Author Topic: Amazon's Kindle  (Read 2801 times)

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Offline RottingCorpse

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Amazon's Kindle
« on: November 19, 2007, 08:55:35 PM »
The future of books or Betamax? Discuss.



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Amazon's Kindle: The iPod of eBooks?

It's the gadget of the day: Amazon's homegrown Kindle, the latest attempt to make the e-book reader from quirky oddity into something for the mainstream. Will it fly this time time around? Amazon's got a long road ahead of it, but first appearances would seem to indicate that this is the best e-book reader to date.

Amazon is unabashedly looking to the iPod for inspiration, attempting to make a piece of hardware that needs minimal expertise to run and which ties specifically to its own store, in this case, Amazon.com, which will offer 88,000 book titles for sale at launch. Even better, the Kindle is designed to be usable sans computer. It connects directly to a special Sprint-powered cellular network called Whispernet (not Wi-Fi) and lets you download directly from the web. However, there are no additional monthly service fees for the privilege.

The big question with these devices is always the screen. Kindle uses the same display technology that the similar Sony Reader uses, called E-Ink. The screen looks as much like paper as electronic displays get; it also allows for exceptional battery life since, once a page is generated, it requires no additional power to keep it displayed.

But there's a dark side of Kindle, which is already drawing heaps of abuse for its design, which can charitably be described as heinously ugly. The vaguely trapezoidal gizmo with oddball keys certainly doesn't share any kinship with the elegant iPod, but iPod 1.0 was hardly the beauty it's become of late. I'm going to chalk it up as a first stab at a design, and I'm all but certain the 2008 version will look nothing like it.

Weighing just 10.3 ounces, the Kindle is lighter than most paperbacks, which should make extended reading no problem. You can store hundreds of titles on its built-in memory, and add SD cards for additional room. Titles you buy ($10 for best sellers and new releases) are backed up on Amazon, so even if you have to delete one, you can always download it again later. And if books aren't your bag, the Kindle also does blogs, newspapers, and more (though for additional fees). (There are also some very basic music and web browsing features.)

So, will Kindle fly? People who aren't complaining about the design will likely complain about the price. Even if you're saving $6 off the purchase of each book, it will take over 60 purchases for the $399 Kindle to pay for itself. Consider also the Sony Reader, which has been a modest success: Sony claimed it was "exceeding expectations" and that e-book sales were outpacing music sales at its online store, as of January 2007. That said, who buys music from Sony's online store? Sony reportedly has a new, wireless Reader in the works, too, so there appear to be at least some legs in this market.

The jury's out on whether Kindle will really make an impact with consumers, but Amazon's launching it at the perfect time, and tying it to the world's largest bookstore is certainly a smart move. The price is the real trick: Many Amazon shoppers are loyal to the site because of its exceptional bargains, but $399 puts it at (or above) the price of most gaming consoles. So, would you like an e-book reader or a Nintendo Wii under the tree this year?


Here's the link to buy one at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FI73MA/sr=53-1/qid=1195504371/ref=tr_359161
« Last Edit: November 19, 2007, 08:57:10 PM by RottingCorpse »

Offline Matt

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2007, 09:22:34 PM »
Nope. Give it to me when I can pay on a per-month plan that gives me unlimited reading.

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2007, 09:37:48 PM »
Nope. Give it to me when I can pay on a per-month plan that gives me unlimited reading.

I'll let Nacho give the publisher's take on that idea, but I don't think it'll ever happen. Look at the digital music and movie model.

Offline Matt

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2007, 10:32:05 PM »
I'm looking at digital music models that allow me unlimited downloads on a pay-per-month plan now.

Otherwise, you're going to risk getting blown away anyway by the iPhone and what comes after the iPhone. I can already browse any newspaper I want with my iPhone (if I had one...).

Offline Tatertots

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2007, 10:49:49 PM »
Kindle = big fail. It's laced with DRM. You can't share books and when Amazon drops support for it, you'll be out of luck on all the books you bought. So how is this better than a regular book?

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

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After chewing it over all day, I’ve concluded that Amazon’s Kindle is going to flop. Or at least I hope it does.

What it comes down to is that when you purchase books in Kindle’s e-book format, they’re wrapped in DRM and are in a format that no other software can read. There are no provisions for sharing books even with other Kindle owners, let alone with everyone.

Barring physical catastrophe, I expect that the real books I own — the ones printed on paper — will remain in good condition long after I am dead.1 With digital Kindle books, I’m not even sure they’ll be available 10 years from now. They’re only useful so long as you own Kindle-compatible hardware. What happens to these e-books if Amazon, having lost money on the endeavor, stops producing Kindle readers a few years from now? What are the odds that these files will be readable 50 years from now?

With DRM-protected audio from iTunes, there’s a reasonable out: You can burn your audio to DRM-free AIFF files on CD. You can also share Apple’s DRM-protected audio and video with a limited number of family and friends. With DRM-protected Kindle books, you’re stuck. The only way to lend a friend a Kindle book is to lend them your Kindle reader. “Unshareable books” sounds downright oppressive to my ears.

Admittedly, it’s not like Amazon could do Kindle without DRM. Major publishing houses almost certainly would be unwilling to permit Amazon to sell e-books sans DRM, in the same way that music labels were originally unwilling to sell DRM-free music. But so why not bundle the Kindle e-books with the good old-fashioned shareable, preservable, paper books? Change the pitch from “buy digital e-books instead of paper books” to “get a digital Kindle e-book with each paper book you buy from Amazon”.

(As I suggested earlier, if Amazon really wanted to get aggressive, they could offer to Kindle owners not just digital versions of each book they buy from Amazon going forward, but also digital versions of each book they’ve already bought from Amazon.)

With iPods, while the iTunes Store is the only source for DRM-protected content that iPods support, you can easily fill your iPod with any popular non-DRM audio format other than WMA. Kindle supports a few other formats than its proprietary .azw, but the only way to use it for its main purpose — as a digital reader for popular mainstream books — is via its own proprietary DRM-protected format. I.e., Kindle actually is what ignorant critics have claimed regarding the iPod: a device designed to lock you in to a single provider of both hardware and digital content. You can easily and happily use an iPod without ever buying anything from the iTunes Store; without Amazon’s DRM-protected content, a Kindle is the world’s worst handheld computer.

With video, of course, we’re all screwed, in that every legal source for mainstream content attempts to lock you in. DVDs, unlike CDs, can’t legally be ripped to digital files for your own personal use. (If iTunes could just rip movies from DVDs like it rips songs from CDs, Apple would be selling a hell of a lot more Apple TVs.) That (a) the iTunes Store sells far less video than audio content, and (b) iTunes’s video DRM is more restrictive than its audio DRM, is not a coincidence. What they do sell, I think, are iTunes TV shows, because TV shows are ephemeral, and at just $2 a pop, it doesn’t seem like as much of a rip (compared to iTunes’s movies) that you’ll never be able to play the video on non-Apple hardware. If iTunes is ever going to be successful as a purveyor of movies, it’ll be through rentals, not sales.

So the Kindle proposition is this: You pay for downloadable books that can’t be printed, can’t be shared, and can’t be displayed on any device other than Amazon’s own $400 reader — and whether they’re readable at all in the future is solely at Amazon’s discretion. That’s no way to build a library.

Offline nacho

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2007, 10:34:49 AM »
Yeah, I can't see this flying.  Mainly because of the final paragraph quoted above.

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2007, 10:40:08 AM »
"Can't be printed" I'm fine with. In fact, isn't the whole point of this thing to eliminate paper? However, once you buy the "book," it's yours. You should be able to give it to somebody to load on their Kindle. The whole, "Dude, you have to read this book," angle.

Also, there are books I would never read if I didn't see them on my bookshelf. I'm not sure the book is something that would be readily digitized. Even Pirate Nacho still buys books.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 10:49:16 AM by RottingCorpse »

Offline nacho

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2007, 10:45:52 AM »
Because reading hundreds of pages of solid text online in any form hurts.  As does having to be constantly aware that you have hundreds of dollars of equipment in your hand as you bounce around on your commute, read in the bathroom, and stuff it in your coat to battle your way down the crowded city street.

Not to mention the ten hour plane ride where you have to turn it off for takeoff and landing and put it away and can't charge it.

Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2007, 10:47:56 AM »
Wow, you've really thought this through.

Offline Nubbins

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2007, 10:46:28 PM »
You can do the same thing with anything that's got an SD port and a screen.
8=o tation

Offline monkey!

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Re: Amazon's Kindle
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2007, 07:23:38 PM »
BETAMAX.

Oh, and...

*BUMP*
There will come a day for every man when he will relish the prospect of eating his own shit. That day has yet to come for me.