Whither Andrew Orlowski's comment about Amazon folly now?
Amazon's Kindle e-book reader will sell more than 380,000 in 2008, according to analysts at CitiGroup. UK retailer Waterstones agrees that e-books are the future and is putting Sony Readers into its high street stores. The Kindle figures are based on positive reviews of the product as well as the way it's still topping Amazon. …
Until the cost of the media is dropped considerably, these things will never catch on.
Charging virtually the same for an eBook as the paper version is the same old typical media owner greed. They have cut out all their printing and distribution costs, but still think they can get away with charging the paperback price.
Cut the cost and I'll think about it.
Wrong, the Kindle *could* be sold in Canada as well as we have two CDMA providers. The obstacle is Amazon's unwillingness to do the network deal that would allow it to be actually used in Canada to buy books... that and the fact that Amazon in Canada sells only music and books, and no other merchandise.
The Kindle looks a piece of cheap crap. I'd rather have a shelf full of real books thanks.
E-Ink can't flip pages quickly (typically 0.5 to 1 sec per page turn), so not a book killer tech yet.
And of course: try taking a 'holiday book' through USA border control and you'll never see it again.
"hey friend, I'm reading this great book right now.. you'd love it"
"absolutely... hey I'll lend you my copy when I'm done with it"
"but surely this is stealing as I haven't got a license to read the book in my house"
Kindle/Sony: too pricey. cost of ownership too high (especially with kindle)
Does little better than real book (some things less well)
Even with great leaps in resolution - eye strain a plenty!
eBooks are way way way too expensive
DRM is just plain terrible.
Kindle costs a fortune, ties you to Amazon for your content and does a poor job of supporting any other books in other (more open) formats that you may own. The ebook industry has managed to run itself into the ground through proprietary formats and readers. Kindle is just the most recent and expensive in a long line of them.
I think its pure insanity to lock yourself into one provider for your service. Would you lock yourself into buying everything through Waterstones? Amazon wouldn't be the first to close a service, or alter the terms in their favour. They shouldn't have that kind of power. Maybe they'll decide that buy to own is passe and go with a subscription model for books. Or cancel the service altogther. Or replace it with something else.
Publishers and consumer electronics firms shouldn't be allowing to Amazon pull strings here. Define and mandate a proper, industry adopted ebook format, a protocol for purchasing books from any store, and a range of devices from separate manufacturers that support it. Do that and ebooks may very well take off. Don't and ebooks will wallow in the hellscape they currently reside in with competing fiefdoms of incompatible formats and 800lb gorillas trying to monopolize the format for themselves.
would add quite the same touch of gravitas to a stately home.
Most people I know HATE reading things on their computers, they absolutley insist on having things in hardcopy, especially long things like books or articles (anything longer than 2 pages I think). They say its hard to concentrate and causes eye-strain etc.
Becasue of this I think I may be unique (I know, just like everyone else) but I love reading on my PC (laptop). I also have a smartphone and lvoe reading on there too. In fact, this way, I can carry about 100 books with me everywhere I go, taking up minimal space.
I use Mobireader (and SOMETIMES other conversion software) to convert whatever I want to read to the Modi format and away I go.There are plenty of free (I mean really free, not just freely available, although there are those too) books available, lots of classics.
The battery drain is minimal, I can read in the day and the night, no lighting restrictions. I can sync from my PC to my phone any new books I want to read.
All in all, a perfect solution for me as I tend to read quite fast (about 3 novels a week).
If this Kindle thingie were a bit more "free" with its uses, I may be tempted.
Dropping a kindle in the bath, drying it on the radiator and picking up where you left off.....
No, I thought not.
Most of us dedicated readers have several books on the go at one time, one by the bed, one by the armchair and one in my briefcase, and probably one in the bathroom as well.
It saves having to carry your book around with you all the time.
Me I like my library, with lots of shelves full of books, the idea of putting it all on an electronic device in the corner seems quite sterile to me.
never run out of battery
don't need to be near a power source for their entire lifespan (well, perhaps a torch battery)
can be left on the beach and it doesn't matter much if they're stolen
can be lent to friends, or given as interesting-looking, wrapped presents
are cheap, and can be bought (and sold) second-hand
can be dropped, or shoved in a rucksack and thrown around
As long as the Kindle does all that, and anything else I notice, then it's fine.
Why don't people realise that these will not cause eye strain because they are not computer screens.
Read the specs!
As others have said I am attached to my books. There's an intrinsic 'value' and 'pride' in the printed work. Maybe because it encapsulates such work and creativity. Maybe because we're all stuck in some Victorian romantic ideal. Either way I'm not changing for a long long time.
However for reading long technical documents at work... I could be persuaded by an open format device with sufficient speed, indexing, and super-high clarity and battery longevity. Guess I'll be waiting years for that though.
There are some free samples, so you can decide for yourself if it suits you.
Shurely there will be an i-Ink plug-in screen for the Jesus phone. Then Andrew Orlowski will be right.
i buy pretty much all my books there as i know people who work there and am always like oh book i want to read yay and off i trott with it it's the fact i like books i like to see my book self crammed high with them makes me feel i actually got some thing for my money. not just data on a small card plus i've never had a book get corrupted on me or the battery run out half way though (or more importantly the last page) i'll stick to my books i recycle old ones so they can make new ones. strangly i'd happly get one and download news papers to it (means more paper for books :o) )
The more (ugly, unergonomic, functionally castrated, DRM-strangled, monocultured, orwellian) Kindles Amazon gets over the counter, the more likely are e-paper devices that are interesting—think Iliad—to fall in price. iRex needs to have better Mac support but the device is already much more compelling than the Kindle as you can use it for productive work instead of it being a mere vehicle for consumption. If you need access to a lot of text that you actually are supposed to read and work with, as students and scientists do, with the given texts having a tendency to be either scattered over countless publications or part of heavy volumes, these readers are a great relief. E-paper will never provide the same experience as real paper—but that is simply not the point.
Isn't the CDMA technology the stuff off Daily Mail "Books give you cancer" hysterics? I'm sure that the introduction in the the UK will be followed by "Think of children" type madness.
More significantly won't someone think of the librarians? Or could I take my Kindle to the public library, download a copy of a book for free, and then delete it a few weeks later?
They both support standard formats and non DRM books. I recently bought a CyBook 3 and it is fantastic - it is also VERY easy to convert PDF/Word docs into the Mobibook format as well.
The Cybook in a suitable protective cover is the size and weight of a thin paperback. It hasn't got the connectivity of a Kindle but do most people care? Load it up with half a dozen books and it is a perfect holiday gadget...
... with a traditional book, at least you can still read during the day.
This type of device will never replace the simplicity, permanence, tactility and aesthetics of printed matter.
Without a power source, it's useless. Printed matter, on the other hand, can last for thousands of years requiring only a light source and an understanding to view.
Given that life requires a light source to exist in the first place, I'd say that's a moot point.
what's the bets the DRM prevents you from selling on your copy of the e-book when you've finished with it... publishers would love that, being able to kill the secondhand market... and they won't let you move the book to a better reader when they come out either... they'll want you to buy it again.
ps. I get my e-books off usenet... no DRM and I can read them on whatever reader I want...
I have a Sony reader, and I am getting a LOT more reading done than when I read on paper.
I don't have time to get to bookstores much, but I can get an eBook online in 30 seconds. Also, I've got currently about 300 books in my reader (4GB card) - I don't have a real plan for what to read next, I just keep a few dozen things on there and pick one when I finish the last book. It's nice to be able to pick any book out of the library while waiting for an appointment or at lunch.
As for "useless when the power is out" - a charge on the Sony reader will last 7500 page turns, which is about 10 good-sized novels (there's not quite as many words to a page on the Sony). It's true, if you can't get near any kind of power for the time it takes you to read 10 full novels, you'll run out of power. This isn't a huge problem for me, maybe others live in the woods or often have power outages that last a week or two (or perhaps they read more than 2 or 3 novels a day). Personally I take mine on 2 week vacations and don't bother to pack a charger.
I find it much more comfortable to curl up with the Sony reader than with a paperback. I don't have to hold the thing open, and I don't have to shift around every other page to read the left, then the right page, when I'm lying down.
BTW, count me as a huge fan of Baen books. I give them as much money for ebooks as I can, for they're about the only company that "gets it" - non DRM books (which I respect and DO NOT share) for cheaper than paperbacks, usually $4 or so, and I bet if any extra is made from the eBook, Baen passes a chunk of it to the author, because they're an ethical company.
@Matt - NO common book being printed today will last more than perhaps a hundred years or so. Even after 50 years, paperbacks are looking pretty ratty; the cheap paper just falls apart.
I'm not convinced of the argument there - you could drop your kindle in the bath, but you'd buy a new one with the insurance money, resync and carry on where you left off.
Besides, there's no reason why a kindle-like device couldn't be made more waterproof than a book. Why, it could even incorprate a flotation device :-)
I'm more put off by the DRM/sharing side - I like to lend my books to people, but how can I do that with an ebook, legally? I suppose I could lend someone the ebook reader itself..
I'm not really for ebooks and readers myself, but I think they have their place.
Usually I can rely on several of my friends/relatives/coworkers have the latest gadgets. I can't count how many people I know who have iPods, TomToms, Xbox 360's, DSLR's and whatnot. Yet not one person I know has an ebook reader of any kind. It just doesn't sit well with Amazon's claims that the kindle is their #1 seller in the electronics category. I would call it channel stuffing, but Amazon doesn't use channels. I'm at a loss. Either the kindle appeals to some nerdy book-reading segment alien to me and my nerdy book-reading fellow travelers, or Amazon is making shit up.
I have an iLiad. It's awesome. I haven't read a paper book all year, and I read a LOT. Eye strain isn't an issue - the iLiad's 166dpi isn't fantastic, but it's a lot better than any other display device I've ever seen. The next iterations of epaper will be even better - I hear VizPlex (epaper v4) is almost ready to ship. Colour will be along soon, screen redraw rates will drop, etc. etc. I haven't found the redraw speed on the iLiad to be an issue - it takes about the same time as turning a page and resetting your eyes to top-left.
If I can't find a book I want in electronic form, I phone the publishers and ask if they have any plans to release it - they usually do, but are in the process of figuring out the best way to do it. Every publisher I've spoken to so far say they don't want to do DRM (authors and/or author's managers often insist on it) because (a) they don't want to lease books and (b) they know it doesn't work. Every publisher I've spoken with also says they want to sell ebooks cheaply, and using open formats (ePub seems to be the leading contender at the moment) A few of them have even said they're considering subscription-based services, in the style of some of the newer music systems.
I get the whole "books are special objects" thing, my bedroom has three of its walls covered in bookcases and I love them dearly, but it's like music - I buy mp3s because they are cheap, easy and convenient - and if I really like something, I buy the vinyl version - 'cos it's nice to look at and to hold (and it sounds better). Same for books - eBooks have replaced paperbacks for me, but I'll still buy hardbacks for stuff I really like. I think we'll see more high-quality hardbacks and/or special editions, and fewer pulp paperbacks.
What would be interesting is a lifetime energy-cost analysis of an ereader over print. Publishing can be hugely wasteful - bookshops regularly send back loads of unsold books for pulping. But my iLiad is a high-tech device and is expensive to make. How many electronic books do I have to read before my net energy consumption is lower than someone reading the same books in paper form?
@Robert Grant - bet you can't carry a month's worth of reading in one pocket. I can. Hell, I could pack several years worth of books onto my iLiad if I wanted to (using the memory expansion options). I also have a solar charger, so I don't need electrical outlets. Swings, roundabouts. :)
@Matt - Same thing goes for digital photos, digital music (anyone with a sharp object and a bit of paper can make a rudimentary record player), microwave meals, the entire internet, etc. Doesn't mean they're no use though, does it? If the lights go out, I'm going to be more concerned with finding my next meal than reading the latest Pratchett story.
I also think these devices have their place.
In the bin.
I think there is something to the Kindle concept, and if they make cheaper clones of it, I'll be interested. First advantage is that the white/greyscale screen has very low power usage and I heard that the kindle can stay on for a week as it doesnt need backlighting. I know that Amazon hired experts and designed the Kindle in-house, so I dont know how much of this screen technology they own. The QWERTY keyboard input also opens a lot of possiblitys for creating your own text documents. I would be satisfied with just infrared connectivity to my PC and that would bring the cost of such a device way way down. Also a clamshell form factor would make such a device much more convenient to carry.
Dunno if anyone here ever had to move and shift a couple of thousand books in process. They're fucking heavy, get very dusty, and can break your back or your heart (if you drop a carrier bag full of em down lots of stairs). They can be eaten by worms and mice, get mouldy when damp, stink, melt away in the bath or stick the pages together. John R is quite right about books not lasting - Christ only stone lasts for thousands of years! Books can be burnt both inadvertently and vertently. They're very easy to steal or lend and never get back. And they're addictive.
On the other hand, you can underline stuff and dogear the pages and write essays in the margins. It's easy to grab a few books and compare bits about the same thing (if the indexes are up to scratch or you've done your underlining and dogearing correctly). And you can have all these books open at the same time. And most of them smell good when new (the new car effect), and you can tell where they're made from the smell (US one smell, GB another, F another and so on). Even the paper and typography have their own character.
But then again, if you tend to read big fat books the way I do (av. maybe 750 pp hardbacks) you find it difficult to do on the tube or in the bath, let alone make notes or check in a couple of big fat dictionaries or reference books at the same time. What I'd want for that would be a dual-screen SCC that's waterproofed, note-friendly and very very easy to navigate. A pleasant text-to-voice option would be nice for plane flights so you could doze and listen (with earphones that neutralize surrounding noise), the same for those bloody security queues and debilitating hanging around at airports (almost none of the books I read are available as audio books). It would also be great to avoid the need to carry a load of BFBs around with you (especially past ignorant security goons).
That's enough for now...
Paris cos she'd be nice on your lap in the tube, the plane or the tub. And I'm sure she'd be easy to find your way around...
Nobody hates DRM more than me but I can see real advantages when it comes to not being able to lend out Ebooks.
Never again would I loan out a paperback only to never see it again or to get it back after having been used as a drinks coaster or a teething aid for a toddler. And don't get me started on page folders, use a fucking bookmark for crying out loud people.
The vast majority of books I buy and get and presents from people. I can't quite see giving ebooks as presents catching on. Equally, I can't really see why I'd read an ebook. I love listening to audiobooks and I do that more than I read, but when I do read, there's nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned book.
380,000 is not really that many in the grand scheme of things.
I'm really amazed that fewer people aren't against the kindle for its potential to figure out what you read, when you read it, where you were and so forth. I imagine that Amazon can collect quite a lot of data about their users through these kindles. I see that as a huge breach of privacy, and I didn't like the idea of the thing even without this flaw.
The books need to be cheaper than the dead-tree editions, there needs to be lending capability to suit traditional libraries and friends & family situations, support for secondhand sales of titles, and a privacy/anonymity regulation system quite possibly backed by harmonized international law before I'll consider a kindle.
First off, I have a lot of books---at least a few hundred, not counting magazines, technical manuals, etc. (and shelving) I recently moved, and it was a backbreaking experience. That said, here's my .02:
-Instant availability of new titles
-Light weight, stores many, many books
-Great savings on space over paper books, and nothing to rot, get water-damaged, etc. If the reader is destroyed, re-download the books you've paid for.
-Ability to search for a passage or chapter without flipping through?
-I like the sight, feel, and smell of books in my home
-Pricing still too high for reader and titles.
-Doesn't do color at all; How is it with ANY illustrations?
-You're limited to one page size, forever.
-The batteries never go dead in my hardcovers.
-Inability to loan out titles. Are users allowed to make any local copies of their media?
-Your reading preferences are indexed forever by Big Brother.
(there better not ever be targeted ads on this thing)
I trialed an iLiad for our company recently, and it was excellent.
One of our engineers is using it for machine manuals at the moment.
About the size and weight of a large thin paperback, battery life of about 10 hours in use, nice clear screen without needing a backlight, zoom mode, reads PDFs etc. can carry 200+ manuals and partslists on one sd card.
A laptop? too slow to boot, too heavy to carry, too poor battery life, poor screen display,wrong orientation.
Nice to use, and you can carry your entire library with you,
It may seem expensive, but I have spent more than that on a windows PDA/phone (and use it less), and I have spent more than that on books in the last 12 months,
I seldom read a book more than once, but for reference works and technical manuals it is perfect.
I have piles of dead treeware sitting around that I will never read again. I bought them new, second hand they are pretty worthless, oxfam or freecycle- ebay costs so much to sell and post, it is not worth the hassle.
technically possible but not ultimately not desirable
Right on there, bud.
Let's not also forget:
-I can't take it to the beach: water, sun, sand.
-I can't take it on the train: muggers.
-I can't trade it in at the used book shop when I'm done.
-It really is butt-ugly.
-It's only a matter of time before we see "targeted" advertising on the goddamn' thing. Didn't El Reg report recently on "targeted" advertising via Acrobat?
Kindle? Hell, I couldn't kindle our fireplace with that friggin' tank. I'd end up poisoning everybody in the house -- and our cat -- with all the melting plastic fumes.
Call me old-fashioned, but I'll stick with paper. I never have been very good at reading off a goddamned screen for any length of time. I can read news items on El Reg off a monitor, but there's no way in hell I could read, say, ACClarke's "Sands Of Mars".
Waiting until I can buy a "Newspad" a la Kubrick's "2001",
We've got a good CDMA level of coverage, my small, overpriced flat is JAMMED with "dead treeware", some of which I am admittedly very fond of, but I would REALLY like the Kindle. Most of my "leisure" reading I would gladly do on something I could tote around, recharge, READ THE PAPERS ON (i'd love this) and take to work and read whatever I liked in downtime.
Why haven't we got it in the UK yet? I've looked at the iLiad in Borders, but it looks fairly ugly and the build quality is not what i'd like for the price....the display is good though. Overall - i'd buy one if i could use it to subscribe to a paper.
I've been quite happily reading ebooks on Palm devices for 10 years, and don't see a reason to change.
The book business has gone down the same dead end track as their compadres in music it seems; not had a clue and dithered while the content delivery should really be far easier to work out than with music.
I'm not tying myself to Amazon or anyone else, and since I like buying books, not leasing them DRM is a non-starter. Till they sort that out it's a Palm TX and text files.
The Kindle/ebook is really what the One Laptop Per Child program should be using. The idea of giving a fully functional laptop to every child in the African bush is a cruel joke as they dont have electricity and would be cranking like mad to keep it running, they dont have an educational system to show them how to use it. Something like the Kindle with a screen that uses almost no power would be a perfect communicator to give to adults to correspond with people at large distances. They could set up infrared reader posts in the bush for people to send/receive messages to each other. I would be a very practical thing that would improve peoples lives. Literacy would skyrocket with the use of these. The one laptop per child should only be used in developing countrys like China, India and Latin America to integrate into existing educational systems.
you drop it in the bath, leave it outside and it gets rained on, or it's soaked in a flood? Or, for that matter, when you simply drop the thing from a great height?
These events damage *real* books, but don't destroy them.
If the intimations of paranoid DRM and behavioral spying by the kindle are on point, then e-books sound like a good thing to stay well away from.
The kindle *does* sound ideal for technical manuals, which tend to be long in volume, but shortlived, but for real reading, it sounds like another solution staggering drunkenly around the landscape looking for a problem to solve.
but it's also an endangered species, squeezed between physical books and (by the end of 2008 when the 380K are sold) 20 million iPhones plus 20 million iPod touches with large enough screens and free reader Apps like Stanza and eReader. What happens when Apple delivers its own reader software and books via iTunes, and offers a slightly larger device too?
I've been reading books on my ancient Palm T3 for years now. Even though it's just a small LCD screen I prefer it to dead trees. Unfortunately the current generation of ePaper isn't quite good enough for me to justify plunking down a wodge of cash for a dedicated ebook reader. If the next gen can do 100msec page turns and has a resolution of at least 300dpi I'd be queuing up with my wallet open (would prefer higher res to colour).
This would be great if the e-books had hyperlinks to study guides, so you could easily work out what the hell some authors - Thomas Pynchon in particular - are on about, rather than constantly crosschecking with a study guide or from the Pynchon Wiki site.
Other than that, I really rather like books, and props to RW for the drunken staggering analogy.
My wife has to carry 3 huge reference books with her from patient to patient. She'd love one of these, but not until they have hi-res colour photos.
And, I suppose the reference books won't be available for ages. And, she'd like the paper copy too for reference at home.
Can't help but think that a small laptop would be better and probably cheaper.
As for reading novels like, this - forget it!
I'm a huge fan of eInk. Yeah it takes a fraction of a second to rerender the page, but switching pages, dropping the book, finding your page and starting again takes time too...
I'll buy one when someone makes a sub £100 reader that's got eInk, a completely sealed rubberized case, an inductive power supply (like the SplashPower one) and built in wifi to get drm free ebooks off my pc...
FOR ALL THOSE COMPLAINING about eye-strain problems - have you ever seen one of these ebooks in real life? Its not your average mobile phone/PDS/Laptop LCD display!
Im reading a good 3 hours per day on my Sony eBook and have yet to experience the slightest hint of eye-strain
FOR ALL THOSE COMPLAINING that they cant read books electronically - i was one of these people until i got my eBook - you really forget that its not a paper book you're holding. Try it. really.
FOR ALL THOSE COMPLAINING that you cant take it with you to a beach - think again, i just had it at the beach and relaxed wonderfully in the shade reading a good novel while having a nice coctail and one of em umbrella in it.
FOR ALL THOSE COMPLAINING that you cant share books - well, you can mail them to your friends if they're free - there's plenty of very well known free books out there.
FOR ALL THOSE COMPLAINING about battery life - its not your average mobile device/laptop - Fully charging my sony takes 2 hours, and i can read about 2 months @ 3 hours per day on a single charge
I heard nobody mention that you save a LOT of tree's with eBooks.
Get rid of your prejudice and go and see one in the flesh - im convinced they will be the future
as others have said - proper handheld ebooks have been going for years and while e-Ink is a huge step forward for visibility - its a step backward for speed and the devices that use it seem to be way to limited in access and use, and WAY overpriced. My Palm that i bought for £60 second hand 5 years ago has a battery that lasts for more than a week of constant use, has enough software for it that i can read anything i want and has many other functions. Considering the technological advances, i'd expect devices as functional as this to cost less than £50 new now.
Then theres the books themselves - I should be able to transfer anything i am reading on any other device very easily, and, if i must be limited by DRM for a new book, i need complete control over where i read this book for the DRM limited "certain number of times", for a fraction of the price of the physical book. I'm talking £1-£2 for a digital copy of a paperback - no one will complain about DRM if it is not forcing you, as it seems to be now with new releases, to choose between "overpriced or illegal". If its cheaper than a magazine and no hassle to use, theres nothing to complain about.
I'd be interested to hear from Amazon,.Sony exactly how these e-books will benefit the planet ?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you don't actually need any power to read a normal book printed on paper ? Unless of course you are reading in a dark room, in which case you'd probably have the light on anyway ?
And what about having to recycle them at the end of their life ?
Has Amazon considered that the best thing for presenting the media in a book is a book? Forcing a computer to do a book's job won't be easy, as being something is always easier and more stimulating than simulating something.
Perhaps Amazon should invest some Stealthy Flash Cash in a Research program -they *do* have the dosh... which will lead to virtual benefits for all. Push one of the other media types to New Dizzy Heights. Or create a new media type? IT can be done, with a little help, as it has been done before. No Question about IT.
Use their tablet readers as interactive dDemocracy interfaces? Or Alien-Ware and aware or wearable edutainment devices... maybe Talk to Philips and find out how the Dutch are puting moving images onto clothing, then talk to the AI Bods and Bodettes to see how you create a virtual friend who lives in the clothing and watches and remembers everything, like a real Black-Box Friend... and chats to the wearer. The missing link from YouTube? Everyone permanently videoing everything, all the time? Just hit the button when something cool happens and bingo, the T-Shirt which sees everything ...video gets Bluetoothed to the internet.
Come on Amazon, can't you see the Imaginative Possibilities in what is new and what IT is to come?