Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon Pins it Over the Monster

Amazon_Kindle_Fire

I’m pretty stoked.

When I finished CRY UNCLE and began to prepare to publish, I made a decision to move slowly.  In July I entered a wonderful relationship with All Knight Promotions, along with a few other authors.  I delayed publication to launch later,  so that CRY UNCLE would come out as the first new Amazon devices were shipping. 

Basically, I hitched my star to the Christmas sales.

For months there have been rumors about the new Amazon touch device.  Early “leaks” from techno pundits claimed it would be similar to the NOOK, but operate with a custom system, and would retail for $249.

Talk about low-balling it.  Amazon didn’t hit a home run with this morning’s press conference.  They pinned a grand slam over the Big Green Monster.

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Behold!  The Kindle Fire, which will rival the Nook (and, possibly, the iPad), will retail for $199.  Before we could even catch our collective breaths, three undisclosed (and un-predicted) models of the more traditional Kindle, with its much-beloved e-ink screen, were unveiled.  And the prices make ebooks accessible to pretty much anyone.  How can you argue with $79 for an e-ink device from amazon?

For ultra-nerds and tablet geeks, the FIRE is impressive:  7-inch rich-color display with 1024-pixel by 600-pixel resolution, plus a dual-core processor, 8GB of storage and 7.5 hours of video playback.  With Amazon’s new relationship with FOX, this bodes well for video streaming.  The Fire has a USB port for file transfers, but no cameras and no microphone. The tablet measures 7.5-by-4.7-by-0.45 inches, and weighs 14.6 ounces… incredibly light.  The screen has a special “destruction-proof” surface, making it incredibly portable and durable.

The Fire will run on a browser called "Amazon Silk," which will work in sync with Amazon's cloud services It will come with a built-in email app.

But just when we thought loyal Kindlers were going to be disgruntled over the “Nookification” of Amazon, we get the big finish.  With the new "EasyReach" system comes several new Kindles, all of them very familiar, with knock-out new touchy goodness!  The Kindle Touch, a screen nearly identical to our current Kindles, works with a short horizontal strip along the top of the screen, which users tap to call up the menu.

The Kindle Touch will cost $99 with”special offers,” $139 without them. A 3G model will be available for $149.

But for me, perhaps the most exciting announcement is the one getting the least attention.  The new non-touch Kindle with "special offers" comes with no keyboard, and retails for ONLY $79. It works with a small set of buttons on the bottom, with side navs for page turns. Amazon says this model is 30 percent lighter than previous Kindles. A model without special offers will retail for $109. Both of these versions ship today. Why is this so exciting for me? It makes ebooks accessible to nearly everyone. And with the price of ebooks getting more competitive every day? It can place books in the hands of people who would otherwise be unable to build a library. Think about it... for under $80 bucks, a family can have an entire library of thousands of classics available for free via Amazon. And with library lending, even current best sellers are there for free to borrow.

Amazon's current welcome page makes some pretty cheesy claims about wanting to offer customers more for less. Whether they are just smart about marketing, or really do mean it, they are DELIVERING on that promise. If they make millions in a godawful economy, I'm cool with that. It means more money for writers. It may mean more jobs. It may just mean more people with bills to pay can afford a cutting edge device that will expose them to books... millions and millions of books... at a price they can afford without re-mortgaging the house.

What could POSSIBLY be bad about that?

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