Amazon dominates the ebook market in part through their customer service and through the Kindle DRM. While there's not much publishers can do about the former, Joe Wikert pointed out a few days ago that there may be something that publishers can do about the latter:
Tired of dealing with the fragmented mobile marketplace that iOS and Android represent? The imagineers at Disney have come up with a terrific way to address that problem. It’s both a much-needed solution for consumers and also a clever way for Disney to maintain a direct relationship with consumers who buy indirectly.
I’m referring to the Disney Movies Anywhere initiative, which lets you buy a movie on one platform and watch it on either platform. Imagine a world where all those ebooks you bought on the Kindle platform could also be read now on the Nook platform, and vice versa. You’d be free to choose the lowest price, no longer worrying about ebook library lock-in, where you’ve bought so many titles you can’t imagine abandoning that retailer.
Sounds like a nightmare for the big retailers but a huge win for consumers and publishers.
Joe goes on to point out that few publisher have the power to push for this type of cross-platform connections, but that doesn't mean he's wrong in arguing that everyone short of Amazon would benefit from it.
And he's not the only one to see the benefit of such a platform; there already is a similar platform gaining acceptance in the movie market (Vudu) and there's even a similar service for ebooks.
I'm not talking about Bookshout, which offered a similar service when it launched in 2012, but another startup in Europe. (More on Bookshout later.)
It's called LeesID, and it launched in September in the Netherlands.
When I reported on LeesID back in September I described it as a digital bookshelf which would host a user's purchased ebooks. That is what the LeesID website said, but it turns out that is not entirely correct.
It’s not a cloud service, though. What LeesID does, basically, is store all your download links to enable you to load all the cover of your books in every retail environment you chose – meaning, you could create a library of your books on your Bol.com bookshelf. LeesID would then make it possible to start reading your books from the Bol bookshelf, even the books you didn’t buy there. And remember in Holland all e-books are Watermarked and real downloads, not cloud streaming.
Neither Apple nor Amazon participate in LeesID, so it is far from the platform that Joe suggests above, but with the support of Kobo it is getting closer.
At the moment LeesID is supported by a Dutch non-profit and primarily focused on Dutch ebook retailers, but that doesn't mean the platform can't be expanded internationally or copied elsewhere.
On the other hand, should they bother? Do consumers really want this?
I ask because I haven't heard much talk about LeesID since it launched in September, not complaints (which would suggest that consumers are at least trying it) nor acclaim. I checked with a couple people in the local digital publishing industry and they haven't heard anything either.
That might be a sign that there aren't any problems, but no chatter usually means no adoption. And if consumers don't really want it then there's little reason for publishers to get behind it and push.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you just yet whether this type of platform will succeed for ebooks.
Since this topic has come to the fore again, I am going to follow up on Bookshout and find out why they pivoted away from this type of service. (I would hold this post and wait their answer but it is the day before Thanksgiving, and I doubt they will answer before Monday.)
I'm also going to look for more user reports on LeesID. Speaking of which, have you used it?
image by Elsie esq.