The next big tech trend will be eBooks and Amazon is leading the way with its latest version of the Kindle DX. I believe the Kindle DX will revolutionize our consumption of print media — just as the iPod revolutionized our consumption of audible material.
In 1999, Napster broke the mold of peer to peer file sharing, was sued, and quickly shut down by the RIAA. Two years later, Apple released its one-two-three punch of the iPod, iTunes, and the iTunes music store. They were the first to deliver music digitally and make money.
Amazon is trying the same trick: a beautiful device (Kindle, iPod), a simple delivery system (Whispernet, iTunes), and a cheap marketplace (amazon.com, iTunes music store). Many say that Amazon's greatest strength is Whispernet. Maybe so.
The first two iterations of the Kindle were complete shit in my opinion. And the UI is still pretty crappy on the DX. That doesn't really matter because Amazon's smartest and biggest move was native PDF support. Other book readers, I'm thinking of the Sony PRS-505, claim to support the PDF format. But they don't. The PDFs are shrunk down for the small screen size and when you use the magnification feature, the document loses it's resolution and words become blurry. Not so with Kindle DX.
Why is the PDF feature a such a big deal? Two reasons.
- Authors are giving away their books for free
Authors are wising up and seeing that publishers don't offer much value in terms of marketing/distribution. Take John Piper for example. Here is one of his books on Amazon.com with a Kindle version for $7.19. And the same book (below) on his own site for free.
My suspicion is that, just like artists and record labels, authors will drive readers to their own site by offering their content for free — in hopes of exposing them to more information. Author wins. Reader wins. Publisher fails.
Now onto the second reason to purchase a Kindle DX, piracy.
Amazon has marketed the DX as the "eBook reader for college students." There is nothing parents and students hate more than shelling out $1000 each semester for textbooks and returning them to the college book store for a quarter of the price. The new Kindle is no steal at $489, but textbooks will soon appear, for free, on The Pirate Bay and other torrent sites. And when that happens it's game over for textbook publishers.