Is Publishing’s Obsession with the Kindle and iPad Elitist?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Amazon Kindle

Several digital publishers across Latin America and South East Asia argue that the ongoing obsession with Kindle and iPad is shortsighted at best, and elitist at worst.

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s feature story looks at the importance of developing an API as part of an effective digital distribution strategy. An API allows a publisher to efficiently deliver a multitude of devices. That said, if you talk to many publishers, when it comes to devices, their focus is largely on two: Kindle and iPad, Amazon and Apple. At present, these two devices easily dominate the market in the US and are growing in market share across Europe. What’s interesting to note is how diametrically opposed the two devices are, with Kindle’s single-minded functionality and iPad’s all-purpose POV. In between these devices are a plethora of others — from PCs to Android tablets to hand-held game players — all of which offer readers numerous options.

Recently, I have heard several digital publishers across Latin America and South East Asia argue that the ongoing obsession with Kindle and iPad is shortsighted at best, and elitist at worst. These publishers (whom we will discuss at length in a forthcoming issue of Publishing Perspectives) feel that the readers in their nations, be it Colombia, India, or Indonesia, are just as avid consumers of digital reading materials as those in richer nations, but the high cost of the Kindle and iPad make them inaccessible to most consumers. This, as well as an outright lack of content, means coming up with an alternative distribution strategy. Typically, this means the focusing on devices that the vast majority people already own or are likely to continue owning on into the future: the simple feature phone. The phone is cheap and nearly ubiquitous all over the globe. Could focusing on developing for feature phones — or at least channeling content through an appropriate API — offer a greater number of people, not all of them in rich nations, greater access to the world’s intellectual wealth?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.