CTV Canada broke an exclusive that Indigo Books & Music Inc. are currently planning to go with an exclusive E-Book Reader manufacturer deal in Canada by the end of this year. Reporter Kris Abel gotthe news direct from a chat with CEO Heather Reisman who was appearing on Canada AM. The Sony reader is already in Canada and enjoying some success and the Kindle remains constrained by its network below the 49Th line. So some would suggest that the move to support a ebook reader is a logical route. After all, Indigo is enjoying some success with its ShortCovers mobile app, which is currently available for the iPhone 3G, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android-powered devices.
Why do retailers enjoy exclusive deals and this obsession with beating the easy to beat competition? Indigo is a great store with a dominant position in Canada but who is their greatest threat today and tomorrow? If they go down an exclusive route with a reader then others in Canada will have to either fold under their competitors or go it alone? We saw Waterstones make an exclusive deal with Sony which on the face of it some would say alienated them and marginalised the opportunity. If every major UK retailer had launched with Sony last year we would be looking at a healthier market today in the UK.
Picking the winners from the losers is a hard bet in the ereader market today. Some would say – leave it to the consumer and market to decide the device, reading experience and even the terms (purchase versus rental) and make sure that the service and offer is the best. Exclusive means binary decisions which are black or white and pushing consumers into these is often a foolish route.
I hope Indigo does 2 things with this eReader and if they do they'll dominate the ebook market for sure. 1. Cover the costs that are necessary to encourage impulse purchasing (link Shortcovers with Sat./Sun. book reviews so we can buy whatever we see that appeals to us); and, this is the most important thing, 2. Make sure the eReader can read, not books on Shortcovers, but all the other important retailer formats: ePub, Sony eReaders', eReader and Mobipocket. If they do this consumers the world over will be ecstatic. Indigo will become a "gazzillionaire" and be the envy of all the other eBook seller. As a Canadian I wish them luck.
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