A few days after the recording of the fantastic DSB #05 and our discussion of antiquating media, Amazon.com held a press conference thingee to make it known that they will attempt to save the newspaper industry with their ‘more bigger=more better’ Kindle DX, while stabbing the backs of brand new Kindle 2 owners. The Kindle DX’s most touted features are its ability to support PDFs, 3G wireless (for all your mobile book buying) and a 9.7″ screen that will some how make it more akin to your typical broadsheet newspaper. Even New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger showed up to announce that the NYT will subsidize the price of the Kindle DX for people who sign up for longterm subscriptions to the Times, Boston Globe or Washington Post.
Oh, right! The price… $485! A kick in the teeth in this economy. How much of that Sulzberger will cover is still up in the air, but being that you can buy a brand new iPhone that views the NYT for free or 32 pairs of Truck Nutz for that price, Amazon has a taken a step backwards in contributing to their dream of a paperless society. The price has already led to a few epic flame wars on gadget sites, but what it all comes down to is to the correlation between the price and this statement alone in the device’s specs, “…boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and sharp images.” Awesome! Not only is the Kindle DX two shades of higher quality than a bad Staind album, now all my PDF porn can be considered art and freely wielded on planes, I guess. Snark aside, I really like the concept of eReaders and want to believe in the Kindle, but $500 for the flagship eReader that can’t even present me a color front page of a NYT seems like a shot in the foot for eReader developers everywhere.
The other factor is that the Kindle is very limiting in what can be viewed on it. PDF support is a step in the right direction but you can only subscribe to newspapers who have signed the wildly unfair deal with Amazon that gives the newspaper only 30% of the sale of each subscription. It’s easy to see why your town paper or alt-weekly would be reluctant give in to Amazon at that price but being that the device doesn’t support the openness of the web either, they have little choice if they want to join the ranks of eReadership.
With any luck, Microsoft or Apple will just throw an LCD touch screen in the middle of a Kindle like device and call it a day, while Google News, or some other aggregator, will become the iTunes of journalism, keeping a substantial amount of content free but charging a premium for high end journalism on a subscription and a la cart (story by story) basis.
— Dandy Dan