Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Will the new Kindle DX save the news industry?
No. It's too little, too late, and for too much.
The 9.7-inch-screen big brother to the present 6-inch Kindle has arrived while dozens of newspapers are rapidly circling the toilet despite massive layoffs and massive wage givebacks. They will fail before the Kindle DX is out (it's to be released this summer) in sufficient numbers and with sufficient subscribers to electronic newspapers and magazines to attract enough advertising that will start a turnaround in the industry.
The Kindle DX is also way too expensive -- $489 -- to sell to most potential subscribers. It still offers only black print on a white surface, while newspaper readers are used to bright color graphics.
I'll say it's likely that future Kindles and their perhaps colorful competitors (some of which will arrive late this year) will be the eventual engine for consuming news. But the shakeout in the newspaper and magazine industry will already have occurred, and our choices will be limited to just a few national papers and whatever local rags have managed to keep their heads above water.
The Kindle DX, however, may save the exchequers of university students. Printed and bound textbooks are filthy expensive, often going for more than $150 even well used, and if textbook publishers can offer their wares electronically at half the print price, the Kindle DX will be a bargain for Joe College.
As for the rest of us, it's too bad we didn't have this new technology a couple of years ago when it was needed most.