I think I’ve read enough glowing reviews of the kindle in the last month to know that combined with a flailing economy, skyrocketing fuel prices and a fundamental shift in the way we interact with text, that it signals the eventual death of book publishing.
Anymore, it’s going to start to seem ridiculous to print all those books to throw in the trash (I don’t know the sell-through numbers for books but if it’s anywhere near magazines where 70% go unsold on the newsstand then there’s a ton of waste) or store in warehouses or sit on your shelf collecting dust. And, then you have the fuel cost to drive something around the country that essentially started electronically and was printed on paper for distribution. With a device like this you’ve eliminated the single biggest cost in book publishing and the main reason book publishers exist in the first place. Now, authors can distribute their books for free and take most of the profits if they want.
I stopped short of buying one myself because I don’t need to spend any time on stuff without pictures and because what I’d really like to buy is a magazine reader. There’s about 40 magazine’s I’d like to check out on a regular basis, something I used to do at the newsstand in Grand Central, but now out here in the sticks (there are newsstands but the selection is somewhat limited) I’m faced with the prospect of signing up to receive close to 500 issues in a year to stay on top of who is shooting what in this industry.
Not to mention the fact that I was emailing the photo editor of City Magazine and reading about Seed Magazine over on Shoot Blog and wanted desperately to check out their latest issues and would have instantly bought a copy if there were some electronic way to do it. If I sign up for a subscription today the first issue should arrive in 12-16 weeks. That’s hilarious.
The interesting thing here is to look at iTunes and now Kindle and think about the recording executives and the book publishing executives who completely missed the boat and an opportunity to maintain a monopoly on distribution by bringing a revolutionary device to market. And now how we’ve got a handful of magazine publishers who run this industry, essentially to foot the enormous costs of taking something created electronically, print it on paper and drive it around the country.
I suppose there’s still time if any of the publishers are working on a device right now which somehow I highly doubt because many are still wrapping their heads around the internet (and telling me it takes 12-16 weeks for a magazine to arrive). But, when the device finally arrives we can talk about the eventual death of magazine publishing and the revolutionary device that put the power back in the hands of the content creators.