Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

Summary: Amazon needs to produce a Kindle Nano designed primarily for audio consumption of Kindle material,

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The big Kindle news in the last month or so has been Amazon's announcement that they now sell more Kindle books than printed books (and that doesn't include free stuff). Their details are a bit sketchy and my Internet Press Guild colleague Sharon Fisher thinks Amazon's may be playing a little fast and loose with the math, but even so, the Kindle format is clearly a winner.

I just bought a new house and normally, when I move, I move about 19,000 pounds of books with me. But over the last year or so, my wife and I have been reading books almost exclusively in Kindle format (or PDF, on the iPad). She reads on her Kindle 3. I bought an earlier Kindle 2 and hated it so much I returned it. I actually quite enjoy reading Kindle books on my iPhone (yes, I found a good use for an iPhone).

See also: Five iPad lessons Apple could teach Amazon to save the Kindle

Although screen size (and the difference between backlit and gray-on-gray) are the main reading differences between the Kindle device and the iPhone (along with other Kindle readers), another difference is that the Kindle device will read most books to you, via audio, if you so desire.

Yes, there are some narrow-minded publishers who miss the obvious benefits of letting people consume their content in any form once they pay for it, but other than a small percentage of these dinosaurs, most publishers allow their books to be read by the Kindle's nearly adequate software.

See also: Five lessons Apple can learn from Amazon

Text to speech is not perfect in any implementation, and the Kindle's, while decent, isn't perfect. Even so, listening to a Kindle book while doing housework, moving and packing boxes, running GigE wires in the attic, and even driving can be a pleasant and productive experience.

The only problem is that the Kindle is a big device. It doesn't easily attach to a belt or sit in a shirt pocket. It's really meant to be seen and not heard.

This is where Amazon needs to produce a Kindle Nano. This device would be designed primarily for audio consumption of Kindle material. After all, given that the Kindle has Whispersync, you could start reading your book on your iPhone, continue for a while in audio mode only on your Kindle Nano, and then read your Kindle by the pool over the weekend.

See also: Why I finally joined the Amazon Kindle bandwagon

Amazon is already perfectly suited for this. They own Audible, which provides a popular audio book program for consumers. Audible is another favorite of my wife, and she listens to novel after novel on it.

So the obvious question is this: if she can read King of Thrones on her Kindle, why can't she have a pocket-size Kindle Nano, and keep "reading it" audibly during the times she needs to keep her hands free for other activities? Denise tells me that if Amazon makes an audio-only Kindle, it needs a better audio pause and a replay-the-last-30-seconds button.

Why can't we all have a Kindle Nano?

Jeff, buddy, I know you're out there. Give us our Kindle Nano. Don't worry, we'll buy it. You know we will.

Oh, and this time I'm not moving as many books. After all, I have an entire library in Amazon's cloud.

Yes, I know Nano is the Apple name. But it does paint an interesting picture, doesn't it? What do you think? Would you "read" your Kindle books on an audio-only Kindle? TalkBack below.

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Hardware, iPhone

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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12 comments
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  • How about a Kindle Junior?

    With 4 kids, I'd would love to get a couple of Kindle devices with the following specs:<br><br>Screen 20% smaller<br>1GB book storage<br>USB only, no Wifi/3G<br><br>Price: $89
    sagec
    • RE: Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

      @jacec
      That's actually pretty genius dude. I'd buy one for all the kids in my wife's extended family. And I don't even own a single Kindle!
      Droid101
      • Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

        @David Gewirtz : Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano? Maybe it's already inside your a $ s.
        nomorebs
    • Kindle Junior = Original Kindle at lower price

      What you're talking about is basicly the original kindle at a lower price, except it had whisper-net sync but that never worked too well. It had expandable storage too. Maybe you could find a few of the old ones. :)
      @jacec
      MallusLittera
  • Oh Yes

    Yes, Yes indeedy,
    I'm responding because I believe Amazon has a policy of considering smart options.
    john.medcalf@...
  • RE: Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

    Horrible idea, never work.
    james347
  • RE: Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

    There's a whole category of products called MP3 players or DAPs that already fulfill that purpose. :-) IF there's a book that doesn't have an audio book equivalent, run the Kindle book through a text-to-speech program and save the result, and you're still all set. That's what I've done with web articles and my Creative Zen.
    jgm@...
  • Sorry but no!

    Why sell an audio-only Kinde? If you don't mind using the Kindle e-reader on an iPhone, why not ask Amazon to make smartphone-sized Kindle instead? Then you get the best of both worlds again!

    Part of the problem is that a good part of your manufacturing costs are fixed - regardless of the size of the device. In truth, there are very few stand-alone electronic items (which function without dependence on other eletronics) that any company can make today - no matter how small, that they can afford to sell and ship for less than $99.

    As an example, I'd bet that Apple takes a loss on its iPod Shuffle just because it knows that nearly every buyer of the Shuffle will upgrade to another model of iPod within two years.
    M Wagner
  • RE: Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

    Depending on Text to Speech quality, I'd buy one. I love audiobooks, but hate abridged versions, so full-length text read visually, or read aloud to me would be bliss!
    david@...
  • HumanWare makes the Victor Reader Stream device

    a device which is about the size of a deck of cards
    which can read (TTS) TXT and EPUB files (the latter with optional extra cost software). See

    http://www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/blindness/dtb_players/compact_models/_details/id_81/victorreader_stream.html

    The only thing is that their voices are only on par with the Kindle. They just introduced a desktop product which has better voices from Capella.
    rosanlo
  • RE: Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

    I would actually like to see a pocket size Kindle that is about the size of the Sony Pocket. I can do without the keyboard and the smaller unit would be much easier when running around town
    jklineberry
  • RE: Where's our pocket-sized audio-only Kindle Nano?

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