Kindle sees off Nook but faces uncertain future

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The Kindle would seem to have seen off one of its would-be competitors but Amazon's e-reader may not have long to enjoy its supremacy as the global market leader. The signs are that the dedicated e-book device may soon become as quaintly obsolete as the fax machine or Amstrad emailer.

Amazon's dominance of the market was underlined by the struggles of the Nook, the e-reader launched by American book chain Barnes & Noble. The Nook's failure to dent the Kindle's supremacy could even result in the book retailer's eventual demise. Barnes and Noble suffered a $177m loss in its Nook division in the first quarter of 2013, compared with a $77m loss a year earlier.

That will be a familiar story to UK retailers struggling to survive in the face of the Amazon juggernaut. Here the story also takes in Amazon's creative accounting practices and risible tax burden, but those arguments aside, the Kindle has saturated the e-reader market, claiming 90 percent of all ebook sales in the UK.

Amazon will be aware that it has only a limited window in which to cash in on its market domination. With the pervasive influence of iPads, more and more consumers are asking why they need a dedicated e-reader when decent software can turn any tablet into a potential KIndle-killer.

Amazon realises that to a certain extent already by offering the Kindle app for customers to use on their own tablets. Its hardware may soon be limited to serious ebookworms, but its unrivalled range of ebooks will remain the choice of the casual browser looking for some holiday reading material for the iPad.

"People still use their iPad and buy from Amazon, using the Kindle app," Andrew Rhomberg of ebook retailer Jellybooks.com told The Guardian. "It's the logical place to go. Tablets need video and games and music, which Amazon does too. You can't sell a tablet just with books."

Not any more maybe, but Amazon have been doing just that with their KIndles and have the vaults full of cash to prove it.

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