Day 3

Today I succumbed to temptation and bought my own book.  I don't have a Kindle and can't purchase one since I live neither in the US nor in the UK, so I bought it through the Kindle app for iPod.

Which means I am now the proud owner of something that looks like this:

That's the first page of my book right there.  All yours.  For free.  Well, actually it's only about the first twenty words but that counts as a page in iPod-land.

And that brings me to what, so far, has been the most difficult part of promoting my e-baby.  It's not that my friends don't want to do something nice for me (and get a sneak peak into my twisted mind); but most of them have no idea that you don't actually need a Kindle to read a Kindle book.

In fact, until yesterday, neither did I.

Why does Amazon keep this so hush-hush, I wonder?  The only explanation would be that they are trying to encourage people to buy their device rather than use Steve Jobs' version.  But that explanation makes absolutely no business sense.

Surely Amazon makes far more money off sales of the e-books themselves than off sales of the Kindle? 

Let's take your average best-selling e-book at a price of $10.  Amazon makes at least $3 off that price (a bit more, actually, but we'll get into that another time).  At around $140 per Kindle, and a generously estimated margin of 40%, that means Amazon makes more money from the sale of 19 e-books than from the sale of 1 Kindle.

Now let's think how many e-books one Kindle owners is likely to buy.  Probably more than 19, right?  And now let's think of all the e-books non-Kindle owners are likely to buy (especially if they actually knew they could).  The numbers are stacking up now.

The device is not where the money is.  The money is in the content.  So please, people, spread the word.  And buy an e-book!


  1. Sounds like a "market sizing exercise" for a consultancy interview ;-)

  2. Actually you can buy a Kindle without living in either the UK or US. As a Euro dwelling person, with no billing address you'd buy from the .com site. Like I did.

    I also think you are thinking a bit linear on the issue of why Amazon don't want folks reading on other platforms (or at least not encourage it).

    First, the Kindle is way better for the sole purpose of reading. Having people read the books on a device that tires the eyes might turn people off the idea permanently. Value in the content, but no content is sold.

    Second, there is the issue of device loyalty, and device development. If everyone has a Kindle, Amazon get to drive how the content creators develop and present their content. They also have a bunch of people that are on their platform and that platform will evolve. It is how and why Sony dominated the console market for ages. Once everyone had a Playstation, it took millions and millions for Microsoft to launch a rival product, even though it was technically superior. Same with phones: everyone has an iPhone (well many people) and despite there being really way better phones out there, it is Apple driving the agenda through weight of audience.

    So why would Amazon want to move people to the iPad, as it would mean they might be lost for a long time. And once gone, they might have to abandon the Kindle to concentrate on content provision. And content provison can be moved to the iStore. So they might not even have that.

    All in all, I'd say its not straigthforward. Kindle is way more popular in the States, and customers are just more aware of the options there than in Europe I'd say. But I doubt Amazon really want people to know.

    Matt A