My long time readers know there are a few subjects that are always sure to interest me. When you combine two of those, like say peanut butter and chocolate, watch out.
So why don’t I own a Kindle? It’s a cool tech toy, and I do love me some tech toys.* And it’s for reading, which I need to do like breathing in order to function properly. Seems like a no brainer, right?
(Here’s a little something I’ve never shared. The majority of the money I make in my professional life goes into what S. calls my Computer Fund. Keep in mind I work only sporadically and I don’t make much when I am working. But still, that account pays for my monthly iPhone bill and allows me to make an impulse purchase every few months from the Apple Store, Amazon, etc. that ends with me unwrapping something that has a microprocessor in it.)
Amazon announced the new Kindle DX on Wednesday and it did not have me reaching for my credit card. Don’t get me wrong, it looks terribly cool. I’ve talked to some people who own a Kindle and think it’s great. I love the idea of having what amounts to a reading version of an iPod – a device that is loaded with all kinds of content so I can call up whatever fits my mood – with me everywhere I go.
But there is a fatal flaw that keeps me from placing an order: you have to purchase all the content.* Until there is some kind of “library” option, meaning a way to legally borrow content, I can’t see myself buying one.
(The Kindle will load some content that is free. However the bulk of what I would want to read on it I would have to pay for.)
It’s not that I expect a Kindle Library service to be like going to my public library, where I get the majority of my books. There’s no way Amazon, Sprint, and the publishing world would allow free access to every book ever printer under their current pricing scheme.
I’m willing to pay a small fee, a buck for a week or ten days, after which I’ll either have to drop another buck or the book disappears from my virtual library. But since I read 30-40-50 books a year, I would have a hard time justifying paying $10 a pop when I could go pick the same book up for free at the library.* Another option is a flat fee for monthly access. Charge me $20 to read five books, three magazines, and two newspapers. Tier out a plan that provides more access for more money, and I’m getting more interested.
(Free as in my tax dollars magically help fund the library.)
I like the concept of the Kindle, and we’re certainly headed towards a time when some Kindle-like device will be the way we read content currently found in books, magazines, and newspapers. The trick for global adoption will be finding the sweet spot in the pricing of such a device that fits the needs of both the users and the content providers. Both sides of that equation are going to have to make changes to their expectations of the relationship. I’m anxiously awaiting the day when someone finds that perfect middle point.