Since the introduction of the laptop in the 1980’s, portable tech has come a long way. Smartphones, tablets, and e-readers have enabled users to bring both work and entertainment with them on the go, and each year sees devices getting smaller and more advanced. Dedicated e-readers may not be the wonder they were a decade ago, but fans of the technology are celebrating the anniversary of one of the most important and prominent examples of the device this month.
The Amazon Kindle celebrated its 10-year anniversary this week, an important milestone for Amazon’s entry into the world of gadgets. While once strictly a retailer of third-party goods, Amazon has rapidly grown its own line of hardware, ranging from basics like USB hubs to its line of ereaders and smart speakers. Though they have somewhat been displaced by tablets and smartphones capable of displaying ebooks through apps, dedicated e-readers are still popular amongst hardcore bookworms. Amazon’s Kindle remains potent because it provides easy access to both Amazon’s library of ebooks, as well as the thousands of audiobooks offered through their Audible service.
The Kindle has undergone many changes since its introduction 10 years ago. The earliest version retailed for nearly $400, while a basic model can be had today for as little as $50. The Paperwhite model introduced screen lighting, making it possible for readers to enjoy the device in the dark. The latest model, the Kindle Oasis, boasts water resistant technology to protect it from errant splashes and spills. Overall, Amazon has used the decade to both improve the line’s features while also making it significantly more affordable.
More interesting perhaps is the Kindle’s effect on the publishing industry. Since its introduction, Kindle Direct Publishing has made it easier for authors to reach audiences. Between 2010 and 2015 ISBN registered titles available through the service jumped from around 150,000 to over 700,000. Likewise, authors who have otherwise struggled to get published through traditional literary houses have found an audience through Kindle Direct. Given the sheer number of independent authors who have found success with the platform, it has added a good deal of credibility to the once maligned world of self-publishing. With 99 cent promotions fairly common, the service is also a win for readers on a budget. Though e-readers may not be the revolutionary devices they once were, it’s clear that Amazon, through its Kindle line, established the ebook as a viable reading format and opened up the world of literature to a whole new audience.