Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazon Publishing and bits versus atoms

Amazon Publishing: How it controls whole book supply chain, article.

Amazon... an innovative publishing partner who gives authors much more control even when Amazon is an actual publisher for them? Or a predatory near-monopoly which gobbles up whole industries on its merciless path?
Or both? ["Dad! Lisa is making me see both sides of an issue again!"]

It's clear though that a key issue is that words and sound and images are inevitably moving to digital delivery. If nothing else, the as the physical delivery gets more marginalized, it will become more expensive, which will marginalize it further. And Net bandwidth just gets bigger and cheaper. The book Being Digital told us about "bits versus atoms" over fifteen years ago! And despite this, many traditional companies had clearly not really realized this, seeming to cling to a sinking ship in desperate hope that it won't sink much more. Borders was not a small chain, but now it is gone.

In the meantime Amazon, which started by just shipping paper books, made a risky and difficult move by starting on the whole Kindle venture. Making such a device and publishing system is far from trivial. But it's becoming clear that they did many, many things right, and they are well on the way to just owning ebook publishing. Even Apple, which otherwise is the kingpin of the tech world right now, has not made much inroads in competing with Amazon, at least not in books, the iBooks store is not much to write home about. And with the new Kindle Fire, Amazon is seriously coming after the other arms of media publishing also.

Some say that the new Kindle Fire 7-inch tablet is a feeler, and that if successful, Amazon might bring out a bigger tablet next year. And it's hard to see why they should not do so, honestly. If anybody has a shot at the "iPad killer", jogging past the dead corporate bodies littered over that battlefield, it's Amazon, simply because they already have the infrastructure in place, not to mention the customers. Something which you could not say about HP or RIM.

But apropos traditional publishing: it's interesting how apparently getting rid of the high expenses of printing and distribution would make it harder to make money for some companies!
But then everybody else got rid of those expenses (barriers) too, levelling the field enormously, almost completely. And I guess when the field gets levelled, those who stand to lose are those who previously had the hill tops.

Update:
Bruce said...
I have to tip my cap to Amazon, because they have shown that they can change direction and adapt to what is going on around them. I tend to overlook Amazon's achievements because I'm a big fan of Apple, who are the best at adapting and changing. But Amazon is a strong second place, with most other companies tied for 50th place! :-)
There is also a lot of encouragement to buy more that what I'm looking for. Buying one thing from them leaves me feeling like I have disappointed them because I didn't buy three things.


 eolake said...
Yes, they are *total* geniuses at business. I have bought for tens of thousands of bucks from them over the years, and they've given me no reason to stop.

Just one example is that unlike most companies, especially big ones, they bend over backwards to give extra-extra good service. If somebody breaks the screen of his Kindle, as like as not they'll just send him a new one straight away.

I guess if one thing is regrettable, it's that their low prices and their cut makes it very hard for their partners to make money, from what I hear, yet most feel it's worse to not be on Amazon than to be. At least I've heard this about (paper) books, not sure to what degree it's true of all the other businesses they're in.

7 comments:

Dave Nielsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eolake said...

(Dave, I think your comments today are a bit harsh in tone. Even if you disagree with me, there's no need for nasty personal comments. You're normally not like this.)

You're right, it may well take more time than it feels like to me. Overall, certainly more than a couple of years.

On the other hand, look at the music industry. Devastated, in one decade.

Dave Nielsen said...

It might just be a case of misunderstand, but I've removed the comments anyway.

eolake said...

Okay, no worries. :-)

Bruce said...

I have to tip my cap to Amazon, because they have shown that they can change direction and adapt to what is going on around them. I tend to overlook Amazon's achievements because I'm a big fan of Apple, who are the best at adapting and changing. But Amazon is a strong second place, with most other companies tied for 50th place! :-)

Where I think Amazon can improve is in managing my attention. There is a lot of clutter on their web pages. They do seem to be getting better about this though.

There is also a lot of encouragement to buy more that what I'm looking for. Buying one thing from them leaves me feeling like I have disappointed them because I didn't buy three things.

eolake said...

Yes, they are *total* geniuses at business. I have bought for tens of thousands of bucks from them over the years, and they've given me no reason to stop.

Just one example is that unlike most companies, especially big ones, they bend over backwards to give extra-extra good service. If somebody breaks the screen of his Kindle, as like as not they'll just send him a new one straight away.

Anonymous said...

They aren't really adapting to anything, they're trying to tell the public they want something they don't appear to want.