It was Amazon's Kindle that really turned the idea of an e-book reader into a true mass-market proposition. Well, in the States, at least, because the first Kindle was only ever available to US-based buyers. Now, however, you can get an "international version" of the Kindle 2 in Blighty. More accurately, you can buy it from …
And there lies the fail
I actually have an ebook reader, but I buy nothing with drm. If I buy a paper book I can pass it on down the generations, lend it to friends, give it to charity or a school, sell it on, etc etc.
But if I were to purchase a drm ebook from Amazon or the like, I am only hoping, probably in vain, that they will still be around in 10/20/30/40 years time, that their drm servers are still running, that they still support the old formats, etc.
Say my friend has a Sony, how can I lend a book to him ? I want to sell a book six years down the line ? "Oh, I can't" they say. Well fcuk them so. Until drm is extinguished, piracy will be just as prevalent as it is/was with music.
I own it and have a small problem
If you try to read their books and those books happened to have objects in them (text box for example) then you might face this problem:
1) the dictionary won't go into those objects (well the cursor won't move into the object).
2) if the objects spans multiple pages, then it will *skip* the next page of the object and jump to the next *object* when you press the "next page" button (which might be the text after the object or the 2nd part of the object if the publisher remembered to break the object while creating the *PDF* copy which seem to be the standard for the conversion into their format)
other then the 2 points above... I am very happy with the kindle. I can change the book I am reading without carrying multiple books along with me. And 2nd, I can read it *AWAY* from my PC or desk (both of which proved to be a very big distraction from reading). Oh and it is useful during traffic jams :-)
I don't want an eBook reader
I want a good PDF reader. I'm not interested in ePub or AWX?V or any of these other, frankly silly, formats that publishers are pushing. A book reader is already a significant downgrade from a paper book in everything except portability (which doesn't matter at home); I don't want one that's crippled even further.
It's PDF or nothing.
So it's got quite a few features less than the US edition, is missing several formats from its repertoire, has crippled web browsing, and the books are still ludicrously expensive (an e-book should not cost the same as a paperback, end of).
Riiight. No ta.
I thought the international kindle still has essentially an AT&T subscription, and so roams onto whatever network they have an agreement with (all 5 in the UK). Hence you can use it in any country and the data charge is part of the book price. This would make sense as my Kindle seems to have a better 3G signal than my o2 phone when out and about but also works in my house where o2 is the only network with coverage.
Something to remember...
Buy a Kindle, and buy books from Amazon, and you are stuck with Kindle for as long as Amazon decide to keep selling them. No other reader is going to have the ability to use Amazon e-books.
Alas.. No evil Amazon icon, so Steve Jobs will have to do.
With more open alternatives who wants to be locked in?
Virtually every other reader has better standards support than Kindle, and more importantly lets you purchase from any store you wish to. Or not. As such, who on earth would want a Kindle? Do people seriously not realise they are locked into and at the mercy of one vendor? More stores means more competition which ultimately means better prices, sales, special deals etc.
The absolute best thing that could happen for ereaders is if an industry standard format like epub took over with maybe PDF as a backup. I'm surprised that publishers haven't got fed up of the current shitscape of competing proprietary solutions and just mandated it. At the end of the day there is a huge market for e-books, but the warring factions, lockin and proprietary formats / devices is scaring people away.
I actually considered a Kindle
I was looking at ebooks, considered a kindle, but the showstopper is..
Seriously, what would be the point of an ebook reader with no books?
I got a Sony.. it's crappy (the battery life is awful, the screen is awful, it's slow..) but books are readily available.
"The battery life is awful" ... what?
Almost all ebook readers quote battery life between recharges of several thousand page turns. Which usually equates to you charge it every week at most. What do you consider "good" battery life?
Are you sure it's not faulty?
Anyone heard when this one will be available? This one seems to be very open and standards compliant, big screen, non-glare etc. Seems like it may be worth a look, if it ever arrives.
Kindle 1 and Kindle DX
Both the original Kindle and the DX use EVDO/1xRTT and they run on Sprint. The Kindle 2 is where they decided to make an international version and that one runs on AT&T in the US.
Wake me up when DX is available internationally.
I have been looking for an ebook reader
And i probably would have gone for the kindle, however i won't even consider it until it's available properly in the UK.
The main thing that puts me off, is the lack of consumer protection.There is far less of it if you buy from the US and, because of that, i just don't trust buying anything more than a few quid from the states. If amazon uk were selling them, and you didn't have to pay more for books to cover the roaming charges on the whispernet, i'd have probably got one without really thinking about an alternative.
the only other thing i don't really like is the keyboard, it seems like a completely pointless addition. But i suppose, if you do annotate, it's probably quite useful.
Good news for non Kindlers
This might be a good thing for us non-Kindlers (Sony Reader, iRiver, etc). You pointed out that the price of buying a book from Amazon was cheaper than Waterstones in many cases. I'm hoping that the retailers take notice of this and stop selling their books at the same cost as a paperback. It does sting a bit to have to bay 12GBP for a 600K file - in the end the books are nothing but files, and so they don't really need to be so expensive. If the other retailers start lowering their prices to compete, *I* win!
So we can buy the old model
Is it a Christmas joke ? Why should I spend 200 bucks to get the old model ? That's really a bad move for xmas.
I was looking forward to order a Kindle to be able to read news and study on those hours many of us spend on the train, but with this offer I still think a Netbook is more interesting.
I'm happy with a Nokia N810. Whatsa Kindle?
I'm not one to stand in the way of the salesman's pitch, but I'd like to mention that something like a Nokia N810 can do pretty well for a user.
Granted, compared to some of Nokia's more recnet N-series models, the N810 doesn't offer cellular network access, but it does have wifi capability. It's a portable computing device - originally branded as an internet tablet - with a sizable screen, still small enough to store off in a sizable cargo pocket. For anything PDF-based, HTML based, or just plain text based, it works just fine -- viz a viz, Project Gutenberg's big storehouse of (free) classic literature, and a whole lot of the rest of the Internet.
I know, though, the N810 doesn't offer Amazon's no-doubt amazing selection of digitized media content. I say, who needs it, though, besides the publishing companies and Amazon.com?
I keep this essential question in mind, in face of these ebook readers: If they can't get it across, to the end user and purchaser, without tying everyone's hands in a DRM cat's cradle on the way there -- for whatever technology the mood strikes them to use, today, for it -- is it really worth it, then?
I don't need a public/private keypair to open up a library book.
Sure, I don't need to stay analog, with every type of document, but when it comes to literature, I think I can appreciate the fine look of a sheet of paper with ink on it - a lot more than the cold face of one of these Kindle contraptions, which may or may not be still containing all of the digital books I would've supposedly purchased?
That said, I'm certain that the Kindle and the other predominate ebook readers will be adopted, over time, into some kind of a niche market. I just think I'll save it all for the computer museum niche - not to discredit the computer museums, though.
N810, laptop, desktop, PDA phone, and paper - I, as a consumer, do not really need to add anything more to this mix. So, I would say: Thanks, Amazon, but you can take your vacuum salesmen and saleswomen elsewhere down the road... I don't need another one of those Kindle contraptions, or a first one either. Neat electronics, though, I wonder how it does for components salvage....
The screen is the killer feature.
No type of actively-lit display currently out there matches "electronic paper" for comfort when it comes to reading. Getting rid of the glow of the back-light or OLED really makes difference.
That said -- I'd love someone to come up with a netbook with an e-paper screen on the top of the lid or something.
Basically you don't want an ebook reader (the big benefit of them being the screen). The screen either doesn't matter to you, or you've totally missed the point of why people buy ebook readers.
Which is fine. But you might as well find a review of a helicopter and post a long explanation why you don't want one of those.
Well, quite @AC
When I have finished with a book I lend it out, give it to Oxfam, leave it in a hotel library, or liberate them in public places (http://www.bookcrossing.com/)
I can put it in a box, bury it, and in 400 years someone can dig it up and read it.
When it goes out of copyright, people will still have access to it - they won't have to beg some lomg-dead company to unlock it.
ebooks? beyond the Gutenburg project, no thanks.
Oh, and as for the people who want to charge me 90% of the price of the physical object - just how gullible do you think I am?
You could take your books to the great wall of china and throw them off, dive to the bottom of a lake and scatter them around, break into a fire station and hide them in the glove compartment of an engine, load them into a rocket and fire them across a canyon etc etc
So what? Unless you plan to do those things who cares what physical limitation there are or aren't?
Can you carry 200 of them in a rucksack? No? Well that's sort of the point.
Let's not forget...
How long it took for iPods & other MP3 players to become mass-market... i was eying up Rio & creative MP3 players for a few years before apple bought out the 1G iPod, which I actually bought a mac for... ebook readers are only a few years old at the moment...
Kindle is amazon.com's number one selling product, by a long margin. it will gain momentum eventually, failing that, maybe apple's iTablet (or whatever) will do for ebooks what iPod did for MP3's?
These arguments for good old fashioned books are all well and good but not everyone lives in a mansion... i've had to seriously curtail my book-buying habits in the last 18 months as it's gotten to the point where i now have 9 large floor to ceiling book cases jammed full of books + another 2 metre wide by 2 metre high, double sided, room divider style book case has every square inch of space filled with books, not actually even viewable, just crammed in there tetris style because there's no where else to put them.
i'm hoping kindle will do for my book collection what itunes, ipods & media servers did for my music collection... i.e. massively reduce clutter.... i had over 2000 albums that are now all ripped to hard disk and stored in the attic in cd wallets and i now don't need ten cd towers all over my living room to store them.
when someone brings out a viable ebook reader the majority of my book collection is going on ebay.
for the record I currently have the sony prs505, and while i think it's a perfectly solid, functional and attractive device, its back end is an abomination, it has nothing of the simplicity of the kindle... not to mention pricing issues... i've so far done a price comparison of all of the books i have on the sony + another 50 that are on my current wish list.
If i were buying a new reader right now and bought exactly the same books as i have done, i'd be £373 better off than i am. that comparison is including the fact that the kindle costs £7 more than my sony reader did when i bought it, but does not account for the cost of a cover for the kindle (the cost of the official sony leather cover is pretty much identical to the official amazon leather cover for the kindle, and having actually seen both in the flesh, i have to say the kindle one is actually a lot nicer).
so what am i doing? not running out and buying a kindle right this instant, but hanging on for the DX at least, by which time, apple's offering should be on the market and i can make an informed decision.
I've been using my "International" Kindle for a few weeks now, and I think the most obvious thing is that the only thing international about this is that it's designed for US owners to use it internationally, when travelling. There's absolutely nothing that suggests any development for the international market - you have to order it from Amazon US, the plug is a US one (though you can charge over USB), just about all of the over-the-air functionality is disabled (including the web browser) and you have to pay to download books - not as an additional charge, but a $2 supplement included in every book price in the international Kindle stores. There's not even an option to download to you computer to save on the hidden 3G download charge, whereas our American cousins get truly free downloads in the US and whilst roaming they can either download from the US store direct to their Kindles for a $2 fee, or to a computer for free. The note that came pre-installed on my Kindle warning me that I'd have to pay an extra $2 for books downloaded outside of the US was clearly aimed at US owners and just adds to the confusion of what you pay and what you don't if you are a non-US owner.
The best way I've found of dealing with this is set up a US address in your Kindle account, and download from the US Kindle store, direct to your computer. However, some of the books in the UK Kindle store aren't available in the US store, and after a couple of such downloads it seems to realise that I'm not downloading from the US and blocks me (not sure how this works for Americans travelling).
The other thing I've found is the quality of some of the books is questionable, seeming to be a rush job to convert them to an e-format. For example, I'm reading Bernard Cornwell's "The Burning Land" and on some pages the text size suddenly increases and becomes centred instead of justified, occasional page numbers appear in the middle of the text, and non-standard characters (such as AE) can appear incorrectly, but then when you go back to the same instance, the character is correct.
Having said all that, I like the reading experience which is what the Kindle is about. Personally, there's no comparison between e-ink and backlit technology. If I was an American, I would have very few issues with the device. However, as one of the "rest of the world" I feel more like I've hacked a device that isn't meant to be used outside of the US, not bought a device that seems to be branded as international.
1. There are still too many formats. We need cross-industry support for a single, open standard. No vendor lockins, no DRM. At the very least PDF.
2. Better pricing. If Amazon can sell MP3s for 80p, then I want similar pricing per MB for books. 12GBP for an ebook is, quite frankly, a bloody rip-off. If they can sell an entire album for a fiver, with the artist and music label still getting a cut, then that's what I am willing to pay for a book.
3. Better choice. At the moment, there is no driver for ditching paper for digital. The range of ebooks, although growing, isn't good enough to get regular readers to switch. I spend 100's of pounds a year on books. OK, some are collectors or first editions that are trophies, but most are just day to day reads for the Tube or an evening when there's nothing decent on TV. But if I can't get Robert Jordan's "The Gathering Storm" (just released), then am I going to wait, or buy the Hardback for 12GBP? We need publishers to commit to providing e-copies of books, just as movie studios have started to provide digital copies on DVD or from Lovefilm / Netflix.
£12 for a digital copy
of a book written 60 years ago?
Books are not worth paying for if they're old. Everyone knows that. Only new ones are worth money.
How true, how true.
They have to be young, don't they?
Not for me - none of them.
Agree with AC (along his lines anyway) , I want to hold a book in my hands, feel it, turn the pages, make notes, share it with others maybe, put it into one of my book shelves, look at this
wonderfully colored backs of the books . . . It's probably very old fashioned thinking, but, that's the way it is, for me at least.
Format and price
It has been commented above but these are the key issues for me. There has to be an initial 'mp3' for books before the majority of people buy into them.
There also has to be a decent pricing structure. The point about £12 for a 60 book is well made. What the fuck?
Unless these two issues are sorted then the highbrow 'book buccaneers' have already won. The usenet peeps will sort out the format and the price for you.
An ebook should come free with a physical book
Unlike CDs, you can't rip a book and carry it's content around on a portable device like an iPod. If publishers want to get the ebook Market up and running, they need to give people access to an epub or some other industry standard version of the book they've bought either by providing the file on physical media such as a cd rom with the book or by providing a download code (perhaps that only works a limited number of times)
I think a lot more people would buy into the idea of being able to have a book on their shelf & in their mobile device.
I am most definitely not paying the same price again for a substandard ebook version of a novel!!
Audio books win hands down & eyes closed!
I listen to audio books on my iPod, with my eyes closed!
Audio books are DRM free (or can be) and are cheap and freely available on utorrent*
* not that any of us would do this.