The Year in E-Books 2015
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. For a more numerical comparison between 2015 and previous years, I plan on doing my Annual Snapshot January 1st.
There was one obvious factor to this year: it wasn’t about the hardware, it was about content.
Amazon did introduce an updated version of the
on June 17th, but I think I can safely say it wasn’t a radical departure…more evolutionary than revolutionary.
When the big hardware announcements came on September 17th, there wasn’t a new model EBR (E-Book Reader) in the bunch. Yes, there were new tablets, and certainly many people (including me) do at least part of their reading on them. Eventually, Amazon would include a reading specific app on them…Word Runner, designed for speed reading. They also introduced a tablet billed as a “Reader’s Edition” on December 7th, but again, no new model of EBR.
Instead, innovation was really tied into Amazon producing or enabling the production of content:
- Kindle Textbook Creator is introduced
- Kindle Convert (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), which lets customers create personal e-book content by digitizing their books, is first released
- The Kindle Scout program lets readers advise Amazon about which books to publish…and the first winners come out this year…and the program expands internationally
- Write On by Kindle, a writers’ community, is officially launched
This is a year, then, when Amazon really went after the traditional publishers. All of the above programs help authors who decide not to go with the Big 5. Clearly, that’s a strategy. Amazon’s negotiation with tradpubs have not all gone smoothly, to say the least. I’m not saying they would want to stop carrying those books, but I think they would like to lower their dependence on them.
We’ve also seen Amazon whittling away at the big brick-and-mortar stores, although they already aren’t growing (independent bookstores are a different story). Amazon expanded
to Canada and Mexico, and that subser (subscription service) may really change things. Not only does it only work with e-books, it may considerably change discovery. People used to find books by walking into a bookstore (I’m a former manager of one) and browsing. If, though, people are looking through KU to find books to borrow, they’ll also see books to buy (particularly for other people). They might also read a KU book and decide to buy it for someone.
That has the potential to have a noticeable impact on the power of the brick-and-mortars.
Amazon also opened their first brick-and-mortar.
That doesn’t mean that they plan to open a bunch of them, but if it succeeds (or at least survives), that will have to have some folks sweating a bit.
I think it will survive: they don’t have to profitably sell books in the store itself (no easy feat). It it can serve as a showroom for the website (which is clearly at least one of the intents…if you don’t have a SmartPhone to scan a book to see the price (and to buy it at Amazon.com, if you want), a sales associate will help you with that.
So, this year was less about Amazon competing with Kobo or Barnes & Noble’s NOOK, but more about them engaging with Macmillan and Hachette (and to a lesser extent, the Barnes & Noble stores and Books-A-Million).
In other news, legal issues were less in the forefront, although the Apple case is still continuing and the Google case was upheld.
It was intriguing that previously unpublished older books, especially
did as well as they did.
That will certainly have publishers digging into the vaults and authors’ heir rummaging through attics and garages in the next few years.
In terms of next year specifically, I’ll be doing my The Year Ahead post soon.
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* 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! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.