Friday, February 27, 2009

Amazon's Dominance of e-Books Ending?

Regular readers of this blog know how much I respect Mike Shatzkin, a publishing consultant. I have frequently quoted his speeches to groups such as Book Expo America, the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs, and the Book Industry Study Group.

Yesterday morning Mike posted an essay titled "Amazon’s Competitive Advantages: Will They Extend to an eBook World?"

Mike's assessment?

No, Amazon will lose its competitive edge in the electronic publishing world.

He says, "Amazon’s twin advantages in the physical book market are its huge customer base and its mastery of logistics."

After going on to explain why Amazon dominates the p-book market, he offers this zinger, ". . . we are probably at or near the high-water mark for Amazon’s dominance of ebook sales."

Mike then went on to give the five reasons why he thinks Amazon will soon topple from its dominant place at the top of ebook sales. Two of his reasons (the introduction of more e-readers and smartphones overtaking cell phones in the marketplace) are easy to accept.

The reason I found most interesting was this:
There will be increasing recognition that “retailing” . . . the file doesn’t entitle a vendor to nearly the same margin that “retailing” a physical product does. The days of retailers getting a pbook-like discount for ebook transactions are not going to last much longer.
Again, this goes back to the subject I've been talking about here for some time.

The foundation on which the publishing industry rested was its ownership of the means of production. That foundation is shifting. Publishers and retailers will have to adjust their thinking to accommodate the change.

Go here to read Mike's entire article.


Kaz Augustin said...

I dunno, Maya. Up until Amazon released the Kindle, ebook readers were only for an "early adopter" audience. Then, after the release, every literary agent now considers it the tool de rigeur.

You've also got to take into account how many people would actually read a book on a smartphone. Besides the USA and Japan, is the practice really widespread? South-east Asia has a very high uptake of smartphones -- as does Australia -- yet a vox pop in both regions regarding ebook reading just garners me blank looks ... and a depressing "what's an ebook?". I don't think we've reached the high tide mark of Amazon dominance just yet.

Kaz Augustin said...

Uh, that's "rigueur" of course. Sorry about that, Chief.