October 14, 2010
To be sure, Amazon incentivises like crazy. Like "free shipping." I'd swear they've got a clever little algorithm that reduces the sales price just enough so that your order is a penny short of free shipping. So you'll add One More Thing to the shopping cart.
In the ebook realm, Amazon has blatantly been doing everything it can to push down the price of ebooks to a $10 ceiling with a $.99 floor. Amazon surely sells the Kindle at cost or even at a loss. It'll give away the razors and make money on the razor blades.
But Amazon also innovates. I'm not so much thinking of the Kindle itself, but the way Amazon has made generating and selling Kindle content so easy. Now Amazon has created a category for the novella (or long article) called "Kindle Singles":
Less than 10,000 words or more than 50,000: that is the choice writers have generally faced for more than a century--works either had to be short enough for a magazine article or long enough to deliver the "heft" required for book marketing and distribution.
This is exactly what I predicted here:
All the power to the glossies and their nifty iPad apps. But for the people who really do read them "for the articles," the Kindle delivery model strikes me as ideal, especially at the low-circulation, literary end.
Tokyo South at 46,000 words and A Man of Few Words at 27,000 words both qualify, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this marketplace develops.
Amazon has created a Kindle app for every portable device. If it adopted the Microsoft strategy and licensed its MOBI platform, it could take over the ebook world. The Kindle could easily be upgraded to read ePub to allow for library access.
Or Amazon could create its own library loan system and give it away.