How Amazon Could Switch Over ePub Book Buyers

Amazon is very, very good with their strategy and tactics.

This week they announced eBooks are outselling print books.

But why did they announce that this week?

Next week is BookExpo America. The news released then would have made a huge splash, been a seismic shock.

This makes me think that Amazon has an even bigger announcement for next week, to stab the heart of BEA and cause weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Yesterday the tech field was filled with news about Apple’s upcoming Cloud music service.

One blog post in particular got me thinking about how Amazon could switch everyone currently buying ePub over to Kindle books without those people losing anything except their hardware investment. While such investment is not exactly trivial, people usually spend a multiple of that on their books, so it’s the books that contain the most value, not any dedicated device.

Here is how Apple would win over, for example, Amazon Music Store customers:

“But what about the stuff I bought from Amazon? Ripped from CD?” Buy it from Amazon? Rip it from CD? No matter. If iTunes sells it you can stream it.

Now that’s very interesting if it comes to pass.

Apple would basically be saying, “We know you own this music. We didn’t sell it to you, but you paid for it. We’re not going to charge you again for it.”

Amazon could do the same thing.

ePub books from Sony, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble are stored in distinct folders. Some people even use Calibre for their eBook management and that’s a distinct folder too.

What if Amazon released a program that would scan those folders, report the titles back to Amazon, and then let people download Kindle versions of those books without any extra charge, without having to pay for them again?

Publishers cannot expect people to buy their books twice, once for ePub, one for Kindle. Why should they? It’s not the customer’s fault there isn’t a single, universal eBook file format. All the customer wants to do is read. A book is not its container. A book is words. And those were already paid for.

Just as Apple wouldn’t see itself losing money on such a music swapping deal, I think Amazon would see it the same way. They could advocate to publishers on the customer’s behalf. Or, just as they and Google have done with their Cloud music services, entirely ignore the pathetic mewlings of the original property owners and do it anyway.

Amazon has been pimping a trade-in deal for old electronics.

What would be so unusual about one for eBooks?

Now that would be the kind of announcement that would shatter everyone at BEA next week.

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15 Comments

Filed under Amazon Kindle, Digital Overthrow, eBooks: General, Friction, Marketing, Minimalism

15 responses to “How Amazon Could Switch Over ePub Book Buyers

  1. What if Amazon released a program that would scan those folders, report the titles back to Amazon, and then let people download Kindle versions of those books without any extra charge, without having to pay for them again?

    Brilliant.

    Fucking brilliant.

  2. If Amazon wanted to distribute ebooks originally sold elsewhere then they would need to get publisher approval (or pay for the new copies themselves). That’s simply not going to happen.

    • mikecane

      If it’s sold by Amazon, Amazon could swap it. Apparently you did not click through to the post I cited that states Apple would not stream music not sold at the iTunes Store. Amazon has most of the eBooks. Exclusives other stores have are not Amazon’s problem and would not be that big a loss for buyers. They would, in fact, still own what they have and can continue to read it using any ePub program or device, so it’s really no loss at all.

      • It doesn’t matter what Apple is doing; what I meant was that pubs won’t let Amazon send a customer another copy (to swap for one sold elsewhere) without giving them more money.

        That’s a powerful economic club and I just don’t see them giving it to Amazon.

      • mikecane

        Google and Amazon didn’t seem to be bothered when it came to streaming music. We’ll see what happens.

  3. James

    So, I can get any Kindle book I want by creating an encrypted file in my iTunes directory with the file name of the book I want for free?

    That can’t be what you are saying. Unless you think that Amazon can break Apple’s Fairplay what you are describing is never going to happen. It is a wide open door for piracy.

    I think you need to do some more thinking about this.

  4. Publishers cannot expect people to buy their books twice, once for ePub, one for Kindle. Why should they? It’s not the customer’s fault there isn’t a single, universal eBook file format. All the customer wants to do is read. A book is not its container. A book is words. And those were already paid for.

    Am late but the fiasco with Fictionwise a few years ago where Overdrive pulled all their ebooks? Yeah, FW had to go and ASK the publisher if we could swap our MS LIT titles to another format. The vendor couldn’t arbitrarily change it themselves. Some publishers said NO to a replacement copy and I lost 9 titles from that shit (they are still in my library, download expired). The publisher after doing a quick check was Harper Collins. I don’t see how Amazon has any say WHATSOEVER in swapping digital file formats unless it’s one they publish themselves.

    • mikecane

      If Bezos wanted to do it, he would. I think Amazon could win in any court battle too. It’d bring a whole new day to the Internet.

  5. Pedant

    “Publishers cannot expect people to buy their books twice, once for ePub, one for Kindle.”

    Of course they can. If I buy the hardback of a novel, the publisher does not automatically send me a paperback as well.

  6. Pingback: iBooks Match Could be Apple’s Secret Weapon Against Amazon - eBookNewser

  7. Amazon pimping a trade :)

  8. Geoff

    The greed of Amazon et al can not and should not be underestimated. They WILL expect you to pay for books again. The last thing the Kindle mgt team wants is for me to pay them $70 for a Kindle and then just download everything at the Gutenberg Project. It’s what AYE want, but hey, I’m just the customer. They want me a slave to AZW or MOBI the way Sony wanted Betamax slaves, and Apple wanted AAC files to restrict you from every leaving their hardware prison once you entered. Eff all e-readers at this point.

    • mikecane

      There are plenty of people out there who have bought an e-reader and done nothing but read free books. So far, I don’t even have a Kindle yet I have well over 1,000 *free* Kindle books — offered by Amazon and publishers!

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