Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Like E-Books? Amazon Sells More of Them, for Less, Than Apple. For Now.

The introduction of the iPad and the iBooks store has lots of people forecasting doom for Amazon’s Kindle. And Citigroup’s (C) Mark Mahaney, an Amazon bull, acknowledges that Apple will eat into Kindle’s share: He is convinced, quite reasonably, that Amazon needs to overhaul the Kindle very soon and cut its price below $200 to stay competitive.

That said, Mahaney points out that Amazon, with its long-established relationships with publishers, still offers book buyers a wider selection of e-books than Apple does. And it sells its books for less. From his note published Friday:

  • 88 percent of New York Times (NYT) fiction and nonfiction best sellers are available on Amazon’s Kindle vs. 63 percent available for Apple iBooks
  • The average price of the best-selling ebooks available on both platforms is $11.23 on the Kindle and $12.31 on the iBook platform–a 10 percent difference
  • All in all, about 50 percent of NYT fiction and nonfiction best sellers are available on both the Kindle and the iBook platform
  • For eBooks available on both the Kindle and the iBook platforms, 80 percent had the same price, whereas Kindle prices were cheaper for 20 percent of the books by an average of 11 percent

These gaps will narrow over time if Apple (AAPL) pushes hard with publishers to do so. And assuming it does, the real difference for buyers ought to be: Do you want to read e-books on a multipurpose device (the iPad) or one that costs a whole lot less and does much less (the Kindle)? My guess is that even after Apple eats into Kindle’s share, Amazon (AMZN) is going to find plenty of people who just want an e-reader. We’ll see.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work