By this time next month, there will have been the usual sudden year-end jump in ownership of Kindles, thanks to the season of gifts. If book industry analyst Mike Shatzkin is to be believed (and I believe him) the sales at retail bookstores will have fallen by about 10% by this time next year. Physical retail book stores have been seeing an annual doubling in revenue reduction percentages ever since the Kindle was introduced. Shatzkin writes:
One bookstore owner I know has been doing a great job; the store held its own despite the overall slide in print. The bookseller told me that this year, through October, sales at the store were down 5%. Not bad. They were down 2% year-on-year last year. They were down 1% year-on-year in 2009. And they had a record year for sales in 2008.
There’s a pattern there. The percentage reduction is doubling each year. When I said, “so you’ll be down 10% next year and 20% the year after that, right?” Bookseller said, “probably.”
If you are an Amazon watcher, there are patterns like this everywhere. The company is nothing if not deliberate and systematic in everything it does. When unexpected things happen, Amazon, unlike most companies, does not immediately respond with knee-jerk PR damage control. As Bezos said during an interview a while back, the company is willing to be misunderstood and endure temporary PR blowback. The larger gameplan is too important.
Which is why the current furor over the price comparison app, and the related #OccupyAmazon reaction, is unlikely to elicit any dramatic responses from Amazon. Where other companies might respond with overwrought displays of contrition and dramatic conciliatory gestures, Amazon will likely do the minimum necessary, wait out the storm, and move on. Amazon dealing with its market is the corporate equivalent of a patient, low-reactor parent dealing with a child throwing a tantrum.
More than any other corporation of...