Kindle: The Greatest Publishing Business Model Since Gutenberg
In the final week of May 2009, BookExpo America—the vast annual book publishing conference—took place at the Javits Convention Center on the West Side of Manhattan.
According to the MediaBistro blog GalleyCat, a panel featured 56-year-old editor Tina Brown (Tatler [UK], The New Yorker, Talk, Vanity Fair and currently TheDailyBeast.com) railing against Amazon.com for its lowball pricing of books for the magical new e-reading machine, Kindle.
“$9.99 is a paltry, pitiful sum,” Brown proclaimed.
Brown is a great editor, but she doesn't know squat about book publishing or business models.
The History of Book Printing in 154 Words
- First came the monks, scribes, scriveners, copyists, illuminators—those dedicated men who saved the knowledge of humanity by creating one-off books by hand. They painstakingly handwrote every individual letter and word, and these manuscripts were bound as books for the rich and powerful.
- Next came woodblock printing. Type was hand-carved on blocks of wood, enabling a printer to create multiple copies of single pages that were assembled and bound into books.
- Then c. 1450 AD, Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type, where individual letters of the alphabet were cast in metal and assembled into sentences, paragraphs and pages. After the pages were printed on a press, the type was disassembled to be reused over and over again.
- Seven centuries later came the next great breakthrough in book publishing, Amazon’s Kindle machine. It catapults Jeff Bezos (Amazon's CEO) next to Gutenberg and Jason Epstein (inventor of Print-on-Demand) in the pantheon of book publishing innovators.
The Genius of Kindle
My wife, Peggy, is a member of a local book club. Members read one book a month and meet to discuss it. In May 2009, the chosen book was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby.” Could I get it on my Kindle? Peggy wanted to know.