ET, Phone the Kindle Store

Yesterday Amazon let slip news that — for authors, publishers, and people who like to read on their cellphones — may potentially be every bit as big as anything the company will announce about the Kindle 2, 3, or 4 on February 9.

As suggested in my book last summer and in this January 30 post here and at my Amazon-hosted blog, the Kindle Store will soon begin selling its content to owners of devices such as the Blackberry, the iPhone, and the iPod Touch:

Amazon said that it was working on making the titles for its popular e-book reader, the Kindle, available on a variety of mobile phones.

So, do we still call a device a potential “Kindle Killer” if millions of its owners can use it to buy books, newspapers, and magazines from the Kindle Store, with Amazon getting a 25 to 35 per cent cut? No, Amazon’s Kindle initiative has much less to do with any specific hardware device than with Amazon’s need — and apparent ability — to stay ahead of changing modalities in book and other content sales.

As I have written before: “the primary importance of the Kindle for Amazon lies in four things: it jumpstarts significant electronic book sales; it positions the books in the Kindle store as the primary source of e-reader content; it sets the bar higher than it had previously been set for form factor, feature set, and delivery mode for electronic books; and it gives Amazon a seat at the head of the table in shaping this area of book commerce going forward.” That seat just got placed on risers.

For all the snarky Applephiles and Amazonians who have mistakenly seen this as an either/or battle from the get-go, a word to the wise: we can all just get along. Meanwhile, every ereading device and ebook portal including the Kindle and the Kindle Store will, no doubt, continue to scramble to play nice with the potentially astounding free public domain catalog available through Google Books. Neither Amazon nor Apple has any need to monetize that activity, but it is essential that Google Books access be part of the feature set.

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