The impact of Amazon on publishing industry

Bennett Voyles writes:

Kindle Unlimited is designed to show not only which books readers choose, but also which ones they stick with all the way through. Self-published authors and authors commissioned by Amazon’s imprints who enroll their titles in Kindle Unlimited are compensated per page read, based on their share of a pool of subscribers’ revenue. This gives Amazon unprecedented insight into how and what subscribers read. Such an enormous pool of detailed data about readers did not exist before.

Ultimately, the window into reader behavior that Kindle Unlimited provides may be Amazon’s biggest impact on publishing. This insight replaces the traditional gatekeepers — agents, editors, reviewers — with a more market-driven approach in which stories that are catching on are adopted and nurtured by Amazon. Think of it as Moneyball for manuscripts…Now a third model is coming, she adds. “Big companies hire writers to write novels, but the copyrights don’t belong to the writers. Instead, they become the properties of the big companies.”

Why is it essential to understand Amazon in this context? It is because they have an inherent flywheel effect- replacing the editorial discretion with the data driven model that requires a C-Suite executive towards “marketing”. Amazon made customary noises about “partnering” with the publishers and then replaced them effectively. They cross subsidise their businesses and it is not surprising that they attain dominance in the sector they step in. Network effects grow stronger over time.

The same can be done for the healthcare sector too. What does it take to digitise vast troves of medical literature, run the contextual analysis and start offering it through their digital voice assistants? I am not saying that it would replace doctors. It will likely form a system for “physician assistants” and possibly become a subscription service for the hospitals for suggesting “cures for sniffles”. Soon. Very soon.

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