Amazon opening self-publishing to more media?
Independent publishing for the Kindle has been an important part of the success of the device.
While it’s hard to tell exactly which book come through Amazon’s Digital Text Platform, it’s clear that they have sold well. One of the success stories is Karen McQuestion. Her debut novel, A Scattered Life (first published for the Kindle), has been republished as part of the AmazonEncore program…and optioned for a movie.
While that’s certainly a high-profile case, many others have done quite well.
Why has that helped the Kindle device?
The Agency Model has meant no price competition on most well-known books.
You can compete on customer service…but that’s most apparent after someone has already selected your device.
If you are looking at different e-book sites, one of the things that can be apparent is which one has the most books.
Barnes & Noble states that they have more, but they are counting freebies you can get directly for the NOOK…and indirectly for the Kindle, generally. That certainly may convince some people…but in searches or browsing on a site, Amazon easily wins. Click on Fiction in the Kindle store, and you get 257,073 results. Going to All Fiction NOOKbooks at Barnes & Noble gets you 101,734…not even half as many.
Now, there are two important signs that Amazon may be opening up Kindle publishing to things besides books.
First, they’ve rebranded their independent publishing service for the Kindle.
Rebranding costs some money and can create some confusion. You have to redo your website and references…and other people’s items now refer to something that doesn’t exist any more. It may not be terribly expensive, but it’s not something to be done cavalierly.
Amazon has rebranded the Digital Text Platform to Kindle Direct Publishing.
That may not sound like much of a change, but since it costs Amazon some money and could create some confusion (change is hard), the question is…why?
Let’s look at what they changed in the name.
They added “Kindle”…that obviously makes sense. When they started it, they may not have wanted to tie it completely to the one device. Right from the beginning, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said he wanted to keep the e-book and EBR (E-Book Reader) markets separate. He wanted Kindle books to be able to be read on many devices, which is certainly the case. They can be read (using free apps) on PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, Blackberrys, Android devices, Windows 7 phones…and more to come.
Many people were, at best, uncertain that Amazon could successfully market a self-branded piece of hardware. Not everything Amazon had done had worked, and they were going up against Sony, a very established hardware company.
The Kindle brand not being recognized isn’t a worry any more.
So, “Kindle” as part of the name makes sense.
They took off “Digital” and replaced it with “Direct”. That may be just a way to make it sound less techie. Another concern with the Kindle was whether it would appeal outside of the geeky gadget crowd. E-books hadn’t been much of a success, and the people who owned EBRs pre-Kindle were going to be more techie than average. They had to be: there wasn’t wireless download directly to the device, so you had to be willing to work with cables and file management.
Changing from “Digital” to “Direct” may appeal more to the less techie…not positive it makes a big statement. I’m not sure what you could do that wasn’t digital for the Kindle.
They also took out the word “Platform”. That may also be part of making it sound less techie, more like traditional publishing.
The big change, to me, is taking out the word “Text”.
What can you publish for the Kindle that isn’t text (words)? Well, right now, you can do images, certainly. Amazon has been trying to get more magazines available for the device (or at least in the Kindle store). That might be part of it.
Active content, like the games? Yes, that’s definitely a piece…but at this point, you can’t just publish a game through the KDP. Amazon has to thoroughly approve a game…they could cause problems with the Kindle if they aren’t done properly.
I think, and I’m just speculating here, that they are going to open it up to other media…audio and maybe video.
Audio is part of my Kindle experience, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. I listen to music and Old Time Radio shows, and I know other people listen to podcasts and audiobooks. When I polled my readers about their non-reading uses of the Kindle, about a third said they had listened to music on it.
Opening up Kindle-branded publishing to audio makes sense.
Kindles can’t currently show video.
Devices that use the Kindle store can, of course…especially the tablets.
However, I think this may be another hint that Amazon is going to release its own branded tablet…which I have been suggesting could be called the Amazon Current. That’s just my made-up name for it.
Imagine a Kindle tablet, fully capable of playing video…and you can put your two-minute video parody up for it, earning a little bit of money when people buy it. I think that would tend to make the device more unique and more attractive. Something would have to make a Kindle tablet stand out in a crowded field. The Amazon name would already help with mainstream folks who aren’t gadget-heads.
However, unique content could be a big help. It could also attract those publishers.
Amazon has already moved into the movie development business:
While the original thought was that the movies resulting from that program would be available through Amazon existing video download services, it could be an effective part of Kindle video distribution to capable devices…which might include the hypothetical Current.
I said that there were two signs.
The other sign is that the Kindle store now has two bestseller list for e-books, and two for All Kindle Content:
Did they separate that out just for the games and other active content? Maybe…those do sell really well.
However, that might (speculating again) be because they are going to put those movies and audio into the Kinde store. Yes, that might be for sell to tablets besides an Amazon one…but I do think an Amazon-branded tablet makes sense.
What do you think? Does the name change have nothing to do with expanding beyond books? Is it just because they may put the games through the KDP? Is it a sign of an upcoming Amazon tablet? Feel free to let me know.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.