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May 15, 2009

Amazon Brings Paid Blog Subscriptions to the Kindle

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Days after creating an easier way for iPhone users to buy content for its e-book tablets, the world’s leading online retailer this week reportedly is launching a beta program that will pay bloggers when consumers subscribe to them.

Officials at (News - Alert) say this latest innovation for their so-called “Kindle” devices – including the recently unveiled larger, newspaper-friendly version, the Kindle DX – will see blogs pushed to the device’s home screen, where subscriptions will run from about 99 cents to $2 per month.
According to Jennifer LeClaire of – a Web site owned by the Calabasas, California-based NewsFactor Network – Amazon pays registered bloggers 30 percent of the subscription fee and keeps 70 percent (the inverse, by way of contrast, of the iPhone app developer-Apple (News - Alert) business model).
“Bloggers don’t have to pay any fees to join the program, but Amazon sets the price of the content based on what it deems a fair value for customers,” according to LeClaire. “The new program opens the door for bloggers to gain new readers and cash.”
We see two major challeges for Amazon’s pay-for-blogs offering. 

First, the Kindle is WiFi (News - Alert)-ready and includes a simple browser that already allows users to access blogs published to the Web. Just because those blogs are pushed to the Kindle’s home screen doesn’t mean people will be willing to pay for them – after all, fans of blogs typically can subscribe to e-newsletters or individual blogs that can be delivered in HTML form to their e-mail accounts.
Second, it isn’t clear yet whether the Kindle will succeed in the still-struggling (netbooks notwithstanding) consumer electronics market.
And it’s far too soon to know whether Amazon’s ambitious project will succeed or not.
Last week, the Seattle-based company unveiled its Kindle DX, in a move that many say could signal the start of a technology-fueled turnaround for the failing newspaper industry.
So the big question at this point is: How many Kindle DXs will Amazon sell at $489 apiece?
The product, which will be available next month, has 2.5 times the surface area of the original Kindle’s 6-inch display. The display has 16 shades of gray, more area for graphic-rich content – such as professional and personal documents, newspapers and magazines, and textbooks – and, Amazon says, its content reads like printed words on paper because the screen works using real ink and doesn’t use a backlight.
The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post are launching pilots with Kindle DX this summer, offering the device at a reduced price to readers who live in areas where home-delivery is not available and who sign up for a long-term subscription to the Kindle edition of the newspapers.
The Kindle Store itself now holds more than 275,000 books (not nearly as many as the half-million offered on the Sony Reader).

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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