Amazon is announcing a new textbook rental service for its Kindle platform.What’s weird about its announcement is why it’s so late.
Digital textbooks are a huge opportunity, and a bunch of startups as well as Amazon’s arch-rival Barnes & Noble have been all over this.
Amazon’s last attempt in this foray was with its supersize Kindle DX, which didn’t do very well.
Maybe Jeff Bezos realises that textbooks really make more sense on a tablet than on classic e-readers.
Unlike most books, textbooks have graphics. It’s more important to be able to add note or even sketch things, which is more convenient with a touchscreen. They really make more sense on a tablet.
This was the thinking behind Kno, the startup that burned through over $50 million in VC trying to build giant tablets for college students before pivoting to software. While making giant tablets as a startup might not have been such a great idea, the basic insight remains true: digital textbooks on a full-fledged tablet are probably the future.
And now that Amazon is coming out with its tablet in the Fall, that future is within Jeff Bezos’ reach. Amazon’s entry in the e-textbook rental market looks late, but it probably has perfect timing.