Amazon Announced Kindle

Today Amazon announced its foray into selling hardware with a data service. The device is called “Kindle,” and it represents a daring move for an “online bookstore.” You’re going to see two kinds of reviews: bad ones from people who haven’t used it and good ones from people who have. It’s that kind of product—plus Jeff Bezos’s reality-distortion field isn’t as large as Steve Jobs’s. I have used it and if someone gave me a choice of receiving an iPhone or a Kindle, I’d pick the Kindle. Here are the reasons I like it so much:

  • No computer required. Hooking up to, or synching with, a computer in any manner isn’t required. From my perspective, the ease-of-use of Bluetooth is a myth, and half the time a USB connection doesn’t work. Frankly, docking is for losers. You don’t even need to own a computer to use a Kindle. For light computer users (or for a heavy computer user on vacation), a Kindle can replace a laptop.

  • Content flows. Content is pushed to you via the EVDO wireless network. (This is the data network that’s about four times faster than the one used on an iPhone.) Think of Kindle as a Blackberry for blogs, newspapers, and magazines. You get up in the morning, and all the content you want to read is there (see below). You might be thinking there’s a catch: “I’ll have to pay a monthly subscription for EVDO,” but it’s not true. The $400 includes permanent access and unlike WiFi connectivity, you don’t have to find a hotspot and sign in using a WiFi account.

  • Content is king. Amazon has done a great job of lining up content from newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Le Monde; magazines such as Forbes, Fortune, Time, and Atlantic Monthly (but sadly, not Hockey News yet); and blogs such as TechCrunch, Scobleizer, Huffington Post, BoingBoing, Truemors (!), and Motley Fool. You have to pay for subscriptions, but you will not get on an airplane with nothing to read again. If you’re like me and load up on reading material before a flight, a Kindle (10.3 ounces) will save you several pounds of newspapers and magazines. Amazon has essentially create the “iTunes of documents” if you will.

  • Battery life is good. Considering that content is always being pushed to it, I found that battery life was good—going a couple of days without charging. If I were more judicious and turned off wireless at night, it would have lasted much longer but that defeats the purpose of push technology. If wireless is turned off all the time, it will go about a week on a charge. And it charges up very quickly: about two hours. Oh yeah, the battery is replaceable—what a concept.

  • The screen is perfectly readable. I was skeptical at first, but I had no issue with reading the pocket-book size screen, and I’m an old man who needs reading glasses. It’s not color, but I’d rather have a long battery life than color. Plus, most physical newspapers aren’t in color anyway. Some people will complain about how reading a book is easier than reading a screen, but some people complain about everything.

  • There’s a real QWERTY keyboard. Call me old-fashioned but I like to feel keys go up and down as I type. If Amazon would include a basic email client, life would be really good. Even a Twitter client like Snitter would do the trick. But Amazon’s EVDO expenses might go through the ceiling if people used Kindles as laptops.

Will it replace printed books? Many people are going to opine about whether Kindle can replace a good ole printed book (and Amazon seems very focused on this topic too). Most will conclude that it won’t because of cost, requirement to recharge, dropability, and dunkability (ie, in water), and in these ways it won’t. But this is mostly true for novels and any book that you’d read once and not again. However, for reference books, Kindle kicks butt. For example, I would love to have the Chicago Manual of Style on Kindle, so I can search for rules in a much better way than referring to an index. You can roll your own by sending documents to your account, and they will appear on your Kindle.

There are only two things that I didn’t like about the Kindle. First, the bottom corners of the frame feel like they will poke holes in your palms. There is a carrying case, but reading shouldn’t be a religious experience. Second, there isn’t a page back button for your right hand. This is bad feng shui because there is one for your left hand.

Summary: If you want something that requires very little attention that will deliver your favorite newspapers, magazine, and blogs, you should definitely check out Kindle. Having reference books and documents handy is also quite valuable. Reading electronic versions of novels is cream. If nothing else, you have to admire Amazon for trying things that are as interesting as Kindle, S3, and Mechanical Turk.

By | 2016-10-24T14:17:42+00:00 November 19th, 2007|Categories: Cool Stuff|Tags: |47 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

47 Comments

  1. Ankit Gupta November 19, 2007 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    If they can somehow strike a deal with textbook publishers, I could see a lot of college students switching to this. Get rid of all your text books and have this single electronic device.

  2. Les November 19, 2007 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    You’d really pay $.99 per blog per month to read it on a Kindle? I just don’t get it. I follow over 100 blogs on a regular basis… perhaps that’s excessive. That means, even if all the blogs I followed were on Amazon’s Kindle Blog service, I’d be paying $99 a month to read blogs.
    The idea that I get “free wireless delivery” of my blog subscription is just a straight-faced lie.
    I think I find myself more inline with Seth on this one.
    The hardware might be fantastic but the DRM, purchase rights, and “subscription fees” are so 1990s its a bit laughable.

  3. Chris S. November 19, 2007 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    It seems to me that this would be a great option for people that read a ton of periodicals, I am with Les though… paying for a blog subscription? There is no way I am going there. Also, for me reading a book is more often than not a relational experience. I enjoy buying a book, reading it, then passing it on to someone that I think would enjoy it or would benefit from it. I love the technology but unless I can give away books that I have purchased on the Kindle I won’t be signing up.

  4. Jason H. November 19, 2007 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Kudos to Jeff Bezos and his team—I think this is going to be a huge winner!
    If it wasn’t for iPhone, the Kindle can easily be the Product of the Year.
    Watch this video on Amazon: “Hear Jeff Bezos and Bestselling Authors Discuss Kindle” http://amazon.com/gp/product/B000FI73MA/ref=amb_link_5873612_3/102-6680796-2004147?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=gateway-center-column&pf_rd_r=1FNAMYQFH5TVYPGSK5KE&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=329252801&pf_rd_i=507846
    Mr.Kawasaki is in this video (04:07)—OMG, were you using a Dell Laptop??? I love your orange UA shirt!
    I totally agree with you that the fact that Amazon makes the wireless access for free is a huge selling point.
    I think one thing is missing is ability to read PDF documents.

  5. Andrew Warner November 19, 2007 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Most people are already carrying too much: cell phone, ipod, etc.
    I wish they made kindle into software that can run on all our current devices.

  6. Dave Platter November 19, 2007 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Guy, thanks for the great post. Dave from the REA Group here. Do you happen to know if it’s possible to preload your kindle with all (or most) or wikipedia?
    That would be fantastic.

  7. Ziv Kitaro November 19, 2007 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    I have been waiting for this technology for years now, ever since i came across e-ink some five years ago.
    Too bad Amazon is ignoring the international audience.
    It seems that we won’t have anything to do with this device as the wireless tech will not work out side the U.S
    Also, me. and many others, have tons of ebooks we purchased over the years, pdf of books we bought etc. these will not be able to go onto the device.
    shame.
    Guess I’ll have to wait a few more years for some company to really think about the customers when creating an E-book

  8. Charlie November 19, 2007 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    I’d rather pay a monthly fee for the evdo and then get all my blogs and content for free on the internet. Hopefully this will spur Sony to turn their reader into a proper portable web browser.

  9. Entasis November 19, 2007 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    I am surely a fan of technology, disruptive or not, but my love of the printed word far outweighs what is being offered by the Kindle. If you have ever bound a book yourself, you know the care and considerations that go into art of binding a book. The wonderful pieces comprising a book are nonexistent using Kindle. I have tried other readers, as well as reading off my laptop, but it is rather like making love with a prophylactic—simply not the same. Besides, if I do not like a book I can literally use it for kindling versus the Kindle which would probably release toxins. 😉

  10. Mike November 19, 2007 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    I also agree with Josh (see above). This isn’t bad, but it’ll really be killer when Apple comes out with their version and we can pull everythign off of iTunes…including college text books.
    Drag your finger to highlight important material…click assemble and presto…study sheets…which can then be text-to-speeched and listened to as a podcast for my study group.
    Come on, Apple. Help poor students and their families by driving down the crazy price of textbooks.

  11. Scott G November 19, 2007 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    A nice write up for what appears to be a very cool new device. Unlike others who challenge it before trying I’ll wait until I get my hands on one of my very own.
    Amazon deserves to be applauded for stepping up and getting something like Kindle to market. Sure, the DRM situation sucks, but we all remember how Apple was demonized over the DRM in iTunes.
    The subscription model needs to address the blog situation and they’ll have to figure out how the $399 price point works for them. All in all, it will be fun to play with for a while.

  12. BetterRetail November 19, 2007 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    One thing I can say is that it would be awesome if Amazon let me have digital versions of the books I have already bought through my Amazon account.
    Rishi

  13. Ryan November 19, 2007 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    I wish I could pay a one-time fee for EVDO access on my PPC-phone…

  14. Allison November 19, 2007 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Usually I like new tech toys, but at first glance this really doesn’t seem all that compelling to me. I’m just thinking that while content is king, this is yet *another* device to carry around. Also, maybe it’s just me, but it seems a bit large for me to really consider it more portable than a laptop or an iPhone. But we’ll see how well this does.

  15. ZUrlocker November 19, 2007 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    Guy,
    Great review. Can I get your regular blog on the kindle?
    –Zack
    ************
    Zack,
    Yes, you can. This blog will be on it too.
    Guy

  16. Nick Grimshawe November 19, 2007 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the really informative article on kindle. It sounds like just the thing I’ve been waiting for. As for replacing books, we seem to be getting closer and closer to a device that can actually perform all the things you can do with a book. I keep thinking of Issac Asimov’s fabulous article as he describes this incredible device, which of course, turns out to be a book.
    Nick

  17. TorbenGB November 19, 2007 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    “a real QWERTY keyboard”
    Forgive me but that is nowhere near a “real” keyboard. I haven’t tried it myself (not available in Europe) but those buttons are just buttons — not keytops. A real keyboard would be like those on laptops, or on the Psion Series 5 PDA. Here’s a photo: http://g-b.dk/images/photos/psions5.jpg
    The screen seems to be amazing though, and it is good to finally see someone not using a power-hungry backlit color panel again.

  18. TesTeq November 20, 2007 at 12:41 am - Reply

    It’s ugly. I’m not the only one who thinks so – read Fake Steve Jobs’ Kindle review. It is locked to Sprint network – not available outside the USA. The keyboard is a joke and the battery life for reading should be 14 days.

  19. vantelimus November 20, 2007 at 1:40 am - Reply

    decent battery life. e-ink makes a nice looking display. but the display is typical for an e-ink device — too small.
    this will be yet another service-bound e-ink device to litter the highways.
    go look at iRex (http://www.irextechnologies.com) for another company trying (and failing) for the last few years to make this business model work (and they have a nicer looking device, the Iliad).
    the problem here is that most people who would be interested in an e-book reader have already paid good money for a laptop with a better display. and they’ve already paid for internet connectivity, though which they can get free access to much of the data for which amazon wants an additional fee.
    this model will only work when they get the price of the device below $100.

  20. Raseel November 20, 2007 at 2:17 am - Reply

    Cool device. But I still would prefer a color display, especially if I’m going to read up all my blogs which more often than not have photos as part of the content.

  21. Karthick November 20, 2007 at 5:44 am - Reply

    I like how the messy thumb prints don’t get on. I agree with the no color thing, blogs do need that feel with colors, news paper’s don’t.
    However this is a large step forward and great work Amazon and GUY I’M ENVIOUS OF YOU!!!

  22. Marc Orchant November 20, 2007 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Great post Guy! I had a brief chance to play with Kindle at Gnomedex earlier this year and knew then that I would want one as soon as they became available. I understand and appreciate some of the concerns that people have been expressing (cost, format support – esp. PDF) but like you, I’m of the opinion that there really are two groups of people opining on Kindle – those who have used on and those who have not.
    One thing technical folks forget all too often is how small a minority they are. This is a great consumer play and will be wildly popular with two large constituencies – people who buy lots of books and people who travel a lot. As I am a card-carrying member of both groups, I’m excited as can be!
    I expect the quality of discourse to go up quickly as early adopters get their hands on the device and really put it through its paces. Mine is on a UPS truck right now and I’m anxiously awaiting its arrival.

  23. Cam Beck November 20, 2007 at 9:07 am - Reply

    What Ankit said. The greatest comparative advantage Kindle offers really applies to only a niche audience. They can be successful with this audience, but without a few tweaks to the features and price, it’s going to be difficult to grow rapidly.
    However, if they do focus on the college crowd, they can build a steady stream of customers who will use Kindle for all of their book purchases as they grow older.

  24. Captain Latte November 20, 2007 at 9:16 am - Reply

    A nice review, but folks should know that bloggers like Guy will receive $40 from Amazon if they can get folks to buy a Kindle when clicking through the link they provide in their blog to buy one. Also, Guy will receive some royalties from his blog if folks subscribe to that on their Kindle. So one has to wonder if this review here isn’t somewhat biased.
    ***********
    Captain Latte,
    Unlike my book reviews and author interviews, my Kindle link doesn’t contain my Amazon Associates ID. I know I can make $40 each, but I was too lazy to do it.
    As for royalty on my blog subscriptions, that is true. I would just be surprised if it’s serious money. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and enthusiasm is just enthusiasm.
    I suggest decaf.
    Guy

  25. Michael Taylor November 20, 2007 at 9:17 am - Reply

    The OLPC computer, XO, has a dual-mode color/BW display. I hope to see more of that technology in new mobile devices. The XO also has 200 dpi in BW mode. I think the Kindle looks pretty cool for a 1st-gen ebook, but I am holding out for next years replacement.
    Kindle also seems to be more about being a mobile store than about being a flexible, personal reading device.

  26. vantelimus November 20, 2007 at 10:19 am - Reply

    The comments people are making about college and textbooks being an important niche for this device don’t know that cafescribe.com tried this with the Iliad a couple years ago. A lot of students liked the device, but since every college kid has a laptop these days, an expensive b/w e-book reader is a tough sell. Cafescribe now concentrates on PC-based e-books and creating communities and collaboration around textbooks and studying.
    Another problem Amazon will have is getting the handful of companies that own the textbook business to open up. Textbooks are a huge business and the companies that own them do not want to cede a large portion of the profit to a distribution company like Amazon. Expect the large textbook companies to form a consortium to try to run this kind of thing first. They will have to fail before giving up the ground. (This isn’t a guess. It is happening right now.)

  27. Syl November 20, 2007 at 11:27 am - Reply

    This is a great consumer play and will be wildly popular with two large constituencies – people who buy lots of books……….
    Check out romance readership statistics.
    http://www.rwanational.org/cs/the_romance_genre/romance_literature_statistics/readership_statistics

  28. Anthony Kuhn November 20, 2007 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Guy:
    I hope that your comparison of the Kindle to iTunes doesn’t mean that it will be saddled with all the troubles that come with Apple’s music program. Time will tell if your assessment remains true to your original review.

  29. David Mackey November 20, 2007 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Sweet review Guy. I’d love to get my hands on a Kindle. Does it integrate with your computer? For example, if I highlight a passage can it automatically stream this data into a document on my computer?

  30. Syven November 20, 2007 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    If I offered the Kindle to Tarzan, he would probably say “Me not buy this klunky thing, will wait for rollable display, to fit in loincloth”.
    Where I would differ from Tarzan is that IMHO the Kindle looks far too ugly a thing for me to buy, especially since that Steve Jobs dewd has now thoroughly spoiled me rotten about what looks good in userville, and since nothing lasts forever and all our electric toys end up in device heaven, it might as well look good while my personal thingy still works.
    Come on besides that, I can’t sneak a Kindle when I am invited to some boring social function where I am expected to be by high command, so I need both my sneaky peekies and I need my flashy dash and and so Wo! Bro! Kindle just don’t go…for beauty is in the eye of beholder.
    I guess it was faster for me to simply say, I ain’t going to buy it never mind try it.
    M.

  31. Harald Felgner November 21, 2007 at 3:04 am - Reply

    Musing about my personal list of needs/ uses concerning media portability:
    * I need an audio-carrying device, as I fill a 4-hour train commute or a 15-minute walk with MANY snippets of music and spoken-word podcasts (iPod). I need a syncing mechanism with my home-base (iTunes on desktop computer) or with my multi-purpose device I carry around anyhow (iTunes on laptop). I would need an online audio backup service (?).
    * I need my portable multi-purpose device mentioned (Toshiba) to accomplish the MANY tasks of business and personal digital life.
    * I need a mobile high quality camera (Nikon) to take MANY pictures. I need a syncing mechanism (Adobe Lightroom), and I need an online backup/ publishing service (flickr).
    * I need a mobile phone to take MANY calls a day which additionally serves as a low-quality camera and recorder (Sony Ericsson). I need a syncing mechanism (Windows Explorer).
    * I need a text display device to read say a MAX of 100 pages a day from a RESTRICTED number of sources (one or two books and two magazines/ newspapers) when not at home. Let it be 1000 pages for a holiday. But nevertheless: I concentrate on/ dive into ONE or TWO books then, reading sequentially. Concerning the magazines and newspapers: I browse them – which is different from searching. Paper is fine for that. The use case of researching (full-text search) is so tightly coupled to re-using the found text snippets instead of just reading them that I would use my laptop anyhow.
    Is the Amazon Kindle the future of the book? No, definitely not. But …
    … it might be the future of a completely new need/ usage scenario.
    Tell me how!

  32. Jeff McLellan November 21, 2007 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    I love the idea of an ebook reader. That’s why I’ve had one for the last two years. My Treo 650. You don’t need a 6 inch display to read a book comfortably. I’ve read dozens of books on my Treo and enjoy the feeling of not having to carry a book (or an extra bulky reader) around. My library is in my phone!

  33. Craig November 21, 2007 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    I live outside of the USA, and I am considering buying a Kindle. Yes, I will loose out on the subscription options :-(, but I will still be able to pre-load it with tons of e-books (you can connect it to a PC to manually upload books).
    I do believe that there is a convertor to be able to load PDF’s onto it.
    For me, the great advantage is the ability to have tons of books in a small & portable device – the subscriptions is a bonus.

  34. Craig November 21, 2007 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    I live outside of the USA, and I am considering buying a Kindle. Yes, I will loose out on the subscription options :-(, but I will still be able to pre-load it with tons of e-books (you can connect it to a PC to manually upload books).
    I do believe that there is a convertor to be able to load PDF’s onto it.
    For me, the great advantage is the ability to have tons of books in a small & portable device – the subscriptions is a bonus.

  35. Syven November 22, 2007 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Great discussion about the Kindle at Fred Wilson’s blog.
    It kind of insightful personally to me how much identity we actually be investing in the way we use our devices and so IMHO these discussions fall under the category of “no right answer”, for whatever works is what works and if it doesn’t try something new.
    M.

  36. Leela Cosgrove November 22, 2007 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Why would I buy ANOTHER gadget? I already have an Ipod … two phones … a computer. As a small business person I have to lug these around everywhere I go. Frankly, my Ipod touch allows me to follow my blogs and news feeds via wi fi. I’ll download ebooks and print them off, normally.
    People have tried this Ebook reader thing already. But the way forward (as we’re seeing with phones and Ipods) is increasing the functionality of small gadgets so people have to carry less … not building new ones so we have to carry more.

  37. hdr November 23, 2007 at 2:42 am - Reply

    Amazon has always been a leader online, this doesn’t surprise me at all.

  38. sernak plywood November 23, 2007 at 4:57 am - Reply

    That means, even if all the blogs I followed were on Amazon’s Kindle Blog service, I’d be paying $99 a month to read blogs

  39. Tarek Demiati November 25, 2007 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    I look forward to Apple’s answers to Amazon’s Kindle.
    I think they’ve what it takes to make an I-Read type of device for books, that would be what the I-Pod is to Music.
    In terms of usability no ones can make magic happens like Apple.
    I need to a device that would allow me to browse and E-book as I brow a paper based book.
    A new whole ecosystems can be created from such a device, like decent online book publishers, e-commerce site like ibooks.com (the itunes for books)
    I think the device war has not yet started in that thing, at least I’ve not heard from it yet.
    But bear in mind that I live far aware from the Valley 😉
    This raises a new speculation :
    “Who is going to set the standard on E-book reader ?”
    Best Regards from France,
    Tarek

  40. Tarek Demiati November 25, 2007 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    This product seems to be an implementation of
    Alan Kay’s vision, the Dynabook :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynabook
    a 40 years gap, between Vision to mass market production 🙂
    Please note if I did not write execution, that’s because the Dynabook did get designed and built some 40 years ago :
    http://www.artmuseum.net/w2vr/archives/Kay/01_Dynabook.html

  41. David Scott Lewis November 26, 2007 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    What’s needed is a replacement, with phone capabilities, for the Axim X50v. See http://doiop.com/X50v . This can/will blow away an iReader or the Kindle. And why Amazon is charging to read blogs is beyond one’s imagination. Dumb business move. But for novels, the pricing is quite good.

  42. Chad Barr November 26, 2007 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I love gadgets and technologies and I enjoy getting them as soon as they become available. However, I think there is still a huge benefit in being able to give a printed book as a present or walk into a client’s office and leave a copy of your own book on their desk.
    I think the key issue is that it provides us with choices.

  43. Dean November 29, 2007 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    “For example, I would love to have the Chicago Manual of Style on Kindle, so I can search for rules in a much better way than referring to an index.”
    Have you seen the online version of the Chicago Manual of Style? http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/ It does a lot more than you can do with a Kindle. You can create and store your own stylesheets for instance. And would a Kindle have all the hyperlinking and navigation utility of the web version? The web is a much more powerful and flexible publishing platform than these ebook readers.

  44. Scott Messinger December 4, 2007 at 8:12 am - Reply

    This is a post I made to another forum back in 2003 regarding electronic books. I think it’s held up suprisingly well:
    I am a computer programmer, so I guess that could be interpreted as a professional relation to the topic. I am not involved in the publishing industry, electronic of otherwise. So I suppose this is mostly just strong opinion.
    However, I do know a lot about how people react to new technology. Quite often they try to see the new technology in terms of the old technology. At best, this portrays the new technology as inefficient. At worst, it appears worthless.
    Let me offer a related example, then I’ll talk about electronic books. Take newspapers for example. News stories are written by journalists, printed overnight, and delivered to your door or newsstand every morning. People have built up routines around reading the newspaper in the morning, because that’s when it arrives. Past speculations about the future of newspapers involved newspapers that was faxed to your house, or downloaded into your PC, or downloaded into a portable reading device. But one thing that never changed was that you always got the news in the morning. People could not get away from the idea that the news was delivered in the morning.
    However, the only reason for receiving the newspaper in the morning was that it took overnight to print the news on paper and deliver it to the public. But once you take the paper away, this all changes. Just look at the news on the Web, and news headlines on pager networks, and you’ll see what I mean. Printed news can be available as soon as it happens; once it is delivered electronically (I’m ignoring TV news for the moment).
    People have built up this habit of reading the newspaper in the morning. But they did this because that’s the only way it could be done! You got the newspaper in the morning; that was the best time to read it. You didn’t read it in the evening because it was old news. You couldn’t read it earlier because you didn’t have it yet. But when you can get the news anytime, this habit goes away eventually. You stop looking at the new technology in terms of the old technology.
    (You may want to research how radio got it’s big push when someone thought of broadcasting instead of ‘narrow’ casting from station to station. This is a good example of a new technology opening a whole new frontier, once people stop thinking in terms of old technology, such as comparing radio to telegraphs.)
    Ok. Now how does this relate to electronic books?
    People may seem to have this attachment to paper. But this is only because they can’t conceive of reading books in any other way. They have built up habits that involve dealing with the way books are marketed, printed, and bound. People thumb through books because that is the only way to scan the information inside. People browse bookstores because that’s the only way you can tell what titles the store carries. People buy bookmarkers because that’s the only way to mark your place. We have all these habits involving the act of reading, but all we really want to do is read. I’m sure you have been involved in a really good story, only to look up and realize that hours have passed by. I doubt that you were noticing anything but the story. Certainly you did not care about the feel, smell, or sound of the paper the story was printed on. You were caught up in the story behind the medium. (True bibliophiles are exempted from this argument, because they really do care about the smell/sound/feel of the paper book. But most of us are not bibliophiles)
    Of course, if the medium inhibits one from getting involved in the story, then the medium is not as good as a paper book. Bad electronic displays, awkward sized reading devices and short battery lives all plague the current crop of electronic books. People who turn up their noses at electronic books always seem to focus on the problems with the current devices. Then they extrapolate and say “Something like this will never replace a real book”. They are right, because the first devices are always clumsy and expensive, and rarely as good as they could be. But I believe all these problems can be solved. Future devices will be cheaper, lighter, with much better displays. I imagine the devices being so cheap at to be almost worthless, something like the credit-card-sized calculators you can get anywhere. I truly believe that electronic publishing will eventually replace most (not all) of the printed books in the world.
    To offer support for my point of view I point to the triumph of compact discs over vinyl records. Of course there are still a lot of people who like records and buy records, but there are a lot more who prefer CDs. This is because most people are not audiophiles. They are not interested in nuances. They just want to hear reasonably clear music and they want to take it with them. CD’s allow this. Records do not. The first CD players were large and expensive. The latest ones are small and cheap.
    One difference is that electronic books do not have to be sold in stores, while CD’s still are. MP3 may change all that. However, MP3 brings up a problem that also faces electronic publishing: copyright protection. This will continue to be a challenge with the electronic book industry.

  45. Mitch L. December 4, 2007 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    I don’t have a good feeling about this product. The reasons:
    1. It’s way too expensive. I would rather buy a laptop and ebook online.
    2. The outlook of this product is not too appealing, can’t create a sense of fashion.
    3. Hope I am not mistaken… the display seems like black and white only.
    4. The key board seems very straightforward to me. Should there be a cover or something?

  46. Steve Saroff December 5, 2007 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    No Coverage in Rural States!
    I bought a Kindle with high hopes. I live in Missoula, Montana, which is one of the largest cities in the state. It turns out that the wireless connectivity that the Kindle requires does NOT work in Montana. After several tech support calls they admitted that there is no coverage in Montana. There may also be no coverage in other states, such as Wyoming and Alaska. This means that the Service component of the device is useless, and that many, many people may be duped. I think this is bait and switch advertising, and I think Amazon owes people in Montana, as well as other non-coverage areas, an apology.

  47. Anonymous December 10, 2007 at 3:55 am - Reply

    The Kindle will probably change things the way that the IPod has. It may, however, take a little longer to get used to. Lots of folks like the “feel” and smell of a newspaper, or a book.
    Joel Libava
    The Franchise King blog

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