GigaOM: Are eBooks a Walled Garden?

Here’s a fascinating post from Matthew Ingram at GigaOM: “How the e-book landscape is becoming a walled garden.” With some discusion about Seth Godin’s (author of Linchpin, Purple Cow, and other interesting books) recent complications with Amazon.com links in Apple iBooks, the broader issue at hand is more about what the future might hold for the entire ebook ecosystem. It’s one thing when a local, physical bookstore decides which titles it will or won’t carry in its inventory — but, when our biggest ebook sellers (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble) makes such decisions, keep in mind that they are both where we buy our ebooks, and how we read our ebooks:

“what makes the recent moves by Apple and Amazon and Barnes & Noble different is that they also own the major e-reading platforms, of which Amazon is the largest in terms of market share. So it’s not just the stores they control, but one of the fundamental methods of reading those books.”

Also interesting: the different ebook strategies that an Apple or an Amazon might hold — are ebooks as content a means to an end? or an end to the means of selling e-reading device hardware?

“As we’ve described before, Apple and Amazon come at the e-book market from different perspectives: Apple sees books as just another form of content that it can use to sell iPads and other devices, whereas Amazon sees devices like the Kindle and the Kindle Fire as ways it can lock people into its content ecosystem and sell them more books, movies and so on. But both are dependent on having users locked into their products, and so they make it as difficult as possible to move from one to the other.”

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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

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