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Amazon Needs to Make the Kindle Available Beyond Report

earths-biggest-selection-450px._V251249388_Amazon (s amzn) will need to start selling the Kindle through venues other than just the web site if it wants to maintain its lead in the U.S. e-reader market, according to a new study from Forrester Research. For while the vast majority of current e-reader owners are what the research firm calls “older male tech optimists who tend to buy books online,” future potential customers will consist of a dramatically different demographic.

The e-reader market remains nascent, but it’s growing at a rapid clip: As of the end of the second quarter, just 1.5 percent of U.S. online consumers owned an e-reader, but that figure had more than doubled from the second quarter of 2008. And at the same time, the percentage of people who said they planned to buy an e-reader over the next six months tripled, to 6 percent. Helping to drive that early adoption have been Amazon’s existing customers, according to Forrester. “[A]s frequent online book shoppers, [early adopters] have an existing relationship with Amazon — a perfect storm of demographics that has contributed to the Kindle’s early success.” And while the second wave is expected to look similar to the first — also largely male, but younger and even more likely to read books — the wave after it is expected to be dominated by less tech-savvy females who buy books from multiple source like local bookstores, supermarkets and big chains like Wal-Mart, places where, currently, the Kindle isn’t sold.

The firm believes the total number of e-readers sold will top 3 million by the end of this year, and 13 million by the end of 2013. This may seem like a lot, but as Forrester notes, five years after the iPod was released, more than 50 million MP3 players had been sold. Apple (s aapl) grabbed the lion’s share of that market — more than 70 percent in the U.S. currently — by rapidly expanding the locations where an iPod could be purchased. Now in addition to the Apple Store, consumers can buy an iPod from Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Radio Shack or The Kindle can only be purchased from, and it’s difficult to see one before you buy it (though Amazon did roll out a program where you can “See A Kindle In Your City,” but that’s a far cry from playing with one in a store). If Amazon doesn’t expand its distribution, it will leave a huge gap into which other e-readers, like one from Plastic Logic that features Barnes & Noble’s (s bks) e-bookstore, will jump.

15 Responses to “Amazon Needs to Make the Kindle Available Beyond Report”

  1. I TOTALLY agree. Kindle needs to be sold in other stores, not just on Amazon. It would be so much easier to test out the product first before purchasing it. Another perk would be that you’d get to take it home after buying it and not have to wait weeks for your kindle to arrive. Kindle will make a killing if its sold in stores like Walmart, Radio Shack and Barnes & Noble.

  2. I completely agree. They need to sell the Kindle places where people can see it. It wasn’t until I saw my friend’s Kindle that I decided I HAD to have one. Barnes & Noble is going to eat Amazon’s lunch if they don’t start expanidng their Kindle distribution and platform. As I wrote on my last blog entry, the other thing Amazon needs to do is expand the Kindle e-reader software to other systems as well (mac, pc, blackberry, android, etc…).

  3. As I wrote a few weeks back @GigaOM Pro, Barnes & Noble’s great advantage vis-a-vis Amazon is its physical storefront. Tell me a reader who doesn’t periodically go into Barnes & Noble. I think there is a huge percentage of the population who simply won’t consider e-books because they can’t get their hands on one to try it out, and quite possibly distrust the idea of buying a product online. I think if they had a face to look at when buying it, a place to take it back if it breaks down, then many more readers would go the way of e-book. I think ultimately Amazon may partner with someone with a physical storefront, though they have to do it carefully.

    One potential thought: Amazon Stores. Why not? They seem to have taken enough pages out of Apple’s book with the Kindle, why not just do a storefront as well?

  4. CzechM8

    I think Amazon is going to screw the pooch if they don’t partner with colleges and most other education institutions. I really believe the Kindle, or similar product, is THE future of literature delivery.

    If they can successfully partner with college and school campuses not only would their subscriber base expand exponentially but their brand loyalty with it. Colleges – and students – benefit from having less shoulder-breaking weight to haul around, no more standing in line to buy (and sell back later) their books, near-time access to the latest revs of text books, professors notes, news, campus happenings and yes, even the dreaded emergency alerts. Not to mention the money that can be saved/recouped from cutting out the cost of printing/stocking/moving/hauling bound books. Did I mention the obvious “green” advantages?

    As I see it, students would benefit immensely from being issued a Macbook (or similar small, lightweight laptop) and Kindle upon registration. That’s all they need for the next 4 years in terms of literary, studying and research needs.

  5. I agree completely. Amazon needs to take it beyond the limited stores. There is great potential for the Kindle. It’s actually very easy and comfortable to read for an extended period of time.

    Regarding the previous comment, indeed, isn’t it greate that B&N is offering free wifi at their stores?!

    Anyway, recently I came across a pretty neat “filler finder” for Amazon’s free shipping. It is at:

    Perhaps others will find it useful too.