(Odd choice of headline)
And why is competition important? Because it drives not just lower prices, but better products.
We can look to Apple popularizing and holding onto the MP3 player market to disprove that one. The Kindle is identical to the iPod in that aspect. Readers before the Kindle showed up were clunky, cheap, low-battery-life gadgets, and nobody had actually found success selling ebooks. Amazon made a groundbreaking string of devices and threw their weight at publishers to get the accompanying store off the ground.
And let’s face it, the products we have are ho-hum. E-readers are uninspired. They’re slabs of plastic with fiddly controls and display a badly-formatted, typographically impoverished rendering of a paper book. That’s not the electronic book I want. I want a gorgeous physical object, with paper pages, that can transform into any story I choose, perfectly presented on the page. I want a device from a fairytale, not a bargain bucket.
“Fiddly controls” is a legit concern, but as much as I hate to say it, the current generation of e-readers looks like it’s just a quick stop on the road to the affordable, eye-friendly tablets we’ll presumably have in a few years (And we have Apple to thank for finally driving tablet adoption, obviously). And that ‘paper pages’ fantasy is regressive. I like being able to touch a button to turn pages. It’s a lot more convenient than turning a page or making a 'swipe’ gesture on a touchscreen. I can read one-handed!
And as for those complaints about bad formatting - those are entirely, 100% the publishers’ fault.
Although, sure, I’d like it to be affordable, too. And that will not happen if one company controls the market. Why should it?
The Kindle starts at $79. None of the past Kindles have been above $200. You should be cheering Amazon for creating cheap e-readers, but instead you’re claiming that we can never have cheap e-readers while Amazon control the market.
If Amazon was truly consumer-centric, it would do away with DRM and adopt the ePub format, allowing users to consume their media on any device and through any software they choose, securing them from obsolescence and errors in DRM servers, accidental deletions and the rest. And that it most emphatically does not do.
Now that, I wholly agree with. But even here, you have to give Amazon some credit: thanks to Amazon’s threat, the old publishers are finally desperate enough to drop DRM. We can only hope they’ll make sure Amazon follows their lead.