The Kindle Fire has us all intrigued, but we now have confirmation that the fixed format books on the platform will use very similar code to that used by the iBookstore. That almost amounts to standardisation and that is a nice surprise.
For publishers looking to spread themselves across a number of platforms, time and money constraints are most likely to hinder the process. Fixed format is perhaps more a victim to these concerns than other digital conversions; however Amazon’s own format has thankfully ensured that iPad to Kindle Fire conversions will not be too difficult a task.
At the same time, it was interesting just how much financial pain the Kindle Fire launch has inflicted on Amazon, reducing profits in the 3rd quarter by as much as 73% and depressing the forecast for the 4th quarter. Amazon is structured as a retailer with low net margins of 4% where growth in profits is all driven by increasing volumes. A technology company needs to have much higher margins and as Amazon moves more into the technology space, there is an increasing concern that they do not have the headroom for expensive technology launch costs.
It is a passing moment for the Kindle Fire launch but this will not be the end of the journey. They will have to address the mismatch of costly technology and low margins.
For the rest of us however, this is a different story.
We should applaud the arrival of an Amazon tablet that is keenly priced and will support the fixed format needed for illustrated and children’s books. The 7-inch screen will struggle to do justice to many larger format books, so to counter this we will have to be more inventive in how content is displayed to the reader.
To complete a week of positive news stories for children’s book publishers, it would be encouraging to see a date set for the Kindle Fire launch in the UK. With US pre-launch sale outstripping expectations my fear is that sadly, we will have to wait a little longer for this to round off the good news.