The Wired Magazine interview with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in their latest issue has motivated me to reflect. For 15 years Amazon has been influential but they seem to always be behind the curtain to players like Microsoft, Apple, Google or Facebook. But consider what they have accomplished and how they have done it. A philosophy based on low margins designed to serve a large customer base in stark contrast to another famous tech player that focuses on high margins catering to a small customer base. Also the fact that Amazon is willing to commit to a 5-7 year business plan has separated them but may also contribute to how they may be overlooked. I remember in their early years I was amazed at their staying power, willing to loose money for many years, but knowing that they would eventually win because market share is the key to domination of the Internet.
Amazon’s strategy which has yielded success is why I have to believe that their approach to publishing with book distribution is also destined to radically redefine that industry. Apple tried to shake up the distribution game with iBooks but Amazon truly controls online book commerce. And now as Amazon ventures into publishing I think we need to take notice. Bookstores as the big publishers desire are quickly becoming history. Consumers will buy books via the most effective and affordable path and that is the Amazon model. We in Higher Ed continue to reason why this can’t work but it does. The majority of our students buy their books through Amazon and if we hope to maintain happy students we will relent to support of that model as well. So take notice of Amazon’s release of the Kindle Fire and their aggressive direct publishing strategy that will reward authors with 70% of the revenue stream. We may fear Amazon’s invasion of our privacy but that fear dampens as we compare it to all the other intruders into our lives.