Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kindle: 5 Months Later and UMPCs

Please indulge me if you will - I'm going to get to the really good Tech Goodies at the end of this post, but first I want you to do a little experiment...

Phil Looney pointed me to this well written article that describes How Kindle Saves You Time and Money.

And while I don't see Kindle much of an advancement over a laptop (yet) the article is interesting, and well worth checking out.

What I found even better than the article was the comments after the article. One link particular really struck a chord with me:

Why Traditional Books Will Die
by Michael S Hyatt
President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers

Yeah, that title just screams *Click This! Paper Comic DeathWatcher* doesn't it?

In that article, Mr. Hyatt does a very simple point by point breakdown of why paper books are doomed. Read this and substitute the word PAPER COMIC for BOOK. How many of these statements still ring true when you do that?

The book manufacturing process is inefficient. As Newsweek noted
in their article on the Amazon Kindle, “We chop down trees, transport them to plants, mash them into pulp, move the pulp to another factory to press into sheets, ship the sheets to a plant to put dirty marks on them, then cut the sheets and bind
them and ship the thing around the world.” How much longer will an increasingly
environmentally-conscious public tolerate this kind of waste? There must be a
better way.

The book distribution process is inefficient. For starters, retail bookstores have limited shelf space. Almost 200,000 new books are published each year. This doesn’t include the millions that are already in print (what the publishing industry terms “backlist”).

Publishers have to persuade booksellers to stock their books. Then, once the bookseller places his order, the publisher ships them to the store, where someone has to unpack them and put them on already over-crowded shelves. If the bookseller doesn’t sell the books, he ships them back to the publisher, where they are processed and placed back into inventory. Sometimes, they are even shipped back to the same account!

If demand for the book disappears, the books are sold to “remainder” houses
who often re-sell them to the same bookstores for pennies on the dollar.
(Sometimes, I think that the only ones making money in the publishing business
are the trucking companies.)

The book buying experience is inefficient. If I want a book today, I have to get in my car and drive to a local bookseller. The first challenge I have is to see if the store even stocks the book I want. If it’s a bestseller, I can usually find it at the first store.

If not, I will more often than not waste a trip. Then, If I can find the book, I have to go through the checkout process. Sometimes this is not a big deal; other times, I have to wait in line for five to ten minutes. This doesn’t sound like much but it creates additional friction in the buying experience. While I’m reading the book, I have to transport it with me. On a recent trip, I took three books in addition to my laptop.

When my kids go to school, they take an entire bag full of books. It’s a
hassle. Then, when I finish the book, I have to store it. Don’t get me wrong, I
love books—I love surrounding myself with books. (You should see my house.) But
I, too, have limited shelf space. Currently, I have a separate storage facility
housing books I don’t have room for in my home or office.

Retrieving information is also a hassle. I have to remember where I stored
the book and then I have to remember where in the book I actually read it. This
process can take any where from a few minutes to hours.

A lot of that sounds like the comics industry to me...

Anyway, even though the Kindle completely sold out (2000 PDCW points btw) what I think is more dooming for the paper comics industry is a new phrase that is popping up more and more:

UMPC or Ultra Mobile PC - These consist of various different models, but the basic idea is the same. People want a tablet pc (or in some cases a super cell phone) that they can use at moments notice without the hassles associated with a laptop (long boot time, having to sit down to use it, etc...)

Here are some of the latest UMPC designs:

GigaBytes M700 UMPC

(see picture at the top of this post)

Samsung Q 1 - $749 on Amazon

The Amtek iTablet 221 PC

For more example check out this entire site devoted to UMPCs

These feel more like the real Book Industry Killers to me, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what Kindle 2.0 really does.

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