Tuesday, December 07, 2010

War in the Amazon

And so it begins: The end of Amazon's dominance as a book retailer. Well, that's the meme anyway but the reality will be starkly different. Not only will Amazon not give up their position to Google eBooks without a fight they still have the initiative; after all, they still manage the customer relationships of millions of dedicated book buyers. This is their core advantage which will be very difficult to surmount for any retailer in competition. The other advantages Amazon possesses come down to sheer strength. When Amazon fights they take on WalMart. When they build out technology they think industry strength cloud based computing.

The Google eBooks store will raise the bar for book retailing and the new thinking that they have obviously brought to the book retail experience will be beneficial. But don't think Amazon can not adopt any of the initiatives that Google has presented. Of the few dangers that may exist for Amazon could be hubris: Dismissing the positive feedback that Google eBooks receives from users and commentators and not incorporating any changes into their retail experience. And let's face it that Amazon bookstore UI is looking tired cluttered and dated.

From a trends perspective, the Google eBookstore will help accellerate the developing comfort level that consumers have with not owning the products they 'purchase'. Clearly, this could be a bi-product of what the eBookstore is aiming to achieve but the concept of 'books in the cloud' is only a short step away from 'books when you need them' which is a tag line similar to zipcar's. I haven't owned a car since I was 17 but I can get a car whenever I want and very soon I will have the same ability for all books and information. Whether Google eBooks is a usurper - of Amazon's thrown, or a savior - of independent bookstores may miss a larger point that in the launch of Google eBooks we just made a big jump in how we interact with books and content. It just might take a little time to see the implications in plain sight.

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