Patterico's Pontifications


The Kindle

Filed under: Books,Gadgets,General — Patterico @ 11:35 am

I have to say, Amazon’s Kindle looks pretty cool. Check out the promotional video here.

Some of what it does is nothing new. I already read blogs on my Treo — and I read the ones I want to read, not just the ones some corporate types have picked for me.

But the idea of reading books on a light portable electronic device, with a no-glare screen, sounds very cool. I’m waiting to see more reviews from people who have actually bought it, to see what people think of it. Is the screen really as readable as the video claims? Is it as user-friendly as it appears from the video? Etc.

They should have some way of allowing people who already own books to download those books for a reduced price. I can see wanting to own a hard copy, but spending a couple extra bucks per book to have the option of having the book loaded into the Kindle for when I don’t want to carry the whole book around with me.

One “downside” that doesn’t bother me in the slightest: the idea that I won’t be able to brag to others about what I read.

If you have used this device, please tell us about it.

P.S. One more thing: it shouldn’t require a “fee” for Kindle users to put their own documents on the device. You should simply be able to download them to an expansion card and put them on yourself. It would be very cool to be able to put work-related documents on this device and carry them around easily.

15 Responses to “The Kindle”

  1. Pretty neat looking gadget. I think it would be great for work in particular, cuts down on clutter and makes accessing important docs and references a snap.
    The Air Force was experimenting with these a few years back but they were miles away from being as nice as these seem to be.
    Call me old fashioned but holding a “real” book and reading it at home is a fun and relaxing experience. And I like having my books separated from blogs!

    voiceofreason (f7b7a1)

  2. I want one but not at this price. I’ll wait until the novelty wears off and the prices come down.

    DRJ (973069)

  3. The screen uses the same technology (from the same manufacturer) as the Sony Reader, which has been available for about a year at Borders and Best Buy. You might be able to see a live demo of the display, though perhaps not an outdoor demo, at one of these stores.

    My understanding is that you can simply put your documents onto a flash card and pop it in, it only costs a fee if you email documents to the reader.

    Sam (225402)

  4. Yeah, there’s a USB port, so I think you can transfer stuff that way for free. The fee is just if you’re doing it wirelessly via Amazon.

    I’m torn on the DRM. It stinks that you can’t loan a book to somebody else when you’re done with it, but I guess that’s the only way to make money off the thing.

    Jim Treacher (5e5b1e)

  5. I hope this is better than the sony reader. That thing is a POS. I wouldn’t use it if you paid me.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  6. Please don’t support closed platforms, people. Closed platforms are devices or software where the manufacturer controls who can write software, add content, or make add-ons for the device. Manufacturers are always trying to hook people into close platforms so that they own your investment in their product. The money that you spend for their product and the software, content, and add-ons that you by to go with the product is a sunk cost that can be (and will be) used against you by the manufacturer to get even more money from you and to force you to live with poor service and other disadvantages that you would never accept if you didn’t already have an investment to protect.

    Besides that, closed platforms are technological dead ends. They are like socialism –centrally-controlled monstrosities that cannot possibly keep up with a free-market (open-platform) system in the long run. Demand an open platform, both because it is more free and because it is the economically sound choice.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  7. “Besides that, closed platforms are technological dead ends. They are like socialism –centrally-controlled monstrosities that cannot possibly keep up with a free-market (open-platform) system in the long run.”

    One, you’re way too hyperbolic in your reasoning. Two, what, you mean like Windows, Apple, or several dozen of variants of Linux?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  8. Three things that are needed before I buy:

    1) A certainty that books I “buy” remain permanently available in the same (or a succeeding) format. There needs to be more than even the Amazon name behind it. I want a digital escrow, and the rights to make local digital copies, even if keyed in some regard. There have been services like this (for video and music) that have gone belly up leaving users with nothing.

    2) A second-gen unit that is less clunky-looking and maybe with better contrast.

    3) A wider selection of older books, and more publishers. No books by Tolkien. No books by Rowling. Five titles by Heinlein. Etc. The numbers they have are a good start, and probably have critical mass (a lack that has killed everything so far), but for the really avid reader it’s still a bit superficial.

    I also think the blog thing isn’t useful without being able to follow links. Instapundit without links? Really?

    As far as “closed”…Apparently this isn’t all that closed, supporting several non-DRM formats, with conversions possible from others (like PDF). It supports Gutenberg. It will not support _competing_ DRM formats, though. Is this bad?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  9. Christoph, Windows and all versions of Linux are open platforms. Apple is a much less open platform which is the main reason that it can’t compete. Microsoft, by contrast, is so open-platform that it even adds extension languages to many of its products.

    I think you are confusing “open platform” with “open source”. Open source applications are those where the source code is freely available to be modified by anyone. This is a far more versatile model, and abstractly better for the consumer, but no one has yet found a reliable way to make money with open source and so it’s not reasonable to demand it. By contrast, open platforms have been very profitable and so it is reasonable for consumers to demand that executives give up their compulsive need to control everything and let consumers tailor the end uses of the product.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  10. Here is a link about whether Kindle is an open platform. The entire story is not yet in, but it doesn’t look good.

    Sorry if I sound hyperbolic, but think about this. What are you going to do after you have invested hundreds dollars in Kindle titles and Amazon announces that they have a mandatory firmware upgrade that will allow Amazon to interrupt your reading at random intervals for advertisements? You have two choices: go along with the new policy or abandon your hundreds of dollars worth of titles. With an open platform, you could take your titles to another platform.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  11. Please don’t support closed platforms, people. Closed platforms are devices or software where the manufacturer controls who can write software, add content, or make add-ons for the device.

    You mean like the publishing industry?

    Jim Treacher (5e5b1e)

  12. You mean like the publishing industry?

    For any sort of media? Music, Games, Books, etc etc etc…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  13. Media and published works are not platforms. I don’t know what you two are talking about…

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  14. How are they not platforms?

    Jim Treacher (5e5b1e)

  15. The book is the original platform.

    Jim Treacher (5e5b1e)

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