Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

Summary: The internet is all a buzz about the Amazon Kindle that was just officially announced. The Amazon Kindle product page is live and you can place your order now for this US$399 ebook reader. As I scrolled down through the product page I couldn't help but start adding up how high the monthly fees for this thing could possibly be. There are monthly subscriptions for newspapers from US$9.99 to US$14.99, magazines at US$1.99 and US$2.99, blogs (yes free blogs) for US$0.99 each per month, and Word document and photo email attachment support for US$0.10 each. I think the device hardware is a bit steep to start with, but you could easily be paying a monthly subscription cost that dwarfs the hardware cost over a rather short period of time.

SHARE:

Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?The internet is all a buzz about the Amazon Kindle that was just officially announced. The Amazon Kindle product page is live and you can place your order now for this US$399 ebook reader. As I scrolled down through the product page I couldn't help but start adding up how high the monthly fees for this thing could possibly be. There are monthly subscriptions for newspapers from US$9.99 to US$14.99, magazines at US$1.99 and US$2.99, blogs (yes free blogs) for US$0.99 each per month, and Word document and photo email attachment support for US$0.10 each. I think the device hardware is a bit steep to start with, but you could easily be paying a monthly subscription cost that dwarfs the hardware cost over a rather short period of time.

I actually had the chance to play with a Kindle a couple of months ago and as an avid ebook reader I liked what I saw for the most part. However, I most likely won't be buying one for myself since I can read ebooks on my S60 and Windows Mobile devices with Mobipocket and a good backlight for bedtime reading, surf the internet via WiFi or cellular data connection, send and receive emails and attachments at no cost, subscribe to and read hundreds of blogs for free, add unlimited external storage for storing as many books and files as I like, and so much more. Granted, the Amazon Kindle has a long battery life and a great viewable display for well-lit conditions. While Sprint's EV-DO network is very fast, I think this wireless technology may limit sales a bit because there are still lots of people in geographic locations around the U.S. who can't access this network. Maybe WiFi would have been better with support for T-Mobile or Boingo so people could download books at the airport or local Starbucks.

UPDATE: People have made some good comments on this post and I read some great thoughts from Marc Orchant over at blognation USA that then prompted me to go order one for myself. Unfortunately, Amazon ran out of stock (no one knows how many were actually in stock) within 5.5 hours so I would have to wait until past 29 November to get one. I figured if I do get one I'll just use it for ebooks and not try to make it an all-in-one device (yes, this is difficult for us super mobile geeks as we try to reduce the number of devices we carry). That way, I won't have any monthly fees and the Kindle WILL NOT be a nightmare for standard ebook reading. Actually, it could be an ebook dream with reasonably priced books and a nice viewing experience.

I have a trip to Amsterdam in a week and should have ordered one right away to take on this long 10 hour flight. I'll have to load up the HTC Advantage with some books (also downloadable wirelessly from FictionWise) for the trip and may still pick up a Kindle for my Christmas present.

Topics: Browser, Amazon, Hardware, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

19 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • It looks pretty good...

    I think the Kindle looks like a pretty nice device. The device itself is a little costly, but I don't think the services are.

    Take the NY Times: Weekly delivery in my area is $5.50/wk. That's $22. Amazon's price is 14. The crossword, box scores, and classifieds aren't included, and some tables and images are missing. Does that balance out? Maybe. I don't know.

    I don't think it's as much of a nightmare as you might think -- especially for those who would just read books. I won't be one of the buyers, though.
    bhartman33@...
  • RE: Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

    Hey...you want an ebook reader? Purchase a used Newton...you can get them for about $100 now on eBay...the book format has been released to the public domain, so you can create a book on anything you want...the book maker software is availble on both Mac and Windows with at least one being available from a web app...upload your TXT and it returns a Newton Book!
    The Newton book comes complete with full commenting and bookmarking and if you want battery life, how about 2-4 weeks on a single set of "AA" batteries you can get anywhere in the world?
    People complained that the Newton was bulky...well, I can tell you...not as bulky as this!
    Ed
    web/gadget guru
    tech_ed@...
    • Newton Reader

      The Newton would be a great reader IF it could display PDFs, but this is also a
      problem for the Kindle. I would love it if Apple released something similar, with more
      Newton functionality, ie HWR.
      csarsfield
  • It doesn't display PDFs??

    If it doesn't, why not? Palm and PPCs do. Why would anyone want to buy a hobbled device?
    jtlogan9694@...
    • No PDF, but MobiPocket support...

      For whatever reason, it doesn't support PDF, but it [i]does[/i] support MobiPocket files, and you can (according, at least, to one of the reviews) turn PDFs into MobiPocket files.

      I think the thing that hurts it the most (besides the price, obviously) is the grayscale screen. They obvously made the decision to mimic paper as closely as possible, but last time I checked, paper could also be printed in color. :)

      I think it's a really good device, if all you want to do is read books. The utility for downloading magazines and newspapers is a little more questionable.
      bhartman33@...
  • RE: Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

    It will definitely become a nightmare if Carphone Warehouse become associated with it in any way! But if it's run by a reputable company like Amazon on a pay as you use basis without trapping users to long term contracts, it has great potential.
    ksm.bhatta@...
  • RE: Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

    I have no intention of paying $400 for an ereader then outrageous subscription fees on top of that. I get ebooks now that only require acrobat reader and the books are half the price of print copies.
    What_the
  • RE: Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

    Did you know that Mobipocket is an Amazon company?

    Thierry
    http://www.unyverse.com
    tbrethes
  • no more paper!!! sign me up!

    For someone you'd think would be forward-thinking, Miller conjures a "monthly fee" fear that's a tad irrational. What's the cumulative "monthly fee" for someone who's ALREADY paying for hard copy editions of magazines and newspapers?
    The savings in recycling aggravation alone make the Kindle a potential bargain.
    Miller's fear seems (sadly) reminiscent of the arguments we might have heard when Edison hatched his electric light innovation.
    "All those wires you'll need to string from place to place! Who's going to pay for all that? And a candle works just fine!"
    Ah progress.
    How DID we get this far?
    palmer414
  • RE: Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

    If you can read an entire novel on a PDA, I tip my hat to you. However, for those of us with more normal sight, tend to gravitate back to paper as soon as possible.

    The subscription fees are fairly outrageous, but they also seem like features tacked on just because they could. I personally would never use them. Blogs and magazines are short reads, and can both be done on your everyday normal computer or PDA without too much eye strain.

    Its the price of the books that matter and most of them seem reasonably priced. The latest novel from Khaled Hosseini is listed at 25.95 but can be picked up from Barnes&Nobles for the low price of 18.16 or downloaded for 9.99 with the Kindle. So, assuming all new novels are similarly priced at B&N and Kindle it would take me 44 new book purchases to recover the cost of the Kindle. I could easily read 44 books in a year.

    This will definitely be going on my Christmas list.
    theillmunkeys
    • Excellent points, I may have to get one

      I appreciate your comments and you make a great argument for picking up the device. If I only used it for ebooks, then I can see that the device would be a decent choice. I guess I was struck by the fact that you have to pay for blog content that is freely available.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • I can't believe they left out the USB port.

    It can't connect to my PC? I can't put my own documents on it? I can't read PDF documents on it?

    For $400 you can't do any of that?

    No thanks.
    gordon@...
    • Umm.. actually you can

      You might want to actually look a the device's specs and features before posting. There [i]is[/i] a USB port and you [i]can[/i] put your own documents on it. PDF seems to be a problem (although you can use the free MobiConvert app to render a Kindle compatible Mobi file).
      morchant
    • It has a USB port

      And it comes with a USB cable. Look on the Amazon site yourself, at the list of specs...
      gerriel
  • Monthly fees? Only for subscribers!

    You mention the fees for downloads of newspapers and magazines being a potential nightmare equaling the price of the device...

    The subscription fee goes to the newspaper company, which you'd pay no matter which format you'd choose (physical delivery of a paper or electronic to a device). And of course, silly, you'd ONLY pay if you subscribed to the paper! Nobody is forcing anybody to get one...

    These are already fee-based things available over the internet, so what's the big deal about a fee for a version you download to a portable device? Is it now supposed to be FREE or it's unreasonable?

    Sounds way too much like whining....
    gerriel
  • Going backwards

    Yes, really...how funny, a tech reviewer displaying signs of technophobia.... while you're at it, why use a computer that uses all that electricity and expensive software, when you can go back to typing things on a manual typewriter???
    gerriel
  • RE: Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

    Anybody ever think of the Sony Libre?
    jonscot@...
  • RE: Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

    Too expensive. Will not buy it.
    Still waiting for a device which is good only for reading ebooks and cost at about $100
    efritz@...
  • RE: Is the Amazon Kindle going to be a monthly fee nightmare?

    So I bought one right away -- it's the first book reader I've seen that looks actually usable (I've tried quite a few). Too bad I didn't have it in Europe last month when I had to buy old nysteries in French bookstores when I was desperate for anything in English to take on the plane!
    amywohl