Or is the Kindle kindling for the file, joining Microsoft Bob and the Apple Newton? Okay, that’s my last ever Kindle pun.
The Kindle is Amazon’s grand entré into the e-reader market. To understand what the product is, you can read the enormous Newsweek cover story or visit Engadget for some photos. Rafat has extracted the pertinent tech specs from the Newsweek story, some of which I’ll repeat here:
— It costs $399.
— Kindle is a 10.3 ounces device, with dimensions of a paperback, with a tapering of its width that emulates the bulge toward a bookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s binding, the story says. KindleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s six-inch screen uses the display technology from E-Ink, which mimes the clarity of a printed book.
— It can hold as many as 200 books on the device (with more on the memory card), gets as many as 30 hours of reading on a charge, and recharges in two hours.
— Also, it has wireless connectivity, via a system called Whispernet, which is based on the EVDO broadband service offered Sprint, (NYSE: S) allowing it to work anywhere, not just Wi-Fi hotspots.
My thought was to use it, at least for a few years, as a promotion device. Give the books for free to anyone who buys the $400 machine. (Maybe you can have 1,000 books of your choice, so there’s not a lot of ‘waste’.) You’ll sell more machines that way, that’s for sure. And the people willing to buy the device are exactly the sort of people that an author like me wants to reach. No harm, no foul, all three of us win.
Reading in the Bathroom
We don’t have a printer here on Gozo, but we haven’t really needed one. Occasionally back in Vancouver I’d print out a long document to read offline (not very environmentally friendly, though I’d always recycle the paper).
Yesterday I was just thinking that it would be great to have a comfortable offline reader. Ideally, it would have a Firefox plugin or bookmarklet where I’d just move stuff–web pages, PDFs and such–to my Kindle (or whatever) with the click of a mouse.
The Kindle might fit the bill. I like that it’s incredibly lightweight–10.3 ounces is about 300 grams. What weighs 300 grams? A paperback book, maybe? And obviously I like that I could use it anywhere and that it has a robust battery life.
I don’t like the price. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to have to come down in price. If you buy it at US $400, you’re paying the early adopter tax. I also don’t like that it seems to be (thus far at least), a closed shop. It’s early days, but I haven’t seen any talk of third-party applications or APIs. Here’s the most problematic ‘feature’, and the one that Amazon’s going to get abused on:
Via the Amazon store, you can subscribe to newspapers (the Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Le Monde) and magazines (The Atlantic). When issues go to press, the virtual publications are automatically beamed into your Kindle. (It’s much closer to a virtual newsboy tossing the publication on your doorstep than accessing the contents a piece at a time on the Web.) You can also subscribe to selected blogs, which cost either 99 cents or $1.99 a month per blog.
Er, what? You want me to pay to read what I can get for free online? After paying $400 to buy your gadget? Sorry, but that’s not going to fly. Not for The New York Times or Boing Boing.
In short, I’m a potential Kindle customer. I’ve got to get one in my hands first, and I’ve got to see a price reduction before I’d consider buying one.