Amazon’s Kindle – Turnaround Time for Booksellers?

Less than four years ago the Kindle was released. Three years later more ebooks than “dead tree” books are sold. That’s a pace of change which makes PC development look dead in the water! Since 1st April Amazon has sold 105 Kindle ebooks for every 100 “dead tree” books sold. And that doesn’t include free ebooks!

The Kindle, originally released at $400 – can now be bought in the US for around $114 – if you go with the “special offers”, that is the advertiser supported edition. There is speculation in the market that Amazon may drop the Kindle’s price below $100 for Christmas 2011. At these price points Amazon is making little to no profit on the hardware. That’s because as a bookseller originally – Amazon.com understands that the issue is not with the technology – its about what it can do for the user – or in the case of the Kindle – the ability to buy cheap books easily. In fact you don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle ebook – you can download the free reader for your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or Android smart phone.
Amazon Kindle
The money is in the ebooks – not the device – and this is the game changer. Kindle is fundamentally changing the publishing industry. As Barnes and Noble goes into bankruptcy and independent booksellers struggle worldwide – Amazon is making big profits.

That’s because just as Apple’s iTunes did for music – Amazon is using the Kindle to take away the middle man between the author and the reader: the publisher. That’s because Kindle is not just a reading device – its a publishing platform – Kindle is YouTube for authors.

Now anyone can get their book published on the Kindle platform. You need a book – you need to do some formatting, the book will be reviewed by Amazon – and within days your magnus opus will be online and for sale (or you can give it away for free). Compare that with the traditional method of getting your novel published: write novel, try to get an agent, finally engage an agent – and then face possibly years of rejections from large publishing companies. You can see the appeal of self-publishing.

Self-publishing used to have a stigma but the Kindle is changing that. Amazon’s transparent rating system means that reader’s reviews mean a lot. Amazon’s clever cross-selling (readers who bought this book also bought…) means that if a reader likes your book – they will buy your next one and your next. The dross sinks without a trace – just in the same way that some carefully vetted and edited “real” books make it to the $1 remainder bin.

Now just being published doesn’t mean that you are going to make your fortune – but Amanda Hocking sells around 100,000 Kindle ebooks a month – and she doesn’t have a publisher. She sells her books cheap – from $0.99c to $3.99c – partly because she gets to keep 70% of the sales figures (not the miserly 10% most “real” authors get from dead tree books). Even if only half of those books are sold at the higher price – she is making at least $150,000 / month – a figure most authors can be dream about.

Kindle is a game-changer – but as other publishers and book retailer are starting to notice it – Amazon.com has won the race. The Kindle is great for people with arthritis (its lighter than a book), you don’t need a PC to run a Kindle (with the 3G version), traveling with a Kindle is a breeze, even the blind can use the built-in text to speech function to listen to books. Kindles have changed the way we read – for ever.