With Amazon Kindle Now Turning 10, David Naggar Says Content Is Prime
“Today (November 19) marks the 10th anniversary of the first Kindle. And with interesting timing, The New York Times‘ Sunday Review today has carried David Sax’s opinion piece, Our Love Affair With Digital Is Over. Some of us, of course, read Sax’s column on our Kindles.
The column’s headline didn’t do justice to its conclusion in which Sax wrote, ‘We do not face a simple choice of digital or analog. That is the false logic of the binary code that computers are programmed with, which ignores the complexity of life in the real world. Instead, we are faced with a decision of how to strike the right balance between the two.’
And some of the people behind the Kindle are publishing long-timers, who know a lot about striking that balance.
‘I was in finance at Random House,’ says David Naggar, Amazon’s vice president for Kindle content, ‘when we were working on the first economic models for ebook royalties. And that was in 2000. E-reading had been around for awhile’ before the Kindle would launch in 2007.
If anything, it’s curious now how many in the business are quick to celebrate the widely reported rise of streaming audiobooks. On December 1 when The Bookseller’s FutureBook conference again features an entire strand on audiobooks alone, it’s not likely that you’ll hear someone complain that they miss the smell of paper when they listen to an audiobook, is it? …
Ebook Royalty Finances: In the Year 2000
‘It all comes down to the customer experience,’ David Naggar says. On such early devices as the Sony Reader, for example, ‘You’d go to a website on your desktop, download the ebook file to your desktop on some hard-to-find directory. Then you’d have to go to that directory and side-load the book through a cable to your device. Then, and only then, were you able to start reading.’
What’s easy to forget, he’s saying, was the sheer wireless convenience introduced by the Kindle.
‘It wasn’t the hardware itself,’ he says, ‘that caused the Kindle to explode all of a sudden, or that it came from Amazon. It was the fact that it was the first piece of consumer hardware in history to be connected to a cellphone network where the customer paid nothing for it. You were able to sit anywhere—at a bar next to a friend who said, ‘I just read this great book, you should try it’—and 60 seconds later, that book was on your device and ready to read.
‘That was the killer device,’ Naggar says. ‘And then people started to enjoy reading on the devices, and that took off.'”