More reflection on the Kindle: Did Amazon just answer an unnerved media industry's prayers?

More reflection on the Kindle: Did Amazon just answer an unnerved media industry's prayers?

Summary: This is a replay of a conversation with my father who spent most of his life as a media executive (though not with any company that I've ever worked for).Dad: Oh, you have the Kindle?

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TOPICS: Amazon, Hardware
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This is a replay of a conversation with my father who spent most of his life as a media executive (though not with any company that I've ever worked for).

Dad: Oh, you have the Kindle?

Me: Yes. It's pretty neat. Raises a lot of interesting questions though

Dad: Based on what I've read, it sounds like a catalyst that's really going to change things in the publishing industry.

Me: True. But bear in mind that it's not the first ebook reader.

Dad: But you can get the newspaper with it.

Me: Yes. For example, the New York Times.

Dad: When you read the New York Times on the Kindle, does it have advertising?

Thud.

New York Times on the KindleLeave it to an ex-media exec who hasn't even touched a Kindle -- my father no less -- to ask one of the most incredibly obvious questions that the Kindle raises; a question that completely escaped me until last night's phone call. It's a brilliant question because of the answer's implications and for anybody who's involved in the media industry or who likes to watch it (like me), it's a real conversation starter.

Looking at a typical New York Times story on the Kindle -- which I did today (see image, right) -- the answer is no. What could that mean?

Before the blogosphere, RSS, and even the Web rolled around, the established media had most of its business model questions answered. To get the New York Times, you had to pay a nominal fee. But the majority of the Times' revenues came from advertising.

When the Web came around, you didn't have to pay to get your "copy" of the Times (and you still don't) and that convenience of reading it online, for free, is brought to you, courtesy of the Times' online advertisers. Along come blogs and RSS and the business model gets a little dicier. The Times' runs a great many RSS feeds (as we do here at ZDNet) but they don't carry the full text of the story. They don't have ads in them either. It's a pain point for any media company: could the nugget of information you pass for free, through your RSS feed, be enough to satisfy your readers' informational need and might they stop visiting your Web site as frequently as they were before? What's the remedy if RSS is doing more harm than good? Perhaps you do like InfoWorld: you send the full text of the story down the RSS pipe with an advertisement. It's more convenient for the end-user (no additional clicks necessary to get the entire story) and the advertising is embedded.

Finally, every established media company (and even the newer ones) has at one point or another fancied the idea of charging a subscription fee for access to online content. Some have stratified it: this new stuff is free, but the old stuff (if you're researching) isn't. Like I said, they've fancied the idea. Most media companies have been paralyzed to come up with a way to wrangle a subscription fee out of audience members for the digital version of what they have to offer. The same goes (or is going) for the non-digital versions.

I remember when the Village Voice in New York City once charged money for its newspaper. Now its free (this change happened in the mid 90s). Like other papers in its genre, the Village Voice is an ad-supported venture, both online and in print. This, if you ask me, is where most newspapers (and probably most media companies) will end up. And if you also ask me, Amazon's release of the Kindle could be the watershed event that pushes them there.

Maybe not right away, but eventually.

That's because no reader is going to put up with ad-bearing content on the Kindle. The screen is just big enough (and the range of user-selectable typefaces for displayed text is just wide enough) to support very easy reading. Any bigger and Amazon would have missed the sweet spot it targeted: the basic size of a paperback. Any smaller and, especially at the larger typeface sizes, the display would have been too small. Users would have been aggravated by the number of times the Next Page button had to be pressed to read anything (today, they're just aggravated because of how the Next Page button is too easy to press -- which it is). There's really no room for ads. And besides, there are plenty of other opportunities in the Kindle (some being taken advantage of already, others not) to pimp something off on Kindle users. Amazon already sells books through it. There's no reason Amazon can't sell everything else that's available via Amazon.com through the Kindle as well.

So, where are we?

Thanks to the Kindle, you can now read the New York Times without any advertising. Let me repeat that. Thanks to the Kindle, you can now read the New York Times without any advertising. The same goes for the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. The user interface for finding stories of interest is still a bit Neanderthal. But, the Kindle's size and form factor make it just right for consuming the digital versions of a newspapers. Given how convenient it is (subscribed-to newspapers just show up in my Kindle now matter where I am) and how ad free it is, the Kindle version of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal represent the first time in more than a decade that I'm seriously considering paying for a subscription to both (NYT: $14.99 per month, WSJ: $9.99 per month).

Now let's put the shoe on the other foot.

It took Amazon to do it (and the Kindle's convenience is the enabler). But finally, media companies have a way to charge subscription fees for the digital versions of their content -- fees that given the convenience and ad-free environment, I'm guessing many people will be willing to pay. Amazon, of course, gets a cut. But when I look at this and realize how CNET as a media company (ZDNet's parent) has at times struggled with that same question of how to offer existing or premium content to our audience members on a paid subscription basis, Amazon is showing us the way. It just took a client device like the Kindle -- with all that networking and commerce infrastructure so transparently tucked behind it -- to make it happen.

So, where do things net out?

For starters, the Kindle makes it very clear that, provided the convenience factor is right and the usability is good, content consumers will very likely trade their money for non-ad-bearing content. On the other hand, you don't need to read many newspaper stories on the Kindle before arriving at another important question: "Now that I can do this with the Kindle, why would I ever pay for ad bearing content again?" In other words, why would you ever pay for a printed newspaper or magazine that's full of ads when you can have the same exact content in your Kindle for less money?

As scary as that may sound to anyone relying on ad bearing content to make a living (newspapers, magazines, bloggers, podcasters, etc.), the Kindle really makes the business model question simple: There's a paid version of the content with no ads and there's a free version of the content with ads. When a Web browser was the only choice for consuming a potentially ad-free digital version of some media outlet's content, the end-user devices (PCs or PDAs/Smartphones) simply weren't compelling enough to break the business model into these two separate approaches. PCs (even portables ones) aren't really designed with reading in mind and such reading is nearly impossible on PDAs and smartphones. Perhaps Nokia's N810 wireless tablet comes close to being such a device. But even that is more a general purpose device than one designed with reading in mind.

The Kindle (along with the accompanying infrastructure) really breaks that mold. And to be fair, the Kindle won't be alone. There will be other devices like it, some from Amazon, others not. As a result, content consumers will very likely be inspired to accept nothing but the two alternative approaches. As it turns out, that might not be so bad for publishers either since finally, there's a consumption device out there that's compelling enough to motivate audience members to actually pay to get the content.

<sidebar> One question I have asked Amazon is, if I'm a content publisher (big or small) and someone subscribes to my content on a paid basis (for consumption on the Kindle), what if any information do I get about that new subscriber. When I get the answer, I'll publish it here. </sidebar>

Finally, the Holy Grail would be if this model rubs off on application providers as well. Today, when I see a new Web app that's ad-supported, one of my first questions is "Can I get the non ad-supported version by paying a fee?" Today, the official public relations handbook instructs most execs to respond with the boilerplate "That's something we're considering." We'll maybe now that the Kindle might be setting the expectations of end-users, they'll consider the idea a little more seriously.

Topics: Amazon, Hardware

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33 comments
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  • Let me add this up

    So I shell out three or four hundred dollars for a reader device, plus ten or fifteen per month for the three-year life of the thing, for a total of somewhere around $750. Average comes to $250/year for a newspaper subscription that I can't share over breakfast.

    If I "subscribe" to any books, there's a surcharge of about two or three dollars per title over and above the price of a paperback, with the added constraint that I only have it as long as the device lasts (max three years) and can't transfer it, loan it, etc.

    Upside? Well, it takes up less carryon space than a bagful of paperbacks or newspapers, and it makes for less waste than the newspapers. Offset that by the fact that I have to take a notebook with me anyway and a tablet works better for reading, over and above the portability of the e-books I can carry on it.

    Bottom line? Still a major loser. There will be a burst of sales (it did come out in time for the usual guilt-driven shopping frenzy) but once the "price is no object" set have theirs, it's as dead as all of the other readers before it.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • I agree ...

      I'm with Yagotta here. While the Kindle sure does kindle some positive emotions, my feeling is that in the long run it's going to end up as dead as every other ebook reader that's come before it.

      The biggest black mark against it is the total cost of ownership. Even if the price dropped to something more sensible (sub $100) the premium that users have to pay for content will eventually kill it. Also, almost every review I've read of the Kindle so far seems to go to great lengths to apologise for the 1st gen flaws that are present.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Not about 1st Gen

        First, I thought this was a business model conversation... not a device conversation...I guess the first PC for all its faults damned PCs to hell. Second, what premium are you referring to? The Kindle books I've looked into are cheaper than the hardcover and paperback versions. On newspapers, there is some premium. You can get the journal for a year for $79. For $40 more, you get something searchable, no ads, bookmarkable, no paper to manage (earth friendly).

        $399 is steep. I agree. That's one of the points that bothers me. That will change. But if cost is still bugging you, I can remember a lot of people laughing at the premium that Starbucks was charging for a cup of coffee.

        David
        dberlind
        • Business

          [i]First, I thought this was a business model conversation[/i]

          It is. A business model that has an NRE and makes it up by being incrementally more expensive has a few "issues."

          [i]The Kindle books I've looked into are cheaper than the hardcover and paperback versions.[/i]

          The ones I've seen quoted are between hardcover and paperback. With, as noted, DRM that reduces their net value to something closer to a library checkout.

          [i]For $40 more, you get something searchable, no ads, bookmarkable, no paper to manage (earth friendly).[/i]

          I don't know a whole lot of people who consider the annual subscription to the Journal worthwhile, and only a minority of those who would keep back issues for search. Very, very few would search often enough to make the $40 worth spending.

          Especially when the only way to use the results is to hand-copy it or take a picture of the screen.

          Ads? If you have the screen space and they're not obnoxious (animations, popovers, etc.) they're not a problem any more than they are on printed newpaper pages. Mostly they're invisible.

          You're apparently impressed that you can pay extra to work around a problem that the Kindle's small form factor causes in the first place. Given a halfway reasonable screen size (my notebook's 1400x1050 in 15" is fine) there's plenty of room for both content and ads -- although the silly ZD practice of confining the page to a fraction of the window size wastes a good bit of that, it's still quite readable.

          I confess that my personal preferred format for reading e-books is 1080p on a 42" monitor. Then again, I do most of my recreational reading in my gym. Not a market that Amazon is going to crack any time soon.
          Yagotta B. Kidding
        • Hmmm ...

          "First, I thought this was a business model conversation... not a device conversation..."

          I don't see any difference. The device is an integral part of the business model.

          "I guess the first PC for all its faults damned PCs to hell."

          The PC was lucky!

          "But if cost is still bugging you, I can remember a lot of people laughing at the premium that Starbucks was charging for a cup of coffee."

          Yeah, but would Starbucks if you had to buy a $400 cup to use at the store? Sure, you could use that cup at home too, but each purchase from Starbuck had to be made using that cup?

          The problem that every ebook reader has suffered in the past is that the best ebook reader will be pretty much indistinguishable from, well, a book. Now compare this to music and film. The progression from film to VHS to DVD to hi-def means better quality at each stage. Same with music, the shift from records to CD did the same. Fran Toolan did a better job of summing this up than I did <http://issues-in-publishing.blogspot.com/>:

          "In music, with each new 'device' something improved for the end user - usually it was the quality of the audio sound. That really helped the adoption of new technologies. Books - as we know them today - will not have this advantage. Until books start getting written differently - with links to other places and incorporating social networking opportunities - the content will not be enhanced by the device."

          There are some huge opportunities here for unique content that gives users an unique experience.

          On another front, I feel that Amazon is already being let down by the Kindle ... all this buzz and publicity and no more Kindles for sale. My guess is that the first run was a small one so that bugs could be fixed before rolling into mass production. Still, in a world where everyone else ships first and fixes later, especially with the Holidays just around the corner, this could be a mistake that costs Amazon.

          But the real killer as I see it is price. Forget the DRM (I buy Audible books which are DRMed so DRM isn't a deal-breaker for me), forget the fact that you can't easily copy a page or some text, forget the fact that you can't resell the book if you're bored with it (or use it to prop up a wobbly table), and forget the fact that the grayscale screen will probably seem old-school in a year, the main problem with Kindle is price. $400 for a medium to read books by is too much. The Kindle with either need to see a serious price drop or more feature. The key point is how low the price can go - I doubt that Amazon can achieve iPod-like economies of scale here and my guess is that this time next year the Kindle will still be $300+. Learning from the iPod, we see that critical mass happens at around $200 point.

          The Kindle and the iPod aren't that dissimilar. Both try to convey the same message - that physical products such as books or CDs are dead and if you want to get with the times you should be downloading (from Amazon/Apple, of course). The real problem I have with that is that the issues relating to DRM are still unsolved, and until they are, I'm keeping my investment in goods that don't really belong to me to a minimum.

          All that said, it is worth noting that in one iteration, Amazon has done something with the Kindle service that Apple has still to achieve with iTunes. I also have no doubt that Amazon's excellent customer service and no-quibble way of solving disputes will make it easier for Kindle to gain traction.
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • Oh, and read the reviews on Amazon

            Read the reviews on Amazon and you realize that the $400 price tag works both ways. Some people say "no way, too expensive" but these people can be dismissed because they don't own the product. However, people who've actually shelled out $400 notes on the device are enthusiastic about it and raving. That's a great sales trick, because if you're willing to spend $400, you're already going to be pretty enthusiastic before you've even seen or handled one.
            Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • At least one incorrect assumption

            I think I'll do a video on this... but the statement:

            "forget the fact that you can't easily copy a page or some text"

            is simply false and it's a lot of assumptions that I'm reading in these comments that aren't true (like the premium price of content). With the exception of the WSJ, the content (newspapers, books, etc.) appears to be less expensive. I agree that $399 is cheap, but if you listen to my podcast from the other day with Fran Toolan (who is far more knowledgeable on the book business than I am), $399 fits in the middle of the market for ebook readers... and he notes that as with most markets, business will charge what the market is willing to bear. While I don't know how many Kindles were sold, the fact that the Kindles are sold out suggests that $399 isn't a bad price point. I think it's high.

            But I want address this other assumption that text can't be easily copied. This is untrue. On any page in the Kindle (in a book, in a newspaper, etc), you can highlight text on the page. Highlighted text automatically appears in a separate document on your Kindle called "My Clippings." The My Clippings file is a .TXT file that can be transferred via USB to a PC where you can re-use that text.

            Now, Yagotta may not find this useful, but there are thousands of people who pour through newspapers and other content every day, clipping stuff out and trying to incorporate that into business reports, emails, etc. A lot of this content is on the Web and you could do it off a browser just as well. But here, your getting it as a part of the larger convenience of the Kindle.... a device with extraordinary battery life that's easy to use in just about any setting, anywhere, and where you can research, highlight, and export important content for re-use and look up later.

            For example, Yagotta says he's happy to look at this on his computer. Until the battery runs out. The Kindle can probably 50x longer than a notebook on one charge. The Kindle is lighter than ANY pc you'll ever carry. The Kindle is searchable. If you subscribe to 8 newspapers through the Kindle, you can search one term across them (and any other content in your kindle) and it will bring back all occurrences of that term. And, no ads of course.

            Anyway, I have plenty of criticisms of the Kindle. But the more I use it and find that you can't single out any one of its "virtual world" features, hold that feature up against the physical world equivalents, and say "because of how much better the physical world implementations work, this sucks." Looking at the device more holistically, it's does a lot of interesting things, in addition to being an e-book reader (again, one example is that no matter where you are in North America, so long as you have a signal, your newspaper comes to you... try that in a paper world!).

            db
            dberlind
          • Marginal Utility

            [i]But I want address this other assumption that text can't be easily copied. This is untrue. On any page in the Kindle (in a book, in a newspaper, etc), you can highlight text on the page. Highlighted text automatically appears in a separate document on your Kindle called "My Clippings." The My Clippings file is a .TXT file that can be transferred via USB to a PC where you can re-use that text.[/i]

            I want to make sure I have this right: You highlight the text, plug in a USB stick, copy the file, and then can go on to highlight some other text, etc. (Formatting not preserved.)

            [i]Now, Yagotta may not find this useful, but there are thousands of people who pour through newspapers and other content every day, clipping stuff out and trying to incorporate that into business reports, emails, etc. A lot of this content is on the Web and you could do it off a browser just as well.[/i]

            With a lot less work, certainly -- the "highlight, copy to device, move device, copy file, cut and paste" workflow isn't exactly efficient. IMHO after about three references Amazon and a local glazier would both have some replacement business with the employer.

            You're really straining if you think that clipping services are going to use Kindles. Or anyone else who is "pouring (sic) through through newspapers and other content every day" scavenging material -- the ergonomics and workflow make no sense whatever.

            [i]But here, your getting it as a part of the larger convenience of the Kindle.... a device with extraordinary battery life that's easy to use in just about any setting, anywhere, and where you can research, highlight, and export important content for re-use and look up later.[/i]

            That battery life is a bit shorter than paper, though. What's its marginal utility relative to a reasonable notebook? My ThinkPad is good for about a day on a charge anyway, so unless I'm planning to work for several days away from both AC power and 12 volt DC I don't see much advantage.

            [i]For example, Yagotta says he's happy to look at this on his computer. Until the battery runs out. The Kindle can probably 50x longer than a notebook on one charge.[/i]

            I'm having a hard time imagining having to work for six weeks away from electricity. If I spend that long away from a recharge, I sure hope I have better things to do than hunt for a Sprint signal.

            [i]The Kindle is lighter than ANY pc you'll ever carry.[/i]

            And several times as heavy as my PDA -- which has an adequate, if not spectacular, screen for reading text (at least as long as I have my reading glasses, anyway.) The PDA also has the advantage of true cut and paste, e-mail, text editing, etc.

            [i]If you subscribe to 8 newspapers through the Kindle, you can search one term across them (and any other content in your kindle) and it will bring back all occurrences of that term.[/i]

            David, I'm a fairly fast reader but there is [u]no way[/u] I'm going to take the time to read eight newspapers a day.

            As for search, I strongly suspect Google's search capability is a bit more powerful than anything the Kindle can do on its power budget. Especially since it can only search what you've already downloaded, so if the material you're looking for isn't competing with your e-books for limited space you're SOL.

            Well, you could always erase a few e-books.

            [i]And, no ads of course.[/i]

            Which is only a problem thanks to the Kindle's crippled display.

            "The cult of Kindle" seems appropriate -- you're writing about the thing the way I see some cooks spending hours trying to come up with a meal plan based on some durian they already bought.
            Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Responses

            First, I didn't say clipping services would be using this. I said, people to whom clipping is important. I have, many times, been reading a newspaper, and torn out a page or part of a page and stuck them in my shoulder bag. I know a lot of other people who do this sort of thing (my father included... he sometimes sends me these via snail mail).

            Second, regarding the usability of the feature, everytime you highlight the text, it adds that highlighted portion to your existing clippings file. So, your clippings file ends up being a compendium of stuff you've hightlighted. Although there's no real format to it, metadata is automatically applied to the top of each entry in the clipping file... showing the source (eg: The Wall Street Journal), the exact location within the Journal that it was pulled from (the Kindle has a special indexing feature called "location") and the day/date it was added to the clippings file.

            But regardless of its usability (because usability can always be improved), I was simply pointing out the factual inaccuracy that text can't be copied. It absolutely unequivocally can.

            Does it lose it's format? Well, it really doesn't have a format to begin with (which is nice) if you ask me.

            On battery life, I don't have one notebook that lasts a day the way yours does. I must have 8 Thinkpads here. None of them last that long when being used without power. All of them weight at least 10x as much as the Kindle. So, I think you're giving short shrift to the Kindle's weight and battery life in terms of portability and endurance relative to a PC.

            Relative to the PDA.. you're talking to Mr. Mobile here. I've had my hands on just about every PDA that has come into existence (and they too have battery problems). I used to read my news on a PDA. It's nice. It works. It's passable. Navigation totally sucked (the Kindle has menu driven navigation of newspaper content for Front page, TOC, sections, etc.). Typeface size is hard on the eyes (the Kindle has 6 different text sizes from which to choose from for a variety of vision types). Some people will go for that approach. My bet is that most, once they try the Kindle, will find that it is far more useable for the tasks of consuming news, books, blogs, etc than is any PDA.

            I could keep going but let's bear in mind that all of these arguments (and the ones I didn't cover) could be made for MP3 players too. But when an "Text" player comes out, the market won't accept it.

            Also, I do agree about anything rights protected. I'm not trying to say the device is perfect. Going back to the original blog post, I do think it offers the media industry some clarity on buiness models with digital content moving forward. As with any content offering, not everyone will love every channel over which you provide your content. I'm not suggesting the Kindle will replace the Web or print for everybody. I'm suggesting that this v1.0 is good enough to say that there'll be a healthy market for this sort of device and the distribution channel it represents when it comes to content distribution.

            db
            dberlind
        • No one had to buy a $400 cup first to get their coffee fix

          Sounds like a good business model Amazon has with the
          Kindle, with very easy access to the content (books). The problem as others have mentioned though is the cost of the device. Imagine Starbucks in the beginning requiring us to buy an expensive coffee cup before we enjoy our coffee, a cup you could only use with Starbucks. It would have failed.

          Many are comparing the Amazon Kindle model to the Apple iPod/iTunes model. But before we can have that comparison, we need in the Kindle a device that's drool-worthy. People were willing to spend a premium for the iPod, people are not willing to spend a premium for the Kindle.
          dave95.
    • The paper edition of the NYT is abt $25/mo delivered

      Seems like a savings to me....and it appears as though your amortizing the device over the cost of just the newspaper, not considering other utility of it. That's true. I agree. If all this is used for is taking delivery of a newspaper, your math works. What about the other upsides? None of it worth any thing?

      Interesting.

      db
      dberlind
      • What other upsides?

        [i]What about the other upsides? None of it worth any thing?[/i]

        I can't see any. The books are expensive, transient, and inconvenient. You can't lend them to anyone, you can't keep them after the Kindle meets its inevitable end, the silly thing has a limited capacity (at which point you have to start deleting the expensive things), you can't sell them when you're done, etc.

        There are hundreds of books in this house older than anyone now alive. Just this week we were doing some research with the aid of the 1911 Britannica (which is, BTW, in the public domain.)

        Let me know when the Kindle can come close.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • one example

          When I was studying and had to go to my girlfriend's place every weekend, I had to take like 5 or 6 books with me. All very heavy. It would have been nice to have everything on one device.

          I'm not sure I would have bought a Kindle for all the reasons you give, plus other like writing handnotes, donating them after you are done with them, etc. University books can be resold for good money as well. But if they were a bit less restrictive with the DRM, the idea of ebooks is not that bad. When I moved overseas I brought many book with me. And every time I have to move they are a pain. I would switch them to ebooks anytime.

          I think the main disadvantage of ebooks is the lack of skimming capabilities. We all know how to skim through books looking for what you need. Jumping sections around, etc. You can't do that with ebooks.

          So I don't think ebooks will rule, but I think they do have a place if done in the right way. Unfortunately, the way they work, is not attractive to me at all.

          And something that really pisses me off is the price. They have null transportation cost, null material cost, null recycling cost, etc. And nevertheless, the price of the ebook is almost as much as for the paper version (I saw this when buying "Embedded Linux Primer"). This reminds me of Vonage, which they profit from the internet and VoIP technology, but they don't split the saving fairly with the customers. Really shame on Amazon for that.
          patibulo
          • The Kindle price on the book you mention is...

            I just looked up the book you mentioned... the Embedded Linux Primer. The Amazon price for the paperback (see http://tinyurl.com/elprimer) is $39.99 (discount $10 from the $49.99 retail price). Used copies of the book are available from $34. The price of the Kindle version of the book is $35.99. A $4 savings... (more than 10 percent) isn't bad. Elsewhere in the world, people take 10 percent whenever they can get it.

            Bear in mind that while Amazon has some role in setting prices, it's not completely Amazon's decision. Ultimately, the book publisher has a price too.

            I do agree though that the price of the Kindle itself is high which means that, on straight ROI terms, getting payback out of the savings on the books (especially at $4 per book) isn't good enough. (this approach ignores whether there's ROI on the features as well.. in other words, is there value in those features that's worth the money the way you might say there's value in spending more money for 1080 HD vs. 720 HD on an hidef TV).

            db
            dberlind
          • To conitinue the comparison . . .

            The Extra $4 you spend for the Kindle version expires when the device does, or you run out of room on the device. The paperback version is cheaper, and will be around forever (or as long as hardcopy normally does).

            I still hold that this device is aimed at a business person (a really dumb one), not the general public. In order for this kind of device to become as ubiquitous for text as the ipod is for music, the price is going to have to come WAY down, like $100 or less, and the price of books and periodicals (and papers)is going to half to decrease as well. I can get the Columbus Dispatch, or any other local paper for about $.50. Most people do not get their news from the NY times . . .

            When a device gets down to the $100 mark, call me . . .until then, I'll continue to use Mobipocket on my Axim . . . for free. And in case you ask, I don't normally pay for books (I read a lot of amateur fiction and classics from places such as Gutenberg.org and the Free Baen Library.).
            JLHenry
      • Ask yourself...

        ...will I still be using this a year from now? Any ebook for that fact.

        Your honest answer will be "No".

        You like the fancy feel and use of a new gadget, that's the simple sum of
        things. Beyond that, there is no use for it.

        The Kindle, like all ebooks are an answer to something that no one wants,
        asked for or needs.

        It is Corporate greed in it's purist form, and your sucker enough to buy into
        it.
        NoPumpGas
        • Rephrase please

          [i]Ask yourself will I still be using this a year from now? Any ebook for that fact.[/i]

          ITYM, "ebook [u]reader]/u]."

          Some e-books are quite re-usable, or at least the ones without DRM are, and do have advantages over paper in some situations.
          Yagotta B. Kidding
        • Good question

          I don't know. My wife certainly loves it. She's tickled by the idea of carrying around so many books at one time.

          And by the way, one of her favorite "features" of the Kindle is how indefatiguable reading is when lying on her side in bed. If you've ever read a book while lying on your side in bed, you'd know that it's a pretty unnatural act. As much as you want to do it with one hand, you have to do it with two (eg: turning pages) which means that one arm has to always be out.

          As I read these comments and see how people are crucifying the Kindle because of just one thing that doesn't make sense to them, we should be reminded that it could also be just one thing (like one-handed reading) that makes it entirely worthwhile to others.

          db
          dberlind
    • Course you can transfer the books.

      Straight down USB onto your hard drive. You get to keep them. You can even convert them into Acrobat Reader format and E-mail them to other people! Heck, if you had enough paper and ink cartridges you could print the darned things.

      And of course, others will be doing the same. You'll have a nice, large underground network of Kindle E-book users happily exchanging everything that's going - all for free!! Just give the pile a little time to grow...
      ulrichburke@...
  • reading prose on cell phones is OK

    Sorry if this is too off topic, but I think you dismiss the reading potential of cell phones too lightly. For 'high layout' applications their screens are clearly too small - but for simple prose and novels they are fine to read and ultra portable.
    nicholasjbennett@...