Monday, September 26, 2011

The Amazon Formula

They didn't create the first ebook device. Sony's original Reader had more than a one year head-start on the Kindle. What they were first with though was a platform that made wireless ebook buying a snap; Whispernet was a game-changer.

Next, they had the vision to create a Kindle reader app for every platform known to man. Want to read a Kindle book on your Windows laptop? No problem. On a Mac? Absolutely. On an Android device, an iPhone, iPad or Blackberry? Check, check, check, and check. This, btw, is what made me comfortable building up a library of Kindle content. I pity the sucker who's bought a ton of content from Apple's iBookstore; that person is locked in with Apple for the rest of their lives.

Of course, the more ebooks I buy from Amazon the more I'm locked in with them down the road. But I don't mind. That's a key part of Amazon's secret sauce. Btw, when I say "locked in", I'm talking about the content platform, not the hardware platform. I plan to buy a Kindle tablet on day one, but if another Android tablet comes along a year or so later and is better, I'll probably switch to it.

I've been asked why I don't buy econtent from Barnes & Noble or Kobo. After all, they too offer apps on a variety of platforms. I'd rather stick with one reader app I'm used to and not have to remember which options are/aren't available (or how they work) in other apps. Then there's the practical side. if I want to search for a phrase I know I read but I can't remember which ebook it was in, it's easy to search across your entire long as that collection was purchased from the same ebookstore! Good luck searching simultaneously across your Kindle ebooks, your Nook ebooks, and your Kobo ebooks. It can't be done. In fact, cross-library features like this are something I'll bet each vendor will build up further, again, with an eye on keeping you loyal to them.

So the fact that I keep buying more and more econtent from Amazon, just like many of you, means I'm making it harder and harder to ever abandon them. But as long as they keep supporting all platforms I'm perfectly content to keep doing this.

P.S. -- It's no secret that I'm a huge Amazon fan. In fact, I took the Amazon position in a fun Tools of Change (TOC) for Publishers webcast debate we recently had. In that debate I presented the five key reasons why I feel Amazon's platform is superior to Apple's. You can watch it via this link or the embedded version below.


Peter Seaton said...

You say: “I pity the sucker who’s bought a ton of content from Apple’s iBookstore; that person is locked in with Apple for the rest of their lives.”

The only problem is that your statement is that it’s NOT TRUE! You’d know that if you weren’t such an Apple basher and instead did your homework. I have an iPad, a Nook, and a Sony reader, and I can easily transfer e-books that I purchased in the iBook store onto either my Nook or my Sony, where they display just fine. It’s also not hard, it takes only seconds, to convert them so they can be read on the Kindle. Protected books, those which have D.R.M. attached, can, of course, only be read on the iPad, but that’s true of the protection systems of any device, not only Apple’s. (Thus, the argument put forth by numerous consumers against D.R.M. systems.)

I’m not “locked in with Apple” for the rest of my life. I choose to use the iPad for most of my e-book reading because it’s a great device upon which to read an e-book, but if I want, or choose, to transfer my unprotected books to my Sony reader or my Nook, I can easily do so at any time.

Joe Wikert said...

Peter, I'm curious to know how many books you've bought via iBooks that can be converted to Nook or Sony (without breaking DRM). Most of the ebooks sold by Amazon, Apple and Sony have DRM wrappers. I'd love to know how you're finding so many without DRM; alternatively, if these are DRM'd books are you truly able to legally move them to a non-Apple device?

Also, can you list the steps (or point me to them somewhere online) to do this conversion? I haven't heard of anyone who's been able to buy a DRM'd iBook title and legally move it to a non-Apple device. I'd love to hear more.

Btw, I'm not sure I really qualify as an "Apple basher". I'm writing this comment from my MacBook Pro. I stood in line to buy an iPad on day one and I've been using an iPhone for the past 3 years. If I'm "bashing" I'm also "buying"! Further, I believe I'm stating the facts.

If indeed there's an easy way for someone to buy a DRM'd ebook from Apple and legally move it to their Nook or Sony reader I'll gladly correct this post. I'm sure there are a *lot* of consumers out there who would love to know how, so please send the details.

Unknown said...

One important point that I'm surprised that you didn't mention is that, until the advent of agency pricing, Amazon had a "No eBooks priced more than $9.99" policy. That brought a lot of people into the Amazon ecosystem, where they became locked in for the reasons that you suggested. Even today, Amazon usually has the lowest prices for non-agency titles, and it tries to get exclusive rights to titles as well.

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