Here’s An Idea For Amazon Kindle Books

With mainstream eBooks from the Big 5 publishers routinely hitting $12.99 to $14.99, I have an idea for Jeff Bezos. (If this has already been tried, my apologies. I don’t get out much.)

Those prices are close to what CDs sell for. These days the shift is to streaming music and downloadable audio books, but here’s the thing. The physical CD was pretty much all we had before streaming cloud services came on the scene. The physical object was in some sense a limitation. Music and audiobooks come over us as we open ourselves to them in whatever format.

Books are different. Whichever way we read them, we have to bring to them a special kind of attention. Reading requires a special kind of commitment. So in part that’s why many readers cherish the physical book. It is a monument to that commitment and a marker for many of a particular time in life when the words were fresh and readers were shaped by the printed page.

What if Amazon began producing a kind of eBook that was the size of a CD, complete with cover art, blurbs, and so on, packaged in a CD price range? There would be no disc inside; instead, Amazon would develop a version of its Kindle reader, call it the KindleX, with the familiar e-ink screen, only with a large slot into which the physical eBook would fit. The device would read and display the text from an embedded chip in the package.

There would be a setting so that when a person selected a pleasing font size it could be locked into place. That delightful paragraph at the top of page 73 would always be on page 73.

This cartridge idea may seem clunky, but it makes an eBook into a physical object, complete with striking and gorgeous covers, and would justify the CD-level pricing. Folks could easily carry around a half dozen books in a travel bag, along with the KindleX reader with the big slot.

With that, Amazon would make eBooks a thing again.