Last week, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) slashed its Kindle 2 price by 27 percent to a startling $189, following a similar price cut for the Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) Nook. This week, it’s flexing the Kindle platform’s muscles, adding a small batch of books “enriched” by audio and video available only (for now) on its suite of apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
The first 13 books are a mixed lot, showing the range of potential: five travel guides by Rick Steves (all 2010 and just in time for the summer travel season); instructional books (Knitting for Dummies, Roses Heavenly Cakes, Best of the Beatles for Acoustic Guitar); a children’s book; a William Styron novel; a book of bird songs; a bio of FDR with audio of his top Fireside chats.
More titles appear to be in the pipeline but aren’t live yet. For context, the Kindle Store has more than 600,000 titles. So far, the prices are in line with Amazon’s preferred $9.99. In at least one case — the knitting book — the price is several dollars lower than the initial Kindle edition. It’s easy to see that the enhanced versions could end up costing more.
A sampling of the titles shows multimedia tailored to each book. The Steves’ guides come with audio walking tours, easier to manage than trying to follow the book on an iPhone through Westminster. The Styron book illustrates the layers that can be added to certain texts. The e-book of Lie Down in Darkness from Open Road Integrated Media was already enhanced with archival materials, letters, photographs. The A/V edition includes videos of his biographer, daughter and wife. (Unfortunately, the sample video looks more like a commercial for the Styron e-library than added value to the book.) The A/V books are WiFi-only downloads due to the large file size.