November 8, 2010
TR Legal eBooks Available in Kindle Editions: Run with the pack strategy trumps claim of being "ahead of the curve"
When I first heard TR Legal had started publishing Kindle editions of some pBooks, it took a lot of work to find them on Amazon. Not TR Legal's fault; I've always wished Amazon would make it easier to find pBooks and eBooks by publisher. Since that is not the case the best way to locate Kindle editions of West titles is from the West Bookstore site. See image right. See also this page and the complete list of West Kindle editions.
The 155 eBooks currently available, according to the marketing announcement "cover a wide range of West, Aspatore, Foundation Press, and LegalWorks publications, including codes, court rules, practice guides, trial support, treatises, and Nutshell Series publications." However, the current selection in none of those categories is deep and I cannot discern any rhyme or reason from a bibliographer's point of view for the offerings. Even where digital rights may not be a factor as for West editioral staff produced works such as codes and court rules, the offerings are far from comprehensive. Some codes and court rules Kindle editions only make sense on the basis of the size of the individual consumer market. No doubt more Kindle editions will follow. But will an institutional buyers program follow?
For practitioners, here's a sample of Kindle edition offerings:
- Hunter's Federal Trial Handbook: Civil, 4th ed. (July 2010). Print List Price: $196.00; Kindle Price: $120.96
- Popko's Federal Sentencing Law and Practice, 2010 ed. (July 2010): Print List Price: $208.00; Kindle Price: $149.76
- Bankruptcy Code, Rules and Forms, 2010 ed. (July 2010). Print List Price: $147.00; Kindle Price: $105.84
- Ohio Rules of Court - State, 2010 ed. (July 2010). Print List Price: $94.00; Kindle Price: $67.68
For law students, a sample from West's Nutshell and Concepts and Insights series, and Foundation Press' Law Stories series:
- Rohwer and Skrocki's Contracts in a Nutshell, 6th ed. (October, 2009). Print List Price: $32.00; Kindle Price: $14.30
- Chirelstein's Federal Income Taxation, 11th ed. Concepts and Insights Series (October, 2009). Print List Price: $47.00; Kindle Price: $31.20
- Dorf's Constitutional Law Stories, 2d ed. Law Stories Series (May 2010). Print List Price: $40.00; Kindle Price: $15.40
On Trying to Catch Up to the Pack. Some TR Legal marketing guru claims in the Oct. 2010 West elert (West Librarian Relations) that "Thomson Reuters is ahead of the curve" now. Well, that is laughable at best. All the company has done is applied Amazon's Digital Text Platform to re-purpose some print titles.
If TR Legal wanted to be ahead of the curve it would have to take clues from (1) Blio for eReader interface and usabilty for text and graphics, e-production enhancements of pBook editions, and ADA-compliant accessibility; (2) Springer's offering their eBook titles to libraries without any form of DRM and (3) Cambridge Books Online for eBook search and e-commerce for consumer sales and institutional licensing of eBooks offering IP authentication for access by in-house users.
Let's just say TR Legal's Kindle editions launch is indicative of the Company recognizing it is well behind the consumer eBook market curve and is too busy trying to catch up by running with the pack to be sufficiently innovative to be ahead of the curve. Here's a company with some world-class coding talent that's done nothing more than slap the Kindle boilerplate to some pBooks. That's something the Company could have outsourced to an independent contractor (perhaps did do so) or assigned to contract employees to keep them from watching YouTube while on the job.
If John West saw this, he would be rolling over in his grave. I doubt he would be happy with TR Legal's current also-ran status in the eBook marketplace. [JH]