The Ereader Wars Are Already Over

With Christmas galloping its way towards us at a frightening pace, a gift that’s guaranteed to be popular this year is an ereader. Even for us poor Brits, though, there’s plenty of choice out there. But I’m here to tell that there is no choice at all.

You’re probably already scoffing at me now. There’s plenty of choice, you may cry. iPad, Kobo, Android tablets, Kindle, Sony, Nook and many more! All viable ereaders with similar technology. And whilst this is true there is, to mind, only two things that matter.

E-ink and content.

Tablet computers use LCD displays which produce glare and chew up battery life. E-ink is like reading a physical page and consume so little power a single charge can last a month. For ereaders, e-ink is the only way forward.

Content, you might think, would boil down to how many books you can get on a particular device. Tablets actually win on this score because of their ability to offer different bookstores through apps. But, on the dedicated ereader, Amazon has launched a torpedo that struck true.

The .AZW format.

This is the format that all Amazon ebooks are sold in. It’s also a format that isn’t supported by any ereader other than the Kindle; it’s owned by Amazon and they won’t let anyone else play with it. That means that anyone who buys an Amazon book must have a Kindle or Kindle app to read it on.

Sure, you could just buy all your books elsewhere. But Amazon have 152 million customers who have already been lured in by the fact that Amazon sell almost everything. You’re probably one of them. And the odds are that most of those customers won’t go somewhere else to buy ebooks. It’s too much of a bother. And once you’ve bought that .AZW ebook, you’re stuck with a Kindle. And, as previously discussed, there’s only one real choice in that department.

So don’t let people convince you there’s an ereader war. There isn’t. Until Amazon open up support for .AZW ebooks, or adopt a more open format, there’s only one ereader that matters at all: the Kindle 4.

Don’t agree? Feel free to put me in my place.

6 thoughts on “The Ereader Wars Are Already Over

  1. Farah Ng @ Broken Penguins

    I suppose you’re speaking internationally – but in Canada, Kobos are the most popular. There’s a lot of publisher copyright issues in Canada with Kindle so we can’t access a lot of the Kindle books available to everyone else. Plus Kobos are sold at retailers while Kindles remain only available thru Amazon. The latest Kindle Fire doesn’t even have a Canadian release date yet.

    Our public libraries only lend out .epub files – not .azw files. I really notice how AZW friendly Canada is because I own a Kindle!

      1. James T Kelly

        Hi Farah, thanks for commenting. You make an excellent point! From your perspective, Amazon is not a giant but just one of the players and that has allowed the Kobo to dominate instead. That’s because the reason for Amazon’s dominance elsewhere isn’t in the technology, it’s in the content. If they don’t have the content, they don’t rule the roost! I have a friend with a Kobo and have to say it’s a good piece of kit. Something for Canada to be proud of!

        I have to ask, though: who is your primary provider of ebooks?

  2. davidrory

    Hi James, this is a well thought out argument and spot on. I have resisted buying a dedicated reader because I am waiting for the Kindle Fire to reach these islands.
    I do read on my MacBook but that’s not really the place to read a whole book.
    I will have a Kindle and have to admit all my work published so far has been for eBooks. All formats. In future I am going to self-published on Amazon and CreateSpace so have given in to the inevitable power of the Amazon giant.
    The others simply are to small to be worth the bother.
    Regards, davidrory.

    1. James T Kelly

      Hi David, thanks for your comment. You’re absolutely right, Amazon’s sheer size means that authors such as yourself must work with them and through them or miss a sizeable portion of your audience. It also means that Amazon can impose draconian terms without fear of reprisal. Have you heard of KDP Select?

  3. Pingback: Free the AZWs! | James T Kelly - Fantasy Writer

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