Last week I put my stuff on the market. If you're a Kindle user, you can pay $1.99 a month to get my blog wirelessly delivered to your device. Setting myself up as a Kindle content vendor took about five minutes. Digging myself out of the crater that the stock market made of my 401K? That could take forever.
This isn't my first venture into paid content. In the 20th century, when I was editor of StarTribune.com (and its pre-Web ancestor, Star Tribune Online,) I had some experience marketing a subscription-based online service and with per-article archive charges. Neither was particularly successful.
But what the heck. Amazon made it all easy. Too easy, as it turns out; there are reports that you can register anybody else's blog as a Kindle product and collect the revenues until you get caught.
What revenues? I have no idea. Amazon's deal is even more opaque than Google's Adsense. I don't know why my blog was priced at $1.99 when some others are priced at half that. I don't know whether anyone will buy it (and I have my doubts, since the idiot who manages this operation gives away the same content on the Web). I don't know what kind of reports, if any, I'll get from Amazon. We'll see, I guess.
Signing up as a Kindle publisher made me wonder about the right way to convert journalism into products in Kindle-space. Far too many newspaper people have the problem of Maslow's Hammer (if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail). So they look at the E.Ink tablets as a way to distribute newspapers. What if people would rather subscribe to a columnist/blogger? Or to all the coverage of the Cardinals? Or everything geotagged within a 3-mile radius of their homes? Perhaps some experimentation might make sense.
And will the Kindle market ever be big enough to be significant? I have my doubts.
The few Kindle owners I know really gush about the product. But so do the netbook owners that I know. And while the Kindle costs $349, a Dell Mini 10V now costs $299.
I know they're not replacements for one another. The Kindle is more friendly for reading books, while the Mini is better at everything else. But I have a feeling about where this is headed over the next five years, and it's not good for the proprietary Kindle. I wouldn't at all be surprised to look up in 2014 to see Amazon selling far more e-books (and maybe even a few blogs) on open platforms.