For the past three days, the Boston Globe has failed to deliver my paper which I have sorely missed given my newspaper lifelong habit. So I curled up with my netbook and morning cup of coffee to turn into the Globe’s web site, Boston.com to get the latest headlines. It didn’t quite have the scan-ability of the paper, but the netbook was readable and Boston.com more up to date than the dead tree edition.
Now I can use Amazon’s new Kindle DX which is geared for newspapers. Introduced today in New York the $489 DX is about $100 more than what it costs me for my annual seven day subscription to the Globe. The Globe, New York Times and Washington Post are doing DX trials and will offer to select subscribers at a reduced rate.
Specs-wise, the DX appears very powerful with its 9.7 inch (2.5 times that of the current Kindle 2’s 6-inch display) and a 3.3 GB memory which can hold 3,500 books and presumably years of actual newspapers such as they will be in the future. UPDATE: An Amazon spokeswoman says it will hold “thousands of newspapers.”
No doubt, the presses are going away and the DX will help accelerate that trend. Once that happens, what is a newspaper exactly? Perhaps Amazon could help define them with the DX which also supports professional PDFs for consumption of professional documents.
Co-incidentally, the Boston Globe last holdout union today agreed to massive givebacks or faced the shutdown of the newspaper. That’s how bad it’s become for newspapers.
Is the Kindle DX the savior of newspapers? No. Many readers are gone for good and readership among under-40 somethings is low. And what can the DX give readers that a netbook and regular newspaper web sites can’t so well? Clearly, one thing is storage and archives. Another are six font sizes for codgers like me with tired eyes. Another thing is something resembling a newspaper in a digital format, but it’s unclear how many under-40 somethings really care about that. They’ve been weaned on web sites, after all.
One has to give Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos credit. He has stuck with it and while sales numbers are hard to find, the Kindle 2 introduced in February sold strongly in the first quarter helping to boost Amazon revenues by 18%. But books are one thing and newspapers quite another. The DX will be a tougher sell given the permanent defections of readers and advertisers to other media.
Below are the DX’s features from the Amazon press release: