Everyone fearing Amazon dominating eBooks again or being the “only” seller of eBooks needs the following reminders:
1) The population of iOS devices is a multiple of all eInk devices combined.
2) iOS devices are now the largest outlet for eBooks, not Amazon. That we have not seen Apple “dominate” eBooks is due to Agency pricing and the size and price of the current iPad. If Apple decides to release a smaller, less expensive iPad (or larger iPod Touch), it will become the “new Kindle.” The reason why the iPod Touch has not become that is because it’s much smaller than the 6″ eInk screen people have become accustomed to. The iPod Touch does not make people think “book.”
3) With Barnes & Noble having shown everyone that people will read on an LCD screen, it’s clear that the issue is the size and price of a device, not necessarily its screen. So we have gotten the Kindle Fire too. And the Kobo Vox. And within a few months, the Google Play tablet will appear.
4) Apple is not going to close its iBookstore, Google is not going to close its Google eBookstore, Kobo — which is owned by the giant corporation Rakuten — is not going to shut down, nor will Feedbooks or any others shut down. Even Agency pricing, which eliminated competition among eBookstores, did not lead to any eBookstores closing.
5) Will Amazon undercut everyone in price? Maybe. But for how long? See my previous point. Those eBookstores will not go away. Seriously, with all of their money, neither Google nor Apple will compete against Amazon on eBook prices? Where did you ever get that idea? And let’s say they decide not to compete on price. So what? Did everyone who was paying a higher price at the Sony Reader Store dump their Readers for Kindles? Sony is still in the eBook business even while that company has been bleeding hundreds of millions. And Rakuten will not shut Kobo. There are many other ways to compete: Such as having exclusives for books. See how many writers have chosen to give their books exclusively to Amazon. Who says Apple, Google, Kobo or anyone else can’t try wooing such writers?
6) Don’t have any sympathy for Barnes & Noble. That company had no sympathy for the smaller bookstores it put out of business. Now it might be Barnes & Noble’s turn to go away, as Borders did. Did anyone of you have any sympathy for Borders, by the way? Why not? Isn’t Barnes & Noble the “new Amazon” for print bookstores?
7) Do not weep for the Big Six. eBooks were inevitable and they refused to lead their own industry, so they’ve had everything imposed on them by tech companies. Well before there was an Amazon, Microsoft did eBooks. Microsoft was a larger threat than Amazon ever can be. Seeing Microsoft do eBooks should have galvanized the Big Six into an alliance to create eBook standards, not sit back and fear the future. If the Big Six go away, eBooks won’t. Writers matter, not those megacorporations. Ask Amanda Hocking if she needed them to make her millions! Ask any self-publishing writer who’s found an audience if they had that chance with the Big Six!
8) Kindle versus ePub does not matter. What matters is DRM. It’s not file format that prevents people from moving their books from, say, a Kindle to a Sony Reader. It’s DRM. Apple made DRM go away with music. DRM can also go away with eBooks. Should that happen, anyone can use the free Calibre software to shift file formats if they need to. And that will boil everything down to what matters: Writers. People buy the work of writers and they don’t care if it’s sold at Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. All of those are just outlets, not products.
9) We no longer exist in a world that is led by eBook hardware. See point one. The iPad and other tablets (including rooted eInk Nooks!) can now run apps from Amazon, from Kobo, from Barnes & Noble — and vendor-independent apps, such as Aldiko and Bluefire Reader. Wrap your head around the fact that eInk devices are now the minority device for eBooks and your perspective will immediately change, your horizons will broaden, and your fear will dissipate.
1) Do not fear Amazon
2) Do not weep for the Big Six
3) Only writers matter