Amazon just announced news of its first ever tablet, the Kindle Fire which has a swish seven inch screen with a dedicated browser (called Silk) and looks to take on the iPad as a serious contender. OK, it’s like the iPad Lite, but with the weight of the Amazon inventory behind it might be the first tablet that makes it into the mainstream- did I mention it’s UK (estimated) retail price will be £125 compared to the most basic iPad at £399- you do the math.
However, I’m actually more intrigued and excited with the news that they’re selling a new Kindle eReader for $79 though (that’s the US price) as this might finally be the breakthrough device which puts eReaders firmly on the curriculum. Up till this point eReaders were a covetable piece of property, but one that many people felt were slightly unnecessary- or out of their pricepoint.
This lowered retail price puts buying a Kindle well into impulse buying territory and practically guarantees that every other household will be finding one under the tree this Christmas. With prices dropping in such a manner, I can imagine that Amazon will next turn its sights into making the Kindle a mandatory school accessory.
We’ve already seen the proliferation of iPad use in high end private schools, but a device like the Kindle- with the associated bulk buy discount and personalized profanity filters- would be Amazon’s way of consolidating the eReader hold, as if they make it into mainstream public education their dominance will be unrivalled for the next 20 years or so. Thee do exist fairly sturdy school eReaders already- the Ectaco educational eReader for example, but costs and compatibility issues often outweigh the fact that you can drop them and throw them around.
Kids nowadays already value and care for their mobile phones and as they’ve learnt how to look after them, being able to care for an eBook reader is not out of the question. Amazon already offer dedicated discount services for schools who bulk buy their products and though I can’t actually find out exactly how much, I can quote this statement from them;
‘We do provide discounts for large orders. If you are buying Kindle devices and do not want students to be able to buy additional content, you can remove the method of payment from the Amazon account after any desired books are purchased.’
The Kindle Store has a dedicated education section with helpful Q&A’s for teachers, so they’re well aware that they’d like to tap this market. Whilst I don’t think eReaders will make it into university just yet (unless you’re on an English course) for high school students sick of overweight bags and constantly paying out for new books this could be ideal.
You can check out their Faculty guide here which will likely soon be updated with info about the new keyboard less Kindles coming out. I’m all for this- there have been other eReaders before with relatively low pricepoints, but the allure of $79 for a Kindle (even with the targeted ads) has to mean that people will go from wavering about purchasing one to making the jump. It doesn’t have to be one or the other- I still happily read paper books, but the convenience of a portable device can’t be overlooked – especially if you’re attempting Gone with the Wind or the latest Wheel of Time tome.
I think Amazon has made a great step in enabling the next generation will be dedicated eReaders and at this pricepoint it’s fairly certain that a large portion of adults will finally be making the jump- if only to ‘see what all the fuss is about’. I predict great things for eBooks in 2012, and though the Kindle Fire might be swishy and exciting, it’s the low cost Kindle that has me really hopeful about the future of eBooks and eReaders as we know them.