Amazon released their year-end status report
list of boasts yesterday and there’s one detail that keeps bugging me:
Jeff Bezos boasted that Kindle ebook sales were “up approximately 70% last year”. Amazon’s book sales didn’t see nearly that much growth (only 5%), suggesting that Amazon has gained as much market share as they’re going to in that mature market. I have another figure for you:
That’s the latest figure from the American Association Publishers for how much the US ebook market (all segments) has increased over last year (January to September). The data comes from just AAP members, so it doesn’t reflect the entire market, but it does make you wonder. Where did Amazon’s increase come from? I can’t answer that question (only Amazon can), but I do have a few theories on where it came from. I’m thinking there was an increase:
- in Amazon’s global market share,
- in Amazon’s US market share, or
- in the number of self-pub titles sold in the Kindle Store.
The third option spells bad news for the legacy publishers, and the first 2 options should worry Amazon’s competition.
But it doesn’t really matter which is the cause because they all are bad news for the Big 6/5/4 publishers. 5 Publishers conspired with Apple to bring about Agency ebook prices in order to stop Amazon from dominating the ebook market and Amazon has broken free of their control.
The only thing that surprised me is that it took Amazon this long to adapt to the new market. On the other hand they might have adapted some time back but only know started offering comparative figures on content sales. That would tell us that Amazon has completely transitioned from a hardware focus to a content focus.
Of course, we already knew that from the Kindle apps being updated (in 2011, no less) with the same features as on the Kindle hardware. We also knew that when Amazon only updated one Kindle model in their big press event last October (the Kindle Touch got a new name, new screen, and frontlight). But to have the new direction confirmed publicly, well, I’m not sure what that means.