Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kindle DX to Rescue Journalism? Yawn...

OK, we just waded through reams of PR slop about the hotly anticipated new Kindle DX, to launch this summer -- revolutionary wireless blah blah, auto-rotate buh buh buh, built-in PDF yada yada, graphic-rich whatever -- and it all boils down to this.

No, there's no color (still "16 shades of gray"). No, there's no video (we must've been dreaming).

So why has Amazon been touting this third iteration of its portable book-reader as the potential rescuer of the newspaper and magazine industries? Here's your answer:


It's bigger. Seriously, that's it. Instead of 8" x 5.3", it's 10.4" x 7.2". The screen diagonal is 9.7" instead of 6", or 2.5 times the surface area. Still about a third of an inch thin -- which Amazon injudiciously compares to the thickness of a print magazine, apparently forgetting that the ad-starved mag industry is praying to fatten up again.

Oh, and it holds 3,500 books instead of merely 1,500. (Do you even know anyone who has that many songs on their iPod? Do the math, kids -- even if you voraciously read a book a week, it would take you seventy years to read 3,500 books. When's the last time you hung on to a piece of electronic equipment for seven decades?)

And the Kindle DX costs about a third more than the current model -- a whopping $489.

So how is this going to save journalism?

There are currently 37 newspapers and 28 magazines that offer Kindle subscriptions -- newspapers in the $6-11/month range, magazines in the $2-3/month range. No one's saying whether this has proven to be a meaningful revenue source. But we're willing to take a guess.

Will subscriptions skyrocket because of a larger viewing screen? Ask yourself -- are you more likely to purchase a Kindle because it's bigger? And is your purchasing decision going to be predicated on bookreading or newspaper/magazine reading? If you weren't already a subscriber, are you more likely to fork over nearly five hundred bucks so that you can become one?

Thought not.

There is one tiny ray of hope worth mentioning.

The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post will offer the Kindle DX at a reduced price to readers who live in areas where home-delivery is not available and who sign up for a long-term subscription to the Kindle edition of the newspapers.

N.Y. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.:

"The wireless delivery and new value-added features of the Kindle DX will provide our large, loyal audience, no matter where they live, with an exciting new way to interact with The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Additionally, by offering a subscription through the Kindle DX to readers who live outside of our delivery areas, we will extend our reach to our loyal readers who will be able to more readily enjoy their favorite newspapers. Meanwhile, we are continuing to work with Amazon to make The New York Times and The Boston Globe experiences on Kindle better than ever."
Blah blah, yada yada, whatever.

We're waiting for the Apple cavalry to come thundering into town with its rumored tablet-sized iPhone thingamajig. Wake us then.

1 comment:

fergie said...

I bought a Kindle 2 and had it for three weeks. I just couldn't wait for the DX. When the DX arived I returned the kindle 2. I am completely satisified with the Kindle DX. I think it is a great piece of engineering technology. see Amazon Kindle DX