How a Kindle changed the way we read

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“If she were to read a Jane Austen novel on her next trip to Paris, she would read it the same way Jane Austen read her favorite novels in the 1800s, unless of course, she had a Kindle” Kaitlin Tambuscio.

In a matter of four and a half hours, Amazon brought the book publishing market to their knees (virtually, of course), because when humankind was introduced to her knew BFF Kindle, the way we read changed for the first time in, well, forever.

In a massive, unexpected overhaul of reading innovation (is that a thing?), e-readers reinvented the way we cozy-up by the fire. We don’t smell the pages, experience the joy of creasing the paper cover for the first time… but we do power on and download up to thousands of books in one, virtually weightless device.

Used under Creative Commons License 2.0
Used under Creative Commons License 2.0

According to a 2010 article in The New Yorker, the book industry was in dire need of rejuvenation. They reported “[b]etween 2002 and 2008, annual sales had grown just 1.6 per cent, and profit margins were shrinking.”

With a stage set for what Clayton M. Christensen calls “disruptive innovation,” Amazon sold out their first Kindle model in slightly over four hours.

To begin gaining market share and encouraging electronic reading, Amazon began purchasing books from publishers for about $13, then took a loss by selling them for $9.99, their now staple price. In a 2010 article, the New Yorker quoted David Young, the chairman and C.E.O. of Hachette Book Group USA to say “[t]he big concern—and it’s a massive concern—is the $9.99 pricing point. If it’s allowed to take hold in the consumer’s mind that a book is worth ten bucks, to my mind it’s game over for this business.”

And to some extent, it is. Similarly to iTunes having somewhat bought hard copy CD-ROMs, Amazon purchased a portion of hard copy books. By 2011, New York Times reported ebooks outselling hardcopy on Amazon, 105 e-books to 100 hard cover.

“For Amazon, though, the milestone is proof that it has successfully leapt from a print business to a digital one, a transition that has challenged most companies that sell media,” The Times reported.

In a time of struggling bookstores, such as Borders (RIP) and digital innovation, Amazon pounced on the opportunity, leaving publishers and other stores such as Barnes & Nobel scrambling to compete. Completely disrupting the existing book market, Amazon managed to turn the page into the next wild chapter of technological evolution, changing our words, as the New York Times said, “from ink to pixels.”

By 2013, the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group released astonishing numbers: 457 million e-books were sold, in close comparison to hardcovers, only slightly above at 557 million, according to an article published in Mashable.

Amazon has since released several new versions of the Kindle offering wifi, 3G, thinner design, and an overall better experience. E-books are projected to completely out sell hardcopy and audio book sales by next year, although not just on the Kindle, but other since-released tablets.

Reviewed by: Tabu Batugira

One Comment on “How a Kindle changed the way we read”

  1. Very interesting topic, I still have yet to use a Kindle and only read physical books. There is just something about holding the book in my hands, I like that format but I think fewer and fewer books are being printed and more people are using E-readers.

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