Amazon.com will soon be releasing their next-generation document reader, Kindle DX. The Kindle DX will be substantially larger than Amazon’s first generation Kindle, extending the diagonal 3.7-inches longer. The Kindle DX website claims the device will be able to hold 3,500 e-books, an increase of 2,000 from the original (I wonder how many copies of Atlas Shrugged the device will hold… they should use that as a standard unit of digital measurement of e-books… Kindle DX will hold 2,000 Atlas Shrugged-s). The additional size and capacity comes at a fairly steep price at $489.00, up from $359.00 (free Super Saver Shipping!).
Now there has been quite a bit of discussion on the ripple effect the Kindle DX might cause. Currently, on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are trying to decide whether or not the newspaper industry deserves a bailout. The New York Times/Boston Globe is in a serious heap of debt and bankruptcy looms. With readership down and ad revenue shrinking, the newspapers want a lifeline from Good Ole Uncle Same (aka you and me).
In my opinion, the Kindle could make or break the newspaper industry. Lets face it, the Internet is much easier and much more efficient of an informational medium then the half-millennium old newspaper. Plus, it’s free. Or is it?
Although many newspapers receive revenue from online advertisements, the industry may shift gears and offer subscription based services (similar to the newspaper paradigm of today) for their online content. This has a few consequences, namely:
- The diminuation of reliable sources of online information
- The proliferation of unreliable sources of online information (blogs, like this one!)
Without free information from reliable sources, blogs will quickly become the de facto standard of information in our newspaperless society. Newspapers have to make their money or else shutdown. They’ve been able to fund their ventures through subscriptions in the past, but we’re too accustomed to free online news. Will the American public have the will to pay for online news?
If the Kindle model prevails and people actually pay for their subscription to a paper via Amazon.com, then the Kindle might well save the industry. For this to happen, the Kindle must rapidly increase its sales and popularity to the level of the iPod (another industry saving device). Will it happen? Time will tell. It may very well be too late for some papers. The Kindle DX is the real thing. Newspapers? Just kindling.