kindle, take 2

After some discussion with friends, a couple clarifications on Kindle:

I think it will fail,1 because it is too expensive a device to buy with little to no free content. Many people were happy spending several hundred dollars on mp3 players, because once they bought the device, they could put all the music they already possessed on the device for free. No such luck here- can’t put on your existing books on it, can’t reliably put pdfs on it, etc., which means you have to make a substantial additional investment, above and beyond $400, before it has value.

I would like for it to fail because I’d prefer to see a device succeed that wasn’t tied to a particular book-providing service (yay competition and choice), and that allowed me to use books I’ve paid for like books I own instead of like strictly controlled rentals. Unfortunately, it is exactly these compromises that give Amazon excellent access to the publishing industry and what looks like a very polished, integrated user experience, so I don’t expect these to actually cause failure for a long time, if ever.

  1. for certain versions of fail- someone compared it to a Zune- might sell a few hundred thousand, but won’t change the industry. That sounds about right to me. []

7 thoughts on “kindle, take 2”

  1. I think the best we can hope for, is for it to get mildly popular to encourage cheaper readers, more book authors approaching digital delivery, far more newspapers publishing their entire sheets inline, and for iRex to lower their current cost of the iLiad.

    I am quite certain it will sell, will bomb less than the Zune. Maybe it’s the ugliness, but people are still talking about the Kindle…

  2. Certainly it could fail, but Amazon has the ability to adjust the offering to adapt to the market. So that makes it interesting.

    Cost? I expect the price to drop. Many gadgets are priced at a premium level initially, to soak the alpha geeks, and then drops to get the mainstream adoption.

    Ability to convert your own documents and PDFs? That is a simple software upgrade if Amazon wants it. Physically it already has the USB port.

    What Amazon doesn’t have absolute control over is the price of the books. That’s the key question — what publishers are signing up and what price point are they eventually going to hit?

    In any case, it is good to see some competition for Sony here. I just hope they can both converge on a single, portable book format, so purchased content can be used on either device. That will make it much easier for content publishers and should lead to a much larger market.

  3. What about offering a customer an e-book “copy” of a book in exchange for destroying a paper copy, and a free e-book reader to customers who destroy a certain number of books? That would make the brick and mortar bookstore a better outlet for e-book readers than a mail order site.

  4. Someone could offer such a thing, I suppose, but that would require a fair amount of innovative thinking on a lot of parts. And it would require some sort of standard for easy ‘installation’ of the digital book- not coming any time soon, because no one has incentives to invest in standards yet.

  5. Guys,

    Do you know the Iliad ( ). Its similar to the Kindle, the sources are GPL( it runs under Linux), to do merge in community code, and it reads pdf. I use it to read scientific articles, phd thesis… ie as a printer replacement. It’s great. However it does not come with the backing of a big distributor like amazon. And its expensive (700$).

  6. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that I read at the Amazon site two methods of getting your own contenet into Kindle:
    1. email to Amazon .pdf and .doc files for download to Kindle from your Amazon Library
    2. Use the USB connect port on the Kindle to download .txt files to your Kindle. Look up Project Gutenberg. This project is converting all public domain works to .txt. You may not have the latest best seller, but you would have access to thousands, if not tens of thousands, of FREE titles for your Kindle.

    I go to numerous conventions all with printed schedules that frequently have last second addendums or alterations. If these conventions were to post their schedules on Amazon for download to Kindle, it would make my life easier. On top of which, the Kindle can display text in font sizes up to 20 point, a BUG plus for my weak eyes.

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