Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

16 September 2010

Kindle: Cheap, Convenient Poolside Reading. Like a Book, Actually. (Scroll Down for Sexy Poll Action!)

This ad for Amazon's current $139 Kindle went live on YouTube Monday and has already got 1.4 million views. It takes a shot at iPad's glossy screen and, by comparison to Kindle's own cost, its much glossier price.

I always feel uncomfortable about the notion of bringing the competitive arena to low cost. You can be lowballed until there's nothing left from which to profit; it isn't really solid ground.

On the other hand, I remember when first-gen Kindles were selling like hotcakes, so fast that Amazon purportedly couldn't keep up with demand*, and people had to seriously start asking what the implications of e-books would be. One person told me there's a preciousness to the cheap, ratty character of a book; you can take it poolside, it's okay if it gets wet, and if you jump into the pool, nobody's going to make a fast break for your beach chair and steal it.

She said you can take it poolside.

This sticks with me because as e-book technology progresses, maybe price is the most appropriate arena, at least for now, and the pool was the perfect framework. Competition ensures it isn't just the hipster masses that get the technology, but everybody, even unlikely candidates who want something useful that doesn't need to be kept in an ultra-special slipcover. (My dad bought my mom a Kindle last year for easier Bible access.)

Once the market's saturated with these devices, in the same way iPods slowly colonised our pockets, we can get into the real work of significantly changing the business models of magazine, news and book publishing. For this, we'll need more reasonable agnostic standards. For books, Kindle and iPad both honour PDF and .mobi files, making that market slightly easier to standardise - even though both technologies favour proprietary versions of books and release more features for them (.amz for Amazon, ePub for Apple).

Magazines and daily papers are trickier. Apple's mobile devices have a graceful and streamlined way of availing material: the App Store, where there are near-negligible one-click options to pay daily for a subscription. Amazon's efforts to make book-, or even music-buying, simpler have more or less failed. (I've given up on its MP3 store, even though it's cheaper, because it always forces me to download software I already have. And the Kindle I got in the States isn't wifi-accessible in France, so I have to manually load e-documentation from my computer to the unit. Often it needs to be reformatted. It's a pain.)

Just food for thought. Since you made it all the way down here, let's have POLL TAHM!


*Curiously, this is again the case for the latest Kindle model. I declare shenanigans!


Atif said...

I think Amazon is smart to attack the iPad on price because in a price war the Kindle will always win against a tablet PC. I also like how in the ad the guy looks kinda nerdy/dorky without being a characture.

As for the standardization in formats...Apple has never played nice with outs...don't think they'll start now.

Atif said...

outs = others (d'oh!)