Even although Amazon are being unashamedly coy with regard to sales figures, there can be no doubt that they are more than satisfied with the performance of their Kindle ebook reader family to date. The mark one Kindle went on sale in November 2007 and demand was so high that it sold out in less than 6 hours. It stayed out of stock right up to April 2008.
The Kindle 2, widely considered to be an improvement to an already successful product, was released in February 2009 and was another great success with the Amazon customer base. In May of 2009 Amazon announced that its new, larger Kindle DX would be released and started taking pre-orders for shipping on June 10 2009.
All things considered, by the middle of 2009 the Kindle was the must have gadget and was often referred to as the “iPod of books”. Meanwhile, in parallel with the development and marketing of the device itself, Amazon continued to add to its library of Kindle titles. By early June of 2009 there were in excess of 300,000 Kindle titles on offer and the collection was growing by, on average, 500 books per day.
Great business for Amazon and a huge driver for repeat custom. Sure, you can get books for your kindle elsewhere – but these might require translation, and why bother when the Kindle store has so many volumes that you can download using 3G wireless connectivity in less than sixty seconds?
It’s also good news for all those third party manufacturers of kindle accessories – a rapidly expanding market. Amazon originally included a cover with the first Kindle, but discontinued this practice when the Kindle 2 was launched (no great loss perhaps as many users didn’t like the cover and sought alternatives anyway). Customers who have just shelled out $359 for their Kindle 2 or $489 for their DX probably don’t think anything about spending another $20 – $40 on a protective sleeve for their expensive new toy. Like any portable kit, it’s sure to come in for a few bumps and scrapes in use – it makes sense to protect it doesn’t it?
Apart from the practical aspects, it appears that some Kindle owners are quite happy to pay over $100 for a nice leather cover – which will not only provide some level of protection but will also make their high tech Kindle look more like a “real” book. As the Kindle is a fairly high ticket item most owners, will have some disposable income so it probably isn’t a great surprise that they’re ready to pay for a few extras to customise it.
Kindle owners can also select from a wide variety of other items – clip on lights, metal reading stands and power chargers are currently popular. As the popularity of the Kindle continues to expand, and as even more new models are brought to market, it seems likely that more and more independent manufacturers will profit from Amazon’s success.