Amazon is reportedly on the verge of launching a new edition of the Kindle reader with a considerably larger screen size. It’s prompted a debate about the target audience for such a device.
The New York Times reports the firm will introduce the larger version this week and that it will be “tailored for displaying newspapers, magazines and perhaps textbooks”. It believes the newspaper aspect is the most important part of the new model, pointing to Amazon being ‘satisfied’ with the number of subscriptions it has had for periodicals on the original models.
The logic is that the larger screen size would be much more popular with commuters who wanted to have the convenience of the Kindle without the eye-strain of reading lengthy articles from a newspaper. It would also be a way of preempting competition from firms such as Plastic Logic which are working on their own newspaper-oriented electronic readers.
However, the screen size is not the only issue in the electronic newspaper market. The Wall Street Journal notes that several publications are looking to invest in rival reader manufacturers to ensure Amazon faces competition. They feel aggrieved that Amazon does not allow them to set their own prices for their publications. There’s also some concern that the Kindle doesn’t do a good job with displaying adverts from the newspapers.
Meanwhile ZDNet’s Larry Dignan argues that the newspapers are (understandably) putting too much emphasis on the periodicals market. He believes the new Kindle is designed more for textbooks, noting the launch of the device will likely take place at a press conference at a New York university on Wednesday. It points out that students spend an estimated total of $8.6 billion a year on textbooks. Around a third of that cost goes on paper, printing and distribution, meaning Amazon could undercut printed editions while still maintaining a sizable profit margin.