Yes–I admit it–I’m a big Kindle fan. I love my Kindle and I don’t even have the thinner, better laid-out Kindle 2. As I’ve mentioned previously, the Kindle simply makes buying and reading books a fun experience. Now we get word of the Kindle DX– Amazon’s answer to one of the basic gripes that I hear from non-Kindle owners (Remember, those of us that own a Kindle would never complain about it!).
After I whip out my two-year-old Kindle to show it off to authors and readers alike, it’s pretty clear which way the conversation is going turn. I either get a “Way cool!” response with the person trying to grab it out of my hand, or I get a negative comment, such as “That screen is too small to read books.” Although once you’ve used the device you’ll notice that the screen size is somewhat irrelevant–you can adjust the text size to your liking and easily navigate between pages–the truth is that the Kindle’s small screen size does initially put people off.
I’ll generally use that as my answer, highlighting that once you set your text size and start reading you’ll find that the screen size isn’t even a factor. But by the time I get that out the discussion delves into the “But what about…” universe, such as “But what about textbooks, manuals and other books that have more complex layouts?”
To that I say “Well, this first Kindle isn’t trying to reach that audience. This Kindle is mostly for reading the mainstream genres and text-centric books, like novels and general non-fiction.”
Usually I’ll then hear an “Oh, I get it,” which will have me once again playing “Tug-of-Kindle” as they try to rip it out of my hands.
Not too infrequently, however, I’ll get another answer–a deadpanned “Well, that seems pretty limited.”
At that point I usually decide let it go. I won’t attempt to try any more convincing, because athough I might realize how difficult it is to make an ebook device that will serve all the needs of all the customers, it just takes too long to explain. Plus, I know from experience that a bunch of techie “form, fit, or function” talk never wins me any arguments anyway.
But now it looks like Amazon’s got my back, and I for one didn’t even see this coming–at least not so soon. For those of you that were concerned about the Kindle’s smallish screen size you can now set those worries aside. You can have your cake and eat it too–for a mere $489.
In my opinion that’s a steep price for the privilege of reading an ebook version of an instruction manual or academic textbook, but the capability is now there and waiting. My bet is that it will appeal to only specific markets at first, and I see educational institutions as one of the first players in this space.
And here’s what I don’t see–at least anytime soon. I don’t see the casual reader spending a premium price just to read magazines and newspapers in digital format. Students and Kindle textbooks? Yeah, maybe.
So sure, manuals and how-to books can now be purchased and read on this new Kindle, but will we see people dragging around their Kindles as they work on their car or landscape their yard? I don’t think so. I generally still buy manuals in hardcover format so that I can get them dirty and not worry about it. But who knows, if the price settles a little lower I might just pick one up. There’s always the “green” factor.
Now that I think about it, while I’m saving the earth by killing fewer trees for printing books I might even save the magazine and newspaper industries as well. A two-fer!
Regardless, even if the Kindle DX turns out to be a niche product at a premium price, the longer term prospects for ebooks and ebook readers are shining brighter every day. One day they’ll even shine in color.
What do you think about the prospects of the Kindle DX? High-tech fluff, niche-only, or the creation of a new vibrant ebook market? And how will this affect the self-published author? Let me know what you think.
Thanks again, and until next time–Keep Publishing!
Publish and Sell Enterprises