over 10 years on 2008-04-01


this am in nyc the kindle just clicked for me. i had played a bit with the device when it first came out and thought it was cool, but didn't understand how it fit in - now i do.

i have to take a trip today and decided last night that i wanted to pick up a copy of "snow crash" for the journey. i thought it wouldn't be a problem to find a copy of the book on my way to the station in the am. after all, there is a b&n across the street from where i live....

i woke up and went to b&n. to my great shock they didn't have it, explaining that their rent was going up 500 percent so they are closing and winding down inventory.

i thought, no matter, at grand central there are at least three large newstands - shouldn't be a problem finding an over priced copy there. to my shock, at each of the three stands/stores there were no more than 24 books for sale amid hundreds of magazines. so, no dice.

the upshot is this. as the book market is sent into decline it becomes really hard to impossible to impulse purchase books. the big retailers are stunting inventory and closing (see recent borders news), the smaller impulse focused news stands have already stopped carrying them... so, what is one to do? amazon has the good stuff if you think ahead, but if not, you need a kindle.


1. the number of people reading books is declining

2. the people who still read are more likely to be educated/buy online (where prices are inherently cheaper because of inventory efficiency)

3. so physical booksellers are in a tailspin, declining faster than actual demand for books on the fly.

4. meaning if you still read (a declining but large population) and want a book on the fly, your options are inihilated.

5. kindle (which works especially well because those likely to still read are also likely to be able to afford the device and embrace technology, age adjusted)

6. faster death spin for physical retailers

so, actually, the thing about kindle is not that it will work because of tech (where previous ebooks failed) but because you had to wait for book scarcity in the general market before issuing the death blow. other ebooks jumped the gun.

- none of this is killer thinking, but the physical experience made it click for me.

original swl blogposts and letters 2007-2010