5 Ways Amazon Can Save the Kindle

After all of this time and effort developing the Kindle line into such an overwhelmingly popular force in reading that the biggest publishers felt the need to break the law rather than be intimidated, I think it is fair to say that Amazon is not prepared to give up on the electronic books.  Even knowing this, it is clear that they are lagging behind a bit in development while concentrating on other areas.  Sooner or later they are going to have to pay a bit more attention to the Kindle eReaders and hopefully this will result in a few big changes.

The platform is still amazing.  Nobody can beat the Kindle Store right now.  A Kindle vs Nook comparison that excludes hardware is hardly worth making, it’s so one-sided.  Apps and content alone won’t be enough to carry the line forever, though, and there are a few additions that are safe to guess at so long as Amazon doesn’t try to simply eliminate the competition by selling eBooks below wholesale now that the Agency Model is on its way out.

Lit Kindle Display

We’ve already had some rumors about this, but nothing solid has manifested so far.  The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight already accomplishes this in a way that impresses and avoids the shortcomings of backlit LCD options.  Offering a new generation of Kindle eReaders that lacked the feature would be a mistake.

Organization Options

Yes, the Kindle Collections system is better than nothing.  It came as a welcome change to years of nothing at all to organize with.  It even makes sense to handle things with tags, given the cloud-centric nature of Amazon’s services.  Being able to better organize books is going to have to happen eventually, though, and it would be a big selling point for new customers if it came soon.

Physical Page Turn Buttons

You won’t find many people who are completely satisfied with the lack of physical page turn buttons on the Kindle Touch.  It is a fine eReader, but this was a glaring omission that is genuinely hard to ever completely get used to.  It can’t possibly increase costs enough to justify leaving it out and hopefully Amazon will realize that now.

Color E Ink Display

This one is a long shot, but being the first to offer an affordable, reliable, attractive color eReader would definitely be a coup for the Kindle line.  With the lighting options that have been described by Kindle rumors and put in place on the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, it would be more possible than ever to make the otherwise dull color E Ink currently available look quite nice.  The only question is whether Amazon is able to do that and still sell cheap eReaders.

Support For Online Communications

Let’s face it, the big thing everybody keeps pulling out for eReaders is the social media integration.  Kindle, Kobo, Nook, whatever, they all want to let you post from inside the eReader.  Take it a step further and let the next Kindle act as a portal for select communications (Facebook, Twitter, email, and maybe a few others) and you expand the attraction of the device at minimal cost.  This reduces the emphasis on the single use nature of the Kindle, but it makes it that much more attractive to a segment of the user base that prefers to stay constantly connected at the same time.  It’s a smart trade-off.

5 thoughts on “5 Ways Amazon Can Save the Kindle”

  1. I love my Kindle Touch and the lack of buttons doesn’t bother me. You know what does? eBooks that cost more than paperbacks! I’m still waiting for this lawsuit to make a dent on prices but who knows how long it will take. In the meantime, I’ll give my business to the local library and used book stores.

  2. I think a nice way to extend the online communications would be to come up with a kind of e-ink friendly version of feedly or flipboard.

    Also, for the general Amazon, I think they need to beef up the magazine and newspaper support. The interface for getting and loading those is pretty ugly and slow on the Fire and practically worthless on the Kindle e-readers.

    I am one who actually believes that magazine and newspaper reading could really work well on small tablets. I just don’t think it has been done very well yet.

  3. The biggest failing for the Kindle family is a single set of content across all of the devices in a family. We have five readers, and having my eight year old have easy access to the books my wife and I read makes no sense at all. Using separate accounts isn’t an answer either, because as the kids get older we want to be able to share our purchases.

    Obviously the Kindle Fire just makes this whole situation worse.

  4. 1) Backlight, not bothered, real books don’t have them.
    2) Organization options, again not bothered, as long as I can store a few and pick them easily. I’ll ‘organize’ my books on something like LibraryThing.
    3) Physical page turns, probably.
    4) Colour, not really bothered for fiction novels.
    5) Online/social media – nope, use PC.

    The features an ebook reader really needs are:

    a) Waterproof (completely) for reading in bath, in or on the water on holiday.
    b) Thinner/lighter – they still can be a little heavy.
    c) eBooks cheaper than real ones.
    d) higher resolution eInk (dots per inch) for clearer/sharper text.

  5. Erik,

    While it isn’t perfect, I did come up with a solution for that. On a kid’s eReader, simply delete the WiFi network key after you’re done making purchases. Presumably they do not have permission to buy things anyway and the eReader is a poor way to browse the net. If you insist on handling all the loading, or even side-load using something like Calibre, it gives you greater control.

    I’m not claiming that this isn’t something Amazon should look into offering more robust controls for, just pointing out an option I’ve found to be functional.

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