15 October, 2009

Kindle readers

Maybe this time the ebook reader will take off. A report in Time Magazine says:

Amazon, the online retailing giant, did more than any other company to turn the sale of digital books into a real business with the 2007 launch of the Kindle electronic reader. The company has sold an estimated 1.7 million units of the handheld device in the U.S., and it's getting ready to ship millions more. On Oct. 6, Amazon announced that it would soon begin selling Kindles — complete with a key feature that allows users to wirelessly download e-books from Amazon — in more than 100 countries.

This was followed up by a report in The Age last week saying:

Australian Kindle users will have to pay at least 20 per cent more than Americans for books on the Amazon e-book readers and the local publishing industry has expressed serious reservations about supporting the gizmo.

International users already have to pay $US20 ($22) more for the device itself, which begins shipping on October 19 for $US279.

I can remember the first lot of ebook readers - they were launched around 9 years ago, and we purchased 20 for a new branch that was opening in Brisbane. They certainly got us lots of publicity and they weren't too bad to read from, but the business model collapsed and getting content became harder and harder and then impossible. It's taken all this time for the industry to try again, and if anyone can do it, it will be Amazon. The most obvious application is for students, though the use of print text books is surely going the way of print reference books, as more and more information is available online and students have their own laptops. Some US libraries have lent them out - but there is no real library business model yet. We'll see!

Have you read a digital fiction book? Let us know what you think.