Traditional Books Light the Kindle Fire

Traditional Books Light the Kindle Fire

Picture of Nook with Bestsellers

Traditionally published books sell Kindles and Nooks.

Does that seem crazy obvious to you?  Maybe–but think about what it means.  People buy e-readers  to read, at least initially, bestsellers like The Hunger Games Trilogy, Game of ThronesThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  It’s the big and the beloved books that drive e-reader sales.   Books that have been acquired, edited, designed, published and promoted by traditional houses.

Think about that the next time you see an ad for an e-reader–I do.

Much as I support self-publishing in some cases, I must ask:  how many people, do you think, purchase e-readers to read self-published books by unknown, unvetted authors?  Very, very few.

Yet article after article, comment after comment, continue to laud Amazon’s ease of publication, high royalties and low prices as welcome signs of the increased obsolescence of traditional houses.  Could Amazon exist without traditional houses?  Would you buy their e-readers without the traditionally published books that fill them?

Traditional houses can thrive without Amazon or other e-readers; great books would continue to be published, sold and distributed.

Could e-readers and online bookstores succeed without the likes of Random House?  Simon & Schuster? Hachette?

If Amazon succeeds in its reported quest to drive traditional houses–and bricks and mortar bookstores–out of business through practices like predatory pricing, and convincing bookstore customers to purchase books on Amazon while they’re standing in the bookstore–where, I wonder, will the books popular enough to drive machine sales come from?  All self-published without curation?   Amazon’s own publishing divisions?  How will that monopolistic environment encourage a diversity of ideas?

Just asking.   Please weigh in (and if I may boldly request, without vitriol).


  1. Great blog! I think you make a really good point–although it’s nice that authors who might otherwise get passed up now have a chance to self-publish, it’s not going to be what attracts readers. Usually, unless someone personally recommends an unknown author to me, I’m more likely to buy a best-seller.

  2. COMPLETELY agree with you, Jody. Although, like Julia pointed out above, the ever-increasing ease of self-publishing is such a nice option and chance for some authors, I, too, believe that traditionally published books drive many (if not most) e-reader sales.

    You know, it doesn’t even have to be “today’s” books, either. I bought my dad a Kindle for Father’s Day, and he’s packed it with classics from Project Gutenberg.

    Great post!

  3. Thanks, guys! Alicia, you’re so right! Although the Gutenberg books pre-date the publishing model of today–lots of those books were self-published! But then brought to the world’s attention later through traditional houses…

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