Amazon Acquires LexCycle

Posted by: Olga Kharif on April 27, 2009

LexCycle, the maker of the popular Stanza application for the desktop, iPhone and iPod touch, announced it’s been acquired by Amazon.com today. The move is an interesting one.

Only recently, Amazon released an iTunes application that allows iPhone and iPod touch users to download and read e-books from the Kindle store, which offers more than 270,000 titles (Stanza only offers a library of about 100,000 books). So, at first glance, Amazon’s acquisition of LexCycle seems to duplicate that in-house effort. What’s more, on the iTunes App Store today, the Kindle app ranks higher than the Stanza application. So, what was the rationale for the acquisition?

The only explanation I can find is this: Amazon didn't want Stanza to fall into the hands of a competitor. An outfit like Borders or Barnes & Noble could have, potentially, used Stanza -- and its 1 million-plus loyal users -- to get entrenched in the e-books market. Now, they won't have that chance.

It could also be that Amazon would like to add some of Stanza's features to its Kindle app for the iPhone. In March, LexCycle introduced Book Trailers, allowing users to watch videos previewing books before buying them. LexCycle also allows independent authors to easily sample their works.

The addition of Amazon's own book store to the Stanza application should be a boon to existing Stanza users. Fortunately, it doesn't appear that Amazon will get rid of any other stores already residing on the Stanza app. LexCycle's site states, "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."

Reader Comments

Rory

April 28, 2009 5:59 PM

Hmmmm... I'm begining to feel like Amazon has the midas' touch of ebooks --- if midas' touch was the swine flu instead of gold.

Yes, I may be biased---but only because I enjoy my eBooks and every time I turn around amazon is doing something to undercut my reading experience.

Their product is shoddy at best, and instead of improving it they have a pattern of monopolizing the business and killing technology that does work. I only hope they don't do this with Stanza....

The thing I like about Stanza as is is the availability to purchase from a large amount of retailers--if one iphone store doesn't have my book, another does. Comparitive shopping--it's that simple.

In addition, some retailers have really stepped up the reading experience. Take for example BooksOnBoard ( it's listed on the top spot in Stanza catalog).

BooksOnBoard has developed a QikClik technology that takes 3 clicks from selection to download, so I don't have to go through the huge hassle of most retailers (including Amazon) which made me hesitant on ereading in early on.

With Amazon taking over Lexcycle what will happen to technological advances like this? Will we be left with the same old Kindle problems ? will all the good advances be swept under the rug in order for Amazon to stay on top?

Personally, I just want my reading experience to keep improving. There are still alot of bugs that need to be worked out to make it simpler, but I'm afraid that if Amazon keeps aquiring rather than making advances --the readers will be the ones left with the short end of the stick

John

April 29, 2009 12:47 AM

Amazon is getting both technology, book selection, as well as eliminating future competition at the same time. It’s probably a smart move for the company. The impact on consumers is less apparent. There are still plenty of options and exciting projects on ebooks out there.

While I am very interested in Kindle, I am still waiting for these books to be DRM free. It’s just so much easier and “thought-free” when I don’t have to worry about DRM and how I use something. I am more than willing to pay for it, just don’t want to be restricted when it comes to using digital media. Sony’s reader seems hopeful in this regard.

Speaking of DRM-free, Amazon does have an awesome MP3 store that is DRM-free with a large selection and often good prices. It would be nice if they had the same thing with books.

On the note about Amazon, I recently came across an interesting table that details the discounts on Amazon (Thanks to PC World Magazine).

It is at http://www.uberi.com

Maybe someone will find it useful too.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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