Behind IREX's Partnership With Barnes & Noble: IREX's Kevin Hamilton on how the bookseller is helping his company go head-to-head with Amazon in the e-reader market.
With a partnership with Barnes & Noble anchoring the late-2009 debut of its eReader, Netherlands-based IREX Technologies hopes to propel its new e-reading device to the top of the marketplace, according to North American CEO Kevin Hamilton. In addition to the more than 750,000 e-book titles eReader users may purchase through Barnes & Noble's eBookstore—many of which are priced at $9.99—IREX's new device also will allow users to download outside content, such as from Google—a feature that distinguishes it from Amazon's Kindle.
Hamilton recently spoke with Book Business Extra about IREX's partnership with Barnes & Noble and how his company's new device will stand out in the rapidly growing e-reader market.
Book Business Extra: How did IREX's partnership with Barnes & Noble come about? What are the benefits of that partnership?
Kevin Hamilton: ... We've been historically manufacturing devices for the business market and primarily in Western Europe. With the advent of the Amazon Kindle, and the consumer acceptance of that device and other [e-reading] devices, it became clear to us that we needed to be in the North American market with a leisure-reading device rather than a business device. ... We saw the strength of Amazon and the competitive pricing. It's been an extremely aggressive price point that they set, and we concluded that we needed a partner that had the scale and the natural strength to be able to compete at that level and in that way. ... Barnes & Noble was one of the few out there that could go head-to-head with Amazon and say, "We're going to get our share of the market, and we're going to do it in a very aggressive and competitive fashion."
... Amazon chose a strategy, which was to use a proprietary file format and proprietary digital rights management (DRM), and also to require that Kindle owners purchase content from Amazon, and that only Amazon content, for all intents and purposes, can be read on a Kindle. ... We took the exact opposite approach. We said, "Let's make it an open platform. We'll support all formats." ... We also said, "Let's let customers buy content wherever they want to buy content. Let's let them use anything that they want to bring to the device on the device."