A Musing ‘Kindle’

The word ‘Kindle’ meaning to ‘ignite’ has been tactfully used in naming this new foxy digital wireless reading device.  It can be assumed that Amazon used the name to specify the enlightenment that the user would undergo after reading scores and scores of books, newspapers, blogs etc on this quite on the beam new technological baby called ‘Kindle’.

Even though Kindle has been ruling the US markets for quite some time now, it was only recently that it stepped in India, and gave all the book lovers a reason to smile. Nevertheless, the original Kindle is still a prerogative of Americans and what you get in India is the international version with limited capabilities as compared to its US counterpart.

The Hindustan Times is the first Indian newspaper which accepted the Kindle by making the paper available on it with monthly subscription fees to possibly leverage from this digital revolution than get affected by it. Taking the cue from HT, The Indian Express is the latest publication to join the trend. It’s more like a competitive obligation to make the publication available on Kindle, due to other competitors making the cut. However as far as the nature of the product is concerned, it’s least to impact the print media per se, it’s just yet another high end electronic gadget for the elite and the gadget freaks.

But the question that whether Kindle possesses the potential to create a revolution in the publication industry, still nurtures ambiguity. It may be a fresh phenomena boasting of high end technology, but it has yet to create ripples in the market. Even though it has managed to sell like hot cakes off the shelf and through dealers, it is thought to be an innovation which needs further improvisation especially in terms of availability of books.

Kindle users can access the books only available on Amazon’s online bookstore, which I believe suffers from a dearth of books with great works being unavailable.

There’s a research which says that hard core book readers don’t show even a fraction of interest in reading newspapers.  So the impact that Kindle may have on the newspaper industry is that it may just make book readers, newspaper readers as well. Newspaper publications can enter the territory that was untapped before.

But there’s a catch. Due to high subscription fees which are almost eight times of what we pay for a daily newspaper monthly, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kindle restricted just to the limited online book resource. If it is thought to be a replacement for books, that’s seemingly a little too much to adjudge. Book readers like to maintain collections and Kindle may not fit the idea of book reading for older readers but may just grab the interest of youngsters who are fond of new innovations and gadgets. Plus it would require extra maintenance and users would have to be more cautious while using this slick gadget, contrary to the traditional books which can be read with comfort.

It’s just like music lovers got their treat in the form of i-Pods and book lovers, in the form of Kindle. However just like listening to iPod doesn’t mean the end of music systems or FM radios, similarly launch of Kindle in no way means the downfall of tangible books or newspapers.

Therefore, I wouldn’t yet consider Amazon’s Kindle a revolution as it still has to capture the market as a whole and find acceptance amongst the masses and change the reading habits or styles of readers. Only then will it be a revolutionary innovation in the true sense.

Tanya Jain

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jblyberg/2073940586/]