Kindle

The whole world seems to have seen that Newsweek is carrying a cover story about Kindle from Amazon ;-) The story is pretty positive.

One notable aspect is the tight coupling of the service for delivering ebooks and other materials and the device for presenting them. This is a model we are familiar with from iTunes, but no intermediate computer is required here. The Kindle can connect wirelessly (using an EVDO-based service).

Specifically, it's an extension of the familiar Amazon store (where, of course, Kindles will be sold). Amazon has designed the Kindle to operate totally independent of a computer: you can use it to go to the store, browse for books, check out your personalized recommendations, and read reader reviews and post new ones, tapping out the words on a thumb-friendly keyboard. Buying a book with a Kindle is a one-touch process. And once you buy, the Kindle does its neatest trick: it downloads the book and installs it in your library, ready to be devoured. "The vision is that you should be able to get any book—not just any book in print, but any book that's ever been in print—on this device in less than a minute," says Bezos. [Amazon: Reinventing the Book | Newsweek.com]

The article, by Steven Levy, also discusses adoption of ebooks in general terms. It spends some time discussing patterns of reading and wonders to what extent the Kindle will support or shape new expectations. I suppose that this type of discussion is inevitable, but this type of yes_it_is/no_it_isn't the shape of things to come exchange is a little tedious. Our expectations and behaviors are continually being reshaped.

See the discussion by David Rothman on Teleread ("Do publishers and readers really want Amazon or Google to be the ultimate controllers of interactivity?") and Richard MacManus on Read/WriteWeb ("And now it looks like Amazon has, finally, taken the always-nascent eBook industry to the next level.").

I look forward to seeing one and trying it out. Levy notes: "Though Bezos is reluctant to make the comparison, Amazon believes it has created the iPod of reading." Of course, one important difference from the iPod model is that folks transfer their CDs to the iPod as welling as buying materials through iTunes. We will not be able to transfer the books in our current personal collections to the Kindle in the same way.

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Comments: 12

Nov 19, 2007
Leo Klein

Remember: when you start hearing from anyone, even a wildly successful CEO from Amazon Books, "this isn't a device, it's a service," it's time to start running for the exits.

Nov 19, 2007
Ed Jones

I'm not sure this can be compared with the iPod (which superseded the much clunkier portable CD player, liberated the individual song from the album [much to the delight of listeners and, eventually, producers], and led to the invention of the podcast). I see it as more akin to the US Government's perennial efforts to gain acceptance of a dollar coin, efforts doomed to failure as long as the more user-friendly dollar bill remains in circulation. Even with all the bells and whistles, I don't see the Kindle replacing the technologically sublime book--especially the supple paperback--anytime soon. And the Kindle is ugly, despite what the parents say.

Nov 19, 2007
Leo Klein

"I don't see the Kindle replacing the technologically sublime book..."

The two things aren't even in the same league. The book may well be replaced at least partially by such wildly successful and familiar formats as web pages and pdf files. To a certain extent, this already has happened.

But the author blithely ignores these obvious alternatives and chooses instead the completely untried/untested "kindle" which he then uses as a point of departure to discuss the demise of the book!

It's completely absurd. The thing is nothing but a paean to Amazon.

Nov 20, 2007
Bob Fontaine

This is surely a profit centered venture – the first indication is with Kindle’s description as a PERSONAL device. Kindle’s books cannot be shared with friends or resold once your done reading them. This practice is firmly rooted in the culture of book reading. Going to France? Then borrow a few travel books from your neighbor or the library. Just read a great novel? Now let your spouse read it too! Just imagine the revenue that will be generated if we BOUGHT everything we read!

Nov 20, 2007
Bruce Newell

The timing of this announcement could be viewed as a little ironic. OCLC Abstracts recently featured the NEA reading study, with included key findings:

"Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier."

"Reading scores for American adults of almost all education levels have deteriorated, notably among the best-educated groups."

"Nearly two-thirds of employers ranked reading comprehension “very important” for high school graduates. Yet 38 percent consider most high school graduates deficient in this basic skill."

And so forth. Is Amazon cashing in before we become a post-literate society? I am just joking... I think.

Oh, one final thought. Equating the Kindle with the iPod? Perhaps, but only in that both devices are exquisitely designed to bring users back to the seller's barn. Otherwise, one is clunky, the other elegant.

Nov 21, 2007
Don Druker

If I download a number of books to my Kindle, can I then offload these books to my PC to make room for more books on my Kindle?


Can I then reload these offloaded books BACK to my Kindle should I wish to reread any or all of them?


Can I read Kindle books on my PC, or must I always reload them to my Kindle in order to make them readable?


Can I offload my Kindle books to any other media (e.g., CDs or DVDs) as a backup precaution or for transfer to another PC or a laptop?


If I annotate a Kindle book and then offload it to my PC or to another medium, do the annotations "travel" with the Kindle book?


Can I re-download Kindle books that may have been lost or damaged in the original download process or while being transferred from my PC to my Kindle?

Will Amazon allow me to download (either for free or at a nominal charge) expensive books I have already purchased from Amazon which are now available in Kindle format?


What happens to periodicals that I download to my Kindle? Are they copied over by the next day's edition, or must I manually delete them? Can I store them on my PC?


And here's a big, big question: Can I PRINT from a Kindle book, either a single passage (blocked) or an entire page? Or must I go through the laborious process of blocking-and-copying to, say, a WORD document before I can print? (This is what I have to do with Questia, and it sucks).


What about color illustrations?

Nov 27, 2007
Ashhhhleyyyy

is the kindle really worth all this money? and would we be better off just waiting for a "second or third generation" like the ipod. And do they have it in book stores so we can test it out. I am very interested in seeing how it works and if the no LCD light actually "looks like paper" or just like a gameboy you have to squint to see

Dec 02, 2007
Kindle Kind

Unless the early-adopters quickly unveil some true flaws, Amazon will surely be content to be the only game in town when it comes to EV-DO wireless purchases just a click away. Sony's device may be technically superior, but the Kindle's connection to Amazon customer accounts with their 1-click ordering feature is a powerful advantage.

Dec 13, 2007
Robin

I've been playing around with my kindle since getting it a couple of weeks ago. Personally, I love it. I've loaded some basic stuff: Shakespeare, Chaucer, and a few novels, plus a trial NY Times. I find it is just so easy to tote around, I am using it all the time. One thing that I like about it, besides just the idea of having 100s of books on one little reader, is that even with all that...no paper is involved.

I don't know if it will be as big as the ipod, but I can sure see a future for schools and universities for textbooks and things like that. Man, I wished I'd had one of these back in the olden days when I was an English major. Sure would have saved my aching back.

Dec 15, 2007
Jarik

I'm definitely excited about the new Kindle. No, it won't replace a book ever. Bookstores are not going to be obsolete any time soon. College students will still have to have the standard book availible in class. Some professors feel that a book in print form is far better then the digital version.After all, some of us love to show off our book collections at parties. But for sake of air travel, train travel, and condensed backpacks on trips I'm open to this little device. Now I can bring my Star Trek books any where I go. (Even in class.)

Jan 15, 2008
David Cassingham

How long is the back log for the purchase of these?

Mar 03, 2008
Carol Cullen

Is it possible to adjust the font size on a kindle?