Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Is Amazon pulling your Kindle?

Earlier this year, Amazon announced that they were now selling more e-books than physical books. Is it a coincidence that they make this announcement not long after they introduced their new Kindle 2 e-book reader?

Personally, I don't know anybody that owns a Kindle, but maybe I don't enough of the right people! Anyway, everything I say is just conjecture and my opinion!

It makes economic sense for Amazon to promote e-books over traditional books - they don't need a warehouse to stock them, they don't need to buy them in advance so cash flow is better, they don't need to pay staff to pick and pack them, they don't need to post them, so no packaging costs etc., and of course you can't pass them on to your friends when you've finished.

There are some environmental reasons why e-books make sense of course - they don't consume paper, which for reading things like novels (which you don't tend to keep) and daily newspapers makes sense, there are no distribution costs - no diesel for lorries to send them around the country etc. I don't know what the overall environmental footprint e-books have compared to printed books - I suppose it depends on how many e-books you'd buy versus the number of printed books.

What concerns me most is whether Amazon are telling the truth about the number of e-books sold in order to big up the Kindle, to make people feel they're missing out unless they have this latest gadget - is it just a marketing ploy to get people on board?

I have to confess that do buy from Amazon - they have an excellent range of books at reasonable prices, good if not free postage costs, and are usually my first stop when looking to buy something. I also don't tend to buy/read much fiction, so maybe I'm not their ideal customer.

Maybe I'm just too cynical. I have an iPod Touch and have downloaded Apple's e-book reader as well as Kindle software, but the screen is just too small to be useable. I have a relative who has an Apple iPad and he doesn't buy any daily papers now, instead, he has subscriptions to the electronic versions which get delivered automatically each day.

I just think that a lot of the joy of a book is in the holding and feeling, which is difficult to get with en e-book reader. Is this just a gadget that a market has been invented for and isn't really needed?

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