I like the concept of the Kindle. A portable library that doesn't take up suitcase space? Sign me up! Getting books almost instantaneously? Heck Yes! $360 for the device (480 for the deluxe) plus $10 electronic books that I can't put on a shelf? Uh...what?
I get most of my books from Amazon, HCs around 15-19 (let's call it 18), PBs around 6-8 (let's call it 7). Assuming I buy as many PBs as HCs that's $25 for 2 books plus free shipping. For $360 dollars I can get 29 more books. If I wanted the Kindle and the 28 books, it would cost me around $650, and thats assuming that all of the books are available in Kindle format. That's 52 more books.
Even if you save $2.00 per Kindle book, it will still take 200 books before the Kindle has paid for itself. If you read 40 books a year, 200 books would take 5 years, more than enough time for Amazon to release Kindle 3,4, and 5.0. And that's for e-books, which have no physical form, no pages, no shelfability. What happens when the Apple iReader comes out and the Kindle books are non-transferable? Where does that leave my library?
Even if I was willing to shell out the money, there is also no assurance I will enjoy reading on the Kindle. I've downloaded the Kindle app for my iPod and read some sample chapters. That wasn't for me. I understand the Kindle is bigger with a different screen but until I sit down and read a couple of BFFs (Big Fat Fantasy), I don't know whether it would be for me or not.
So, in my mind it's going to take some incentive to get me to shell out a good chunk of change AND give up my comfort with the physical books. The Kindle is not an iPod; I can't buy one and fill it with the books that line my shelves. It's not as simple as buring your CDs to MP3s and dumping them to your iPod. But what if you could?
Amazon is in a unique situation as they are both the #1 internet book seller and the producer/seller of the newest big name e-Book reader. The Kindle is linked to a specific Amazon.com account. I know this because you can send samples of books from Amazon.com to your Kindle/Kindle app while you are browsing. If the Kindle knows what sample books your Amazon account requests, why can't it also know what physical books have been purchased by your Account? If I could buy a Kindle and it would come with free/low-cost (.$25-$1.00) electronic copies off all of the books I've bought off Amazon in the past 6 months/1 year/since Kindle go-live, I would definitely reconsider. Then you are getting about as close as you can get to an eBook iPod, short of including CDs inside every cover.
I'm thinking there are at least 3 business models that Amazon is in the unique position to take advantage of.
Option 1 (Conservative): Buy a Kindle and get the option to purchase a Kindle
Copy of any physical book already purchased on your linked account for a low
cost. You've already bought the hard-copy, chances are you won't pay another
$5-10 for the Kindle copy but you might be tempted to get one for a quarter or
Option 2 (Decent): Buy a Kindle and get the option to download a
Kindle Copy of X number of physical book already purchased on your linked
account. If I can put 10/20 free books on my Kindle, I'm much more likely to try
Option 3 (Awesome): Buy a Kindle and you get free Kindle copies of
all the physical books you've purchased/will purchase from Amazon.com on the
linked account. It's the equivalent of burning your library (or at least the
Amazon.com purchased portion of it) on to your Kindle. If I could do this, I
would buy a Kindle today. I could have my physical books and have the
portability/instantaneous delivery of the Kindle.
The best case scenario on the other hand would have a number of benefits.
- People buying more Kindles (I would get one)
- People getting used to reading on the Kindle
- People potentially switching to Kindle full-time (which is more profitable due to no shipping, warehousing, or physical paper cost),
- Added incentive to purchase books from Amazon rather than other retailers.
- Satisfying the bibliophile technogeeks that love both tech and books and don't want to choose.
P.S. If anyone from Amazon reads this and likes it, a Kindle (and some stock options) would be appreciated.