The Kindle Revolution

The Kindle Revolution

When Amazon opened its “big tent” in 1999 to launch the array of third-party selling venues that became Amazon Marketplace, the company took the rest of the online and brick-and-mortar economy to school on the unlikely but surprisingly elegant notion that every competitor is a potential partner. Back then, just about every transaction required the involvement of UPS, USPS, or FedEx, so much so that the 1999 Amazon almost looks like an old-economy company from today’s vantage point. That part of Amazon’s business grew phenomenally through the past decade and third-party sales constitute somewhere between 20 and 35 percent of Amazon’s physical unit sales, including a healthy portion of Apple products, today. But in the past 32 months Amazon has carried out what now looks like a brilliant strategy to ignite, shape, dominate, and deputize some powerful partners in what had been the moribund ebook sector of the book business: