Disposable ebooks

29 July 2010

kindle-holiday.jpgAgainst the shiny, glowing iPad, the latest iteration of the Amazon Kindle is not much to look at. But the price, look at the price. $140 for the basic model. The device is now within spitting distance of where it needs to become a near-disposable piece of electronics hardware, much like a digital watch or a pocket calculator.

Criticisms of the Kindle tend to revolve around the idea that it’s no iPad. But Amazon doesn’t need it to be an iPad. The Kindle app runs happily enough on iOS, so why compete head-on. The Kindle is all about increasing the number of people who can buy ebooks from Amazon’s store. At $140 or so, the Kindle is still a bit on the high side.

But the Kindle is now only a couple of years away from the price point where people can view it as an impulse purchase. Almost five years ago, I reckoned $50 was the point ebook readers need to reach for them to displace conventional books – at least those that people don’t really want to show off on shelves. But anything south of $100 is getting close to good enough.

It’s at that point you can stick them in airport shops. You can offer three preloaded bonkbusters and expect holidaymakers to pick one up, knowing that it will last all holiday and be a lot lighter than packing a bunch of thick paperbacks.

Once below a shop price of $100, the opportunities grow for personalising Kindles or lookalikes – for that kind of price, the bill of materials is so low and the volume economics large enough for manufacturers to consider doing special, branded editions. And Amazon can consider licensing the design to other manufacturers to do designer versions that will sell for more than the base device but which don’t carry much extra manufacturing cost.

I honestly can’t see publishers getting into that, other than an operation such as Penguin, which can use its old orange and white styling to good effect on the case of a Kindlealike. But, as with netbooks, it’s not a big leap of imagination to see some design houses deciding to take the core unit and wrap their own styled case around it.

1 Comment


No matter how flashy and cheap the unit becomes, the main problem with it is that you do not own the content which you "buy", you only license it and without warning it can be changed or delete alltogether.

Only deluded sheep would go for something like that, I predict a major success!

I eagerly await the coming of a cheap "kindle lookalike aparatus" with sdcard, rj45 and usb/wifi compatibility, so we can store, modify and _keep_ what we "buy", like we were always supposed to.

For example students, in the future, should be asked to carry one book, an electrical one on which they can view all and everything they need, make notes, store pictures and annotation along with the content. It could be like an actual book, two "kindles" put together so you can open it, text window on one side and a notepad and simplified keyboard on the other.

Seems abit off into the future tho, with the rate the industry is pushing out new inovative content it looks to me like they are very fond of milking their cows..