I’ve had email exchanges with Amazon customer service regarding payment. They’ll even accept Gift Cards as payment for ordering a Kindle!
This is not the case with Barnes & Noble, Borders, Kobo, or — as far as I know at this moment — Sony.
Kobo and Sony will let anyone set up an account and get free eBooks without having credit card information. Borders, right now, will not. Barnes & Noble’s mutant variant of Adobe DRM requires a credit card — because that number becomes embedded within the eBook being bought, as an additional measure against piracy.
As far as eBookstore experiences go, Sony’s Reader Store buying experience is just about the worst thing I’ve ever encountered, just one step above borrowing public library eBooks through OverDrive. Mimicking iTunes was a huge mistake that Sony needs to correct (and I hope the regime responsible for that move has been jettisoned from the Reader division).
The Kobo/Borders experience is better, although basic, but it’s tied into the Kobo hardware ecosystem (distinct format using an SQLite database) and purchasing ePub files is an additional step.
Barnes & Noble can really be dismissed altogether because the device is US-only and has been designed solely to preserve Barnes & Noble’s customer base. It has no legs.
So this leaves Amazon. Which has declared war on everyone.
Look at how much effort Amazon constantly puts into insinuating itself into the entire community of books. Anyone can set up an Affiliate Account (at least they could before states started their Internet purchasing tax wars). They’ve just introduced Kindle for the Web, which basically allows Samples to be embedded in most websites (except for WordPress.com, but that will happen too, I’m sure).
Most of all, Amazon has aggressively pursued writers. Amazon Encore, Kindle Exclusives, contests, and the self-publishing program. I yelled at Sony about going after writers for years and they didn’t listen. Amazon didn’t have to listen — it simply made sense to them.
Given Amazon’s wide-armed strategy to embrace, embrace, embrace, there must have been discussions in the Kindle Store division (which Bezos maintains is separate from the goals of the Kindle hardware division) about embracing ePub with Adobe DRM as a way of increasing both market share and revenue. They must realize that step would crush everyone else. There’s no incentive for people to stay with Sony or Kobo/Borders to buy eBooks or for anyone to then make a decision to buy a Nook.
Sony would survive because they have excellent hardware, but their Reader Store would be exterminated. Kobo would probably survive as a distant second place because it has an international presence. Barnes & Noble would immediately crash into a wall and see its share of the market freeze and then plummet.
If Amazon were to wake up tomorrow with the idea to embrace the ePub eBook format along with classic Adobe DRM, they’d wipe out all other eBookstores. The others simply cannot compete against Amazon’s embrace-everyone strategy.
So, for everyone who has wanted Amazon to embrace ePub As We Know It, is it still what you really want? Only one store left standing to buy eBooks from?
reposted with permission from Mike Cane's Xblog