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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Kindle magic

The plug has been pulled on newspapers. They're already circling the drain. But, wait -- Kindle to the rescue?

I haven't subscribed to a daily paper in about 15 years, and I've never paid for a subscription to the Knoxville News Sentinel, so I've kind of startled myself by taking out a Kindle subscription to the Washington Post. For $10 a month, I get the Kindle edition of the paper pushed down to my device every morning (including Sundays); it seems to contain basically everything in the print edition that I would care about. It's missing the classifieds, comics, TV listings, crossword, and other such features, but I wouldn't be interested in those things anyway.

This is a point I think newspaper publishers might be missing: people who subscribe to the Kindle edition probably aren't likely to be subscribers to the dead-tree version. I think they're likelier to be people like me, who have been reading the free edition of the paper on the Web for years now. For that reason, I suspect Kindle subscriptions would represent a new source of revenue for newspapers, rather than a shift from dead-tree subscribers to Kindle subscribers.

I don't know about newspapers, but there are already some indications that the Kindle might breathe new life into the printed word in all sorts of interesting ways that the Web hasn't and won't. When it's the right content at the right time, delivered in the right way, people are willing to pay for it. Since the information-riding-on-the-back-of-advertising model is breaking down and taking with it the whole concept of mass media, this may point to what the future will look like.

I finally broke down and bought a Kindle -- had to, it was just too compelling to pass up. So far, it's been a blast. All the bells and whistles are nice -- the dictionary, the ability to highlight and take notes electronically, being read to -- but they wouldn't mean anything if it weren't fun to read on the thing. And the Kindle tends to "disappear" just like books do as I get lost in whatever I'm reading, which is the real test.


Wed, 03/18/2009 - 3:23pm

I posted this kindle blurb last December:


Steven T.
Thu, 03/19/2009 - 1:52am

The whole circling the drain thing is a lot of hooey perpetrated by reactionary businessmen who don't want to learn a thing from current events. So let it be written, so let it be done ; but there will be a new generation of providers that gladly bend to serve the new megamarket and thrive despite theif best efforts to serve the customers.

Steven T.
Thu, 03/19/2009 - 1:55am

The whole circling the drain thing is a lot of hooey perpetrated by reactionary businessmen who don't want to learn a thing from current events.

So let it be written, so let it be done . There will be a new generation of providers that gladly, smartly bend to serve the megamarket -- and thrive despite their best efforts to provide 100% satisfaction to their only benefactors, the customers.

Steven T.
Thu, 03/19/2009 - 11:02pm

I'm sorry about the previous erroneous double-posts, but my anger at this repetetive drumbeat is sincere. Newspapers are not at risk of dying out, whether they issue on paper or on line. It is, as with all other entrenched U.S. industry, merely the business model which is endangered and in need of revolution.

If there was no popularly read Fort Wayne newspaper, we would (as a certainty) invent one. We might even call it Poor Richard's FWAlmanace. It might publish essential news and analysis ONLINE at first, and apparently for free, being financed by committed activists.

But have no doubt that in the absence of palatable daily news in print, the people would have to produce new generations of online editors like sizzling popcorn produces irresistible edibles. If the news gods did not exist We would have to create them. So current editors might as well stay, and morph with the times. Post-revolution money will be worth the wait, I wager.

Larry Morris
Sun, 03/22/2009 - 10:27pm

Leo, you'll love this - I Was watching one of our favorite new TV shows a couple of evenings ago and someone was making a reference to being arrested, jailed, etc. and he said "and, I bet they throw the Kindle at me". Old phrases being reworked, isn't that the mark of making it ?