Kindle Altering The Publishing Landscape

The Amazon Kindle ebook reader series has attracted a enormous amount of publicity over the last few months. The Kindle 2 was released in February 2009, to replace the original Kindle. Not long after, in June 2009, the new larger Kindle DX was launched – specifically targeted at readers of newspapers, magazines and textbooks.

Sales of the Kindle readers, books from the Kindle bookstore and Kindle accessories are said to be very good. Although many industry analysts have suggested that the Kindle price is too high consumers seem more than happy to pay for Amazon’s high tech toy. It’s interesting to note that, where a Kindle edition of a book coexists alongside the traditional paperback or hardback offering, the sales of the Kindle version make up 35% of sales.

That’s a very high number given that the Kindle has been available for only eighteen months. As impressive as the sales figures are, there are still many more sales opportunities for the traditional formats. Possibly it shouldn’t be too surprising – someone happy to pay between $359 and $489 for an electronic book reader is probably going to be an avid reader after all.

It really is easy to believe the predictions that the Kindle is going to change the way we read books, and probably in the not too distant future. However, it’s also worth considering the other side of the coin – the Kindle is going to change the way books are published and delivered to the public.

We can probably expect the traditional publishing pattern – hardback release followed by paperback release a few months later – to evolve. After all, why not issue the electronic version first and hold back on expensive print runs until the probable level of interest has been confirmed? And considering the reduced financial exposure of publishing houses, and the somewhat reduced time required to get a new book onto Amazon’s virtual shelves, could we see an increased willingness to debut new, untried authors?

We could even see a significant increase in authors who choose to self publish rather than use more traditional means.

In years to come, the Kindle will be superseded by ebook readers considerably more sophisticated. These will address the oft quoted shortcomings of the current Kindle readers – no color, high device cost, less than satisfactory contrast etc. The Kindle will doubtless seem primitive in comparison – but it is the Kindle that is revolutionising the way we read and, equally, the way books are published.

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