The book world has been abuzz since Amazon’s announcement of its new lineup of Kindle e-readers yesterday.
And with good reason. Amazon has dropped straight through the supposed price barrier of $100 with two of its models, including one at the low-low price of $79.
Each model has 2 prices: one with advertising, and a higher price if you want to just skip the ads.
The excitement among authors and publishers comes from expecting that these new low prices—and with the holiday season just around the corner, and with every publisher now pushing out e-books as fast as possible—the time of the mass market acceptance of e-books is upon us.
This is great for indie authors too. e-Readers like the Kindle are the ultimate democratic platform, open equally to big traditional publishers and the do-it-yourself solo entrepreneur author.
With enough e-readers in play and lots of e-books to choose from, the e-book could be ready to take its place in the pockets and purses of people everywhere.
The Other Annoucement
Amazon also introduced its first tablet computer, the Amazon Kindle Fire, along with a new web browser and various techy “cloud” services that promise fast browsing and other advantages.
The big surprise here is the price for the device: $199. This has set off speculation that the Fire could well be the first “iPad killer” to hit the market.
A succession of companies, seeing the incredible sales of the iPad (29 million units at last count) have tried to bring their own tablets to market, each one failing miserably.
Samsung, Dell, HP, Blackberry and others have crashed on the rocky shore trying to get to the green fields that Apple is cultivating. I’m not convinced the Fire is that big a competitor for iPad.
In the New York Times story on the Amazon Fire announcement today by Jenna Wortham and David Streitfeld, they even trotted out the metaphor that has been constantly applied to the iPad + App store universe:
Analysts say that the new family of devices will corral users into a tightly walled garden around Amazon’s content . . .
And consider the comparison: The iPad has a much bigger, higher-resolution screen, longer battery life, 425,000 apps in the App store, twice the storage, a camera and GPS capabilities. It has flown off the shelves precisely because it is so multi-talented, so gorgeous and such a pleasure to use.
Amazon, on the other hand, which professes to be selling a “service,” not a piece of hardware, has a thicker, lighter machine with over 1 million books, Flash and Android.
In the demo video below, you’ll see Jeff Bezos showing off the Fire at the announcement. He made it seem like watching movies, reading books, playing games and listening to your iPod, um, music player, on your 7″ device was a revolution in technology.
Couldn’t you already do all that with a Samsung Galaxy Tab loaded with the Amazon and Kindle apps?
In the second video below, you’ll see another hands-on short demo of the Fire. Notice the spectacular reflections off the high-gloss screen. No “So easy to read on the beach” TV ads for this baby.
On the whole, I’m really excited about the spread of e-books. The more common they become, the more pressure there will be to make them better. The arrival of Amazon’s new e-Readers could well push us toward a change in the way books are presented to readers on these devices they love so much.
And the Fire? I think the jury’s out. We’ve seen too many announcements like this one, also without any leap forward in technology, before. And who knows how Apple will respond?
Remember that when the iPad came out, at half the expected price, Amazon had to slash the price on its Kindle immediately. There have been rumors for months about a 7″ iPad, and if it can do everything the iPad2 can do, and sells for let’s say, $249 to $299? Apple does have a lot more experience in the hardware business than Amazon has.
Besides, didn’t I hear something about the iPhone 5? Now that sounds exciting.
If these don’t show up, try re-loading the page.
Here’s the Jeff Bezos announcement video:
And here’s the hands-on demo I mentioned above:
So what do you think? Is this a big day for indie authors and e-book lovers? Do you think the Fire is the next great thing?