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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Will Amazon Unwittingly Destroy the Kindle?

Kindle Touch

Kindle Touch

It’s been clear since early this year that as the Kindle Fire was taking off so impressively, Amazon was experiencing some amount of decreased Kindle eReader interest among its customers.   It is probably fair to say that most people expected this.  The Kindle accomplishes its narrow purpose well, but many people will always prefer a device that does many things adequately over one that does one thing extremely well.  As the trend continues, and as the Kindle Fire becomes the first in its own line of tablet products, do we have to worry about this being a popular enough substitution to lead to the end of the Kindle eReader?

A year or two ago I would have, and am known to have, argued against the idea.  The strengths of the Kindle are things that you just can’t match in a tablet.  The Kindle Fire’s inferior screen, shorter battery life, and greater weight all make it a distant second-best for reading activities by comparison.  Clearly not everybody is agreeing with those points, as sales estimates for the popular eReader have been declining coming into this year.

I believe it is possible to argue against this being just a matter of one device being somehow better than the other, though.  The real problem is the way that Amazon has segmented their customer base.

If we assume that the Kindle Fire is more appealing to people who only read occasionally, and who would like to get more regular use out of their purchase, that leaves E Ink Kindle buyers as the more dedicated reader base.  Let’s face it, Amazon’s actions lately have not been entirely pleasant for many fans of literature despite bringing prices down.

People get very attached to their favorite authors, and to the idea of authorship in general.  For many, the “One of these days I’m going to sit down and write a book” mantra is less a matter of actual intent and more a sign of respect for the craft.  The cult popularity springing up around any number of self-published Kindle authors is just another sign of this.  By pitting themselves against groups like the IPG, and thereby inspiring even more public condemnation from big name author and those speaking more or less officially on their behalf, Amazon is damaging their pro-reader stance.

I don’t believe that the eReader as we know it is on the way out.  The E Ink Kindle remains one of the best options for reading that money can buy and the combination of great selection with commitment to customer satisfaction works heavily in Amazon’s favor.  This sort of questionable behavior does much to dampen enthusiasm for the product among potential buyers, though.

So is Amazon biting into Kindle sales?  Definitely.  There’s at least as much interference coming from their heavy-handed negotiation tactics as their tablet alternative, though.  The Kindle Fire is an amazing little device and most people seem glad to have it once they take it home, but for reading nothing can beat E Ink so far.  Sadly, Amazon has been doing some work making sure people have doubts about tying themselves to the otherwise amazing Kindle ecosystem in the long term, and so there are issues.

Arguing that Amazon’s Behavior Justifies Agency Model Price Fixing is Idiotic

Since the rise of the Agency Model that Apple made possible for publishers in a partnership surrounding the release of the iBooks application and store for the original iPad (a partnership now awaiting trial in an anti-trust case), there has been serious talk about how Amazon has set out on a crusade to utterly destroy traditional publishing with the Kindle.  This isn’t news, exactly, but it has become an important and popular topic after the recent contract dispute that the company had with the Independent Publishers Group that has resulted in the ongoing absence of IPG titles from the Kindle Store.

There can be no question that Amazon is acting like a bully in this dispute.  They want a lot and are in a position to demand rather than ask or negotiate.  What has risen up in response to this anti-Amazon sentiment has been shocking to say the least, however.  Scattered around popular blogs, we can now see any number of authors and publishers coming out against Amazon and claiming that publishers were somehow right to have engaged in price fixing and that even if it was technically illegal they should be allowed a pass because otherwise Amazon will win.

On the one hand, it is understandable sentiment.  Thanks to the Kindle, Amazon controls around 75% of the eBook market already.  Without their platform, the rise of eReading as we now know it would slow to a crawl.  Nobody else has the resources, or seemingly the interest in customer satisfaction, that Amazon is willing to put into keeping such a platform going.

On the other hand, this is insane.  Publishers were unhappy with how poorly the old business model applies to new media and so their potentially illegal activities should be excused.  It makes no sense to me, somehow.

This is made to seem like it is a one-sided arrangement.  I believe that to be a mischaracterization.  If publishers lacked power, they could not have compelled the adoption of the Agency Model in the first place.  They were just too concerned at the time with short term profits to be willing to take a stand and risk losing Amazon as a storefront.  It was a move that only made sense for every individual company if they knew that none of the competition would be capitalizing on their threatened withdrawal.

Amazon’s acting like a bully aside (because in the matter of the Agency Model and its potential legal implications that that does not apply) they have built the simplest and most usable way for readers everywhere to access eBooks.  Nobody else has come close, despite competing efforts from Barnes & Noble’s Nook line, the Kobo, and more.  This does not mean that anybody has been compelled to use it.

There would be no case against them if the Big 6 Publishers had come out with their own Kindle competitor and started offering all of their titles through it.  The Kindle would still be there attracting self publishers and generally making itself useful in various ways, but it wouldn’t have the content to be so important.

These publishers don’t want to have to deal with building new distribution channels, though.  They also don’t want to have to adapt when other people build them.  The fact that there is a power disparity is undeniable, but that doesn’t mean that these publishers were ever powerless.  Nobody compels them to use the Kindle platform.  To say that they should be able to get away with their own anti-competitive and manipulative actions because otherwise the Kindle line will make people start seeing books as more affordable and ruin their profits is just ridiculous.