Kindle for iPhone

Amazon today released Kindle for iPhone, and it seems to be stirring up some interest.

A couple of notes regarding this news:

Firstly, as far as I can tell, it’s currently only available in the US App Store. I previously assumed the fact that the hardware Kindle is only sold in the US is due to its cellular technology being US-centric, but now I’m beginning to think it might be contractual instead — that Amazon only have rights to distribute the eBooks in the USA. Book rights are often negotiated on a country-by-country or region-by-region basis.

Secondly, over at Daring Fireball, Gruber writes:

(…) it also strongly suggests that Amazon is more interested in the business of selling the blades, not the razors. — Daring Fireball

I think this is true, but also misses out on something. I think that Amazon is even more interested in avoiding the cost of warehousing and shipping big chunks of tree across the planet. I think that for Amazon, Kindle itself is not about profiting from hardware sales, but about both increasing the numbers of, and slashing the overheads of, book sales.

The news is of interest to Wooji Juice primarily because this was a direction we strongly considered taking Voluminous: we considered bringing out an iPhone app hooked up to a website, that would serve up the same free books as our Voluminous for the Mac, as well as offering community features (reviews, tagging, recommendations, etc), and then use that as a base onto which we could add sales of commercial eBooks.

After careful thought, we decided we’d probably a) get crushed by the juggernaut that is Amazon sooner or later, b) that everything we’d read about publishers and eBooks suggested we’d never get the commercial side of things off the ground, and that c) without that, we wouldn’t be able to afford to run the server farm.