I’m not sure what Kindle whiners are going to have left to whine about by next year (well, yes I do, DRM, but I digress…). Some big news emerged on Amazon’s Kindle discussion board the other day.
First, the Kindle team revealed that you’re soon going to be able to read electronic newspapers and magazines on any of the various Kindle apps. Right now, you can only read subscriptions on a hardware Kindle. That’s going to be huge in establishing Kindle’s position as the leading e-reading ecosystem. Many is the time I have wished to read a New Yorker article on my iPhone but my Kindle subscription won’t go there. The post explains:
“Our vision is Buy Once, Read Everywhere, and we’re excited to make this possible for Kindle periodicals in the same way that it works now for Kindle books. More details when we launch this in the coming weeks.”
In addition to being a great feature, this goes right to the heart of a common misunderstanding of the Kindle ecosystem. Amazon is running both the hardware reader business and the e-bookstore business as separate, money-making operations. It’s not a razor blades and razors business.
The second big change sounds great but will likely be less great in practice. Starting soon, you will — in theory — be able to lend out ebooks you’ve bought to anyone else who has a Kindle acount. Loans last for 14 days and you can’t read an ebook during the period you’ve loaned it out, obviously.
Why great only in theory? Amazon has to give publishers a say in whether the lending feature will be available on any particular ebook. Based on how few ebooks support Kindle’s read-out-loud feature, I’m guessing most major publishers will be hitting the “no lending” button all the while continuing to spout off about the value of books. Blech. They’d have a lot more credibility if they treated customers with respect and offered the same economic bargain available with print books, including lending and resale rights.