How Amazon can get their mojo back

I found an interesting blog post on Inside Higher Ed yesterday where the author discusses what he thinks Amazon should do to regain their standing in the academic market. He makes a number of points, both good and bad.

I happen to think he's wrong in his basic premise, actually. The Kindle will never be a decent textbook platform; it lacks core hardware and software features needed to be used in a classroom. Basically, E-ink doesn't refresh fast enough and you can't have several ebooks open at once.The various Kindle pilot programs last year gave us an extensive list of what the Kindle can't do.

But let's set that aside and focus on the points raised in the article.

Remove DRM

At some point, book buyers (like me) will stop buying digital books from Amazon if we can only read our books on Amazon's ereaders

This would be a concern if not for the fact most people don't seem to care. Kindle ebook sales are trending up, not down. Also, in making this point he ignores the fact that you can also read Kindle ebooks on Android, iOS, OSX, and Windows.

Support EPUB

The Kindle is less valuable, less useful, if I can only read Amazon purchased books. I want to be able to purchase books from Google and from Barnes & Noble.

I could just let this one speak for itself, but I'd rather skewer him. Is there an ebookstore with titles you can't find in the Kindle Store? Google, perhaps, but I seriously doubt that anyone else can make the claim. Also, since you can have multiple apps on your gadget (PC, iOS, Android), does it really matter which app opens the ebook? Amazon can afford to lose the handful of sales due to ebooks they don't carry. Their prices will bring you back on the next one.

Enable and Encourage Sharing

This isn't something Amazon can change, so there's no point in proposing it. Ebook lending is being blocked by the copyright holders, not Amazon.

Partner with Digital Coursepack Providers

This is an excellent idea. Amazon really aren't putting any effort into getting digital coursepacks into the Kindle store. It's an untapped market segment which is could be larger (in $) than the textbook market. (Actually, I'm not sure they're in anyebookstore. Mist look into this.)

Bundle E-Books with Audiobooks

I don't think the market's there. Everyone's been talking about ebook bundling for the longest time now, and yet few are doing it. Also, what is the value in bundling an audiobook when the Kindle has TTS? It's not as good, no, but it doesn't cost anything extra.

Build Library Partnerships

This is another good idea, but it needs to be expanded to schools and other institutional buyers. They're valuable not just because of how much they spend, but also because each library with a loaner Kindle is a floor model Amazon didn't have to pay for with a sales staff Amazon didn't have to hire. There's no downside for Amazon.

image via Andyl

4 thoughts on “How Amazon can get their mojo back

  1. I agree with you in that the Kindle, although wonderfull for pleasure reading, is a disaster for academic purposes.

  2. The Kindle had EDU mojo in the first place? I’ve always thought that Amazon was prioritizing the leisure portion of the market.

  3. Having seen that his first two proposals was removing DRM and adding epub I lost interest.

    You would think that an educator would at least make an effort to investigate his subject matter and not sprout any old nonsense.

  4. FYI, Nate, each of the ebookstores has some deficiencies. There have been titles available at B&N but not at Amazon and vice versa. Similarly, Amazon is not always the lowest priced. I grant that most times Amazon and B&N both have the book and that Amazon usually is the lowest priced, but if instant gratification is the justification for downgrading Sony Readers lacking WiFi, then Amazon not having the book when it is wanted at the price I want to pay is justification for saying Amazon needs to improve.

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