People don’t buy Kindle e-readers because they are gadget buffs; “the reason people choose the device is that they love reading,” Amazon’s vice president of Kindle Content, Russ Grandinetti, said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
It’s taken a while for the digital reading device to hit the mainstream, but it looks like Amazon has managed to do it with the Kindle. Now on its third version, the device has become increasingly versatile, cuter in size and easier to use – and most importantly – there is now lots to read in the digital format. The Kindle was not available in the UK until October 2009, but it seems like Grandinetti might have a point: what’s happening now is people who couldn’t care less about the latest gadgets are all of a sudden popping out their Kindles.
Still work to do
There is still work to be done on the book-buying side of things; you can’t buy someone an ebook as a gift, for example. Availability of older titles is still not perfect, presumably as there is lots to work out in regards to rights and territorial issues, not to mention fees down the publishing chain.
“As the business grows it makes it more possible for publishers to invest in digitising books. I’d expect a very healthy growth rate in availability of books,” says Grandinetti. Amazon’s goal is to make any book ever printed available digitally in 60 seconds.
The e-reader itself now has WiFi capabilities, meaning you can download a new book directly onto the device. There are a host of other internet-related services the Kindle could potentially have in the future, such as a notification system for new titles.
“We’re still in the very early innings of thinking about and building new features that digital books allow,” says Grandinetti. “The list of features we’d like to build is longer than the list of things we can build.”
The tablet threat
Chances are that Amazon will push on with inventions for the Kindle, as its research shows that Kindle users buy more books than other customers.
Tablet computers could potentially pose a serious threat to the e-reader market in the future; certainly if you have an iPad you don’t need a Kindle. But at around the £100 price mark, the Kindle has the upper hand on tablets in terms of price. This holds especially true if Grandinetti is right in his assessment that the core Kindle users is not gadget-savvy and just wants to read. If that’s you then an e-reader is probably just about perfect – not to mention the use of e-ink that makes reading a Kindle as close an experience to reading paper as you can get.
But just in case that’s not how it’s going to play out, Amazon has issued Kindle apps for tablets, so you can pick up where you left off on your Kindle if you don’t want to carry both. Not to mention the fact that if you move your e-reading onto the tablet exclusively, Amazon can still collect on the sale on e-books.