amazon looks to "kindle" appetite for ebooks with new device 09.12.2006, 1:49 AM
posted by ben vershbow
Engadget has uncovered details about a
soon-to-be-released upcoming/old/bogus(?) Amazon ebook reading device called the "Kindle," which appears to have an e-ink display, and will presumably compete with the Sony Reader. From the basic specs they've posted, it looks like Kindle wins: it's got more memory, it's got a keyboard, and it can connect to the network (update: though only through the EV-DO wireless standard, which connects Blackberries and some cellphones; in other words, no basic wifi). This is all assuming that the thing actually exists, which we can't verify.
Regardless, it seems the history of specialized ebook devices is doomed to repeat itself. Better displays (and e-ink is still a few years away from being really good) and more sophisticated content delivery won't, in my opinion, make these machines much more successful than their discontinued forebears like the Gemstar or the eBookMan.
Ebooks, at least the kind Sony and Amazon will be selling, dwell in a no man's land of misbegotten media forms: pale simulations of print that harness few of the possibilities of the digital (apparently, the Sony Reader won't even have searchable text!). Add highly restrictive DRM and vendor lock-in through the proprietary formats and vendor sites made for these devices and you've got something truly depressing.
Publishers need to get out of this rut. The future is in networked text, multimedia and print on demand. Ebooks and their specialized hardware are a red herring.
Teleread also comments.
Gary Frost on September 13, 2006 11:48 AM:
Thanks for a clear evaluation of the dedicated, screen based book device. The ebook device is in a league with other fantasy hybrids like the flying car or interactive TV. Another deception is a view that we are in the earlier stages of a one-way transition from print to screen reading, rather than into new synergies of the two modes. And another common deception is that access is equivalent to instruction and that the role of the librarian is less relevant today. In my view, just such issues are strategic to the direction of the Institute.
vrf on October 19, 2006 8:41 PM:
I really can't believe you just said the future of books is print on demand. Are you serious?
E-ink may not be there yet, but I'll take it in a heartbeat over a POD POS.
Brandy on March 7, 2007 4:58 PM:
I think ebook devices are great. Especially for those who like to read or travel a lot, and they don not want to carry extra luggage because of books. I can't wait for Amazon to make Kindle available for purchase. I hope that it is not as complicated for PDFs (eg.Sony reader). It would be great to be able to read EC, New Concepts, Loose ID, or Treiksileon ebooks with Eink.
E. Murray on December 14, 2009 1:26 AM:
Most of the complaints about the Kindle (price, b&w, no wifi, etc.) indicate that folks are comparing it to a laptop or tablet, which it isn't, nor does it try to be.
As to price, I usually purchase books on a weekly basis. In the year that I've owned my Kindle, I've almost recouped the cost in savings over dead-tree versions, plus I have all of them with me on trips, etc. If the cost/benefit doesn't work for you, don't buy one.
Also, I don't see why the detractors keep harping on the lack of color. Dead tree books are black on white, as are almost all newspapers and magazines. If you absolutely need to see embedded illustrations in color, buy a laptop/tablet or the print version.
The Kindle doesn't need wifi-- Whispernet does exactly what it's supposed to do: download most content in under a minute. If you don't have Whispernet available at you're location, you can download the files from your Amazon account page and transfer the files to the device via USB or an SD card. You would have to do the same thing on a notebook/tablet, right?
Others complain about the fee to convert and transfer PDF files via whispernet. Again, you don't have to do it that way. The USB/SD routes work fine. If you need to convert to a more Kindle-friendly format, the free version of mobiCreator will convert text, .doc, and .pdf files in an instant.
No product has ever satisfied 100% of the market, and they don't need to! If you hate Amazon or they whole idea of eReaders, don't buy one, but there's no reason to denigrate or harass those who choose to do so.