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Amazon, Kindle, boomers and seniors -- they get it

So it's not the first time I have had the Kindle presented as a technology for seniors -- in a recent overview I did for a senior center, one of the attendees observed that I had left the product out. Two days ago as I walked past two elderly individuals seated on motorized scooters in the back of an ampitheater in Chautauqua NY, a family member poked me as we walked by -- they were listening to music side-by-side AND reading books on their Kindles -- which they might have learned about at the Amazon product forum for seniors. I think they were friends.

Kindle is a device for downloading books -- up to 1500 of them. It's not cheap -- at $299 -- or upwards of $359 and beyond for latest models. And you have to purchase the downloaded access to 300,000 books and newspapers from the Kindle store. You can search the web as well as the choices of books -- the book print can be enlarged and resized on the reader's screen and Amazon is experimenting with other features, including reading the book out loud and transferring MP3 files to serve as background music while you read.  

Most books are $9.99 to download. From CNET: "While it's still short of perfection--and has a price tag that's too high--the Amazon Kindle 2 offers a range of improvements that makes it the best overall e-book reader we've seen to date." There are plenty of naysayers -- especially book publishing industry -- but also technology wonks who can't seem to understand Amazon's 24% year-over-year growth of Kindle sales in this horrendous retail economy. But maybe they're under 50 -- turns out buyers of the Kindle are over 50. And 27% of them are over 60.

So let's see. Ability to store 1500 books, surf the web, buy the book for less than the bookstore price, not have to carry around a bunch of books (library or otherwise), ability to resize the print size.  And we're talking about the age segment with the greatest wealth and discretionary spending capability.  And who knows -- call me crazy -- maybe that age segment even reads more books.     


I have always felt that seniors are not nearly as averse to technology as many people assume. They are simply very pragmatic in choosing to adopt technology. For seniors, technology must have tangible benefits that support their lifestyle, and that is worth the price plus the investment in learning to use it and maintain it (I'm sure this sounds crazy to the technology wonks).

The Kindle sounds like a perfect example of how seniors ARE willing to pay for technology that really helps them.

I've been saying this for years. Two quotes from my book Advertising to Baby Boomers:

The computer/internet ethos for most Baby Boomers is that they pick and choose what technology they want to use, buy, or install. Some are all over Skype, video and music uploading and downloading, research, education, travel planning, shopping—while eschewing blogging, communities, and web page design. Or it’s the other way around. Or variations thereof. When it comes to new technology, most Baby Boomers learn only about what interests them, what they believe will be useful. They don’t feel the need to know everything there is to know about technology, computers, and the web.

… It will be the Baby Boomers who will be the first to pick and choose, to ignore or be seduced by leading-edge technology marketing. There’s a simple reason for this. We have the money to buy this stuff. Experts say we’ll continue to have the money for at least the next twenty years. Write us off at your own peril.

And here's my take on the Kindle:


Sony just announced a new (and smaller than Kindle) eBook reader at $199.


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