The Year in E-Books 2018

The Year in E-Books 2018

Every year, I look both backward and forward. This is my annual post, looking at what happened this year. If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category.

In looking back over 2018, there are two things which really stood out.

One was how Amazon has really moved into the Spanish-language market.

They’ve had e-books in Spanish for some time, but this year feels like a watershed moment.

On September 6th, Amazon announced that FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited were getting Spanish versions

press release

Now, it’s important to note that this isn’t a separate subscription: it’s Spanish-language embedded in the current Kindle FreeTime Unlimited.

What they are doing is not only giving substantively more Spanish content (including videos), but providing a Spanish user interface for the parents.

On October 23rd, they announced that Alexa and the Echo were coming to Spain (and France):

press release

press release in Spanish | comunicado de prensa

When they did this, they didn’t just take the existing Alexa assistant and translate it to Spanish…they tried to be culturally relevant to that country.

A couple of weeks later, they came to Mexico:

press release

Again, that’s tailored to Mexico; it isn’t just the same as the version for Spain.

That’s a lot of investment in Spanish-language customers!

The other big thing was Alexa everywhere. That does impact e-books: Alexa can read your Kindle books with text-to-speech enabled, and can fetch your Audible books and play those.

I do that in the car, and that was one of the big announcements.

Echo Auto (by invitation only at this point) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Now, I already have Alexa in my car…because I have my SmartPhone. I have the free Alexa app on my phone, and I can get to her through the Amazon Shopping app.

Having the Echo Auto will be a game changer. I currently have to open up the app, and tap something every time I want to give a command. That should all become unnecessary (well, the app may need to be open in the background): it will be true ambient computing. They are also working hard to get it to integrate with many more things than my phone does…for example, the phone can’t play TuneIn, but I think they’ll get that done for Echo Auto (when it is eventually released).

I suspect the new ability of Alexa to read and let you interact with your e-mail is part of that drive (so to speak). I was going into work, and was able to deal with most of my e-mail on the way into the office! That was great. I request a read receipt for some things, and I tend not to delete them when I’m sight-reading them…but it was easy to do through Alexa. I dealt with my e-mail better through Alexa than through my computer.

Alexa is almost always with me, because of the phone…it would be a rare thing for me to be more than a meter away from being able to talk to Alexa, even at work.

Not all Alexa-connected devices can read my e-books…our Alexa microwave can’t.

Hands on…no, hands off…um, let’s see: “Voice on” with the Alexa Microwave

Still, Alexa will be as ubiquitous as the computer on Captain Kirk’s Enterprise. That means I can have a book read to me whenever, wherever…and it will become more intimate than a speaker before too long.

Spanish and Alexa glowed like shining beacons, but there were other developments as well.

I was very pleased to see a new version of the Paperwhite:

Amazon introduces new thinner, waterproof version of my favorite Kindle, the Paperwhite

Content also still mattered: for one thing, they made a deal with Patricia Cornwell for a new series. You can pre-order the first one for delivery…in about a year. 😉

Quantum (at AmazonSmile)

Interestingly, it looks like it will be available through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which is on sale right now. At least, they promote KU on that page in such a way that it looks like you’ll be able to read that book.

They also keep improving independent publishing (at least the technology for it), and it seems to be paying off…several Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors won RITA awards this year. That’s a top award for romance authors.

I want to point out one more thing: KDP authors can now publish in Arabic. Arabic is one of the most spoken languages in the world, and there is a long literary history.

2018 was a good year in e-books…I’ll be making my predictions for 2018 in the next couple of days.

Oh, and I did this last year…I think it’s worth doing again. These are counts when I search the titles of the 2018 Amazon press release archive…AWS (Amazon Web Services) dominates, even though I rarely talk about it here. I’m more concerned with books and consumer gadgets than enterprise, despite how big and successful a part of Amazon it is.

  • tablet=2
  • Kindle=4
  • Fire TV=4
  • Echo=7
  • Alexa=14
  • AWS=46

Have any thoughts on 2018 in e-books/Amazon? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

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