Sunday, December 16, 2007

Amazon's Kindle is Sold Out! Is it the iPod of Reading?

I waited a bit before I bought my first iPod. While I love all things tech, I also have a healthy bit of experience with being an early adapter and that's enough to put the brakes on 'gotta have it first' spending.

I thought the iPod was a marvelous device (and still do), but I scanned the geek sites for bugs and actually waited for the storage to go up and the price to come down. That definitely worked out. So I didn't have the instant subway cache of white wire hanging from my ears for almost two years.

I'm wondering if Amazon's new wireless reading device the Kindle, is going to be the next big thing I have to save for (especially at its price of $399). It's a 10.3 ounce, 7.5" x 5.3" x 0.7" (hmm . . . paperback sized), wireless (Sprint's national high-speed EVDO), handheld book reader and Amazon shopping cart.

That's right - Buy a book from Amazon and it is wirelessly delivered to your Kindle for free. Supposedly within one minute. It has a 6" display it calls E-Ink® that is gray scale with 600 x 800 pixel resolution.

As a complete 'bookaholic' I've got to admit that this does sound plenty tasty. While traveling I can scan blogs, check my webmail, read newspapers and magazines, along with instant book gratification. However, I think I may stay in 'wait-and-see' mode for a bit longer. The pros and the cons have quite a bit to battle out:
  • According to beta testers, the battery life is more than decent and the screen is easy to read.

  • Books have DRM (digital rights management, that's content or copy protection to you partner). Will I even own the book after ten years?

  • Book purchases are stored at to be retrieved if the Kindle is lost, broken or stolen. Other files should be on an SD memory card so they can be easily backed up.

  • It doesn't read PDF file format (rats!). However, you can use another program (Mobipocket Creator 4.2 - free) to convert PDF's to Mobi format, then upload to the Kindle.

  • Wow! Imagine having all of your school books on one device. That would make it worth it's wait in gold. The lack of Quasimodo backpack shoulder alone is priceless.

  • Oh no! Not another device? It took me awhile to combine my Tungsten pda with my cell phone. My handbag was (is) filled with electronics - iPod, pda, phone. Let's just use a rolling suitcase from now on, huh?

  • What if, after reading the book on the Kindle, you want a hard copy? Will there be a discount on the actual book? Or maybe, buy the book and get Kindle file free?

  • Will we ever be able to download files from libraries? For free? Or will it be forever married to Amazon?

  • On that same tip, what does this mean for independent book stores? Will they make the shift and sell more ebooks on CD (ugh)? Or find a way to upload their own supply?

  • The price really isn't that bad when you take in account the monthly cost of EVDO (at least $40 a month). All wireless is free on the Kindle.

  • Editors and other professional readers will not be able to site pages by fixed page numbers. The fluidity of the pages makes this maddening. Editors will have to a search for text or a phrase or sentence, much like searching for data on a webpage or site. Perhaps this will be addressed in future versions.

  • This may be a boon to self-published authors. An ISBN isn't even needed to sell your book on the Kindle platform.

  • There have been some complaints of flimsy construction.

  • Here's one of my favorites: If you buy more than one Kindle (on the same account), then anything you buy for one will be automatically downloaded to the others. Up to 6 Kindles can be dedicated to a single account. Ha! Now all I need is a special husband-wife/family discount. Come on Mr. Bezos. Just this once, for me . . . Please?

Okay, so what am I really waiting for? Let's see . . . I'm waiting for the iPhone to be offered with my carrier Verizon and perhaps a '2.1 version of the Kindle.

The war may be over before the battle begins - it already has it's own 'noun-verb' . . . kindling.

Check out Toni Morrison's take on the Kindle.