Chapter six has a lot to say about Amazon and the changes it has ushered into the publishing industry.
“The Shallows” was published about a year before the biggest changes would emerge and it’s interesting to examine Carr’s pontifications under that context.
Carr writes, “Despite years of hype about electronic books, most people haven’t shown much interest in them.”
Borders Books, a former chain employing nearly 20,000 people, completely liquidated one month after Carr’s book was published – a result of Amazon’s retail platform, but also the Kindle reading device.
This article from Forbes in 2014, three years later, points out that Kindle sales reached 20 million units in 2013 (8 million more than his data from 2010) and revenues reached approximately $3.9 billion in sales.
Yet by January 2015, reporters were writing about the slump in Kindle sales and the return to the printed book.
What’s going on?
New technologies are creating disruptions, challenging established business models, but not destroying them.
Think of Uber versus the taxi industry, AirBnB versus hospitality. Technology allows dramatic changes to occur more rapidly than in previous generations, but new business models pop up to counteract these changes.
Earlier this year Amazon floated the idea of paying authors for pages read versus unit sales – something they could do *thanks* to new technology.
Will new technology make it impossible for authors to make a living in the 21st century? This article from The New York Times argues, no.
Amanda Hocking, may be one to agree.