Why The Amazon Books Store Has A Monopoly On Book Sales
The Amazon book market share is enormous. Why does the Amazon books store dominate the market?
Because Amazon involves readers, gives them useful and detailed information, and makes buying a book simple.
Forget all the talk about monopolies and aggressive marketing in the book industry.
Amazon sells more books than any other retailer because it involves its readers in the process and enjoyment of reading and sells ebooks that can be read on almost any device.
The beginning of books and Amazon
It is difficult to remember now that in July 1995, Amazon began service as an online bookstore. Jeff Bezos started Amazon in the garage of his rented home in Bellevue, Washington.
Fast forward to today, and Amazon still has books at its core.
Although there are many Amazon benefits for Prime members, including free two-day shipping and TV shows, a free ebook offer is still one of them.
The Kindle e-reader is now an iconic brand.
The Fire tablet evolved from ebooks by offering an all-purpose tablet but with Kindle reading built-in. It was the experience with these two devices that helped in developing the Fire TV and Amazon Echo.
From a humble beginning in a garage, Amazon Books is now both an online sales retailer as well as having retail bookstores.
In 2015, the addition of physical brick-and-mortar stores started with Amazon opening a bookstore in Seattle, Washington, followed by another store in Columbus Circle, New York City.
Apart from the Amazon bookstore, it is also a publishing house for printed books.
A little history tells you that Amazon was and is all about the book market and readers.
The competition today, or lack of it
It’s not easy to accurately estimate the Amazon book market share. But this article gives a clue with this quote.
The New York Times reported that Amazon controlled 50 percent of all book distribution, but for some industry suppliers, the actual figure may be much higher, with Amazon accounting for more than 70 or 80 percent of sales.
Regarding ebooks, it’s not surprising that Amazon dominates, according to this post.
According to writer Max Lakin from Magnolia Media Network, it’s estimated that Amazon’s share of the eBook market is around 67%, making it the leading retailer by a landslide.
These numbers point to the difficulty that Amazon’s competitors face.
Apple is second in market share for ebooks behind Amazon. But by a huge margin.
Take one look at the Apple iBooks store, and try to find any real reader feedback.
Where are the reviews, comments, and recommendations from real readers? Worse still, try to buy an ebook if you happen to live in a non-English-speaking country.
The Apple iBooks platform is unfriendly, with no website. It is a complicated connection to iTunes and is slow to load.
Sure, it works if you have an Apple Mac, but it is barebones at best.
If you are an author, you will know that posting a promotional link to your ebook or ebooks on Apple is a painful process.
If you are determined, though, you can do it. But what use is it when someone finally clicks your link but uses a PC or Android and not an Apple device?
Apple iBooks started well, and it was a key feature of the iPad when it was launched in 2010 by Steve Jobs. Sadly though, things went wrong legally, and Apple seemingly lost heart after losing a long legal battle over ebooks.
Today, Apple is basically operating its iBooks store as an app for iPads. So for readers without an iPad or those who don’t like reading on one, bad luck.
Barnes and Noble
Then there is Barnes and Noble, which has a website. But it still looks, feels, and works like something designed in the nineteen-nineties.
It is so outdated that as hard as I might try, B&N is still unable to update my book covers, which I changed years ago.
Again, like Apple, where is the reader interaction on B&N? Reviews? There are a few. So, okay, it beats Apple on one count.
The Nook started out reasonably well, but a string of bad business decisions, particularly in the UK, has meant that the Nook is almost out for the count.
B&N still survives in the US due to old-fashioned customer loyalty. But elsewhere, it is going nowhere.
I hate to criticize Smashwords. Of all the ebook retailers and self-publishing platforms, it is the one I have wanted and wished would become a winner for many years now.
Sadly, though, Smashwords has entrenched itself as a book publishing aggregator to Apple, B&N, Kobo, and other ebook retailers and libraries. Many of which have come and gone over the years. But it seems to have decided against becoming a fully-fledged retailer in its own right.
This is a disappointment because although Smashwords still has an online ebook store, it will live or die by the success or failure of its aggregated retailers.
As Apple and B&N aren’t setting the ebook world on fire, and several Smashwords’ aggregated retailers have closed or have failed to live up to expectations, the future is not bright for Smashwords to sell a lot more ebooks in the future.
Amazon continues to innovate with books
It is fair to say that Amazon’s share of the book market amounts to a monopoly on books. But it is also fair to say that no one has determinedly challenged it.
Yet, even with so little competition, Amazon is not standing still.
Amazon extended its involvement for readers through its purchase of Goodreads. Where are the social platforms for Apple or B&N readers?
Kindle Cloud Reader
The Cloud Reader is another example of Amazon’s books and readers’ first ethos.
It is a web browser service that allows anyone with an Amazon account to read Kindle books.
With Kindle Cloud, readers can use the web app to use pre-orders, buy or get free books from the Kindle Store and then store and read their Kindle ebooks on any device that has a browser.
There is no need to be Amazon Prime members or even to use the Kindle app.
It is an open platform for readers to be able to access and read Kindle books.
Update Note: It appears likely that Amazon will discontinue the Kindle Cloud Reader.
There is no secret as to why Amazon sells more ebooks than any other retailer.
It is not simply that it has a monopoly. It has built an ecosystem around ebooks and books that has involved readers at every level.
As hard as some may argue, Amazon is not a monopoly because of unfair business practices.
It has done the job of selling ebooks a lot better than its competitors and gained the lion’s share of the market as a result.
For self-publishing authors, Amazon is way ahead of the pack in so far as gaining book sales is concerned.
There are many things one can say about Amazon, good and bad. But at the end of the day, it sells more books than any other retailer for a good reason.
The Amazon book market share is huge because Amazon does books better than anyone else.
Related reading: The Biggest Drawback Of Self-Publishing For New Authors
One thought on “Why The Amazon Books Store Has A Monopoly On Book Sales”
Oh you will certainly sell your book on Apple, well at least somebody will. Within a month of my releasing a book in paperback and in Kindle there were people selling used copies both in America and in the UK, America being somewhat strange because I had not sold any copies to the USA before they started to sell used over there. The UK was not much better. They claim to have a ‘one’ copy with minor shelf damage. They are still selling it today ! They have been selling that one used with shelf damage for three months now ! before they started to sell used copies. Amazon were most unhelpful. So I ended up pointing out to them if they are presented with reasonably reliable observations that that they are facilitating the sale of counterfeit books then Amazon itself was engaging in a criminal act. I think I have identified it to e-books, they are undoubtedly easy to snatch off and manipulate on the rusty printer in somebodie’s garage . Then they can be advertised as used copies on same web page as the original on the Amazon site. For this to work the big internet sellers must keep a central register of when a paperback version was first published and then refuse to permit the sale of used copies; for abut 18 months after the book was first published..They don’t seem to be that much interested in doing that because they make money either way ! Take my advice. don’t publish your book in both paperback and kindle. hold your kindle version back for at least a year. As for Amazon, their attitude seems to be that ‘we are too big to hurt’, that maybe but it will be self inflicted injury if they lose their name and the way that they treated my complaint to them suggests that they will lose public confidence in them and then its bye bye Amazon
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