Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, the internet retail giant, in 1994 and in 1995 the first Amazon website went live. Today Amazon is an extremely successful business and one of the best recognised and most trusted brands on the planet. It’s easy to forget what a radical idea buying books online and having them delivered by mail was at the time. A lot of business analysts and investors predicted that Amazon would have a hard time of it – and indeed it took until the end of 2001 before they reported their first profit.
Having changed the way that many people bought books, Amazon diversified into other areas very quickly. Audio CDs, video, consumer electronics, computer software and toys were all additions to Amazon’s portfolio. Today you can buy almost any consumer item that you can think of from Amazon – including your groceries.
As well as adding to their product range, Amazon launched websites in France, the UK, Germany, Canada and China. However, they retained their original passion for books and they continued to have a very powerful association with books in the view of the public.
This was something that would stand them in good stead in November of 2007 when the Amazon Kindle e-book reader launched. Having already changed the way that books were bought, Amazon was now changing the way that books were read. The Kindle attracted a great deal of publicity and it’s reasonable to suggest that the e-book reader market really took off with the release of Amazon’s modified and enhanced Kindle 2.0 in February of 2009.
In June of the same year, Amazon followed up with the large format Kindle DX. This incorporated a large, 9.7″, e-ink technology display and was targeted at readers of newspapers, magazines and academic textbooks. Much of the buzz surrounding the DX was generated by the normally conservative world of academic publishing.
So, the way that books are bought, delivered and read have all been changed in a relatively short period of time. The fnal piece of reading’s jigsaw – publishing – is also likely to see major changes in the near to immediate future. Loooking to the future, major publishers will almost certainly want to publish an e-book version of any new editions released. The traditional cycle of hardback publication, followed a few months later by the paperback version will be modified by the addition of an e-book version right at the front end of the process.
Since publishing e-books is less costly than either hardback or paperback release publishing houses may be encouraged to be more daring in future. It may well mean that a greater number of new authors are published due to the fact that the process is cheaper and therefore involves less financial risk. It could also result in more authors taking greater control by self publishing. In fact, publishing Kindle books is, even now, an achievable goal for anyone who has an Amazon account and who can operate simple word processing software such as Microsoft Word. E-book readers represent a genuine revolution in reading.