Amazon pre-empts Apple

The Amazon Kindle 2, the newest version of this e-reader.

The Amazon Kindle 2, the newest version of this e-reader.

Amazon.com announced Wednesday that it would give more money to small, independent authors and publishers that use the Kindle Digital Text Platform and sell their books through the Amazon Kindle e-book reader. They agreed to pay authors almost twice as much, up to $6.15 for a book that sells $8.99, not too bad. There are terms one would have to agree to in order to qualify for it as the purpose of this is to keep these authors/publishers on the Amazon platform. The timing of this announcement is very interesting because Apple recently announced that on January 27th they will unveil a new product. As a post I published last month mentioned, this in all likelihood is going to be a tablet product. It will probably make for a good e-book reader among other applications.

Apple’s new product, which I will probably write a post about on January 28th, is making various companies, frankly worried. Apple revolutionized the music industry and the mobile phone industry so when a company with that type of track record is set to launch a product in an industry they are not currently in, competitors are right to be worried, I would be too. It is not certain which industry or industries this product will attempt to make a huge impact on, but it only makes sense that e-book readers will be one. Come to think of it, I have yet to physically see an Amazon Kindle in real life even though sales of the product have picked up since its launch about 2 years ago. However, I highly doubt that I will be able to say the same thing about the new Apple product within a month after it comes out. In my previous post on the topic, posted on Jan. 24, 2009, I discussed this new product’s merits as potentially competing with cable TV providers by offering shows at a much better price. I don’t believe it is out of the question that Apple can turn two separate industries on their heads with one product however, I don’t like giving someone or a company in this case credit before it is earned. Who knows, maybe this idea will be a flop unlike their previous two big ideas (iPod and iPhone).

Regardless, it seems that the books industry is beginning to go through changes even before Apple’s product and will continue to do so, I believe, regardless of Apple’s success with this tablet product. It appears that independent authors and publishers will have a better chance of writing a book and having it become a hit than before and they will also have options of where to sell it. It isn’t mentioned that much in light of speculation about Apple but there are other e-book readers out there such as the Barnes & Noble nook and the Sony Reader, among other ones. It seems that in the not too distant future these and/or other companies will launch an app store similar to Apple’s which will give independent authors new selling options.

One other change that this industry will likely go through is the sharing of the content on these e-books. With physical books, it is very common to lend it to a friend and this has to be developed for e-book readers as well because if not then I would not be surprised to see piracy in this domain similar to what is going on with music and movies. It will be interesting to see what happens in this and possibly other industries. It started with this Amazon announcement Wednesday but the real excitement will be on January 27th when the new Apple product is launched.