Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kindle versus iPad - Who will win the ebook reader wars?

Morris Rosenthal posted correspondence between himself and Aaron Shepherd today on his self-publishing blog. The gist of the conversation was the two discussing which ebook reader device, Amazon's Kindle or Apple's iPad, will win the ebook reader wars. Since these two gentlemen are two of the best experts on the POD industry in particular and self-publishing in general, anything they have to say about the matter is worth taking note of. The following is the comment I posted on Morris' blog:

This will be an interesting situation to see which device wins, much like VHS versus Beta when VCRs first became available. The best format does not always win.

Part of the equation, I believe, is the competitive nature of the two biggest competitors in the market, Apple and Amazon. Both are highly competitive. Which is willing to do the most to win the war of the e-reader? Somewhere in this mix, Barnes & Noble is fighting for its survival and the Nook needs to be factored in.

Bezos has shown a willingness, as I read it, to lose money to gain a dominant market share and then earn a profit. Are the other e-book competitors willing to do the same?

I also have to wonder about the issue of “core business.” Amazon, at its core, is a book seller. Has the addition of other merchandise watered down its core business? The Kindle and the Kindle bookstore are extensions of what should be Amazon’s core business – selling books via the internet.

How much of Apple’s business is selling books? Information is certainly a major component of Apple’s business, but at its heart, is Apple in the business of selling books/information or is the core of its business selling technology? If Apple places too many of its eggs in the “book basket,” will it allow another competitor to creep up on it in the hardware/technology side of the business?

I shall watch with great interest as the outcome will impact my bottom line as a self-publishing author.

The ebook reader wars are something self-publishing authors must pay attention to. Ebooks are here to stay and while I am not about to give up on the POD arm of my tiny self-publishing empire, I am working slowly, and as funds permit, to convert the titles I deem worthy of converting to ebooks.  Winding up on the wrong side of the ebook reader war could spell disaster for an author in terms of lost sales.

My personal take on the situation is to lean slightly towards the Amazon Kindle. Amazon's core business is selling books. In addition, Amazon is vested in the POD industry as the owner of CreateSpace. Amazon understands the book market in ways Apple will struggle to learn. The learning curve for Apple to master the book industry may be the edge Amazon needs. Neither company can afford to blink in the contest though. Authors and self-publishers live in an interesting time.