As of April this year, Amazon reported that it is selling far more Kindle books than paper and hardback books combined. For every 100 physical copies that are sold, 105 Kindle books are downloaded and Kindle’s successful crossover to the smartphone market has boosted this leap in sales. The free Kindle books app has now been made available on a variety of platforms, from your PC to the BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android phones, everything Apple, and on the upcoming tablets from HP and BlackBerry. There is seemingly no stopping the Kindle Store from becoming a huge publishing platform.
Making the switch
Considering e-books have only been selling on Amazon for 4 years in total, it’s quite a feat that they’ve already outstripped pulp by a mile. However the experience of owming e-books is not just that of reading and carrying a ton of books with you in a lightweight package. With myriad other functions available to users, it’s easy to see why in a social-networking-crazed world, people would make the switch.
For some bookworms, reading has moved from being a solitary activity to a social one. On Kindles and smartphones, users are now able to employ the ‘public notes’ function to post thoughts and reviews directly to their chosen social network. As for book clubs, Kindle users are now able to keep up with the same narrative as their paperback stalwarts, as ‘real’ page numbers have now been put in place. Kindle only managed that feat earlier this year, which seems like a bizarre afterthought for something so integral to a book!
Kindle on Facebook
The reinvention of the norm doesn’t stop there either, as book clubs themselves have gone online too. For those with maybe just their Kindle and PC for company, clubs like The Kindle Book Club on Facebook has sprouted, attracting hundreds of members – all posting, bickering, agreeing and disagreeing about their favourite books. The ‘sharing’ functions, coupled with the excellent automatic synching of ‘last page read’ and ‘annotations’ functions between Kindle and smartphone devices means that e-bookers needn’t worry if they’ve left their reader at home anymore. Just don’t expect to read as easily in a sunlit field with your smartphone, like the ad says you can! The glare might just get the better of you.
Why did Borders close?
Phew! So, the Kindle has put a rocket up the publishing industry, so what does this turn around in fortunes mean for the likes of the famous book shops of Charing Cross, among the millions of others across the world? There are so many websites out there telling us why e-books are ten times better, lighter and easier to use than hefty and expensive-to-produce paper books (see http://www.kindle-user.com/2011/02/10-reasons-why-e-books-are-better-than.html). The fate of Borders and many other bookstores in recent years is testament to the cultural shift that’s been made, and as of July this year they confirmed that they will be closing every single one of their stores worldwide – which, unfortunately doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The world is looking rosier for Borders’ business however, as last year it launched its own online bookstore to rival that of Amazon’s.
For some years yet, the demographics will continue to speak for themselves as the much older and much younger generations still cherish the printed word. Also, libraries continue to provide free reading opportunities to low-income members of society and to book-guzzling, cash-poor students. However, the growing multitude of users hell-bent on digitising their world must have bookstore bosses in a complete twist.