's Kindle: Publishing Industry's iPod?


Themes: Strategy
Pub Date : 2009
Countries : US
Industry : Services

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Case Code : INA0111
Case Length : 25 Pages
Price: Rs. 200;'s Kindle: Publishing Industry's iPod?


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"Nobody is going to sit down and read a novel on a twitchy little screen. Ever."1

- Annie Proulx, American Journalist and author

"The demise of publishing has been predicted since the days of Gutenberg. But for most of the past century - through wars and depressions -the business of books has jogged along at a steady pace."2

- Boris Kachka, Journalist, New York

"There will be an appreciative market for electronic reading systems among weight-conscious travellers, but books are not going to disappear in a Gotterdammerung of pixellation"3

- Peter Crawshaw, Co-founder & Director,'s Kindle: Publishing Industry's iPod?

The publishing industry is undergoing transformation and is into blues with the proliferation of broadband. By the turn of 1990s, e-books entered the market as consumers by large started preferring them over the traditional printed books. Adding to the woes of the publishing industry, in the first decade of the 21st century, new devices for reading known as e-readers entered the markets threatening the survival of the publishing industry.

In 2007, US-based (Amazon) launched an e-reader called 'Kindle'. Within 2 years, by 2009, the company launched two more versions of e-readers, namely Kindle 2 and Kindle DX (DX stands for Deluxe). While on one side, e-reader is considered as a possible replacement of a book in terms of convenience, others are sceptical about the benefits provided by the e-reader and opine that e-readers cannot totally wipe away the publishing industry. However, keeping the prospects of the e-readers and the publishing industry in view, the big question is, can the two survive together or would one replace the other.

Impact of Technology: e-Readers vs Publishing Industry

Publishing industry has been thriving on three major inventions - writing, paper and printing.4 Even before writings, in the 4th millennium BC, during the era of the Sumerians, knowledge was disseminated through word of mouth. Most of the learning happened through memorisation. Gradually, knowledge was preserved in writings, but was not passed on to the common man. The writings were only confined to fix religious formulations or secure codes of law, genealogies and other socially important matters.

Dating back to the era of Assyrian and Babylonian kingdoms, writings were engraved on clay and stone tablets. However, it is believed that back in 600 BC, scrolls made of papyrus5 were used to make books. Also, these papyrus rolls are considered as the direct antecedents of paper, bearing a similar resemblance with the latter. In 213 BC, Chinese produced books using strips of wood or bamboo bound together with cords. Later, books were produced using materials such as codex6 , vellum and parchment7 . In the 2nd century CE8 , the Chinese invented paper, which became a viable alternative to vellum and parchment to make books. Multiple copies of books were produced by manual writing, until the concept of printing evolved.

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1]Levy Steven,"The Future of Reading",, November 26th 2007
2]Kachka Boris, "The End,, September 14th 2008
3]Crawshaw Peter, "Beautiful, perfect, supreme chunk of paper",, September 17th 2008
4]"History of publishing",
5]Paper made from the papyrus plant by cutting it in strips and pressing it flat; used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
6]Constructed from folded leaves bound together on one side - either the right or the left, depending on the direction of writing.
7]Used interchangeably since the Middle Ages, both parchment and vellum were prepared using animal hides (though Vellum is a finer quality material).
8]Common Era (CE) is the calendar system commonly used in the Western world to number the year part of a date. The year numbers are the same as those used for Anno Domini (AD).