Seth Godin’s Random Kindle Thoughts

Echoing many of the themes that have come up here, author and new media/marketing guru,  Seth Godin posts his thoughts on Kindle, having actually owned one for two months (unlike yours truly, who merely speculates on the known unknowns!). A few points resonate:

 It changes (at least for me) what it means to buy and own a book.

I’ve often thought (and said) that cultural change is harder than technological change, and this statement nails it really eloquently. The social practices surrounding the book experience are much broader than just the reading – kindle et al might have the screen and reading  bit down pat, but the rest isn’t there yet.

Word processing didn’t work because it was typing but a little cheaper. It worked because it was better than typing. Email didn’t work because it was mail but a little faster. It worked because it was fundamentally better than snail mail…

Builds on the previous bit. Cultural shifts won’t happen without some kind of motivation. E-Books have to be better than p-books, not the same in a new package.


The pricing of books is whacked. $9.95 is a publisher-friendly price, not an author-friendly or reader-friendly price.

The easiest way (maybe the only way) to shift social practices is to appeal to the hip pocket nerve (although the experience of very expensive *new* cultural practices like downloading ringtones suggests that people are less cost-sensitive when they’re offered something new and exciting to play with). And it appears that the book trade just doesn’t want to explore the possibilities of the new:

My first thought is that every Kindle should ship with $1,000 worth of free books on it. I offered Amazon rights to as many of my books as I control if they would just agree to put em free on every Kindle. They declined.



3 comments so far

  1. Jen Li on

    I think even before cultural change, we need education. There are so many people who are yet to realise that the Kindle and the Iliad are actually /different/ to reading on a computer screen, and that’s usually the first response I get when I ask booksellers whether they think the e-book will take off–that people don’t like reading on screens.

    I’m still not an advocate of the e-book, though 🙂 I love paper!

  2. overnightprints on

    I totally agree with Jen Li.

  3. shermanfyoung on

    Hey Jen

    I think the idea of cultural change incorporates a whole range of social practices surrounding (in this case) the book which need to shift before things start changing on a big scale. And you’re right, education (in whatever form it occurs) is a necessary part of this.



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