Thursday, August 09, 2012

Book Wars

Amazon UK has released the information that it now sells more e-books for it's Kindle reader than it does hard copy books.

A few months ago e-books including free copies overtook paperbacks on the site, now actual sales - not including free books - have overtaken paperbacks and hardbacks combined.

Apparently for every 100 printed books sold through Amazon UK this year they have had 114 titles sold for the Kindle not including free books.

The Independent was  getting upset earlier in the week when they noticed this, about Amazon's increasingly dominant position in the world of publishing.

I don't think we need to panic yet because there are still many ways to publish and get hold of books, and frankly the policies of mainstream publishers appear to be a bigger constraint on the ability of people to publish their ideas than those of Amazon. There are also serious rivals to the kindle as ways to read books electronically, such as the iPad.

I hope the competition authorities are keeping an eye on the world of publishing but although Amazon are clearly heading towards the position where they have what is known to economists and competition lawyers as "Significant Market Power" I am not convinced that there is material evidence either that this power has been abused or that government intervention would be in the public interest.

What the raw figures don't show is how many of those Amazon sales are of short stories, often by new authors. It is my belief that a very considerable proportion of Kindle sales represent the creation of an enlarged market with new publishing niches rather than business taken away from conventional bookshops and publishers.

Dare I say it - perhaps even "May you be born at an interesting time" should no longer be seen, as it was in the days of Confucius, as a curse.

1 comment:

JAK said...

I tend to buy kindle books, for the simple reason that I only need carry the kindle, Great for holiday fligts and things. 1 light small kindle = lots of books.

Also as the format allows, they can be read on many devices.

I do like real books you can hold in your hand, and the smell of the fresh pages of a new book, admittedly is something special, its just really convenience that makes the Kindle, or better put the e-book, as there are a few different ways of electronically coding a book, so handy.

Also once you have bought your book thats it, you have it. Even if (as i learned from experience) you sit on the kindle and break the screen, because you own the electronic book, it can simply be transferred to a new one.

As there are many e-book devices, then i cant really see that there is a monopoly problem. And I shudder to think that one day Daniel Hay Library will have 3 or 4 dozen kindles, rather than a stock of books. I guess each has its place, and there is room for all in such a market.

Just my opinion.