Will Kindle Set the World on Fire?

Breathlessly we await this month the yearlong-rumored launch of Kindle, Amazon.com‘s electronic book reader. At a reported $400 to $500 per, will this be the e-book reader Nirvana we have all been looking for?

Not according to ComputerWorld. This and a half dozen other products like it are destined to fail.

Despite the fact that several companies have been pouring millions of dollars into development of such readers, Mike Elgan of ComputerWorld suggests the reverse of what many futurists have predicted. Print books won’t become mere art objects or simply satisfy refined boutique markets. Rather it is e-book readers that will fill niches while traditional print books march on in triumph.

Why?

E-book readers are expensive. The electronic form of books is not hugely discounted. Alternatives already exist for reading books digitally (PCs, cell phones, PDAs, etc.).

If Elgan is right, the e-book reader revolution is not around the corner or even down the block. It’s somewhere on the next planet.

2 responses to “Will Kindle Set the World on Fire?”

  1. Can’t you just buy one e-book reader, then upload different books to it? Also, I wonder if we underestimate the gotta-have-it attitude towards new technologies. (Just another humble opinion from right here on Earth.)

  2. Right you are, L. L., on both counts. One reader can accommodate many e-books. Also there are always first adopters who gotta have it. And Amazon is a powerful marketing machine. So they will no doubt sell plenty. The question is, will they sell enough to sustain the product? Certainly iPod and iPhones have and PDAs did. But just because it is new technology doesn’t mean it will succeed. We all know about Betamax. (Or have we already forgotten?)