Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Kindling for the fire

David Pogue, the New York Times technocolumnist who never met a piece of electronics he didn't like, has this to say today about Amazon.com's new Kindle II e-book reader:

"The point everyone is missing is that in Technoland, nothing ever replaces anything. E-book readers won’t replace books. The iPhone won’t replace e-book readers. Everything just splinters. They will all thrive, serving their respective audiences."

One might nitpick. What happened to the Betamax? Diskettes? Zip drives? And so on.

Yet Pogue is on to something. It seems very likely that the Kindle and its progeny will capture a goodly segment of the reading market, but by no means all of it and maybe not even most of it. The consumer simply has another choice.

To that it might be added that the Kindle, or something down the road very like it, may be the way many if not most of us read the papers and pay for it, allowing news organizations to open another revenue stream and survive. Amazon.com charges for transmitting news via wireless to Kindles, and shares that money with the news sources it provides.

Is it impossible that, say, the New York Times would stop giving the news away for free if it can also make money this way as well as printing and selling papers to those who prefer to consume their news in that form? I have no idea exactly how this can be done, but it seems awfully plausible to me.

The rest of Pogue's enthusiastic review of the Kindle II is here.

P.S. Still not gonna buy a Kindle II just yet. That $359 price has to come down to $199 before I'll bite.

FEB. 25: Roy Blount, the writer and president of the Authors Guild, weighs in today with a slam at Kindle II's audio capability -- where, he asks, are the audiobook royalties for the authors? He's got a point.


  1. You can get a Kindle 1 for your price. I have one that I will be using for reference books while keeping my Kindle 2 for day-to-day reading, but many K1-ers are selling theirs.

    jesslyn-- http://www.mykindlestuff.com

  2. I'll bite when they're $99 :)

  3. it seems like the Kindle is a practical step toward saving trees since it is so much more convenient to carry around than a stack of books.

  4. That the Kindle is the perfect reading device for a traveler on a long trip is undeniable, and its ability to get news reports wirelessly is also a huge advantage.

    But the "saving trees" argument may not be so significant anymore. I understand that today most paper used in books is made from trees grown for that purpose, a renewable resource.

  5. I agree Henry. Look at the quality of paper/binding in books today vs. 20 years ago. It appears to have gone down.