e-Books, Yet Again — Amazon Gears Up To Fail


Amazon is about to introduce yet another attempt at an e-book, the NYT reports. The Kindle will go on sale this fall for $400 to $500. The NYT summarizes the many failed attempts to introduce e-books, and wonders if this one will finally succeed. It won’t.

That’s because this e-book, like last year’s Sony Reader and every e-book before it, asks consumers to change their behaviour and offers little in return. Existing book technology works pretty darn well, and the only advantage the e-book offers is the chance to put multiple books on one device. But most of us only read one book at a time. The Kindle has wi-fi, so you can download books, magazines and newspapers on the go. Or you could just buy any one of the many smartphones that already let you do that.

There’s no price advantage for consumers, either: Even though e-book titles cost much less than physical books to produce and distribute, Kindle — terrible name! — buyers will be asked to spend roughly the same amount on e-books as they do for traditional books. Otherwise publishers and authors won’t sign off on the venture.

The Times suggests that the introduction of Sony’s Reader and Amazon’s Kindle may be analogous to the iPod/iTunes introduction in 2003. But the iPod didn’t ask consumers to do something new (portable music had been around for two decades), and it didn’t ask consumers to spend any more money (they can, and do, fill their iPods with songs they acquire on their own, not through the iTunes store). NYT