Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Apple Gobbles eBook Share; Amazon Needs to Go Cheap to Compete

Filed under: Apple iPad,eBook market share,eReaders,Kindle,Kindle cost — gator1965 @ 7:42 pm

Apple is devouring the eBook market and the strictly eReading devices need to cheapen-up to remain in the game…At least that’s my opinion, as well as others like Geoffrey A. Fowler of the Wall Street Journal:

Fowler writes:

At Steve Jobs’ Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on Monday, he dropped a stat that’s become the buzz of the publishing business. In the first 65 days that the iPad has been on the market with Apple’s new iBookstore, Apple customers have downloaded some 5 million e-books — and the company has captured a 22% share of the e-book market, he said. Presumably that count will go up when Apple releases its iBooks app for the iPhone later this month, too.

There’s plenty of room for debate on what those sales statistics mean, exactly. Apple, like other e-book retailers, “sells” a lot of free e-books that would pad the tally. Also, there are many different ways to count the size of the publishing industry, depending on the sorts of books one includes. Gartner analyst Allen Weiner said it must have been based on “some sort of voodoo algorithm”, given the secrecy that surrounds sales figures in the publishing industry. Jobs said only that he got the market share figure from “five of the six biggest publishers in the US.”

Nonetheless, the stats have renewed speculation about what this means for Amazon’s Kindle, which has led the market both in e-reader and e-book sales. Last month, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos told investors that the Kindle wouldn’t have color for some time, and that the company was focused on making the device serve hard-core readers.

Amazon introduced its current-generation Kindle device in February of last year, and dropped the price to $259 last October.

Writer Seth Godin had a modest proposal for Amazon: Amazon should cut the price of its Kindle dramatically.

Godin dubs a $49 device the “paperback Kindle.” It wouldn’t be hard to hit that price “if you use available wifi and simplify the device,” he wrote. Or even, he suggests, make a “Kindle of the month club,” whereby people who sign up to get a Kindle book each month would get the device for free. The impact could be that the Kindle could quickly blow away some of its competition from companies that depend on gadget sales, not e-book sales, to make a profit.

“You can’t out-Apple Apple,” Godin said in an interview. “If all Amazon does is try to come up with something sort of like an iPad but less colorful, they are going to fail.”

Moreover, he said the current Kindle isn’t cheap enough, and doesn’t contain the social reading functions — call it a virtual book club — that would really differentiate it as a reading device from the iPad.

Already, other single-purpose e-reading devices are playing in the sub-$200 market. Sony has offered discounts that drop the price of its entry-level reader to $169. And Kobo’s basic e-reader sells for $150.


More Thoughts on the eBook Format…And Kindle eBook Reader

Eldon Sarte, publisher of Wordpreneur, has some additional (and entertaining) thoughts on eBooks and the POD digital world previously expressed in this blog. I like his take on this subject:

My Thoughts on the eBook Format

Prompted by Michael Werner’s comment on yesterday’s News to Use item on the new Amazon Kindle eBook reader, here are my thoughts on ebooks in general. Make of them what you will.

• eBooks are excellent for “instant” on-demand delivery particularly for highly volatile and specialized content (e.g., technical, business, reference, textbooks, etc.).

• As a universal “paper book” replacement, the way ebooks were originally intended and envisioned way back when, they are failures. Why? Because consumers never asked for them. The paper book form factor is cheap, portable, intuitive (and did I say cheap?). So why would the consumer give a futz?

On the contrary, publishers (who were really the ones benefitting from the tech) were pushing it onto the consumer. Who was having none of it, except for areas where the tech made sense (see above).

Enter the Amazon Kindle, which looks like the one that has the closest potential to date to reach “universal traditional book replacement” status. Perfectly timed for the “Think Green” trend (assuming producing it uses up less resources than producing and distributing traditional books). Rich extensive content. And the wireless bit’s a thing of beauty.

But boy, at $399 I think it’s just too gosh-darned expensive for mass adoption. I think that’ll kill its immediate potential and growth. And too bad too; the world may just be ready for such an appliance… a reasonably priced one, though. Not that I can even come close to claiming I know better than Bezos and Co. on this particular subject, after they’ve obviously invested way more time and energy at it than the, what, 5 minutes I spent thinking about it?

On the other hand, they’re lucky they got 5 minutes after I heard that price tag. Cause and effect, hmm?

One last thing: that “tactile” thing Michael mentions (or “curling up with it in front of a fireplace” for you romantics). I fully agree… except that, to be fair, it’s the only reading experience I really know. I can’t honestly say (and chances are, neither can you) that “curling up in front of a fireplace” with Kindle instead of an actual book would be a better or worse experience.

Not yet, anyway. Books are cheap. The Kindle’s $399. I’m in no rush, thank you very much.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: