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What the Amazon Kindle Could Mean to the Future of Print

The Future of Magazines?

What the Amazon Kindle Could Mean to the Future of Print
Posted May 6 2009 10:35 AM by Edward A. Sanchez 
Filed under: Opinions, Trend Observations

Amazon Kindle DX

Many if not most of you reading this right now are dedicated readers of either Truckin' the print magazine, or certainly, Although on the surface it may seem like we're one big happy family, the reality is not quite as cheerful. For many years, there was an uncomfortable, but relatively cordial relationship between print and digital. Print was suspicious of digital, fearing an army of geeks would take over and bury the print edition, leaving hundreds if not thousands of editors jobless.

Digital was jealous of all the cool perks editors got, like all-expense paid trips to test new products, and countless wining and dining to persuade the editors to do a positive write-up on the latest product. All the while, the web geeks were stuck back at the cube farm to re-post the latest on-the-scene reviews sent by the editors on their company-issued BlackBerries as they were sipping their free pomegranate martinis.  

Okay, so the above was a bit of an over-exaggeration of the stereotypes each camp held toward one another, but not by much.

Nothing against print magazines. They've certainly got their benefits. They don't require electricity, they're relatively cheap, you can take them anywhere, and you can leave them next to the commode, and nobody thinks twice about it.

But from a business standpoint, they're a positively horrible proposition. Just to give you an idea, a 40 percent newsstand sell-through rate is considered phenomenal. That means 60 percent of the issues printed are never sold. Granted, there are economies of scale that have perpetuated this model of print over-runs, but even still, when more than half of your product goes unsold, that's a less than ideal business model.

For years, futurists and theorists have talked about a day when the line between print and digital would be blurred to the point where the two products were nearly indistinguishable. Well folks, we're not quite there yet, but we're moving in that direction.

Today, unveiled the third-generation of its Kindle eBook reader. The Kindle DX acknowledges the importance of periodicals with a significantly larger screen size than the first two generation devices. However, despite all the hullabaloo, it remains expensive, and somewhat crude, considering the overall advancement of the electronics industry.

As of right now, it would make a poor medium for reading Truckin', for a few reasons. For one thing, it has a monochrome (black and white) display, with no provision for a color display, and no multimedia support (other than audiobooks). Not that you get multimedia in the magazine right now, but I've long thought it would be pretty cool to be able to read a story, and click on a link and see a video for the same feature.

Did I mention it's expensive? Four Hundred Eighty Nine dollars to be exact. To put that in perspective, that's equivalent to buying Truckin' at its full newsstand cover price of $5.99 for more than six years, or would get you a subscription to the magazine at the current rate of $24.95 a year for almost 20 years!

Let's be honest, those of us that have a laptop, cell phone or iPod, how long do you keep it? 3-5 years? 7 years max? How many more versions of this or similar gizmos will come out in the next 6-20 years, not to mention the next 6-20 months?

And although the Kindle, in all its versions, has been remarkably successful considering its limited capabilities and staggering price tag, it will not be a true game-changer until the price is cut in half or more, and adds more features, like multimedia support, color display, and other features. Until then, I'm sticking with Truckin' magazine and

Amazon Kindle DX - Technical Details

Price: $489.00

Display: 9.7" diagonal E-Ink® electronic paper display, 1200 x 824 pixel resolution at 150 ppi, 16-level gray scale.

Size (in inches): 10.4" x 7.2" x 0.38".

Weight: 18.9 ounces.

System Requirements: None, because it doesn't require a computer.

Storage: 4GB internal (approximately 3.3GB available for user content).

Battery Life: Read on a single charge for up to 4 days with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to two weeks. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store and downloading content. In low coverage areas or in 1xRTT only coverage, wireless usage will consume battery power more quickly.

Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours and supports charging from your computer via the included USB 2.0 cable.

Connectivity: EVDO modem with fallback to 1xRTT; utilizes Amazon Whispernet to provide U.S wireless coverage via Sprint's 3G high-speed data network (check wireless coverage). See Wireless Terms and Conditions.

USB Port: USB 2.0 (micro-USB connector) for connection to the Kindle DX power adapter or optionally to connect to a PC or Macintosh computer.

Audio: 3.5mm stereo audio jack, built-in stereo speakers.

Content Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), PDF, TXT, Audible (formats 4, Audible Enhanced (AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.

Included Accessories: Power adapter, USB 2.0 cable, battery. Leather book cover sold separately.

Documentation: Quick Start Guide (included in box) [PDF]; Kindle DX User's Guide (pre-installed on device) [PDF].

Warranty and Service: 1 year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2 year Extended Warranty sold separately.


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