Going to where the readers are (how publishing is a service industry too)
Beginning in 2013, Dear Author will only review books that are available in both epub and Kindle formats. Let me explain why.
There are two primary reasons why all books should be available in epub and Kindle formats. The first reason is that competition is important for even (or especially) Kindle users. The second reason is that publisher, regardless of whether the publisher is the author herself, a traditional print first publisher, or a digital first publisher, should go to where the reader is.
Competition is important.
Competition is important to both authors and readers. First, the authors.
I argued a couple of weeks ago that Agency pricing helped spur both the self published market as well as the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. The reason for this is because if Agency pricing had never reared its head, Amazon might well have felt no need to develop its own publishing platform. It is true that Amazon bought Createspace in 2005, well before Agency was instituted in 2010. Further, Amazon had been in talks with agents well before 2010. But the KDP did not announce the 70% royalty platform until January of 2010, the same month in which Agency was imposed upon them. The program was not put in place until June 2010. It’s safe to assume that the announcement was made intentionally prematurely to show publishers that Amazon would aggressively move into the publishing space. Who knows what the royalty fee would have been if Amazon had not been pushed there by Agency. Who knows when the KDP program would have launched without Agency? In other words, competition is good for authors. If Amazon has no competition, there is little incentive for it to keep the royalty structure high. Amazon is working on razor thin margins and lowering the royalty structure, would increase its publishing margin.
Next, the readers.
Kindle was launched in 2007. It was slow, had an ugly keyboard attached, but featured an e ink screen. Nook introduced the Nook which featured an eink screen and an lcd display at the bottom. In June of 2011, Nook introduced the Nook Simple Touch, a touch screen device. The Kindle touch screen was announced a few months later. In November 2010, Nook announced the Nook Color, a tablet type device. Kindle follows with the Kindle Fire a year later.
This year Nook released the Glow Nook, a front lit e ink screen. Kindle rumors heat up that in September, a front lit Kindle would be introduced. (In order to give appropriate credit, it should be noted that Sony developed the devices with a keyboard, a touch screen, and a front lit screen before both Nook and Kindle).
Kindle’s software has often lagged behind that of the Nook, Kobo and Sony. For instance, Kindle did not have folders or collections like the Nook and Sony. Kindle did not have library access unlike the Nook and Sony. Kindle, in order to be competitive, has had to constantly advance its software and hardware in order to meet the new market demand created by new devices such as the Nook Simple Touch or the Nook Tablet or the iPhone and iPad.
Without competition, the Kindle readers would suffer with outdated software, hardware and access.
In sum, competition is important for both readers and authors. A robust competitive market means good things for everyone–lower prices, higher royalties, better devices.
Going to where the reader is.
In a letter to clients he [Mark Suchomel, IPG president] notes, “I only regret that we weren’t able to make up for all of the lost revenue when your Kindle titles were not available. We will continue to work hard for every last sale so that all of our publishers stay healthy moving forward.” To that end, IPG is waiving its distribution fee on the next three months of Kindle sales.