Saturday, November 24, 2007


Kindle: If Only Santa Knew About These!

Earlier in the year I joked with Cheryl Martinez, who coordinates Apress’s user group affilliation program, about the possibility of someone finding a decent electronic solution to hard copy books. Well, it seems Amazon may well have done just that with the release of the Kindle. According to the blurb, Kindle is a “portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers”. It’s not the first device to try and capture this huge market; Sony has had one out for some time which retails for around US$100 less than the Kindle.

It apparently sold out in the first 5.5 hours, but is it just hype or has someone finally found the design sweetspot like the Apple iPod did?

Whilst I haven’t got my grubby paws on one, it seems it might succeed where others have failed due to the fact that it works more like a portable media reader, with the ability to wirelessly download content such as blogs, newspapers over the 3G network, in addition to storing and displaying electronic books.

After reading through only a portion of the huge number of of highly polarised comments (a good thing according to Kathy Sierra) over at Amazon, it seems the negative points are:

1) Books are DRM’ed and in a third party propietry format.
2) Price: US$400.
3) Network coverage (I suspect here in backwater Perth, this might be a big issue).
4) Black and White screen: seems a strange design choice.
5) Book availability: obviously this would hopefully grow quickly as the product matures?

The killer for me is the DRM issue. If I buy a paper book, I expect to be able to read it anytime between now and either it or me crumbles into dust!. I do not want to pay for something that will become unreadable at some point in time (although with technology books becoming out of date very quickly this is not an issue for what would be its main use for me).

Wonder if they have thought of including an automatic speech translator, turning print into audio books?


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