Tuesday offers, How important are Kindle reading apps?

First, for your Kindle, here are some offers courtesy Happy Reader Joyce -

  1. When Darkness Falls Part 1 and Part 2 by James Grippando. Price: $0. Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Criminal Defence Attorneys. No reviews yet. These are 2 out of the 3 parts of this book.   
  2. Without Reservations: With or Without, Book 1 by J. L. Langley. Price: $0. Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance, Gay Romance. Rated 4 stars on 61 reviews. 
  3. Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall. Price: $0. Genre: Erotic Romance, Paranormal Romance. Rated 4.5 stars on 14 reviews.

That first set of offers is interesting in a strange sort of way – It’s a book split into three parts, with the first two bundled with two special essays and given out for free. Wonder if it will work.

How important are Kindle reading apps?

We get yet another article claiming that reading apps on non-reading focused devices are more important than reading devices -

Best Business Decision of the Decade: Kindle Apps

There are a few strange things here -

  1. Everyone who doesn’t read books assumes that the rise of ebooks is ‘largely’ due to reading apps on other devices.
  2. This is despite Amazon admitting that 80% of Kindle book sales are to people who own a Kindle. Do note that Amazon won’t say where the ebooks are read – just that 80% of Kindle books are sold to people who own at least 1 Kindle.
  3. The ‘reading apps are the secret of ebook success’ school of thought disregards that there have been ebook reading applications for PC and Mac and PDAs for decades. Why didn’t ebooks take off earlier if the reading apps are the real secret?

First, read AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson gush about Amazon’s decision -

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson called Amazon’s Kindle e-reader app the “gutsiest and savviest business decision of the past decade” during a keynote address on Tuesday.

When Amazon decided to launch its iPad app, essentially giving users a reason to buy a competitor’s tablet over its own, analysts called it a brave and bold move. But Stephenson said it is now clear that Amazon’s decision was incredibly intelligent.

Then consider what’s currently going on -

  1. Apple has blocked Sony’s eReader App.
  2. Apple is moving towards making it mandatory to give Apple a 30% cut on content sold through apps.
  3. It wouldn’t be inconceivable that Apple kicks Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for iPad off its platform if Amazon doesn’t comply.

After helping sell iPads, Amazon ends up having to pay Apple a toll on every ebook sold. No good deed goes unpunished.

Basically, AT&T’s CEO is saying (this is my twist, not what he said) -

Apple came out with a smartphone and changed the market. It then came out with a Tablet and changed that market (or put some life into it). Amazon created the Kindle and revitalized books.

However, none of those, or the other amazing things that were done in the last decade, are as impressive as – Strengthening a competitor’s device via a reading app that the competitor not only benefits from, it has total control over.

Everyone seems to be focused on the immediate benefits of reading apps i.e. you can make a small investment in app software and reach new customers, you get more customers.

No one seems to be focused on the downsides of reading apps i.e. it’s someone else’s device, you have to compete against other reading apps, the device owner can levy a tax, the device owner can introduce its own reading app and make that the default.

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out and whether people still stay stuck in the dual clouds of -

  1. Reading apps on devices not meant for reading are more important than eReaders and Reading Tablets.
  2. It’s brilliant to make a reading app for someone else’s device which you have zero control over.

Let’s see how long these beliefs survive.

9 Responses

  1. I’ve basically stopped reading my Kindle 2.0 in favor of my Kindle reading app on my smartphone. When (hopefully sooner rather than later) my New Yorker and Washington Post subscriptions are available on my Kindle reading app I will give my Kindle 2.0 to my Dad.

    I think you underestimate the number of people who would like their e-reader to be able to browse the internet in a sufficiently quick/readable format. Kindle 2.0 is so crippled when it comes to internet browsing that I would much rather read my books and subscriptions on the Kindle app on my smartphone. I want, need and like the ability to quickly google something if I need more information while reading a book. The hardware Kindle just cannot handle web pages very well.

    A tablet will be my next technology purchase, but it will be running Android since I dislike Apple’s iron-fisted control over any content that touches their platforms. A Kindle-app will be among the first things I download for use on my new tablet.

    • I appear to be just the opposite. I own a Kindle 2 – slightly cracked due to my wife dropping it. (I’ll get a Kindle 4 to replace it when it comes out, and give my Kindle to my daughter. My wife has the Kindle 3.) I also own a Samsung Galaxy S phone, with one of the best smart phone screens in existence.

      What do I read books on? The Kindle, not the phone. Yes, I can read the phone in bed. However, that doesn’t happen all that often. I don’t think I’ve read an entire book on my phone, but I have read significantly over a hundred on my Kindle in the last year.

      The phone is better at browsing the web than the Kindle. But that’s for short attention span reading (like this blog), not for in depth reading.

      Would I get a tablet? Well, I have an HP Tablet PC for work, but there’s no way I’d use it to read. For one thing, it’s way to heavy. A light weight tablet? Possibly, but it probably wouldn’t be used as much as my phone or my Kindle. So I got to justify it.

      (Of course, a color eInk touch Kindle with wireless web access that weighs about what my Kindle weighs would be a great option, especially if it’s not much more expensive than a Kindle. But that’s not happening in the near future.)

  2. Switch, I agree with the previous comment. I read only on my iPad (rarely on my iPhone). I don’t have a Kindle, yet I read many books and many magazines (on Zinio). I think that people that people that read a lot can get used to reading on an iPad-type device and may not need an eReader at all. That’s why I think eBooks are terrific, but eReaders are going to be squeezed out, gradually. Hence the brilliance of Amazon’s strategy to support reading apps. I think Apple will not be able to force Amazon off the App Store or to share much of the revenue on the content – that will get the FTC really furious with Apple and we’ll see an end to that practice, I believe.

    The lack of reasonable color on current and fothcoming eInk-based eReaders further reduces the market potential of dedicated eReaders.

    It’s not that eReaders aren’t great for reading books – they certainly are. But tablets are good enough for the overwhelming majority of users and uses for which eReaders used to be the only device just a year ago.

    • It’s a repeat of the exact same argument that was used when iPhone was supposed to be more important than eReaders for reading.
      Now it’s tablets. Next year it’ll be something else.

  3. Keep in mind that the Kindle 3 does have a web browser. And Amazon basically provides free 3G service for it. No tablet is doing that right now.

    Tablets have the color advantage, but many people do not want the eye strain that goes with backlighting. Reading a newspaper is quite different from reading a novel.

    Amazon has a great reader, great customer service, and great apps. It’s hard to beat that combination.

  4. I love my kindle, but I do a majority of my reading on my iPad. I use my iPad for work so it travels back and forth with me. I teach physics, so texts with equations and diagrams are much easier to read on the kindle app on the iPad. The Kindle App for the iPad was a major plus for me and helped convince me to buy the iPad. Now that said, if the Kindle App were to go away for apple devices and it was time to replace my iPad, I think I would seriously think about moving away from an apple product. The kindle app is that central to my iPad experience – essentially my iPad serves as my web browser, e-mail device, and e-book reader.

    This isn’t a smart move on apples part – they’re alienating kindle owners many of whom are apple product owners as well.

  5. I don’t think I am remotely the only one who was using Kindle.app long before I caved and got a K3, especially once you look beyond the borders of the US — Kindle ownership, and e-readers in general, is just not as well taken up here.

    I’ve also read books on PDAs and mobile phones since 2001, mostly using Mobipocket all that time, and I can tell you why the availability of those apps didn’t matter then and it does matter now — both hardware and software were *crap*, compared to Kindle on iPhone 4 or iPad.

    By the time I was using a VGA 3.5″ WM5 PDAphone with mobipocket, it was starting to get somewhere, and the slightly smaller/higher dpi WVGA 3.6″ WiMo 6.1 phone was starting to really get it together, but it still pales in comparison to what we get today.

    And still I do my bulk at-home reading on the Kindle now I finally have one, but it’s great that I can read the same book on my iPhone 4 when I have a minute outside the house.

  6. I ordered when Darkness comes l & 2. I still have
    not received the books. I have gotten all the others
    ordered.

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