I am attending the Book Expo America held at the Los Angeles Convention Center this week-end. One of the featured speakers was Mr. Bezos from Amazon, and the featured topic was Kindle. This is fascinating stuff!
Jeff Bezos is the Founder of Amazon.com, the goliath of Internet retailing, and perhaps the man who has changed how people buy books. But that wasn't enough for the dreamer. He wanted to change how people read books, and it looks like he's found the magic formula again.
Kindle, touted as "Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device", will revolutionize the book industry, much in the same way the iPod was a game changer for the music business.
Six months ago, the product was launched, and sold out in less than six hours. Already 120,000 titles are on its catalog, including 98 of 112 NY Times Best Sellers. You can have your favorite newspaper or magazine sent to the device. A new book takes 60 seconds to download. Best sellers are priced at $9.99. It uses cell-phone technology to access the Kindle Store, so wi-fi hotspot availability is not an issue--you can download from anywhere. Weighing only 10.3 ounces, it is truly portable.
(Check out the Kindle web-site)
The price is stiff at $359. But the Kindle probably has written the obituary for Sony's e-book platform, not to mention other forms of e-books.
In addition to being a book-reader, a busy executive can have all his word files e-mailed to his Kindle to take on a meeting. A lawyer could carry a box-load worth of briefs on the Kindle.
As an author and reader of books, the Kindle technology is most exciting. But perhaps more interesting is the chance that it gives newer authors like myself a chance to break into a larger market without going through the traditional publishing cycle.
The publishing industry is a legacy business. Simply put, a new book--a novel-- that is discovered today would not hit the book shelves until 2010. That is how long it takes for a traditional publisher to get a book through its queue of projects.
An author can literally upload his work into Kindle format in minutes, making it available to the millions of Amazon Kindle buyers. Although there remain issues of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the potential for poor content to be entered into the Kindle world, the benefits seem to far outweigh the costs.
The world is changing fast. In Japan, mobile phone novels, although criticized for being literary garbage, have offered a new breed of writers a channel to distribute their work. In an industry that has seen sales dip continuously for the last decade, finding ways to increase readership is not only necessary, it is the only means of survival.
And besides, it saves a lot of trees in the Amazon rain forest, which must mean getting a Kindle is great for the environment.
(Disclosure: I am not a Sales Person for Amazon, nor affiliated with Amazon in anyway, although I've spent hundreds of dollars in book purchases from the company in just the last couple months.)