Amazon strikes again — or did it?

I’ve been laid low this past week by a bug that was both nasty and persistent. It’s been a very long time since something has knocked me out the way this did. What I didn’t realize was how long it had been working up to the final knock-out blow. Now, as I start feeling human again, I can look back and realize that I’d been ignoring it for several weeks — almost a month in fact. The lesson is that I have to start listening to my own advice and pay attention to what my body tells me. (Quit laughing, Sarah. I know I tell you this all the time.)

The problem is that I was entering the home stretch on one novel and had a good feel for how to finish another when this bug laid me out. These are two very different novels, not only in genre but in voice and feel. Worse, the next book in the Nocturnal Lives series was coming together in my head. Now, it’s all gone. I’m going to have to go back and reread the novel I was working on finishing and hope I can get back into that zone. Then I have to get into the second novel, something that is very different from what I usually write. My biggest concern is that I won’t get the ideas back for the Nocturnal Lives novel because, duh, I didn’t write them all down. (Bad Amanda!)

It also means I haven’t been paying as much attention to what’s been happening in publishing as I usually do. I know there was a flurry of twitter-talk about Random Penguin’s buy buttons disappearing for a brief period of time last week over on Amazon. The usual conspiracy theories rapidly emerged. Amazon was doing it in preparation of taking the Random House/Penguin ebooks off-sale if the publishers didn’t play nice. Amazon was doing it as an implied threat to all publishers. The last I saw, Amazon said it was a glitch in the system. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. It doesn’t matter. The case of the disappearing buttons lasted for a very short time and occurred at a time when sales would not have been high. As I said, unless and until more information is known, it really doesn’t matter what happened or why. The buttons were restored and it was pretty much a case of no harm/no foul.

Then there was the story on the news last night about how Amazon is losing the e-reader market. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise any of you to know I heard the story and wondered if I’d somehow been transported to another reality. So, after doing my blog for Nocturnal Lives (my personal blog) this morning, I went looking for confirmation of the report. Color me not surprised to find out the reporter doing the story went for shock factor and not facts.

According to Publishers Weekly, Amazon’s Kindle family is used by 55% of e-book buyers. This is up from 48% for this time last year. Apple, with the iPhone and iPad, holds a 15% share of the market. This is up 2% over last year. It is interesting to note that the increase came from iPad use. According to PW, iPhone use as an e-reader fell 2% over the past year. Barnes & Noble’s Nook held steady at 14%. Note, however, that this is down from their high of 22% in the third quarter of 2010.

So where, you might ask, did the reporter come up with the headline that Amazon was losing the e-book reader battle? I wondered the same thing. So I checked the breakdown from PW and the light bulb went on. The Kindle, as opposed to the Kindle Fire, has seen decreasing use. It has fallen from 48% last year to 37% this year. Ooooh, that means the Kindle is dying.

No, it doesn’t. What it means is that there is still a large portion of the e-book buying public that wants a dedicated e-b0ok device. However, with the introduction of the Kindle Fire, those who want a multi-use tablet/e-book reader that doesn’t cost as much as a laptop have a viable option. All you have to do is look at those numbers to see what I mean. The second quarter of 2011 showed no Fire market. As for the second quarter of this year, Kindle Fire sales account for 18% of the e-book reader device sales. Not only does that cancel out the losses for the Kindle, but it increases the market share for the Kindle family by eight percentage points (if my math is right).

But saying that Amazon is increasing its hold on the e-book device market wasn’t nearly as exciting as saying the Kindle was dying. Sigh. Rolls eyes.

Now to go find breakfast and to start wading through all the emails and work that is waiting for me. Maybe I’ll even be able to get some writing done today.

14 comments

  1. It must be exciting to live in a world where every little difficulty is a sign of a vast enemy conspiracy, rather than evidence of simple human failures.

    1. I’d think living in conspiracy world would make things easier. There is no chance, or coincidence, or just rotten luck with timing, or failure to develop new ideas on your part. Plus, if someone really is out to get you, it means that you must be a very important person indeed.

      1. “…or failure to develop new ideas on your part.” I hadn’t considered that. It does seem to absolve one of responsibility for one’s circumstances. “I could never beat Them anyway, so I might as well just get drunk and accept it.”

        1. Which was almost a part of this post. I saw a fb post the other day by an author who was lamenting that their ongoing series wasn’t selling as well as it used to. Of course, it’s because Borders is no longer around — sideways way to blame Amazon. So, after much thought, if the latest book doesn’t do as well as the author would like, they’d just quit writing and start applying for teaching positions. No discussion about maybe starting a new series, or even just writing free standing books. No, just the series seems to have run its course so I’m going to throw in the towel.

          Sigh.

    2. Well, that way you don’t have to admit you aren’t wonderful and that there might be one or two who don’t recognize your brilliance. (yes, sarcasm meter is on.)

      1. Sarcasm off for a moment… And cynicism turned down as low as I can get it… I work in software, and I have worked with a number of talented programmers, analysts, architects, testers, and managers. And after working with so many bright people, I’m still surprised when something works as much as I’m surprised when it doesn’t. We tackle insanely ambitious systems these days, and every project I’ve worked on has been larger than the time, capacity, and budget should permit. If the goals are attainable, management always has more goals to add. So I find small errors infinitely more believable than big conspiracies.

        Of course, that’s what They want me to think…

        1. Amen to that! Software development seems to always be an exercise in pulling miracles from fundamental orifices. I swear, since I was laid off a week and change ago I’ve had the most relaxing time in years – despite actively job chasing.

          1. I had a co-worker years ago who said that the real test of a system design (and the designers) was locating the PFM module. He said every system has one, and the question was simply whether or not someone had identified it. PFM? Pure F**king Magic. And to some extent, I think he had a point. There almost always is one, and you might as well admit it. The real miracle is that we just keep on building them!

            1. Yes! The really good developers will actually comment this module and tell you the magic happens there.

          2. My big complaint with all the new technology that has software in it is that instead of fixing the bugs they just come out with a ‘new and improved’ version, which always has at least as many bugs as the old one, albeit usually different bugs.

            1. Speaking as someone who tests the stuff for a living – and just got a new job which I’ll be starting the Monday after Thanksgiving – yay me! – hell yes.

              Here’s how it happens on the inside: no-one will pay for the version with nothing more than bug fixes (or at least, management thinks no-one will pay for this). So there must be new features and new fancy stuff. But usually there isn’t time – and often it’s not possible – to fully test the new stuff and make sure the old bugs have been fixed AND check that nothing that used to work got broken in the process. So the new and improved version comes out with a ton of bugs.

              This is why people who know NEVER get version X.0 of anything. They wait for the service packs and maintenance patches to be out before getting it so the worst problems have been fixed.

              My previous employer’s customers talk among themselves (it’s a relatively small and fairly tight community) about which releases are the “safe” releases. Curiously enough, they are never the ones that the testing team raised hell over… Go figure. (oops. Broke the sarcasm meter again).

  2. Just a wonderment. Back in the stone ages when I worked for a weekly, the reporters didn’t get to write our own headlines. The editor did that. Has the electronic publication of columns shifted that?

    1. Depends on the site. We do our own here. Some of the sites with “staffs” and the like have folks who edit the columns and who can do the headlines if they don’t like what the blogger/reporter suggests.

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