‘Amazon’s Vision is to get Kindle Closer and Closer to a Piece of Paper’
Amazon’s Kindle store has seen 200% growth year-on-year in India and at 3.3 million, it is on track to catching up with the US market. In an interview with ETtech's Vikas SN, Amazon's principal product manager Kathryn Abel talks about India growth plans, the new Kindle Oasis launch and plans to improve its e-book recommendations. Edited excerpts:
How is the India business for Kindle performing? We have grown 200% year-on-year in India, and the growth is driven by three things — the book selection, Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Direct Publishing. The Kindle India store now has over 3 million books as compared to the US store which has been around for over 7-8 years and has around 4.4 million books. India is really on track to catch up to the same or similar selection to the US. We've also witnessed that customers read more books once they subscribe to the Kindle Unlimited program.
What is Amazon’s vision for Kindle devices? Our vision for devices has always been to have the device disappear in the background for consumers, hence our goal is to get closer and closer to a piece of paper, which is our gold standard. We have also had to innovate in order to build the readers we wanted. We were the first to offer the ability to think about a book and read it in 60 seconds, the first to offer worldwide 3G service and the first to allow users carry their entire library in your pocket. So, as we tried to figure out where we are going to innovate next, we needed to re-think the form factor which led to Kindle Oasis.
Kindle devices tend to have a longer shelf life than other mobile products. How do you address that? The way we think about it is, we don't make money when you buy the device, we make it when you use it. We are not going to get users on a treadmill and are perfectly happy if you are still on the first ever Kindle.
How are you improving the discovery of e-books for customers? We've focused on two areas here - firstly, tracking the books they've already discovered either through downloaded samples or through their wish list and secondly, through personalised recommendations based on others books they've read.
The new Kindle Oasis also comes with a significant price bump. What was the reasoning behind it? The price bump is because of new innovations Oasis comes with and the premium nature of the device. It comes with a cover, a dual battery system and is made of premium materials. We are, however, not taking anything away from the Kindle lineup and the software remains the same throughout all the devices, so it eventually comes down to customers' choice in terms of hardware. We are just trying to push the boundaries on the experience. It also gives us a great opportunity to test out new ideas in terms of form factor and new innovations without having any price pressures.