Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the Kindle DX, a large-screen e-reader, today at the site of the New York Times's former headquarters in Lower Manhattan. The message: He's the future and newspapers are the past.
Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the dilettante scion of a fading newspaper-family dynasty, obediently showed up to announce a trial in which his company will subsidize the $489 retail price of a Kindle DX for readers who sign up for a long-term subscription to the Times or the Boston Globe — assuming the latter is still publishing, since he's threatened to close it down.
The Kindle DX is a fair-looking device — homely in the way that every gadget not made by Apple inevitably is, but passably designed. But will it save newspapers? No. And Bezos is hedging his bets, even as he has managed to scare the press lords into shelling out their precious remaining cash into funding the distribution of his pricey e-reader. Today, he hawked the Kindle DX as a means for reading textbooks, sheet music, novels, and science journals. Newspapers are just one checkbox in a long list of features — and yet he's cajoled the gullible likes of Sulzberger into handing him a pile of cash.
And it's not like Amazon needs the money. It's a steady cash generator — especially for Bezos himself. On Friday, he sold $63 million in Amazon shares. On Monday, as news of the Kindle leaked, he sold another $16 million. If he's such a big believer in supporting journalism, why didn't Bezos announce he was personally giving away 160,000 Kindles to people who agreed to sign up for a newspaper subscription? He could afford it.
(Photo by Gizmodo)