Amazon really has their act together.
I love my Kindle device. It’s not perfect, but I love it for what it is. It’s a great way to read business and fiction books.
Amazon went from fulfilling books via delivery, to experimenting with just-in-time printing, to digital distribution.
In the traditional book selling and fulfilling model, they have to anticipate demand for every title, purchasing the right amount up front to meet the forecasted demand. As a result, they have to manage the supply, and at times hold onto books for long periods of time. In order for this to be profitable, they can’t stock every book in existence because books that only sell a handful of copies wouldn’t be very profitable. Printing on demand has emerged as a possibility to reduce overhead, allowing Amazon to print single copies of books when desired (see The Long Tail)
Side note: they solved a similar problem with their AWS cloud solutions. Rather than purchase or lease IT infrastructure up front based on projections, you can quickly deploy and scale servers based on need and demand. This is transforming the way companies are run, and allowing for new startups to get products to market faster.
Back to the Kindle. Fixed costs are near zero. Great. But they’ve gone further than that. I’m now reading more books than ever. Not only do I have instant access to most of the books I want, but I can access the books from all of my devices.
I walked into Borders, found a few good books that I wanted to read, used my iPhone Kindle version to lookup the books, and bought them on the spot. I then later downloaded one on my Kindle device, and later on my PC. I just now installed it on my Mac laptop. I’m able to read on one device, then pick up where I left off on the others. I can read for a half hour at home on the device, and read a few pages on my iPhone throughout the day.
I’m not only reading more books, I’m reading them faster. I always have a device on me, or am in front of a computer. And thus, I always have a version of Kindle in front of me. The image below shows just how easy they make the experience. Brilliant.