I often joke in my blogs about downtownster being an unfunded startup, launched in the middle of perhaps the worst economic situation in our country’s history—this is not a joke, but the truth. As downtownster grows, literally every day, I am asked with greater and greater frequency to write about the economy, politics, and relationships. Can you imagine that we live in a time that customers, in this case downtownster readers, can tell you what they want and if you have any business sense—you can oblige at the touch of a keypad. So, I woke up this morning planning to write a brilliant essay on the state of the economy. I was even going to delve into why entrepreneurs, such as myself, should be more aggressively than ever, starting companies like downtownster. But then it occurred to me to write about Amazon’s Kindle DX.
Kindle, if you are not already familiar, is an e-book reader created and sold by Amazon. The new Kindle DX is a technological marvel, which holds 3,500 book titles at a time and is close to paper-thin. The reading display utilizes ink technology, which gives the reader the closest experience possible to actually reading print. And unlike the Sony e-book reader the Kindle operates with an internal wireless 3G capability that allows books to be downloaded to the device, usually in thirty seconds or less. Yes, THE WIRELESS HOOKUP IS FREE, the cost is covered by Amazon. I should also mention the new DX model has a 9.7 inch screen— 3 inches larger than the past models.
The LA Times take on the Kindle DX, in a recent article, is, not surprisingly, whether or not Kindle will save newspapers—like the LA Times. And while this is a legitimate question, we should all note here that the LA Times and other financially troubled newspapers are in trouble more than anything because of bad business decisions. A debt free LA Times still owned by the Chandler’s would have turned a profit of a hundred million dollars last year. This begs a discussion regarding leverage—it’s not good. But let’s not digress too far. I predicted almost ten years ago that a device like Kindle would be developed and would be the future of how people, not only read books, but newspapers—and now a little something called blogs.
The time has come. So why isn’t there a Kindle in each and every one of our pockets? The answer is simple: a Kindle DX costs about $500.00 dollars, which is actually more than the earlier models. This is almost unprecedented. Usually, electronics enter the marketplace at a high price point and become more affordable with each subsequent product cycle.
I recall when the Zinman family was the first in our neighborhood to own a VCR. Marvin Zinman, my best friend Richard’s father, was a legendary Los Angeles attorney, and the only person in our city (Montebello) that could afford this device, which cost over a $1,000.00 dollars back then. This would be close to $10,000.00 today, inflation adjusted. But the VCR eventually found a price we all could afford in the $50.00 to $100.00 dollar range, so did the DVD player—AND SO WILL KINDLE, if Amazon wishes it to be so. Keep in mind Amazon makes a lot of money on good old-fashioned books and they are not pressed to change their entire business model overnight, but change they will. If Amazon dropped the price of a Kindle DX to $99.00 dollars today there would be a hundred million units in customer’s hands by the end of the year—they might even do some advertising.
So, Kindle is a great product and getting greater every generation—it simply is not at a great price—YET. But it will be and it will completely change how we read books, newspapers, and blogs. I urge the early adopter crowd, if you can afford one, to buy a Kindle. What you save on books will more than justify your investment, e-books are less than half the price of old fashioned books and you will be bringing about a long overdue change with enormous social benefits; the obvious being the amount of paper that will not be consumed any longer. You cannot claim to be green and not own a Kindle. Newspaper print is the number one consumer of paper in the United States. But the far greater value will be the minds Kindle will save.
You see I’ve never bought into the idea that nobody reads anymore. The fact that books sales top the twenty-five billion dollar a year mark (U.S.) supports my resolve that Americans aren’t yet done with the written word. And books are the most sold item on the Internet (Worldwide)—just not enough! I see a new culture in America; a culture of people who walk around not with a device in their pocket, but the words of Poe, Emerson, Tolstoy, Rand, Twain, Joyce, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Capote, Vonnegut, Melville and Dickens and on and on…made possible by such a device. When I tell an advertiser to be sure that they are telling people about their product in the way that the people want to hear it, I can’t help but to think that the same is in fact a central truth to all communication. We live in a highly mobile digital world.
3,500 books in a persons pocket = mobile digital world = the way people want their information.
To demonstrate my belief in, this, future of books I’ve made four of my published works available on Kindle including “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”. And I have made two of my new works “Blast” and “Impact” — only available on Kindle. I’m willing to bet on the future of books, actually I have, but really I’m betting on you, the readers of the world—embrace this technology and bring others into our circle. Imagine a world full of literate people discussing ideas and stories. Perhaps today’s gang is tomorrow’s book club. Why not? It could happen.
Oh, and when you go to the Amazon Kindle Store ask for me by name.