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The Kindle is rapidly doing for digital books what the iPod did for
music – transforming the medium by making the electronic form-factor
simple and efficient and the acquisition of content easier. What Amazon
hopes to do next is incorporate popular blogs into the digital reader,
including those of technology enthusiasts and solution providers.

Beginning this week, Amazon is accepting public blogs through its
Kindle Publishing for Blogs Beta program, where it will format the
content for the Kindle device and distribute it to subscribers through
the Kindle Store. In theory, solution providers can leverage this
channel to disseminate its corporate and technology blogs to customers,
prospects and anyone else interested in their messages.

Amazon says the conversion process takes 12 to 48 hours before its
ready for distribution. And, with the new wireless Kindles, blog
subscribers will get their updates automatically pushed to their
devices.

But there’s a catch – there’s always a catch. 

Amazon isn’t charging bloggers and content providers for the
distribution service. In fact, it will pay bloggers. The catch is that
it’s charging subscribers to receive blogs selected through the Kindle
Store. Amazon isn’t clear on what it will charge for each blog, but
some speculate that it will cost subscribers $1.99 per blog per month.
Amazon will pay the blogger a 30 percent commission for participating.

While the fee-based subscription seems reasonable, critics already
say that it will greatly limit the potential audience for Kindle blogs
and, as a result, drive down potential revenue for the bloggers. After
all, Apple’s iTunes store charges only for rich media content but
distributes all forms of podcasts for free. And the commission
structure, critics say, is inverted from the application revenue split
for Kindle, iPhone and other devices, which can run twice as much as
the blogger rate.

Kindle power users will likely grab some of the blogs, but its
usefulness as a mass-market and communications tool—under this
schema—is limited. Solution providers and technology bloggers will
likely get more bang for their efforts through traditional social
networks, RSS feeds and viral marketing.