Could Amazon’s ‘DVD extras’ for ebooks create a monopoly?

Kindle

Once upon a time, if I had nothing left on my shelf to read, I’d buy an actual physical book from an actual physical bookshop and would turn actual physical pages until I reached the end.

Ebooks changed all that, providing the ability to carry around with you any number of thousand-page sci-fi epics and other tomes in a device weighing as much as the average paperback, and I quickly became a fully paid-up foot soldier in the digital revolution.

The technology’s far from perfect, but it has huge advantages over hefting around six books every time you take a holiday.

But Amazon has decided that books are a bit too boring by themselves. Readers need bonus content to induce them to download more ebooks, the retail giant believes.

Earlier this month, the company was awarded a patent to provide ‘DVD extra’-esque content to Kindle ebooks, either provided by the publisher or other reputable sources.

The idea of providing bonus material isn’t new – many books carry preview chapters from the next novel in the series, or an interview with the author – but Amazon’s patent means its ebooks could include anything from a world map for a fantasy story to fan fiction created by trusted contributors (i.e. you’d have to know them or have told your Kindle you’re interested in fan fiction to access it).

It’s a cool idea, and at a time when ebook providers are all competing to get a bigger slice of the market, it’s an excellent advantage for Amazon.

Just not for anyone who doesn’t use a Kindle. Amazon already holds up to a 60% share of the ebook market, and by undercutting competitors almost to the point of making a loss its stranglehold shows no sign of loosening.

Credit to Amazon for innovating but I hope the patent doesn’t hold, because as a Nook user myself (Barnes & Noble’s rival device) it would be great to get this extra content on my own ebooks.

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