Bookworm is a free (as in speech and beer) web-based reader with a mobile version that is quite readable, nice-looking, and usable on an iPhone or iPod Touch. Yeah, managing your library on it with the iPhone doesn’t work so hot, but if there was clear demand for that ability, there’s lots of ways it could be improved.

    (Disclaimer: I’m employed by O’Reilly Media, a publishing company mainly dealing in computer books that helps support Bookworm development. I do not speak for my employer; my opinions are my own.)

  19. 19
    Tami says:

    So, now all we’ll be able to get for Stanza is mein kampf and books on how to raise dogs to dog fight!  YAY…….whatever……lost another good e-reader possibility I fear!  :(

  20. 20
    Caffey says:

    Speaking of FictionWise, have you noticed that no new books came on til late afternoon, no emails of the newer books, no explanation about the delays and changes.  I’m not happy shopping there right now and dread these changes there since I use the EBookWise reader and mobi is useless for me.  I can’t use the other smaller devices of the IPod, etc.  Too hard for my vision to see them. (And I like my reader as it is)

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