I’m not a fan of Amazon, and this is not something I’m real subtle about. This post pretty well covers my distaste of the company, and it comes down to this:
- A monopsony
- A monopoly
- An unethical company who discourages competition
I get pretty upset about people wasting their money on the Kindle, mainly because I can’t see why you would buy a format you’re trapped in. The average Joe doesn’t know how to convert files, so when the average Joe buys a Kindle, they’re locked into that format. If they want to switch to a Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo Reader, or really any non-Kindle reader, they’re up a creek without a paddle. If, for whatever reason, I ever decide I’m tired of my Nook, I can switch to any other e-reader on the market (with the exception of Kindle) and take my library with me.
Own a Kindle, build your library on a Kindle, and you’re stuck with Kindle. There’s no switching, unless you’re lucky enough to know someone who can break your DRM and convert files for you. I don’t like that. I do not like it when a company sells you a crippled product that prevents the consumer from being able to easily use it. I tend to think (radical, I know) that if I pay for an expensive technology (like an e-reader, music player, or tablet device that plays movies), I should be able to buy and download content from any store I choose.
So, yeah, I dislike the Kindle. However, although the Nook is growing in popularity (and is, in fact, the second most popular e-reader available), and although the Nook was designed by some of the best minds from Silicon valley, and although all the “improvements” Amazon/Kindle has rolled out since the Nook’s initial release in 2009 are just sad mimicries of Barnes & Noble/ Nook innovations, there was still a problem with Nook.
Kindle had gotten in first. They’d come out of the gate strong, priced e-books shockingly low, and took serious financial losses in order to build a customer base of Kindle users. Recall, you can’t easily take your library to another reader. If a consumer bought a Kindle in 2005 and began building their library immediately, they now have a vast library of books incompatible with any other e-reader on the market. If they leave the Kindle, they think they’ll have to leave their books (actually, I think you can root a Nook and put a Kindle app on there to access your Kindle library). Because Amazon/Kindle cornered the e-reader market early, they still dominate (hence both the monopoly and the monopsony). There have been serious concerns that even as awesome and innovative as the Barnes & Noble Nook division has proven themselves, they couldn’t compete against the sheer numbers and heavyweight of Amazon, not to mention Amazon’s willingness to take losses and engage in unethical practices just to get customers to invest in a platform they would then be trapped on.
Well, that problem is no more. Microsoft has thrown their weight in with Barnes & Noble, with a $605-million dollar investment. The chief exec at Barnes & Noble says this partnership will enable them to expand their digital business and reach hundreds of millions of new users through the Windows platform. This is also great timing because the much-anticipated Windows 8 will be coming out soon. Plus, as Microsoft works to become a bigger player in the tablet market, they’ll have access to Barnes & Noble’s massive digital content collection. This whole situation makes me happy.