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Author Topic: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books  (Read 13250 times)

Beer Monkey

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The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« on: November 19, 2007, 10:34:53 AM »

http://news.google.com/news?q=amazon+kindle

I was getting close to buying a second-gen Sony Reader; I'm a big fan of e-ink, you really need to see these displays to appreciate them.  It's counterintuitive at this point to think of a non-backlit display as looking good, but e-ink looks more like ink on paper than anything else.  Unless you are in the dark, have you ever had a hard time reading a newspaper?  It can be brutal trying to read an LCD in direct sunlight, and would be seriously fatiguing to try to read a book on an LCD in such conditions, but e-ink has no such issues.

As one who has read dozens of books on a PDA, I'm totally sold on the eBook concept.  I simply don't want books taking up space in my home and especially not in my luggage.  And why kill trees just to read?  My biggest beef with eBooks is that they usually cost the same as dead tree books; somebody is saving tons of money in manufacture and distribution and inventory costs, but it sure isn't the consumer.

I've been increasingly enticed by the Sony Reader at $299, but Amazon has thrown a curveball with their new product/service, the Kindle.

Some features:

- Buy books online, anywhere, over free EVDO access.
- Pricing from $1.99 for classics to $9.99 for new bestsellers (yes, stuff that is $30 in hardcover).
- Email .PDF and .DOC files to your unit's free inbound email address.
- Read blogs (not free, most of the ones I like are $1.99 per month)
- Subscribe to newspapers and magazines (not free)
- Free access to Wikipedia

I'm really going to be looking closely at this thing.  Like most new technologies, crippling DRM will probably be the biggest tradeoff.

EDIT:  In poking around various articles it seems that they are charging you a dime to mail a document or photo to yourself. It also seems that you can put .txt or .html on the SD card and read it, but you can't put .PDF or .DOC on the card, you have to mail those to yourself.

So basically the Sony Reader costs less and is much more friendly from a DRM perspective, but you won't have access to Wikipedia, $10 bestsellers, and newspapers/magazines.
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FLYING SE7EN

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2007, 01:28:56 PM »

I like the idea of $9.99 bestsellers, but damn.  How many old fashioned books can I get for $400!  Especially with a library card!

I also like that you can shop for books in the device without having to sync to a PC.  I'll be keeping an eye on this one, but I don't get to read enough for it to be cost effective right now.  I think $199 is the sweet spot for this type of technology, for me.

..a place to snag free books wouldn't hurt either....

J.
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Beer Monkey

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2007, 02:03:38 PM »

The $9.99 bestseller thing is predatory pricing to try to take over the market.  Imagine if the latest, hottest songs were 33 cents on iTunes but a full 99 cents on all the other services.  Most (older) books on the service are priced about the same as a new paperback of the same title, which is a bad deal for the consumer and the biggest problem that the whole eBook trade has had for years IMO.

Honestly, I don't think the pricing will last in the long term.  All indications are that Amazon, not the publisher, is absorbing the price difference.  Ultimately Amazon will try to convince the publishers to reduce the price of eBooks, and when they don't, pricing will go back to normal.

Gizmodo has their hands on one and is giving impressions, including some that haven't been making it into the articles:

http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/amazon/amazon-kindle-hands+on-and-questions-answered-gallery-324375.php
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adamsappel

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2007, 02:07:28 PM »

Mike, you have to post a picture of the device, to really kill the deal.



It needs touch-screen to get rid of that ugly keyboard. I'm not crazy about an exposed screen, either.

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Beer Monkey

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2007, 02:14:38 PM »

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vortech

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2007, 02:48:52 PM »

scobeto

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2007, 08:30:41 PM »

Give me dead trees and a library card vs. $300 or $400.

Plus I like the feel and smell of dead trees with ink on them. I messed around with a Sony somewhere and, although cool and sexy, I didn't enjoy the whole ebook thing.
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mathewh

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2007, 09:00:57 PM »

it's pretty feature-rich, but it is one of the ugliest things on the face of the planet. it looks like a beige speak and spell.
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iPeter

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2007, 12:29:07 AM »

I hate rejecting new technology because it makes me feel old, but I am not ready to give up physical books. I like holding, smelling, sharing, and storing them. Still - Apple bitch that I am - I will buy one when Jobs re-releases the iBook as an e-reader!
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Beer Monkey

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2007, 05:17:34 AM »

Oh, I have no pretense that everybody will want to abandon paper books or any desire to try to convert anybody to such.  Paradigm shifts take a long time.  Look how many people, myself included, reject the iTunes music store and still prefer CDs.  Heck, I've got friends who still lament the death of vinyl as a ubiquitous music format, and feel that we really have been robbed of this wonderful tactile feeling of cleaning records, flipping them over mid-playback, perusing the giant detailed liner notes and artwork and such.  Some people just want the content, others also fetishize the physical medium and certain aspects of how they consume it.

I was fairly anti-ebook myself until took a couple of vacations with a dozen or so digital novels in my PDA.  It was an experiment to see how I'd feel if I actually tried the whole ebook thing, and I was somewhat surprised myself to see most of my misgivings fade away (and I think e-ink will probably address the biggest remaining one).  Like most new technologies, it will ultimately be embraced more readily by the young (I'm thinking students who don't want to lug 20 lbs of textbooks around in a backpack).
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adamsappel

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2007, 08:27:20 AM »

Is there a technological reason it can't be in color? Either for graphics, or for the background (I notice most of my books aren't printed on "pure white" paper)?
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Beer Monkey

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2007, 09:22:58 AM »

Is there a technological reason it can't be in color? Either for graphics, or for the background (I notice most of my books aren't printed on "pure white" paper)?

There are many patents to do this tech in color.  I'm sure it's just a matter of cost and time.  Display techs pretty much always start in monochrome (CRT, LCD, etc.).

To see the tech in person, drop by a Sony Style store.  The first time I saw it, I thought it was a fake mockup where they had printed out a page and stuck it to the front on the device (like those fake cellphones that you see in some store displays).  We aren't used to seeing displays that look like an actual printed page, you have to see it to appreciate it.
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vortech

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2007, 12:45:59 PM »

Is there a technological reason it can't be in color? Either for graphics, or for the background (I notice most of my books aren't printed on "pure white" paper)?
The short (almost to the point of being inaccurate) answer is color requires backlighting.  The sony screen does not even require power to be "on" only to change what is on the screen.  It makes it very battery efficient.  (and actually the background is in color - a sort of pale pea soup green.  It's rather unattractive IMO.)

Beer Monkey

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2007, 12:59:36 PM »

The short (almost to the point of being inaccurate) answer is color requires backlighting.

At least some color e-ink prototypes that have been shown aren't backlit, they are reflective.  They are lower res than the screens used in the Sony Reader, Kindle, iLiad, Cybook etc, which would be a problem for having small readable text.

Quote
and actually the background is in color - a sort of pale pea soup green.  It's rather unattractive IMO.)

The new v2 screens that they've been using since October have more contast with brighter 'whites' and darker darks but it is true that the color is absolutely not a true white.
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Bryan

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Re: The Amazon Kindle = iPod for books
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2007, 01:28:06 PM »

This is fodder for the Jay Leno schtick about how lazy Americans are... 

Krispy Kreme now has a doughnut shake - GREAT! are we sooo lazy that we can't even pick up the doughnut any more?  Does it have to come through a straw??

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