Over 10 years of Kindle: A New Saga in Reading

On November 29, 2017, Amazon celebrated the 10th anniversary of its beloved Kindle. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, Amazon Inc, thanked Kindle readers and authors on Twitter for their contribution towards making it a success. His followers enthusiastically responded to the millionaire’s tweet by thanking Amazon for introducing the Kindle and praising its various user-friendly attributes. Users also felt that the product had improved their lives in many ways.”Ten years ago, we launched the first ever Kindle. Happy 10th birthday @AmazonKindle and thank you to all the Kindle readers and authors!’’, he tweeted.

Launched in the US on November 19, 2007, the Amazon Kindle spearheaded a new revolution in digital reading. In 2012, the product was made available in India for the first time. As per Digital Unite, Amazon Kindle devices provide users with the options of browsing, buying, downloading and reading e-books, newspapers, magazines and other digital media via wireless networking to the Kindle Store. The hardware platform, which was developed by an Amazon subsidiary Lab126 set off as a single device and currently comprises a range of devices which include e-readers with E Ink electronic paper displays, Android-based tablets with color LCD screens and Kindle applications on all major computer platforms. Every device integrates with Kindle Store content, and as of December 2017, the store consists of approximately 5.9 million e-books available in the United States.

In 2004, Bezos announced to his employees, his vision of building the world’s best e-reader before any competitors in the market could make the first move while also tasking them with the same. Originally, Amazon used the codename Fiona for this. The name Kindle was devised by brand consultants Michael Cronan and Karin Limba. When Lab 126 asked them to name the product, the duo suggested Kindle, which meant lighting a fire. They believed this was an appropriate metaphor for reading and intellectual stimulation. Kindle hardware evolved from the original Kindle in 2007 to the Kindle X (with a larger screen) which was introduced in 2009. The range consists of devices with a keyboard (Kindle Keyboard), touch-sensitive, lighted high resolution screens( Kindle Paperwhite), a tablet with the Kindle app (Kindle Fire), and low-priced devices with a touch-sensitive screen (Kindle 7). There’s even a Kindle Oasis that employs waterproof technology. However, the Kindle has remained to be a single-purpose device for reading – rather than being multipurpose hardware that could cause distractions while reading.

Amazon launched a self-publishing service, Kindle Direct Publishing—(called Digital Text Platform in 2007) on the same day as the first Kindle device. On this platform, hundreds of authors can connect with millions of readers globally, through their stories. The aim behind introducing self-publishing was to democratize the way authors take their books to readers, giving them more choice and control and a huge variety. Another venture was the acquisition of Audible, which included more than 80,000 audiobooks, including those by best-selling authors like Stephen King and Thomas Friedman. The primary design goal for Kindle was “to disappear in your hands—to get out of the way—so you can enjoy your reading,” as said by Bezos before launching the Kindle. Accessing books by listening to them through Audible provided an alternate way to let readers connect themselves with books and discover new ways to grasp them.

Amazon has also introduced Kindle software for use on various devices and platforms, including Microsoft Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS and Windows Phone. The e-commerce giant also has a cloud reader to allow users to read e-books using a web browser. Kindle created opportunities for self-publishing, experimenting with new forms of story-telling and the possibility of reaching out to new readers who are not served by limited retail. James Patterson, Vikram Seth, Gillian Flynn, Suzanne Collins are some of the well-known kindle authors who have rose to fame on account of Kindle.

When Amazon first launched the Kindle, it had about 90,000 titles in its e-book catalog. Now, the Kindle Store enlists 5,902,458 different titles. After long years of conflicts with publishers, stiff competition from Barnes & Noble and other leading competitors, and redesigning pricing schemes, Amazon is the leader in the space. Based on data provided by AuthorEarnings, which studies the book market, Amazon accounts for more than 80 percent of e-book sales in the US. Even all Amazon’s competitors put together do not match the figure.

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