Kindle Makes Newspapers Obsolete?

Nicholas Carson points out that, “it costs the [New York] Times about twice as much money to print and deliver the newspaper over a year as it would cost to send each of its subscribers a brand new Amazon Kindle instead.”

Andrew Sullivan terms this “A devastating little insight into the obsolescence of newspapers” but it strikes me as a merely cute apples-to-oranges comparison of the nature of Jesse’s Jackson’s line, “It costs less  to send a child to Yale than to send them to jail.”

That printing and delivering newspapers is expensive while making plastic electronic crap is cheap is rather obvious.  The real question is whether people want to read their news on 6-inch screens and the New York Times company can figure out how to make a profit delivering it to them in the appropriate format.

Of course, newspapers may be on their way to obsolescence under their current business model, anyway, if neither the readers nor the advertisers are willing to fork over enough money to keep them afloat.  Perhaps the Kindle or some as-yet-uninvented technology will rescue them.  But I don’t see how a competing delivery technology will kill them unless they can also fund content creation.

FILED UNDER: Media, Science & Technology, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    OLED’s promise to deliver larger displays at a reasonable price in the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t be surprised at a tabloid-sized Kindle or equivalent. They also have the advantage of being viewable over a wider range and in direct sunlight.

  2. FireWolf says:


    Since I own the Kindle 2, I can say that reading newspapers on them hasn’t been the most fun. The formatting that they use is just “suck”. Books however, are plenty fun, and makes the device very useful.

    It would be great if someone would make a twitter app for the kindle because i’d love to chew up the free 3G setup. HeH

  3. odograph says:

    Check out Ubiquitous Computing. When Kindle-equivalents are cheap enough to be lying around, that’s when print will be dead.

  4. jabberwock says:

    Nothing will replace reading the morning paper with my coffee and bagel.
    All else I do is online…but I really would miss the morning daily.