So theres a lot of noise around about the iPad, and how great it is, and how it will kill amazons Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6
Which it may do, I’m not too sure. The basic kindle is a lot cheaper than the iPad, and probably has scope to get much cheaper again, and Apple is after netbooks/low cost notebooks, and probably isn’t supremely concerned about the kindle.
There is a much more interesting fight happening, which no-one seems to be say much about.
In… the…. red… corner, we have the tag-team from heaven, the e-ink on the brink, the best from the West (Cupertino, CA and Seattle), the electric duo, the Mighty (brown) Kindle, and the Fabulous (and absorbent) iPad. Who would have thought they could ever team up? In the same corner, backing each other through thick and thin? Best mates 4eva, Jobs and Bezos. I’m not sure why Jobs just smacked Bezos with his shiny new iPad, but I’m sure theyve got each others backs.
And… in the blue corner… the boyz from the wood, the oldest team in wrestling, the Gutenberg Goliaths, the Publishing companies.
Lets… get… ready… toooo ruuuummmmbbble!
So, on one hand, we have the e-readers and e-books in general, and their associated e-stores. Theres a secondary fight there, but its not too relevant at this point. But the publishers… hmm. What are they offering now? Are they not in exactly the same place as the music publishers? So theres no shipping, no packaging, no printing, no up-front capital costs. Just some editing, and publicity.
Now the iPad will force this decision on more and more people. Paper or electrons? And if electrons, how much do you want to pay? And why do authors need publishers anymore? Previously, they needed someone to actually make books, and ship them all around the world, and bill bookshops etc etc. There was a whole logistical chain that a given author didnt want to deal with. But ebooks…?
So the publishers are on thin ice here. They are trying to maintain margins when more people are switching to ebooks. And people just aren’t willing to pay that much for a collection of ordered electrons. Its the The Innovator’s Dilemma repeated again. Except its too late for the publishers, they should have been the ones doing Amazon, or having a chunk of skin in that game. So the book market will slowly shift to the ebook readers. Both Amazon and Apple will benefit, and the old-time publishers will die. There will be a battle for mindspace between Apple and Amazon, but it will be about who gets the greater share of an increased revenue pool (thoughtfully contributed by existing book publishers). All books will be in all stores unless one of the publishers sign an exclusivity deal, which would be extremely hard to argue was in anyones best interests.
What interesting times we all live in!
PS. Has anyone tried to download ebooks via bittorrent? An ebook is going to be… tiny compared to music.