In a new sign of the demise of print media – but that print media is adapting – USA Today will now be accessible on Amazon’s Kindle. Currently, only 28 papers show up in Amazon’s Kindle Storefront. Though Kindle has been met with doubters that it could catch hold, Kindle’s new problem is a good one to have: currently they’re sold out, having gotten recent high-profile endorsements from Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.
Though it’s likely that some time in the future there will be devices that can act as a hybrid phone/mp3 player/and e-book reader, this time has not yet arrived. And given the size of the Kindle, which is about the size of a paperback book, without the glare of handheld phones giving it a more “paper-like” quality, it’s possible that Kindle could become more popular as time goes on. It’s current price of $359 is now potentially hampering sales, even as the current inventory has sold out.
Just as print on demand publishing can be touted as eco-friendly publishing, as no paper goes to waster, Kindle can provide the same assurance. Important for writers is the fact that Kindle books are less expensive than printed books, opening up an audience of frugal readers of ebooks. Once the price of Kindle goes down, Kindle’s use will be more widespread.
What separates Kindle from other ebook readers is the ability to read both domestic and international newspapers. The Kindle can also access 350 blogs and counting, as well as receive word documents – with a larger interface than a device like the iPhone, making for more comfortable reading.
All in all the inclusion of USA Today – America’s most popular newspaper – is significant. It’s also significant that it has taken this long, showing how ebook reading is slow to catch on, even if it may be a highly popular choice in the coming years. Reduced prices matched with increased environmental awareness could make the Kindle as commonplace as mp3 players – albeit in lower numbers, as there are fewer readers overall than there are people who listen to music. With newspapers cutting budgets and staffs, devices like the Kindle could help to save print media by giving it a new outlet – saving money on printing costs and still retaining its audience.