Our old buddy Owen Thomas at NBC Bay Area just revealed a Time Inc. internal document that shows the media giant's interest in banding together with other publishers to control the eBook reader market—possibly to bump out Amazon.
This may be reading a little deep, but the presentation entitled "New Platforms & Business Models for Publishers," argues the need to get into the "portable digital reading device" business, as a publisher, and that there is as-yet no clear winner, though the "key components" of winning do seem to include much of what Amazon is already doing.
Thomas asked a Time Inc. spokesperson what the deal was, and she replied that they were speaking to "a number of hardware and software companies as well as other content companies about various projects." The memo included notes indicating that the publishers Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith were part of these discussions.
I don't see any clear-cut attack on Amazon, but as Amazon is the dominant player at the moment, it's probably safe to assume they're the wrong gang for publishing overlords to try to make a deal with, if they can go it another way for more money. Content is, after all, king.
I'd bet money that iRex and Plastic Logic are in on these conversations as well, being smaller players with good access to reader technology, and less brand baggage than Amazon (and Sony). Both iRex and Plastic Logic have hinted at upcoming announcements, so maybe Time Inc. will be a part of them. Then again, the tone of the excerpts Thomas ran suggests Time sees this as a bit far off.
Most unintentionally funny bit: The memo itself seems to be a paper copy, with handwritten notes scrawled in the margins. You guys sure you're ready for portable digital reading devices? [NBC]