Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I can't hold a Kindle to this one

OK, time for a consumer survey. What do you think of the Kindle, the wireless electronic book that will be available from Amazon on November 29?

Here's the quickie description: This is an ebook that is connected wirelessly directly to Amazon. No computer needed. $399 purchase price. You purchase the books you want electronically and they arrive in your hand-held device. Newspaper subscriptions are also available. It does not need wifi so you can buy a book wherever you are.

Reaction from a close friend: I'm drooling to get one.

My Luddite response: Sorry. Why is this good? Can't I just read a book?

Her reply: So you're sitting on a plane. You brought a book with you but you don't feel like that book anymore. You open your Kindle and download a new one from Amazon for $10. Or you subscribe to the newspaper, which is delivered to your Kindle every morning. Or you want to read that new War & Peace translation but it's too heavy to take on vacation. Or you're traveling with children and can get a new book for them to read in one minute. Or you want to read a novel you are embarrassed to be seen reading in public. No more having to fit that "Plato's Republic" dust jacket around Danielle Steele.

Now it's your turn . . . .

18 comments:

Elliott said...

Sold out, but I wouldn't buy one. I'm not a big fan of EVDO and your friend is possibly wrong about it working in an airplane. In fact there's every reason to suppose that the FAA will ban these units from being on while in flight or require that the manufacturer disable the wireless access since they require you to turn off your cell phone. (No real good technological reason for that rule anymore, but the beauracracy loves their rules.) OTOH, this might fly under the radar and the FAA might not even realize that there will be active wireless devices on airplanes in flight (Oh my!).

Tracey R. said...

Eh, I don't like it.

But then, I'm a former English major (and teacher!) who still relies on the highlighter and folded down page corners to get me through graduate school. I even print out the articles on e-reserves for my classes because I don't like reading online.

margalit said...

I think the Kindle is a horrible looking piece of outdated electronics. They couldn't have found a decent designer to make it look cool?

I also think I'd never ever spend $400 for a device to be able to read a book that I could get for free at the library. Call me a luddite, but what a waste of money, energy, and plastic. No thanks, I'll read books the old fashioned way, one paper page at a time.

Anonymous said...

I'd be afraid to read it in the bathtub (my favorite reading spot!)

shadowfax said...

DRM.

Sucks.

Give me unrestricted content or forget it.

Also, that thing looks like it got hit with the ugly stick a few times. Embarrassed to be seen carrying Danielle Steele? I'd be embarrassed to be seen carrying that monstrosity -- and I am a gadget geek.

Anonymous said...

Good discussion at Daring Fireball:

http://daringfireball.net/2007/11/dum

which predicts that it will flop due to DRM, being a completely closed architecture, and just plain ugly. Not to mention the Levy hypothesis: why not carry a book? I'm inclined to agree, at least for the moment.

Dayna said...

I'm sorry, can't go there. For me, the smell of the pages, the feel of the book in my hands, the creases in the folds on the corners are half the experience. No way I'd buy one. As for my kids, half the fun of books is going to the library or the store to pick it out.

We're total bookies - my kids easily have a thousand books between them - they love to sit on the couch and curl up with a good book - I some how doubt we'd curl up next to that thing to read.

The Imp ;-) said...

I’ve been purchasing the electronic versions of books since the late 90’s, from a boutique publisher of science fiction and fantasy. Given that the mobile platform choice has mostly been a PDA, cover art, and the early readability of the fonts were an issue.

Some of the later PDA’s had screen resolution and true type fonts that greatly improved the readability of the content.

Given that your purchasing gateway was still through the publisher’s website, they could still give you the full-on marketing push insomuch as they offered it (this particular publisher is somewhat horrendous at providing cover-art).

Other companies have tried to go down the dedicated eBook path, with mixed results, the Rocket eBook springs to mind, and it’s successor the RCA version. Like PDA’s, both more or less mandated that you purchased your content via computer.

It will be interesting to see if the Kindle gets much traction; while it is great to see the removal of the personal computer as a requirement, my major issues remain, including but not limited to:

1) Content cost; Amazon and major publishing houses have very high-costs on electronic content.
2) Security; electronic publishers that put stringent DMA models do not tend to engender good-will in their user-base.
3) Tactility: reading, especially for bibliophiles is usually a tactile experience, where the content is supplemented by the look and feel of the book.

Ciao,

Mark

Anonymous said...

I remain attracted to the concept but a little turned off by the reality. My current habits accommodate books and other printed matter without thinking about it, so I don't know that I'd really USE the thing, except occasionally, which for the money...

jessica lipnack said...

Good one, Paul. Just ref'd you in Fahrenheit 451, a post that's been brewing since I heard the news. Chalk another one up for negativo.

Chris Roussin said...

Until they make it library compatible I'm out.

Anonymous said...

Good Grief, no. I can't see curling up with it on the sofa and just reading. How can I read to my granchildren and have them turn the pages and look at the pictures. Books mean too much to me

Anonymous said...

I think it's useful for students (even though we can never afford it at that price). It may save my back. It may save some trees (I buy so many books that I don't care to ever read again, and some, I don't even end up reading). It may be more hygienic? I love libraries, but wondering where those books have been is always in the back of my mind...

Even if I could afford it, I guess I wouldn't buy a Kindle because it's still very limited. I wish it had pdf support.

As for it being plain ugly, I don't mind that so much. I think technology should focus on functionality, rather than focusing on conveying a certain kind of social status.

Mark Graban said...

It's ugly and the pricing model is all wrong. Instead of expensive device and cheap books, they should subsidize or give away the reader for a subscription book model, like audible.com for audio books. $399 is way too high of a price point. I'm sure they want to soak the early adopters (ala iPhone) and then lower the price. If they're sold out now, it's hard to argue it's too expensive for everyone. Just too expensive for me right now.

Plus, how can you try one out before buying it? I assume amazon has a good no-questions-asked return policy. Something like this needs to be at a mall kiosk (like Dell Computer has) so people can try it first hand.

rn.elizabeth said...

Best thing about a Palm is that it fits in my pocket and nobody knows that I'm carrying it to the bathroom at work. Couldn't see hauling a Kindle with me. I just wish it was easier to download books to the palm.

Max said...

The problem is DRM. Amazon can (and eventually will ) revoke your books ,change secuirty model and boom you can no longer can read anymore. Same reason I dont use itunes .

PJ Geraghty said...

I agree that DRM is an issue, as is the lack of PDF support. The price point is a little high, too. I do like the (free, sort of) EVDO download method, but I'd prefer it had some additional web browsing ability, even as an optional pay-as-you-go service.

As well, once I've bought a Kindle book, I can't give it to anyone else to read, the way I can with a hardcover. This takes away from the social aspects of reading.

The Kindle books aren't cheap enough to justify that, although it would be nice to not be at the mercy of airport bookstores.

Get the price down to <$200, reduce the lockdown of the DRM (maybe share each download with two other Kindles? or only with "family" Kindles?) ad I'll take another look. I wouldn't mind an MP3 player in it, too :-)

To the poster who asked about Amazon's return policy: not sure if it's different for the Kindle, but they are VERY liberal in accepting returns, in my experience.

BudU said...

You work in a hospital? It seems to me this thing is tailor made for patients who don't get around very well. Wireless newspaper and book delivery would be really high value capabilities...