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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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How the Kindle is Contributing to a New Way of Looking at the World

It is occasionally amazing exactly how far we’ve come over the years.  It’s an inane observation but not, I think, an inaccurate one.  This came to me recently while reading Halting State by Charles Stross.  I enjoyed the book immensely and can’t recommend it enough, but it occurred to me about halfway through that much of the “science fiction” being employed was realistic enough to give me pause.  Augmented reality glasses, arguably the major liberty Stross takes with real life, are hardly unlikely if Google is to be believed.  The idea that technology increasingly mediates our interactions with the world around us brought to mind some thoughts about how the Kindle has changed our perceptions.

The trend toward digitization of print media is ongoing and not isolated to anything Amazon has done.  What they made with the Kindle platform, however, was the first real method for instantly accessing any eBook in circulation at a moment’s notice (acknowledging certain exceptions, of course).  If you saw an interesting ad, you could grab the book from your phone and have it with you the next time you wanted to read.  If somebody recommended a book, you could immediately check the reviews and give it a shot.  If a student forgot their book, they could often fix the problem immediately rather than sitting around bewildered.

The effect has been extensive in obvious ways.  Libraries are having to adapt to the eReader presence, for example.  Not only that, they were in a fair amount of trouble while OverDrive adapted to the Kindle since the vast majority of eReader owners prefer the Kindle platform.  Bookstores are feeling the press as well, being forced to compete, choose sides, or go the way of Borders.

The more subtle effects are more interesting, though.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that many book stores are having trouble unloading “classics” these days.  Where a faux leather cover on a book that was probably never going to be read might have been enough to sell a bargain bin title in the past, customers are increasingly aware that they can have those older titles for free and don’t have the incentive to have them on hand purely on principal anymore.

Reading in public is also becoming more common.  It has never been uncommon, of course, but now the ability to read without openly displaying your book preferences makes the Kindle a smart buy for people with guilty pleasures of a literary nature.  We’ve seen something of a romance novel boom reported as a result.

There are all sorts of little ways that this comes into play.  When you take into account the fact that the Kindle platform is available on any smartphone in circulation at the moment, we’re basically talking about the most wide-spread literary revolution since the move to codex-style books.  Maybe I shouldn’t attribute the whole shift to the Kindle, but if you have to put a name to it then Amazon’s product is the one to spring to mind.

Without trying to sound clichéd, any thoughts on how the Kindle platform and eReading in general has changed our lives?  I was expecting more from the instant Wikipedia access anywhere that Kindle devices offered so early on, but it seems in retrospect that this was the least profound impact of the lot.

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.