Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Amazon Moves Forward with Strategy

It should come as no surprise to any of us - especially those of us who are *not* big fans of Amazon - that the (sometime) bookselling giant has just announced an even CHEAPER Kindle! Here's the cheap li'l harlot now, folks, marked down to the oh-so-reasonable $114. How do they do it?!

Oh, with ads in the form of screen savers. This means every time you settle down with your favorite e-book, you'll be greeted with ads, and again when you shut down, and maybe if you don't interact with the thing for awhile and it goes to "sleep." The ads will not be inserted into books - oh thank god, right? Because that would be horrible.

I hate this. I hate that it will make more people run out and get this thing, rendering them beholden to Amazon for future e-books. I hate that people will settle for being advertised to, just to save a few bucks. I hate that Amazon came up with this system to lock in more consumers, and it's going to work. And I hate that Amazon continues to hold an advantage over independent bookstores due to getting around state tax collectors.

And I think many of us scream in frustration when we hear from Ted Genoways, in a powerful and horrifying Virginia Quarterly Review article on the so-called paperless revolution, that "the New York Times recently calculated that the environmental impact of a single e-reader—factoring in the use of minerals, water, and fossil fuels along the manufacturing process—is roughly the same as fifty books."

Think twice before snatching up this cheap Kindle, just as I hope you do before purchasing anything at Wal-Mart or the Gap. We're paying a larger price than you realize, in a number of ways.


Brian said...

I should continue the Genoways quote to really make the point, as he explains, "the real problems come in lifespan. At present, the average e-reader is used less than two years before it is replaced. That means that the nearly ten million e-readers expected to be in use by next year would have to supplant the sales of 250 million new books—not used or rare editions, 250 million new books—each year just to come out footprint-neutral."

Anonymous said...

Welcome to capitalism and free market economy. I hate it, too.

Biblibio said...

As for the environmental effects of eReaders, every study shows completely different numbers. I've heard everything between 20 to 50. I've certainly used my Sony Reader enough to justify purchasing it (cost-wise, most definitely - environmentally speaking, possibly). Not every study takes into account the carbon emissions of transporting and delivering books, whether to a bookstore or home after an internet purchase. I take those numbers with a grain of salt, but I do find them to be relevant nonetheless. One day we will find a balance. Hopefully it will be soon.

It seems unfair to assume, furthermore, that readers will actually replace their eReaders every two years. Until now, the market has been mostly ruled by techies, who would have replaced their eReaders regardless (as they would probably like to test the newer models). I suspect the stats for buying new eReaders will drop significantly over the next few years, particularly as use of them grows...

Brian said...

I'm not convinced people won't consistently replace their e-readers every 2 - 3 years, just as they do laptops now. And by "they," admittedly, I actually mean "we."