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Thursday, December 20, 2007

The PR Revolution Amazon's Kindle May Be Bringing

Kindle_v4948744_ Do you have a Kindle yet?  All the buzz about the Wii aside, the most lusted after gift this holiday season for media pros may just be Amazon's new digital content reader called the Kindle (which sold out within 5.5 hours upon first release a few weeks ago).  The device may not have an Apple-esque level of sex appeal, but it does represent a huge shift in thinking that may just propel portable digital content and ebooks in particular to the kind of widespread adoption that digital music has already enjoyed.  For that reason, many people are calling the Kindle the next ipod.  If you are like me, you're probably fed up with hearing about how everything new is about to "revolutionize" the world of media.  Let's take a little reality check.  Not everything has the impact that they think they can have on the world of media.  There are a lot of voices out there. 

So what makes the Kindle different?  More importantly, what makes it something that you need to pay attention to today?  Here are four reasons why the Kindle may be bringing a PR revolution (for real):

  1. It makes RSS a necessity. If you have managed to get by this far without using RSS feeds (or offering them to your content if you are a content publisher), those days will soon be over.  The way that Kindle users subscribe to new content is by adding RSS feeds, similar to how you can download music or subscribe to podcasts on iTunes.  This means having a web site is no longer enough.  If your content is not available in RSS format, you may soon be invisible.
  2. It finally integrates the reading experience.  The problem right now with magazines, newspapers, blogs and books is that most exist in their own channels when it comes to reading.  This means you may subscribe to RSS feeds from a newspaper and blogs, and get a magazine and still buy books ... but you have to carry all of them.  With the Kindle, you can buy all or read any of these in the same place ... and even send your own documents to the Kindle so you can read them on the go.  It really can be a house for all documents of any kind.
  3. It is puts a premium on real time information. For most of us, the types of devices we are used to using all synch with your computer.  In that sense, they are nothing more than glorified hard drives.  That's all the ipod is.  But the Kindle has built in EVDO wireless connectivity which means users are never left looking for a hotspot to connect and always have the latest information from their favorite media sources.  Think about this for a second ... if all media can be updated real time, then editorial errors can be corrected (rather than publishing apologies), and users have an increased appetite and expectation of media that is never out of date.
  4. It takes advantage of Amazon's Library. The important thing not to forget about the Kindle is that it also has immediate full access to the full library of Amazon.com ... which means just about every book.  And with a direct tie-in to a user's Amazon account, you can purchase just about any book or piece of content Amazon sells instantly.  From an on demand resource shelf, this is phenomenal (imagine having the AP Stylebook available at a moment's notice). 

If you put all these pieces together, the interesting conclusion is that the Kindle may represent the first real product that challenges our perceptions about how people are consuming content.  Once this starts to change, the way that media publishers create and distribute their content will really change ... thus creating a new environment for PR pros to operate within.  Are you ready for a real time rss-based always on media landscape?  If not, now's the time to start.

Note: This post is republished from the original that was written for the 360 Digital Influence Blog.

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Comments

Rohit, good information. We should have seen this coming for a while.

Rohit, excellent summary of the Kindle's PR potential. I'm particularly intrigued by point #2, the integrated reading experience. I hadn't thought of this before but it would be very nice to see the Kindle evolve into the hub for all documents. If I want to do some lightweight editing of a Word file or some other doc, it would be great to do so on a Kindle-size device rather than having to lug my laptop everywhere. Let's hope Amazon is keeping their eyes and ears open for this sort of feedback so that Kindle 2.0 is a giant leap beyond Kindle 1.0!

P.S. -- I'd like to read and review your upcoming book on my Publishing 2020 blog. Stop by and let me know if your publisher is planning to produce advance/galley copies for reviewers.

Thanks,
Joe Wikert
Kindleville Blog (www.kindleville.com)
Publishing 2020 Blog (www.joewikert.com)

Rohit,

Your post is factually incorrect in a number of places and I find myself disagreeing with most of the rest of it.

The Kindle is hardly the first connected device with access to real-time information (#3) or the first device to deliver a reading experience (#2). For example, there are a LOT of phones with web-browsing capabilities that lots and lots of people read stuff on today. And really, if you've used or Kindle or read about it, what it's really designed for is reading books — not magazines or newspapers or stuff that's frequently updated.

And as far as the Kindle's adoption of RSS (#1), well… the way they've adopted is kind of strange. They charge for subscribing to an RSS feed and their library of feeds to a limited set of feeds. On the other hand, web browsing on the device is free — so it actually creates a dis-incentive for people to us RSS with the device. Two posts about this from the editors of Engadget and Gizmodo:
http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/amazon/why-giz-isnt-on-kindles-rss-feeder-and-how-to-get-around-that-325537.php
http://www.ryanblock.com/2007/11/why-engadget-isnt-on-kindle/

Finally, there's only a small selection of books (88,000) available for access on the Kindle (#4). It's not Amazon's entire library of books. Not by a long shot.

Sincerely,
Rakesh
http://rake.sh/

Rakesh,

Thanks for commenting. You raise a good point about Amazon's full library not being available right away. Calling the Kindle only good for reading books is a bit naive, though. They may not offer all RSS feeds integrated, but if having a browser is a disincentive to use RSS feeds, why do people use them on their laptops? My point is not that the Kindle is the first device to offer mobile content (obviously, it isn't), but that paying attention to how people are using it is important for PR pros because it represents a shift in how people are likely to consume content in the future. This is a point supported by lots of reviews online from real users, as well as my own experience with the Kindle.

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