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A Rush & A Push & The Land Is Ours

November 19, 2007

In a virtual land grab in the e-content arena, Amazon’s finally launched their long-awaited eBook reader today.  It’s called Kindle and it retails for $399.  The page on Amazon is richly detailed and should give you a lot of information on the reader.   If you want a demo of it, Stephen Levy does one on Newsweek.com.  In the video, it appears in parts that he’s viewing Kindle through the famous Steve Jobs RDF, but admittedly, it does look like a great product.  It’s such a big deal, Jeff Bezos is even gracing the front page of Newsweek’s print edition.

Now, let’s say I am overcome with gadget lust and decide to go on Amazon click the buy button to get a Kindle into my hot little hand.  I have a reader coming!  But I need something to read.  I need CONTENT.  Scroll down the page on Amazon to see what’s available, I see that I can buy most books for $9.99.  Sheesh, that seems a little steep, but I will suck it up and take one for the team, for the good of the entire publishing industry.  What’s next?  Look there, it says you can get access to newspapers, magazines and even blogs on this thing!  And they cost how much?  It’s a case of nickel and diming you, and then you start to do the math and tally this all up.  Thankfully, I don’t have to as ZDNet did…

As I scrolled down through the product page I couldn’t help but start adding up how high the monthly fees for this thing could possibly be. There are monthly subscriptions for newspapers from US$9.99 to US$14.99, magazines at US$1.99 and US$2.99, blogs (yes free blogs) for US$0.99 each per month, and Word document and photo email attachment support for US$0.10 each. I think the device hardware is a bit steep to start with, but you could easily be paying a monthly subscription cost that dwarfs the hardware cost over a rather short period of time.

Yikes!  That’s what kills the acquisition of these gadgets for me.  The whole monthly subscription model dooms me every time when I try to make the case to Mr. IT that we should be early adopters.  Same reason why I still don’t have TiVo (I know I know).  Mr IT can’t handle the idea of yet another subscription that you have to pay for.  He gladly bought the iPod for me because for about 99% of what’s there, it’s stuff I had already, no monthly fee charged.  I’m not keen to pay $400 to have nothing on there, so I’d have to pony up for some content, and that just won’t be pretty. 

From the looks of the device, it’s a beauty and it hopefully will change our reading habits.  I’d love to say I’m jumping right on board.  But not for me, not yet, and not at that price.  Who knows if someone like an Audible might come on and bundle the readers with an all you can eat subscription kind of model?  That would work for me, and I probably would pay $400 for that kind of feature. 

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