Once again, Seth Godin gets it right.
Kindle readers buy two or three times as many books as book readers. Why? I don’t think it’s necessarily because using a Kindle leads someone to read more books. I think it’s because the kind of person who buys a lot of books is the most likely person to pony up and buy a Kindle. I know that sounds obvious, but once you see it this way, you understand why book publishers should be killing themselves to appeal to this group. After all, the group voted with their dollars to show that they’re better.
Now, as someone who has a Kindle, I’d argue it does lead one to buy more books (it’s so easy that I can’t stop!). That aside, what he says is true: Kindle users are a (certain type) of voracious reader. These are the people who evangelize not only the Kindle itself, but also the books they’re reading. They’re probably also on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads talking about what books they liked. Publishers should be going out of their way to get their books into their hands, not holding back their hot properties. Honestly, who’s going to want the Sarah Palin book after the first month on sale, anyway? All the juicy tidbits will have been quoted at length, rehashed and remixed by time the e-book is released. Seems like a big waste to me.
While there’s certainly room to debate and experiment, publishers need to start looking at Kindle and nook and other e-reader owners as allies, not enemies. Once they do, I think we’ll see what a boon e-books can be.