Well, it made front page news not only in the tech trades, but in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, as well – Amazon is releasing an upgrade of their electronic book reader, the Kindle. The first version was released 15 months ago and although sales figures have not been released, it sold out quickly, when available.
The Kindle 2 is sleeker and slimmer than its predecessor, with increased memory, a faster processor, longer battery life and improved screen. The free-of-charge wireless technology has advanced to 3G. It also includes a new word-recognition feature, which allows the Kindle to read text aloud to its reader.
But damn it, the Kindle still costs consumers $349.00, not including books! By keeping the lofty price, Amazon has stubbornly decided that they are not interested in expanding their customer base.
However one feels about e-books, the fact is they’re here to stay. Google has already entered the field, having scanned over one million public domain titles which can be read with free software on smart phones. Although the traditional book industry has been reluctant for too long to accept the new technology, they have realized that it’s a no-brainer to give publishers the ability to keep their entire catalog available digitally, without the restrictive costs of printing, storage and shipping. Books finally have their own ‘Long Tail.’
I want to see e-book readers like the Kindle succeed, but at a reasonable price to the consumer. As e-book growth continues and new readers and competitors enter the field, hopefully we will see decreased pricing, but for now, the Kindle remains a luxury purchase with narrow mainstream appeal.