Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Kindle: a Progress Report

Well, I’m one month into Kindle fandom.

My biggest gripe is that it doesn’t work outside the U.S., and as that's where I spend 200 days a year, this is a limiting, irritating problem.

Having got that out of the way, I’m 30 days into my Kindle II. So far, I’m focused on its newspaper application. It’s a huge hit. I download The Times and The Independent every day and neither of these are easy to find in the United States. I think Jeff Bezos may have found and secured the future of newspapers. To paraphrase an ex-President, “it’s the news, not the paper, stupid”. Kindle delivers the news to me at 4:00am every day. It is easy to read, easy to absorb, zero hassle, and takes up no space. The latest Kindle DX is a large screen e-reader which is designed to optimize the presentation of newspapers. I might try it eventually but the portability of the Kindle II is of more use to me at the moment.

With the Kindle II is the ability to re-invent the newspaper business. For a start, it eliminates all the printing and distribution costs that are absolutely not fundamental to the consumer experience. The device itself needs work. It is crude and basic in its present form, and lacking a backlight and video, but it delivers.

The costs are reasonable and represents priceless value in terms of availability, ease of access, and reliability. It also explodes the myth of newspapers having to give away content free on the Web. People will pay.

I haven’t yet dipped my toes into the long form downloading of the 285,000 e-books available on Amazon.com. That's for next month.