Extending its efforts to create new book retailing channels through deals with hardware manufacturers, Baker & Taylor has reached an agreement with computer chip producer Intel to bundle Blio multimedia e-reading software and full-service online bookstores on a new generation of Intel Ultrabook laptop computers. Baker & Taylor also plans to release an updated version of Blio at the end of January that will feature a redesigned Blio e-bookstore.
The deal with Intel was announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show where B&T launched its efforts last year to create new retailing opportunities with similar deals with such manufacturers as Dell, HP and Toshiba. In a phone interview Bob Nelson, president of B&T’s digital group, said the strategy is an effort to turn hardware manufacturers into content providers and create a new class of retailing opportunities for book publishers.
“Manufacturers are looking for ways to standout by providing content to load onto their devices,” Nelson said, emphasizing that B&T manages the process, providing both software and fullfilment for both e-books and print. The strategy has led to the bundling of Blio e-reading software and B&T supplied bookstores on “hundreds of millions of device shipped around the world. More places for people to buy content and we’ve got the contracts with the OEMs,” he said.
Users will be able to access Blio and the book marketplace through the Intel AppUp Center, an app and content marketplace on each Intel device. Consumers can click on the Intell Marketplace and download an updated version of Blio, available at the end of the January, and see a newly redesigned Blio e-book store with an upgraded merchandising interface. The Intel AppUp Center will also offer retail access to print books with B&T providing fullfilment for print and digital book content
Like Netbooks, an earlier class of mini-laptops, ultrabooks are a new generation of laptop that are smaller, lighter, have faster processors and solid state drives that can boot up quickly, often taking only seconds. Many observers believe the ultra fast and super sleek laptops (like Apple’s MacBook Air) will supplant conventional laptops and are likely to compete with tablets as the preferred personal computing devices in the future.
“Ultrabooks are the hottest topic at CES,” Nelson said, “It generally takes five or six years to change how people use computers. Ultrabook devices are the next step in mobile computing for consumers, providing a portable, sleek device for readers to enjoy their favorite ebooks. These devices are a lot more powerful, very sleek and priced around $1000 and likely to drop to around $600-$700.” Nelson said to expect these devices in the marketplace sometime in the second quarter of 2012. Intel, Nelson, said is also planning to spend hundreds of millions dollars marketing this new class of devices and they want to be able offer consumers instant access to a wide variety content, from books to movies to magazines and music.
Nelson will be appearing on a panel at Digital Book World in New York called “Breaking Out of the Box,” to discuss the importance of creating new retailing opportunities for books. “We’re creating a whole new class of retailers out of hardware manufacturers,” Nelson said.