Monday, November 19, 2007

Is Kindle the Bowmar Brain of this generation?

Well, it is certainly not the only wish I had for Christmas that won't get delivered....

It's official. Kindle is here. Here is a link to the Amazon Press Release.

Now that it is here, I do hope it turns into a watershed event for our beloved publishers. Other devices have not done so well because they haven't had the marketing power and enthusiasm that Amazon can bring.

I expect it to sell moderately well for Christmas - there are lots of early adopter people out there. Then I think it will go into a bit of a lull while the first users really bang on it. By this time next year, I expect Kindle 2.0 to come out, and then it will be on a lot of Christmas lists for 2008.

Parallel to the 'device' development, publishers (of all media - not just books) will respond. Amazingly, backlist books - the same ones it was too hard to convert - will get converted to Mobi format. More and more newspapers, magazines, and journals will find ways of being presented on the device.

Let's fast forward a couple of years, and let's look at the next generation of readers. If Kindle can really take off, it will be like the calculator was to me in High School. I remember when my parents spent an incredible amount of money on my first calculator from Rockwell International. Other kids that year got Bowmar Brains. The concept was so new, that we weren't allowed to use them in school. (In fact, I still couldn't use them in some college engineering classes.) Calculators now, are given away ... and are so ubiquitous as to be required in school, by little kids.

I imagine the same will hold true for Reading devices. At first, just a few 'wealthy' kids will have them. Then some college somewhere will require them of all incoming freshmen. Then someone will donate a bunch to a high school somewhere.... and so on.

They will get better and better, cheaper and cheaper - as seen with the OLPC (sorry, I had to slip that in). They will become so ubiquitous as to be required in school, by little kids.

I was thinking this morning about when my daughter has her own kids and what will be in their backpacks - if that innovation still exists. Instead of telling stories of how many miles we had to walk to school, she will be telling her kids about how heavy her backpack was because of all the books she had to carry. The kids just won't get it.

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