Sunday, 22 May 2011

Like a Kindle the Wind

Amazon's announcement this week that it's sold more e-books for its Kindle platform than it did regular paper books is nothing short of amazing (Amazon's official PR can be seen by clicking here).

Are paper books gone with the wind?
The winds have changed course and its blowing in the direction of e-books.  Despite the fact that e-book readers are still a rarity in the UAE and that there aren't many avenues to download e-books, the fact is that once an Amazon (or any other reputable bookseller can get a e-store up and running here), we should start to see the adoption of more e-books.

Having bought my Kindle a few weeks ago, I have to say I've loved it (I've written more about this in a previous blog post).

Show me the Money!

More significantly though, this probably means there's going to be a significant change in the margin structures the publishing industry works on.  Till now, when we bought paper books, there was always a cost of printing, cost of shipping and cost of selling that probably ate up a significant portion of the costs.  Then there would also be cases of obsolete and damaged stocks that traditional booksellers have to manage as well.

In the virtual world that Amazon lives in, most of these costs are variable or don't exist.  The cost of publishing disappears, there is no shipping cost as such, the selling costs are minimal (no landlords or staff salaries to look after) and no excess inventory to manage.  Even if Amazon charges a few dollars less for each Kindle book, it does mean bigger margins for them and significantly more margins than a traditional bookseller can hope to achieve.

Struggling Authors Welcome

For those aspiring authors, the move to e-books could also now make their chances of being published that much more easier as well.  By virtue of the fact that a publisher may not having to think as much of all the prohibitive fixed costs that existed in the traditional publishing sector could mean they go out on a limb more often to promote an up and coming author.

At a time when we've been hearing about the troubles Borders has been having in the United States, it comes as a little surprise that traditional book retailers are finding it difficult.  This is not to say that they'll disappear altogether but the ones that survive are the one's who'll find a way to still engage us going forward.  How they do that, I'm not quite sure but whichever they do work out, I do hope to still see some of them around in my local community mall.  Let's just hope paper books are not gone with the wind.

P.S. Just as I was putting the final touches onto this blog post, I saw fellow blogger Alexander McNabb also put out his post on e-books earlier this morning, which is worth a read (click here to read it)