I'm far too stingy to pay hundreds of pounds for an e-book reader when there's a book shop underneath PC Advisor's office selling titles for £2 each. But as a convenient gadget for reading the paper, the e-book format could be a winner - providing manufacturers get on board with content owners.
The new Kindle DX, announced yesterday, has a larger screen which Amazon claims is ideal for reading newspapers. The company has already signed deals with The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post to provide customers in some areas of the US with a subsidised DX when they sign up to a long-term subscription to a Kindle newspaper edition.
Amazon has yet to launch an e-book reader in the UK, but it seems to me that this principle could be a winner over here, provided the hardware is heavily subsidised - or even 'free'.
UK mobile operators have succeeded in convincing people to sign up to 24 x £25-per-month 3G mobile broadband deals, proving that people are prepared to pay £600 for a 'free' laptop. So it's possible the same idea could be applied to newspapers.
Those who buy a broadsheet every day could be paying over £30 per month, so they're already accustomed to a significant monthly outlay for their daily fix of news. But by delivering that content to an 'e-newspaper' reader, publishers would cut the paper and distribution costs, and so it may be possible to charge readers the same price for a two-year newspaper subscription and throw in a free Kindle DX.
This all depends, of course, on quality of the hardware. While the Amazon Kindle 2 nearly cuts it as the ultimate e-book reader, whether the DX can replace the newspaper experience with its slightly larger screen remains to be seen. But many people might be prepared to take a gamble for £30 per month with all their newspaper content thrown in.