Last week, Amazon announced its Kindle application for Apple’s much ballyhooed iPad device. With this latest avatar, the Kindle publishing platform is now available on a range of devices including Kindle e-book readers, PCs, Macs, BlackBerrys, iPhones and now the iPad.
It is a shrewd move from Amazon and comes at a time when many analysts were questioning the no-frills Kindle reader’s ability to compete with much more sophisticated devices such as the iPad.
This way, while Amazon figures out how to make the Kindle sexier, its e-book publishing and distribution platform continues to generate revenue on other devices.
For the publishing industry the implications are much greater. The Kindle platform’s growing ubiquity, combined with the launch of short stories on the Kindle store in December, threatens to shock the publishing industry in much the same way Apple’s iTunes store rewrote the industry playbook.
Till the iTunes model of online music retail took off, consumers had no option but to buy complete albums in the form of tapes or discs. Even if buyers just wanted to listen to Touch of Grey or Hell in a Bucket, they still had to buy the complete Grateful Dead album In The Dark. Or, pirate it.
When iTunes was launched in April 2003, it let users buy one song at a time.
The market loved it. On 24 February 2010, iTunes sold its 10 billionth song: a copy of Johnny Cash’s Guess Things Happen. The online store is now the largest US music retailer.
Kindle’s short story initiative and cross-platform availability can do the same for books and journalism. Now, like music publishers, authors, publishing houses and media companies can sell content piecemeal. And price these works at a fraction of the cost of complete books.
There is also an incentive for authors. Come June, Amazon will put into effect a new revenue model that will offer authors and publishers up to 70% of revenues.
Amazon’s Kindle, like iTunes, removes intermediaries in the publishing and distribution businesses. It might make legacy publishers lose sleep. But for consumers, and many authors, online stores are becoming the simplest, most profitable way to buy and sell content. Soon you could have all your personalized libraries, music or otherwise, in the palm of your hand.
Is Kindle headed for the iTunes model? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org