Amazon yesterday launched the $489 Kindle DX, the big screen version of the Kindle 2, but the puzzle is who the target for the rather large portable book reader actually is. The big 9.7 inch diagonal e-ink screen makes the Kindle DX pretty bulky for merely a ebook reader, but Amazon has announced new deals with for magazine and newspaper publishers which presumably are a better fit for the format.
In fact, the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post will subsidize the Kindle purchase price if you live in an area where they do not offer home delivery and purchase a Kindle DX and an electronic subscription.
Another target market for the Kindle DX is college students as Amazon also announced deals with textbook publishers for Kindle versions as well as trials at major universities:
The schools will distribute hundreds of Kindle DX devices to students spread across a broad range of academic disciplines. In addition to reading on a considerably larger screen, students will be able to take advantage of popular Kindle features such as the ability to take notes and highlight, search across their library, look up words in a built-in dictionary, and carry all of their books in a lightweight device.
Time will tell how well that works out – I think I would still prefer a paper textbook. However, one market where the Kindle family seems to be a definite success is in good old fashioned books for reading. According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Kindle sales are now 35% of book sales when Kindle editions are available and there was a huge jump in February when the Kindle 2 went on sale.
John Biggs at CrunchGear has a rumor of two new and improved Amazon Kindle eBook readers on the way:
The first is an updated version with the same sized screen, a smaller form factor, and an improved interface. The source told us that Amazon has “skipped three or four generations,” comparing the old Kindle to the 1st gen iPod and the new version to something like the sexy iPod Mini.
The second new model, which is shaped like an 8 1/2 x 11-inch piece of paper, is considerably bigger than the current model and should be available next year.
The claim is that they’s also be available in multiple colors and the first one as soon as October. That’s the original Kindle e-book reader in the photo above.
I haven’t mentioned Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader because it had seemed like a nonstarter, but Josh Quittner at Time reports some surprising sales statistics:
According to a source at Amazon, "on a title-by-title basis, of the 130,000 titles available on Kindle and in physical form, Kindle sales now make up over 12% of sales for those titles." Amazon is notoriously tight lipped about sales data, and the new line of business that the Kindle represents for the online retail powerhouse has been especially frustrating for analysts and media to parse. At a technology trade conference in May, CEO Jeff Bezos said that Kindle sales accounted for 6% of book titles sold for the Kindle and in print. So Amazon appears to be selling more e-books.
Since we’re dealing with percentages rather than unit sales, it’s impossible to say whether we’re talking about a ton of books, or a modest number. But it’s fairly certain that, given the enormous number of new books that Amazon sells, and the fact that many if not most are also simultaneously released as Kindle e-books, we’re talking about a good sign for Amazon.
Explanations for the upsurge abound, including short supply when the Kindle was first announced and growing familiarity with the unit by consumers.
I guess I will have to give it a look although my initial reservation was that there was not as much of a discount for electronic books as I thought there should be. However, checking the prices of Kindle books, I see that (irrespective of special sales) they are running at about equal to or slightly higher than a new paperback and thereby much lower than hard covers. I still think there is room for improvement, but it’s clearly in the ballpark.