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Can the new Kindle save the news?
As Amazon readies a bigger-screen e-reader, speculation on who will profit from it
T

he “recession-ravaged” newspaper industry may have found its “knight in shining digital armor,” said Brad Stone in The New York Times. Amazon’s soon-to-be-updated Kindle, to be unveiled Wednesday, could do for newspapers what the iPod did for music sales. The new Kindle, with a larger screen, about the size of a sheet of paper, is ideal for reading—and hopefully paying to read— newspapers and magazines.

Enough with the “knight-in-shining-armor analogies already,” said Larry Dignan in ZDNet. The Times, and the newspaper business, might read this as a way of “saving its own tail,” but Amazon’s real target is the “meaty” profit margins of the $8.6 billion college textbook market. A third of textbook costs are printing-related, so Amazon has plenty of room to profit.

The textbook market is ripe for the picking, said Dylan Tweney in Wired, and even a $600 e-reader could be cost-effective over four years of college. But the new Kindle “won’t mean squat” if Apple comes out with an iPhone-like “media tablet” later this year. Color, a full Web browser, and 40,000 apps would crush the Kindle’s monochrome one-trick pony.

Perhaps, said Felix Salmon in Reuters, but I actually “share a certain amount of hope” that newspapers will be able to profit from the e-reader. I subscribe to both print newspapers and a Kindle edition, and the “much smaller and lighter and more convenient” Kindle “is trouncing the dead trees.”

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