Save the paper

When the Amazon first announced the Kindle, I was not that interested. Partly because of its 'retro' design compares to the iPhone, but also because of its high price. However, recently I am getting more interested in getting a Kindle to save me from carrying books on the train every week to work.

One of the big selling points of the Kindle is long battery life and that is mainly because of the use of e-ink. E-ink only uses power when it changes the text, not while the text is displayed. While the contrast level of the e-ink display is fine for displaying text, it is not so good at showing graphics. Text heavy magazine (with some simple graphics) like Time or Reader's Digest would be fine on the Kindle but others such as Entertainment Weekly, which relies fairly heavily on pictures, would not. One solution would be for publishers to provide specially formatted version to Amazon but this would increase costs, which either Amazon has to absorb or pass on to the consumers. Another solution would be for Amazon to convert the full color magazine data to suit the Kindle. Again there would some cost involve and possibly copyright issue due to the nature of modifying content. Perhaps this is the reason I think why there is not more magazines in the Kindle store. Right now there are exactly eight, that's right eight, magazines on the Kindle Magazine store.

However, if Amazon starts providing many more magazines than what they currently offer I would not hesitate to order one tomorrow. I have two magazines that I consume weekly so I am throwing away a fair amount of printed-paper every week. Not to mention the carbon emission 'cost' of the printing process and the transportation. I would love to have New Scientist and Autosport (both of them are available on Amazon as regular magazine subscriptions) delivered wirelessly to me because while using the Amazon Kindle to read books would definitely save paper as well as fuel to transport the heavy books, I think the most saving would actually come from reading periodicals. This is because even though books use a lot of paper we generally keep them around after we finish. On the other hand, we tend to treat magazines as consumables and throw them away as soon as we are done with them or when the next weekly edition arrives.

So just like the high-definition DVD battle or the digital music distribution, it would be content that decides the fate of the Kindle. Amazon has already won the e-book battle against Sony because of its much larger book library (more than 100,000 vs. 20,000) despite having a less beautiful hardware design. But to win over the general consumers Amazon would have to make much more content be available so that people would worry about what is not available on the Kindle store than think about what is today.

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