Amazon today unveiled a version of its Kindle software for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices. In case you haven’t heard, Kindle is an e-book reader that works off Amazon’s stash of 240,000 digital books. They recently released a second version with more features for a price of around 300 bucks. The idea is that people will be willing to accept digital books because of the portability and massive selection at their fingertips.
That isn’t the important part though. The important part is that a handful of newspapers and magazines are also jumping on board with Amazon’s paperless experiment. A monthly subscription to the digital New York Times will cost you $14 per month, for instance, and others cost as little as $6 per month. I haven’t tested the newspapers myself, but I can see myself getting tired of looking at a bright screen for extended periods of time. You can read the first chapter of any book in their store for free and although I’m insterested in Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, I can’t get into reading it from my iPod’s screen.
On the other hand, the variety is nothing to scoff at. You can get the latest issue of Newsweek for 49 cents with a couple of well placed taps of the thumb. And it does open up a whole new realm of possibility for advertising dollars by combining the style and design of print advertisements with the functionality of internet linkage. However, is there a market for digital multimedia magazines when the internet already exists? There are a lot of questions involved, but the obvious one is this:
Would you read a newspaper or magazine using an iPod?