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The Battle for E-Book Marketshare

August 8, 2011

So we all have something we’re just not willing to give up – for some, it’s movies, others, their favorite team – for me, it’s books.  If I were a dragon, my hoard would be comprised of books.  I was an early adapter of the Kindle (you move 85 boxes of books and the concept of an e-reader that can hold a couple thousand books and weighs ounces is VERY attractive).  So I’ve been a very interested observer of the, shall we say, negotiations, between Amazon and the various publishers over the past 18 months or so.

In January 2010 Amazon and McMillan kicked off the battle for control over pricing and as a result, market share.  Amazon was promoting the $9.99 kindle price as the cap, while the publishers wanted to price in accordance with demand – a NYT best selling author’s book would cost more than a newcomer in an obscure genre.  The publishers were able to set their pricing with other e-reader sellers such as Apple and Barnes and Noble, but Amazon fought.  It was the authors, through blogs on personal websites and LiveJournal, Facebook postings, tweets, and newsletters who tracked the events, deconstructed them, and shared their industry knowledge.  They linked to each other’s sites, encouraged sharing, and educated the readers, aka the consumers actually doing the buying.  Cheaper books might be nice in the short term, but aren’t so great when your favorite writers start changing careers because they can no longer make a living.  A notable number of reader posts discussed canceling their Amazon account because of this, or lamented the fact that given their location, Amazon was really the only viable option.

It was an unplanned, non-managed campaign to spread the word and educate the consumer – it reached the target audience of motivated readers who do the bulk purchasing, using social media, and did so  effectively and inoffensively.

And the battle continues …

Shawn M. Capistrano

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