It's official: the world is getting another Kindle
. Whether or not it needs another Kindle remains to be seen, but you can bet the print media publications are all in agreement that we do. Not quite a month after we began to hear rumors
that a larger screen Kindle was in the works, Amazon has officially scheduled a press conference for this Wednesday where it will unveil a new device in conjunction with at least a few major newspapers.
The oddest part about all of this is that the Kindle 2 just came out in February -- three months ago! It took right around a year to go from the Kindle 1 to the Kindle 2, so this is definitely an accelerated lifecycle. Of course, it's not like Amazon had a lot of choice here. Weeks after its Kindle 2 arrives, Hearst Corporation
-- which handles Cosmopolitan, Esquire and the San Francisco Chronicle, for instance -- announced that it would be teaming up with newspapers and an undisclosed hardware maker in order to produce an e-reader with a display suitable for showing full-size "print" pages. The reason? Ads. Amazon's current Kindle has no room for ads, but a few more inches around the sides would go a long way to saving the struggling print publications that need to find revenue while going digital.
It's still a far-fetched plan. For far too long, newspapers have provided most, if not all, of their content online for free. Consumers have grown accustomed to simply getting the most breaking news online. In other words, people have grown used to getting news "for free." With the introduction of a new(er) format, publications are hoping to get one last chance to re-write the rules for their benefit by charging subscription rates for those who subscribe to updates via their new e-reader. What will be interesting, however, is to see how Amazon handles the financial end on a large screen reader.
By and large, print publications have griped most strongly about Amazon being a middleman between subscription rates and actual payouts. Hearst's whole plan was different simply because it let newspapers decide what to charge on its device. Will Amazon follow suit? Will newspapers be forced to "take it or leave it?" Will we see this device slowly replace expensive and bulky textbooks in public schools? We suspect we'll get answers to at least some of those questions in just two short days.