Amazon (s amzn) lacks the one thing that most retail companies have, and that is a brick and mortar outlet. Some would say that having only an online store is an advantage, but that’s not necessarily the case when a company starts selling its own products, like the Kindle. Barnes & Noble (s bks) stumbled out of the gate getting its own e-book reader, the Nook, into its retail stores, but it can be found there now by consumers who might want to touch one before buying it. There’s also a distribution deal with Best Buy to sell the Nook. Consumers like to try e-book readers prior to purchase, and that may be the driver behind the Amazon deal with Target, to sell the Kindle in select Target stores.
According to Target, the Kindle will initially be available in Minneapolis and stores in Florida, to be followed with more Target outlets selling the Kindle later. The restricted roll-out may be a test by Target to gauge sales potential prior to the full launch, but Target has not stated that is the case.
It will be interesting to see how the general public reacts to the e-book reader. Amazon has likely sold quite a few Kindles online, but there are no hard numbers to indicate if the non-techie community is buying them. Having the Kindle in a mass market retailer like Target should give mainstream consumers good exposure to the technology, perhaps for the first time for many of them. It will be telling to see how the general public reacts to such hands-on exposure.
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