The new rule for making a newspaper work seems to be maximizing its availability. This means that not only does it need to be at the local supermarket and gas stations, you also need to have editions available for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, general Internet, and more. Publishers are forced to jump through a lot of hoops to get this sort of availability built up and optimized for as broad a reader base as possible, but without that availability they tend to find themselves unable to compete in an age of increasingly all-digital, up-to-the-minute news sources.
Amazon has been doing a good job, up until now, of accommodating as many newspapers as were interested in joining the Kindle platform. Second only to iPad in terms of its subscriber base, papers are under a lot of pressure to make sure that they can maintain a place. So many have realized this that Amazon has been forced to temporarily suspend new publications until they can get things under control.
Multiple sources are now noting that newspaper publishers are being turned away. The situation is reported to be “not permanent but may be long term”. Amazon has responded by denying the existence of such a move, but then explained that they are running behind and can’t get to new things very quickly right now. Their suggestion for distributing to Kindle customers is to ask publishers to build themselves an app and submit it to the Amazon Appstore for Android.
Naturally this won’t be a huge comfort for many publishers. The Kindle eReader is by far the more widely distributed product at the moment, even if the Kindle Fire is quickly catching up, and that whole branch of the product line would be unreachable through Android perpetually. Also a factor is that any number of newspapers has been working hard to get their product in compliance with Amazon’s Kindle Newspaper guidelines with the express intent of reading the eReader side of things. To completely shift focus and abandon existing efforts in favor of an Android app seems less than ideal, when it would work at all.
The Kindle Store’s Newsstand currently stocks around 200 papers, with more being added all the time. While we can’t know the underlying cause of Amazon’s sudden hold on expansion, there are some speculations that make sense.
Possibly it is a matter of volume, given that this is something that requires trained oversight from Amazon staff to ensure quality integration. Also possible is the idea that this will force publishers to adopt KF8 and optimize for the Kindle Fire. Regardless of whether either of these actually works, it is hard to imagine that this is a major profit-building area of Kindle Sales and so it is highly tempting imagine a tactical move taking place here.
For now, what publishers have been pushed off are trying to work with Amazon to figure out where their options are. In the near future, we may find that only the biggest names in newspaper publication are available on the Kindle anymore.