Three reason why the Kindle can’t save the newspaper industry—plus a few ideas on what might help

image Enjoy your Kindle e-reader if you own one.

But can it really save your hometown newspaper, as some have suggested?

Very likely not, and here’s why.

1. The Kindle is too pricey for customers, and while newspapers will offer it at a discount, I doubt we’re talking about less than $200.

Even spread out, that’s no small burden. While prices will decline, newspapers need the help now.

2. The K machine is also pretty expensive for newspapers, with Jeff Bezos insisting on a 30-70 split in his favor. See Gizmodo, source of the second image.

image 3. The Kindle does not solve the packaging problems identified by Alan Mutter, a journalism and tech expert who writes the Reflections of a Newsosaur blog.

“Instead of trying to persuade consumers to adapt to an expensive, awkward and idiosyncratic gizmo like the wide-body Kindle, newspapers would be wiser to spend their time and resources optimizing their existing offerings for the interactive formats already in popular use,” he told MSNBC.

Amen, Alan! The Washington Post, as seen on my iPod Touch, is one big disaster area. What a shame. The horrid presentation is getting in the way of some great content.

image What might help newspapers: Links from news stories to books, and also those in the opposite direction—not just “news books” based on recent news. But will the newspaper industry have the resourcefulness and imagination to pull this stunt off?

Also helpful would be a handy application for reading books and newspapers on iPhone-style devices. I agree with Steve Jordon’s concern about proliferation apps, but ideally an organization like the Associated Press could come up with one for the whole news industry to use, in addition to improved Web distribution. WiFi isn’t everyone. People should be able to rely on both apps and improved Web presentation.

That would be a far, far more effective approach than the current legal and PR assault on Google (usual reminder/disclosure: I’m a very small Google shareholder). Shown is the AP’s rather promising reader app as it looked when we reviewed it last year.

Related: Will the Kindle Change reading habits? Some predict the device will make a huge impact on how we read, from MSNBC, and the Kindle 2 Review’s assessment of the chances of the Kindle DX’s chances of success.

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