Newspapers seem to be taking hit after hit at the moment as “New Media” is constantly creeping into its traditional core market. A new eBook reader called Kindle has just been released by Amazon in the US which points to the fact that the traditional newspaper’s days are numbered along with the books and magazines.
Print advertising is down billions of dollars every year as companies switch more and more of their advertising mix to the Internet. In the US last year more was spent by employers in recruitment advertising than on print advertising. I’ll bet there are plenty of other traditional print advertising markets that have suffered a similar fate. As an industry with a huge investment in print advertising we have some big changes over the next few years .
We now have Internet only newspapers like the Brisbane Times aimed squarely at Generation Y and thanks to Kindle you can over 250 newspapers and 80,000 books delivered to you for a fraction of the cost of their paper counterparts.
Sony brought us one of the first eBook readers but Kindle has taken it several steps further. Amazon leveraged the Internet to become the world’s largest book store, but as the Internet has evolved they can obviously see the writing on the wall for its book business so it has tried to tackle the problem in a couple of ways. The first was to utilize their excellent shop front software to diversify their product range which means that they sell just about everything now but the kitchen sink. The second was to create its own eBook reader so it leads the digital delivery of books, magazines and newspapers.
Whilst Kindle is not perfect it does seem to have fixed most of the common problems with digital book readers to date. The first problem was the screens were more like a computer screen than a paper. Consumers wanted it to be more like a book than a computer. People got eye strain looking at them for too long, which is obviously a problem if your trying to read something like War and Peace. Another big problem was the delivery of the books. Consumers were bound to their computer to sync and transfer files which limited its effectiveness.
Kindle’s screen looks like the page of a book except for the fact that font sizes can be changed on the fly allowing those with poor eyesight to increase the print size of screen. The screen is not backlit like a computer screen and there is no glare or reflections. In fact if you reading it in a dark room you will need a light on just like a real book.
Books, Newspapers and Magazines are delivered in just one minute across an always on wireless broadband connection that is included at no cost and the unit will store over 200 books before you need to install an additional memory card. This means your newspapers are ready to read the moment you wake up in the morning and as soon as you finish reading one book, you can browse for others in the online book shop and be reading a replacement all in just a few minutes.
The interesting part is that ads are not a feature of the system. You get the newspaper articles and the magazine articles only. You can get Time Magazine for $1.49 and a months supply of the Wall Street Journal for $9.99. And you get free access to Wikipedia Encyclopaedia, leading blogs and a stack of other features too long to list here.
Is it perfect ? Not by a long shot but version 2 and 3 will only improve it I am sure. Being grayscale only for the moment some magazine articles with colour graphics just don’t work properly (maybe that’s why Time is only $1.49 per month). But where do you get one…. Well, quite simply you can’t, not right now at least. They are sold out and its on back order at $US399 each just like the launch of some other favourites before it, the iPod and the iPhone. And just like these, Kindle is all white.
Gutenburg brought us the printing press around 1430 but if Kindle and others can transform newspapers, books and magazines into a “New Media” as quick as the iPod has changed the music scene since its launch in 2001 then the shape of real estate advertising is going to be even more Internet centric than it is now.