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Summary:

When the Hammock children, both now over two-decades old, were brand new, they were never more than a few inches away from an Eric Carle boo…

Brown Bear Cover

When the Hammock children, both now over two-decades old, were brand new, they were never more than a few inches away from an Eric Carle book. (The Very Hungry Caterpillar is likely the book I have read out-loud more times than any other book ever published, except, now that I think of it, Good Night Moon.)

So it caught my eye recently when reading about next month’s launch of the Kindle Fire that it is going to include a 1,000-title (at launch) collection of children’s books formatted especially for the Fire, including Carle’s classic (among Hammock children and millions more), Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?.

I’ve seen some punditry that suggests these “books” are likely to make it to other Kindle reading formats (which makes sense, as Amazon makes money from selling content, not hardware). But those pundits aparently haven’t let it fully sink in that the Kindle Fire will not just be an e-book reader,  it is an Android pad (tablet) device. It’s a computer with a touch screen.

So, despite having the word book in their names, this collection of Kindle Fire formatted children’s books are as much apps as they are books. If that assumption is correct, then the “appification” of  1,000-books (or 1,000 apps) of children’s book/apps before the Kindle Fire launch next month appears to be heavily subsidized by Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN). Book publishers, especially the long-tail of small-house children’s book publishers, are already strapped keeping up with two formats (iOS and Kindle) to support yet another format, the Kindle Fire version of Android (which, like iOS apps, must be approved by Amazon before making it onto the Kindle Fire).

However, as always, some creative entrepreneurs started thinking about books as software long ago. The Kindle Fire could be their overnight success that took 10 years to happen. For example, the decade-old company zuuka publishes iStory Time apps for the iPad via iTunes and will have Fire formatted books on day one.

Perhaps because of those young Hammocks and my (even then) obsession with the whole paper-digital connection, about 15 years ago, an early Hammock project was a magazine advertorial that appeared in Family Fun magazine that was sponsored by several pioneer developers of what used to be called back then edutainment – think Madden NFL meets Richard Scarry’s Busytown. Long-gone (at least as independent entities) companies like  Brøderbund sponsored it.

No doubt, had there been a Kindle Fire around in the early 1990s, the brand new Hammocks would have asked for Brown Bear, Brown Bear to be read over-and-over on that device, as well.

One thing any parent can tell you about children and their books: there is no such thing as a child getting tired of being read the same book over-and-over – nor, do I guess, being read (and playing with) the same book on too many apps in too many formats.

*All Amazon.com links go to my affiliate store. I think I’m up to $1.75 in commissions this year.

Rex Hammock is founder/ceo of Hammock Inc., the content marketing, strategy and media company founded in 1991 in Nashville, Tenn. He is also founder/helper-in-chief of the wiki, SmallBusiness.com. He started RexHammock.com in 2000, and you can follow him on Twitter @r.

This article originally appeared in RexBlog.com.

  1. Consider points below before buying Kindle Fire:
    – Amazon confirmed that you cannot download anything to Kindle Fire when traveling outside US.
    – Kindle Fire (or any other Kindle) doesn’t have microSD (or any other) card slot thus it is stuck with 6 GB USABLE internal storage unlike other tablets/ereaders that can get up to 32 GB card in to increase content capacity. Kindles are made to be almost like a “dumb terminal” of the past to make sure you’re tied up to Amazon’s storage on the web (for which you need Wi-Fi connection to get to) and you can only store content you get from Amazon there, not other files. Quoting Amazon on Kindle Fire: “Free cloud storage for all Amazon content”. Get it, Amazon content? 
    – The stats of how long the battery can last (Kindle Fire theory is 7.5 hours) are taken with Wi-Fi off. It will last about 3 hours if you use it to access content from their Cloud storage over Wi-Fi. 
    – Amazon can spy on your web activity through their new cloud-integrated web browser of Kindle Fire. 
    – VERY IMPORTANT – lack of microSD slot means that if you decide to”root” your Kindle Fire (or any other Kindle) you’ll have to “root” the actual device thus there will be no coming back. On other devices you can make it boot from a “rooted” microSD card and if you want to get back to the original Operating System you can just take out the card and reboot, and you can go back and forth between different images of various OS’s. 
    – Kindle Fire doesn’t have a camera. 
    – Kindle Fire has about 70% less usable screen area than iPad 2. 
    – Kindle doesn’t support eBooks in ePub format that is the most used format in the world. 
    – Kindle app store contains only Amazon approved apps and it does not include (and will not include) Netflix app that other tablets/ereaders have thus again you’re stuck with Amazon content only. 
    – Amazon says it will review every app in its Appstore for Fire compatibility, as part of an automated process. Rejected apps will include those that rely on a gyroscope, camera, WAN module, Bluetooth, microphone, GPS, or micro SD. Apps are also forbidden from using Google’s Mobile Services (and in-app billing), which, if included, will have to be “gracefully” removed. In terms of actual content, Amazon has outlawed all apps that change the tablet’s UI in any way (including theme- or wallpaper-based tools), as well as any that demand root access (it remains to be seen how the company will treat the root-dependent apps already in its store) – this is what “rooting” can help with.

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    1. @megoogler:disqus This is the third time you’ve posted the same comment.  We love people to voice their opinion but repetition doesn’t add anything to the conversation.  Thanks for understanding.

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    2. Technically, pdf is the most popular ebook format, not epub. There are other idiotic things you said that I won’t waste my time on, but I just wanted to chime in and say that you sound like an idiot. I’m psyched about getting my Kindle Fire come November.

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  2. One thing we know for sure – Moroccan poetry is not going to save the publishing industry – so says this publishing exec…

    http://mankabros.com/blogs/chairman/2011/10/12/gay-moroccan-poetry-is-not-going-to-save-our-publishing-business/

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  3. To megoogler,
    Since there is so much misinformation in your post that is uploaded almost everywhere, I’ve explained the portions that are just outright wrong, in case people are interested:

      http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2011/10/misconceptions-re-amazon-and-kindlefire.html

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