Will Amazon Soon Go the Way of the Bookstore?

This is a really interesting article from Forbes on how Amazon.com is set for a major challenge from competitors. Here’s Suw Charman-Anderson has to say in building the case:

Amazon may still be at the top of the tree in terms of market share, but it’s there because people are in the habit of linking to and going to Amazon, not because of any inherent advantage in doing so. That habit is being eroded, slowly but surely.

JK Rowling’s Pottermore, for example, is chipping away at Amazon’s position, not because it directly competes but because it proves to people that Amazon is not the only game in town. Want to buy a JK Rowling book? Pottermore is the place to go. What happens when more big name authors decide that they want what JK Rowling’s got? Especially as what she’s got isn’t just her own site and infrastructure, it’s her customers’ data.

Anyone who understands the importance of data understands how badly Amazon fails publishers. Want to know how someone found your book on Amazon? Not a hope. Want to know if your Twitter promo campaign is working? No chance. Want to know where your buyers are? You’ll never find out. Data is gold. Amazon provides iron pyrites. How long are publishers going to carry on sacrificing data on the alter of Amazon’s reach?

Even such a seemingly impregnable market fortress as Amazon has its weaknesses, and therefore faces the possibility of a challenge from competitors. I for one would love to see this happen. I buy most of my books from bookstores (on principle), but it would only help authors and publishers to have some serious competition pop up.

This article also should push authors to think about how to connect with audiences in a digital world. Many traditional boundaries have collapsed; authors are freer than ever to engage with their readers and form connections.

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