In comparison: The Kindle DX (right) sits next to the Kindle 2.
The company now hopes to attract more users by delivering a device that can be used to read larger books and documents. “We print more paper now than ever before,” Bezos said, suggesting that users aren’t satisfied with reading digitally when large, complex pages are squeezed onto a small screen. But customers will have to pay a hefty price for the larger screen: the DX will cost $489 ($130 more than its smaller relative, the Kindle 2) when it starts shipping this summer.
Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC, says that the price of the new Kindle could look affordable to students when compared with the high cost of a semester’s worth of textbooks. “This may be significant for democratizing the Kindle,” he says.
Students may also enjoy the convenience of carrying all of their books in one light device, Shim says, but he suspects that only textbooks that lack color will work well on the product. Although English and history books probably won’t suffer, he says, textbooks that gain significant value from full-color diagrams are likely to look less good in the format.
As for the new Kindle’s impact on newspapers, Shim says that the device could help restore the concept of reading a publication as a whole, instead of scanning single articles on the Internet. Perhaps best of all for periodicals, Shim says, is that Kindle users pay for their content. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity for newspapers to reengage with readers,” he says.
David Weir, a media consultant with a daily blog on the media industry at Bnet, says that mobile devices such as the Kindle are more suited to preserving a periodical’s brand than the Internet is, but he’s skeptical about the DX’s larger size. “The Kindle may be headed in the exact wrong direction,” Weir says, noting that mobile devices have generally succeeded best when made smaller.
Although Amazon’s sales of the Kindle have been strong, Weir argues that the device has yet to click with a mainstream audience, and he has doubts about its staying power. “If I were advising any media company,” Weir says, “I would say, Don’t ever get too romantically involved with a platform. Just when you love them, they leave you.”