Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Amazon made two announcements this week that continues their ongoing commitment to innovating and solidifying their lead in book retailing and customer service.
The first announcement was the latest version of the Kindle Paperwhite. The news overshadowed others and kept Amazon ahead of their competition on devices. Plus this is the first Kindle to integrate Goodreads into the platform.
They also announced Kindle MatchBook. This allows publishers to “bundle” the eBook with the purchase of the physical edition. The eBook will retail for $2.99 or less. This gives Amazon a competitive advantage over Apple, Kobo and Sony – all of which do not sell physical books. B&N Nook is the only one set up currently to do so. Maybe Overstock will partner with one of the eBook vendors and compete? Publishers are hesitant to sign up. But then that is the norm. It will build and grow over time.
Ever since Amazon introduced the Kindle in November 2007, they have been the market leader in selling eBooks and have never stopped experimenting.
- NOV 2007 – Kindle introduced with 90,000 eBooks. The initial press release stated that NYT best-sellers would be $9.99. This is consistent with what Amazon prices best-sellers today.
- NOV 2007 – Digital Text Platform established to allow self-publishing.
- JUNE 2010 – Self-published authors now can opt for 70% share instead of 35%.
- JUL 2010 – Wylie Agency creates Odyssey Editions and signs exclusive deal with Amazon for 20 iconic books (including Mailer; Roth; Ellison; Updike; Rushdie; Cheever: and Hunter S. Thompson). This created disruption in the industry. Amazon and Wylie retreated. But it was an indication of the type of exclusive deals to come.
- JAN 2011 – Kindle Singles launches with nine titles. Long-form journalism now has a home on Kindle. The books are curated and big names sign up. With digital, the content determines the length, not the packaging as with physical.
- SEPT 2011 – Kindle Fire on sale. Amazon’s entry into the tablet market.
- SEPT 2011 – Amazon signs a controversial deal with Overdrive to allow libraries to use Kindle. This opened up 11,000 libraries to Amazon.
- OCT 2011 – DC Comics and Amazon sign exclusive deal. Lots of outrage.
- NOV 2011 – KOLL created. The Kindle Owners Lending Library allows Prime members to check out selected eBooks for free. The corporate publishers all refused to join but over time more and more content have been added.
- DEC 2011 – Authors were asked to join the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program with a $500,000 pool for authors. To be eligible, the titles were required to be exclusive to Amazon.
- SEPT 2012 – Kindle Serials created. Launched with eight different series. Each to have regular episodes sent directly to the reader when available.
- OCT 2012 – Original Kindle Paperwhite released.
- NOV 2012 – $1.5-million set aside for KDP Select authors. Amazon continues to pursue original content.
- DEC 2012 – Kindle Free Time Unlimited released. This is a subscription plan aimed at 3-8 year olds. For a monthly fee, customers get unlimited access to selected games, books, videos, apps and movies.
- MAR 2013 – Amazon buys Goodreads. Now they have lists of books read and reviewed for millions of readers and hundreds of millions of titles.
- MAY 2013 – Kindle Worlds created. This program starts to monetize fan-fiction with an agreement with Alloy Entertainment. A few months later, they sign a deal with the Vonnegut estate.
- SEPT 2013 – Kindle MatchBook announced.
- SEPT 2013 – Fifth generation Kindle Paperwhite released with Goodreads integrated.
In addition to the steps listed above, Amazon has created a dozen imprints and bought another 3-4 publishers outright. They continue to push for ownership of content.
Amazon released the original Kindle only six years ago. Digital reading had existed prior, but it was never mainstream until Amazon created the modern eBook market. Since then, Amazon has never rested. They have created opportunities for self-publishing; lending eBooks; serials; singles; subscriptions and bundling.
Although they had first-mover advantage, they didn’t rest on their lead. They have been willing to continue to invest, innovate and disrupt to stay on top.