Kindle What ?

Publishers are desperate and converging. Books, newspapers, magazines, and a host of printed media are chasing a scarce and seemingly dwindling supply of attention, eyeballs, and readers. Oh and advertisers. All lost to that beast that almost everything is free on the Web including their publications on the Web. May eCash RIP.

And what is to re-Kindle readers interest in these media? Amazons Kindle, a creature of the very Web that is doing in these printed media. Seem like a long shot or marginal proposition – read on.

For $399 (but not right now, the Kindle, we are to believe, has sold out again) plus probably $30-60 more for all the Kindle extras to make it fully armed, you get a 600×800 pixel greyscale-only screen (thats 7.5″ x 5.3″), 10.3 ounces peering into the world of books (reasonable fit), magazines (not a very good fit – see screenshot), and newspapers (an awful fit). Oh and it also allows a glimpse into the world of web blogs as well. But the key is that Kindle is a wireless device linking into the Sprint/Nextel EVDO network for free – for now. But given the financial distress that Sprint/Nextel is going through, that “free connection to the Web” may be short-lived. But perhaps a better bellwether on the Kindle is nearly 2000 reviews of Kindle on Amazons buy page for Kindle and the collective Wisdom of the Masses is a 3.5 on 5 rating. I agree and I really dont see Kindle as a rescue vehicle for the printed ink industry.

But for a counterpoint of view on the Kindle read Mike Elgans comments at Computerworld by way of MacWorld. He, a self avowed eBook hater, has been converted to Kindle. Partially because Kindle gives the approximation of a 10.3 ounce somewhat free library of books, magazines,and newspapers (see Mikes many caveats about the price of newspapers and magazines on the Kindle). But I think the real attraction is that a)the connections to the Web is free and reasonably fast for now, b)there is a limited but still serviceable Web browser (remember no color, small screen) and c)he has an always connected link to the Amazon Sale Sale Sale bookstore(you will probably see the best Amazon prices here first – and why not, Kindle is Amazons forever subtle link to your pocketbook).

Rather than disagreeing with Elgan, I see the Kindle as Amazons entry into the mobile marketplace – “free” connections to the Web for a mixed access to books, magazines, newspapers, and the Web. But as rescue for the printed media – that is just the disguise to get all that free publicity from Newsweek, NYTimes, etc. But the crucial ingredient for many customers including Mike is “free” access to the Web. And therein lies the rub. I agree with the following post on the Amazons Forum (the fact that Amazon lets it remain says volumes about it eventually coming to pass) – namely that Amazon will eventually start to charge for the “free” connection to the Net. Call the “free” Internet EVDO connection a loss leader, or rather, its just like those 3-6 month steep discount rates on credit cards. Hook line and sinker for Amazon.