Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Teleread on Amazon's Long Play

An excellent and enjoyable look at Amazon's strategy from Aaron Miller writing on the blog:

Interestingly enough, the Online Reader is also what authors can use to preview Kindle publications on the Digital Text Platform, Amazon’s foray into the self-publishing market. But it has all the appearances of a parallel project, something to enable reading on devices other than the Kindle. Clicking on the "Your online books" button exposes a "Media Library" and CoverFlow-like book list, which you can populate with books you’ve already purchased. Provided you’ve purchased the upgrade and the print version of the book AND the book is eligible for online access (up to publishers probably), you can read it in the Online Reader for less than $9.99, with highlighting and social annotations and bookmarking.

The Reader, DTP, Search Inside and Amazon Upgrade all have a rudimentary, R & D feel, even though some of them have been around for awhile. They’re loosely connected when used as free services, and yet as revenue generators, they’re dependent on each other in a baroque way that creates barriers to consumer adoption. This stifling of adoption on the part of a giant like Amazon seems deliberate, the equivalent of throttling certain latent channels in order to allow another to flow more primarily. The undeniable truth of all of them together which would steal the Kindle’s thunder is that they do indeed allow you to read your Amazon purchases in digital form, without purchasing a Kindle. It’s easy to overlook this capability given the lack of content and promotion for these peripheral products Amazon has. But it seems clear that they each figure into a longer-term strategy. They could easily be brought together and streamlined into a huge force in the digital book market if the right circumstances were first created and nurtured by the Kindle. Thus the name.

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