Amazon Should Let Kindle Go
Today, people buy Kindle e-book readers from Amazon’s Web site. But if the e-commerce giant wants to continue dominating the e-reader category in the future, that needs to change, according to a new report from consultant Forrester Research.
Here’s why: Demographics of e-book reader buyers are shifting, as the device starts to enter the mainstream, writes report author Sarah Rotman Epps. In the past, Kindle buyers were mainly comprised of business users, who were mostly male. But “future prospects for the devices look completely different,” Rotman Epps says. “They’re more likely to be female, less tech optimistic, and they read a lot (on average, 5 books per month) but they buy and borrow books from multiple sources, as opposed to buying lots of books online. The big takeaway is that this could spell trouble for Amazon, if competitors can move in to better serve the later waves of adopters who don’t have as strong a relationship with the eCommerce giant.”
Basically, unless Amazon makes the Kindle available everywhere — at competing, traditional bookstores, for example — the device’s growth could peter off.
Frankly, I don’t see why Amazon hasn’t expanded its distribution already. Sure, it wants to drive users to its site, and the Kindle helps with that. And the company would rather not have to share the Kindle’s fat margins with other retailers. But a huge jump in sales volume that a wider distribution would entail should make up for it. Just look at Apple: Its iPhone sales are skyrocketing thanks to distribution through carriers and retailers like Wal-Mart, in addition to Apple’s own stores. What makes sense for Apple should make sense for Amazon as well.