There were two big announcements out of Amazon this week, both Kindle related. The first was that they are offering a new royalty structure for Kindle books: 70% of the price (minus a small delivery fee). But there’s always a catch, and in this case, several catches, including: the price must be between $2.99 and $9.99, must be lower than the hard copy price by at least 20%, and text-to-speech and other experimental features would have to be enabled.
The second and perhaps more surprising announcement is the release of a software development kit (SDK) for the Kindle, allowing developers to write applications for the device. What kinds of things programmers will do for the limited device, I’m not sure.
So what’s prompted all of this? Apple. The impending announcement of their tablet computer next week has everyone on pins and needles, and it surely has Amazon rethinking their own business model in order to stay competitive. I’m not convinced that the Apple device will be the publishing or world cure-all some anticipate, but if they can do for the tablet what they did for the smartphone (make a high-end, niche device a popular consumer product), Amazon–and everyone else–better watch out.