I need to be very clear. I believe Amazon is positioned to be the winner in the content delivery war. Have you really looked around Amazon.com lately? You can buy a jar of peanut butter, a set of spark plugs, and all the digital content you can consume. As an Android phone user, they’re my iTunes stand-in. And with the way they’re sneaking Kindles out into the universe, it’s all going to go even deeper.
The Ultimate Distribution Coup
People are out there saying, “iPads are kicking Kindle’s butt.” Perhaps they missed the Kindle for iPad memo. Or the Kindle for Android memo. Or the Kindle for iPhones memo. It’s not about the device.
USA Today reports that Amazon’s announced it’s 3rd generation Kindle at a price point of $139 US. That’s getting close to dirt cheap. Hell, if I were a book publisher, I’d mail Kindles to my top 20,000 personal buyers.
But They Can’t
Because Barnes & Noble (and I’m a huge huge huge fan of the store) has the Nook, and because Borders (fan of them, too) has whatever they call their new ereader (sorry, Borders, but no one’s buying them – but thanks for the iPad app). And won’t this kill the independent?
That’s where the publisher’s head has to be in this game. They have to be very Switzerland. They have to be WalMart friendly, indie friendly, etc. And it’s a position that I think will choke them into some really surprising moves in the next 3 years or less.
The Kindle Conspiracy
Distribution is everything, friends. The iPod was reasonably neato. It had great marketing: 1000 songs. That was so easy to understand that people rushed in and bought them. But the iTunes Store was everything. Distribution. Suddenly, the universe fell in on itself for a while there.
iPhone? Same thing, new market.
Kindle is doing that. As the iPad gives us all a “hey, this is a strange device in search of a market,” it’s given Kindle more ground. As the Kindle app will run on your desktop, your phone, your tablet, the Kindle tablet, whatever, they’ve got you in the mood to swipe up books without much thought.
The moment the Kindle stretches distribution to other things, it’ll be the big giant explosion.
And in the mean time, Amazon, who owns Audible, who owns video distribution, who owns all various kinds of other media products besides books, can (will) cut out the weaker of the publishing houses and/or buy them at pennies on the dollar.
Distribution is the Key
Don’t look at the device. Don’t fret about the device. Think of it as yet another way to gain ground in distribution. Keep your eyes on this, and also think about how this impacts your business. Think further on whether there are ways you could do distribution differently (better, partnered) and what that would give you.
It’s a clever world out there, if we watch for it.
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