Saturday, May 09, 2009

Another Day Another Kindle

We have been away on business whilst the Kindle 3 hit the market. The device was as expected and the reaction and pitch has been interesting to catch up on after the event:

Digital Demographics
Bowker, at a BISG's ‘Making Information Pay’ conference revealed demographic information that claimed that older readers are the biggest buyers of ebooks. The statement caused many industry thinkers to start to ponder about the attraction of large print, weight, ease of handling and much more perceptions. The reality is that older buyers are those that buy books full stop; they have more time, disposable income and much more. Is it surprising they are the ones buying ebooks – No? Some would say that it’s obvious that the grey market is the one with the largest opportunity and its somewhat condescending to find it a surprise.

Newsprint and magazines are going to go Kindle.
Newspapers may be going downhill but that doesn’t mean that the wave of large screen eInk devices have the answer. We now have PC news sites, smartphone apps and the ereader device. We know that Murdoch wants one, Hearst wants one and we assume the public want one, but the operative word may be one not three or four.
One important digital newspaper issue is how do readers want the news presented? Do they want it in alerts tuned to their personal preferences? Do they want it to look and feel like a paper, after all it has taken many years to perfect the user experience? Do they want it in summary with detail on request? Do they want ads or ads free? Do they want a fully interactive experience and animated experience or merely a captured textural one splattered with the odd greyscale image? Do they want colour?

Once we have addressed the format then there is the price or subscription issue? Then there is the issue about geography and getting the news delivered locally wherever you are in the world. We could go on...

Making the ereader bigger so it looks like a newspaper may not be the answer.

Textbooks are going to be Kindlebooks
Students are going to embrace the new Kindle. The logic appears to be that textbooks are too expensive so ebooks will take the market. So we expect the students to carry around a laptop or netbook, a Kindle and a smartphone? As we walk around the streets of Amsterdam this weekend we wonder who has smoked the most weed? Students require more than ebooks and they already have laptops and smartphones so why would they spend on a device that will give them nothing they don’t have today? Cheaper books have to be offset against the device cost. Students have to live and study with an open, connected campus world and will that fit with fortress Amazon? Princeton and other campus may adopt the device to drive their paperless dream but why not simply adopt a netbook and offer the student’s real choice. Some may say that its easy to create a news splash but living up to the logic can be hard.

Finally, the Kindle DX is priced at whopping $489, a higher price point than a Netbook.

The Kindle does not handle epub and the standard’s world will continue to argue that this the biggest weakness. We agree that an open standard is the best way but we also recognise the power and openness of Adobe’s other protected format Adobe eBook based on PDF. It may not offer everything that epub offers, but is supported by the same DRM services, ereader devices and is cheaper to produce. Amazon’s propriety format is either their Achilles heel or their trump card and until we see what others do over the summer, we believe that it remains difficult call for the independent.

Finally, we are disappointed that Amazon chooses to change the name as we were looking forward to reaching the K9 version in the future, but more on the DX brand later….

No comments: