Remember when Steve Jobs said people don’t read anymore, and therefore he was bearish on the Kindle? That was before Apple came out with its own tablet and it’s own store for ebooks. Now ebook sales will total $1 billion in 2010 according to Forrester Research, Fast Company reports.
That’s not just a big round number, it’s also an impressive trend line, considering that’s up 220% from $301 million last year, and just $7 million in 2002.
Unsurprisingly, the big early reader in this race is Amazon, with over 50% of the market through their Kindle store. Apple’s iBookstore, announced with much fanfare, hasn’t made any waves so far, and everyone else is behind.
Amazon has played this market just beautifully. They made several ballsy but brilliant moves:
- Pricing ebooks low, eating a loss on every book but gaining marketshare and setting customer expectations.
- Making the Kindle a device for readers, and readers foremost. The Kindle isn’t a full purpose tablet. But it’s a great device for reading. Which meant that voracious readers bought it, loved it, and bought plenty of ebooks, which validated the market.
- Making the Kindle platform available on as many devices as possible, realising that the value is in the platform where people can buy and sell ebooks, not in the device.
We believe Amazon will solidify this early lead into long-term dominance of the ebooks market. This is because this market will probably have strong network effects (the fact that a network gets more valuable the more people use it). The more consumers there are on the Kindle platform, the more publishers and writers will have to be on there, which will draw in more consumers, and so on. That means that one player will take the lion’s share of the market (as Apple did with the iTunes music store). With a strong early lead, Amazon is well on its way.
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