Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kindle, Out of the Boardroom and into the Dorm

Amazon’s latest ploy to sell the online retailer's far from red-hot e-reader, Kindle, may be the marketing strategy that finally gives the device the wings Bezos seeks. Target: college students. They have to buy books, and at the beginning of each semester the college bookstore is no picnic, it’s pandemonium – pushy crowds, long lines, and overworked stockers. Wouldn’t it be nifty it hop on the Sprint EDVO network and download the textbooks needed right to your Kindle, for less? Not to mention the environmental savings, or the money saved on publishing.

The latest incarnation of the Kindle is set to drop around September or October, at the much more reasonable price of around $249 or $299; making it the perfect second semester Christmas gift for that diligent student on your list. Along with a bigger screen and a slimmer, sleeker case, the rumors have also suggested the reader will have a, much needed, updated interface, and larger keys with better placement. The hope is Kindle will jump several generations with these advancements. Making a final product seem more like a 4th gen device than a 2nd. Time will tell.

But, if history is any indicator...
Amazon may have a hard row to hoe. Book publishers have noted the number of electronic copies of books sold has declined while hard copies remain steady, and the New York Times hasn’t had a run on subscription through Kindle; stating, they’ve seen a ‘very small number’ of subscription since it’s launch. Add to that, the fact that I never see folks sporting these in NYC, and I really wonder who’s buying these things?

The college crowd is a fickle demographic, but get them in your corner and you can start shopping for that summer home. Amazon will have to be aggressive at promoting the advantages of this system over an iPod or laptop, in order to capitalize on a student's limited resources. I read the NYT everyday on my iPod; it’s free, and great for me. I’m the kind of reader they should be convincing. Just stick to you guns Amazon, if you'll know how to sell anything it’s books.


Update: Drop date speculation has been confirmed to be false by Amazon spokesman Craig Berman. Source: NYT