Even a blind man in a dark room can see what the problem is with eBook readers has been – the cost. Every eBook reader review Reg Hardware has run has been followed by dozens of comments all along the lines of: Nice idea, but how much? Amazon Kindle 3 Amazon's Kindle 3: e-book gets new cover Now Amazon has bitten the bullet …
they only charge for delivery via 3G
But how close to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is it?
According to the specs, the 3G version has an always-on connection to the web and especially wikipedia. What I want to know is how close to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is it, and can you get a cover with "Don't Panic" on it in large friendly letters?
I had a sad when I bought the kindle version of the HHGTTG.
When I reached a page with some Guide text, I had the brilliant idea of having the kindle read the text.
But the publisher had told Amazon to disable text-to-speech.
BTW: Not only can you access wikipedia from a kindle, when you use the built-in search function, you're able to choose what to search: your items on the device, the store, the dictionary, google, or wikipedia.
Lovely bit of kit, but oddly weighted
I've had a play with a friend's kindle and it's a lovely bit of kit.
The only thing that I found slightly annoying was that it seemed top heavy. It's not a massive issue, but I naturally hold it near the bottom so it was more effort to hold over a long period than if the weight had all been in the bottom.
Also, on the 3G front, if the RSS reader was able to read arbitrary feeds (rather than just the ones in the Amazon feed store) it would be really useful when travelling.
Combined with the access to wikipedia and travel sites, the free worldwide 3G makes the kindle a really interesting travel device.
Looks like a nice device
It's too bad it's tied to one store, and a proprietary format. I really wonder what people, especially bibliophiles are thinking to purchase a device which forces them to buy (or rather license) their content from a single provider which prevents them from ever transferring that collection to any non-Amazon blessed device.
I can use an store as long as it's a compatible format (AZW obviously, but DRM free Mobi, Text etc are all supported.)
AZW can easily be converted to something else, and are simple to copy to the PC (It shows up as removeable media when connected).
Don't know what the Kindle 1,2 and DX were like, but on this latest one the only real drawback is the lack of EPub support.
I bought the basic cover (i.e. no reading light) and I'm gald I did because, quite apart from protecting the screen, it means I can hold the thing the same way I hold a book when reading - thumb in the spine at the bottom.
Amazon do have a Kill-switch for books (which you'll recall they've used), but in reality it's not a major issue. You can copy the books from the Kindle to the PC for backup/archiving, so convert it to PDF, txt, Mobi or whatever. Amazon can no longer wipe it. Simples!
Each to their own though
Except it's neither tied to one store, nor to a specific format, as discussed in the comments section already.
Speaking as a bibliophile
I make most of my book purchases from Amazon anyway, so it's not much of a stretch.
And now you have no choice. So well done. If Waterstones or WH Smith or some other random bookseller has a seasonal sale on, let's say 3 for 2 or 50% off then guess what you're not going to be able to buy your books from there. If Amazon decides to drop some publisher over a legal dispute then guess what you're screwed. If Amazon decides to start sunset older Kindle devices or OTA delivery in favour of something else (as they did when Unbox was changed to a streaming service), then guess what you're screwed.
Buying into Kindle is like entering a golden cage, locking the door and tossing away the key. There are far more open solutions out there. Many still use DRM and encryption which some would argue is bad, but some such as EPUB and Adobe Digital Editions at least mean you are not restricted to one book seller, or one brand of reader.
It is tied to one store
Virtually every store uses DRM and Kindle only supports DRM on its own proprietary format. It has token support for a handful of non DRM'd other formats. It's a crippled device. Apologists can pretend this doesn't matter all they like but they are deluding themselves.
There are far more open devices out there but what is really needed is an industry wide format and DRM. In the meantime industry leaders Amazon should be as encompassing and open as possible. Doesn't stop them building in support for the Amazon store but why restrict people reading books they purchased elsewhere?
You're not locked into Amazon
O'Reilly books are available in kindle-friendly formats, as are books from pragprog.com. Each site provides their books in multiple formats, with the ability to redownload or download a book in more than one format. Pragprog.com also lets you know when an updated/corrected file is available for download.
Neither uses DRM.
I have books from both on my kindle.
You are relying on the good grace of a single specialist publisher to offer non DRM books to somehow pretend that Kindle is not tied to Amazon and a proprietary format when it is.
Perhaps you should go and investigate what Tim O'Reilly himself thinks of the Kindle, e.g.
Summary - He hates it because it's proprietary, expects it will die and wishes it would support EPUB which is an open standard. OReilly.com also point this out on their ebook page that they prefer people to use EPUB, probably because the experience is superior as well as being open.
The Kindle is by no means restricted to ebooks with DRM. It can read PRC and MOBI files that have no DRM, and it is pretty trivial to convert epubs, txt, rtf and you-name-it to MOBI format using Calibre. This naturally includes ebooks purchased from other sellers.
You can also (if you like) drag your DRMed ebooks from Amazon off your Kindle, and back them up and/or remove the DRM.
In future please do some elementary Googling before putting your fat fingers to the keyboard and flailing away in a fit of frothing righteousness.
3G vs. Wifi
"Of the two devices it's the cheaper Wi-Fi only version on review here and, in my opinion, it's clearly the one to get. Surely, even the most avid reader doesn't get consumed by the burning urge to buy literature so suddenly that they need a cellular link"
That's true, but it's the fact that the 3G connection, and any data usage, is free once you've paid the £40 premium for the 3G Kindle that swung it for me.
I was using it on the train last night to check up on my email and RSS feeds.
OK so I could have done that on my phone, but, when I'm travelling through Europe or any other country with a data connection available I can still use my Kindle there and the data is still free - no massive roaming charges. Brilliant.
Maybe you should look at the Amazon wireless small print
"Your Kindle uses wireless connectivity to allow you to shop for and download Digital Content from the Kindle Store. In general, we do not charge you for this use of wireless connectivity. Your Kindle may use wireless connectivity to make other services available to you for which we may charge you a fee, such as personal file download and subscriptions when you are located in another country."
Located in another country from what? From the Amazon store? From your home address?
Assuming Amazon allows you to order books from the US store from the UK you may find yourself slapped with fees. And because you're not actually *buying* the book, you're *licensing* it, Amazon may be obliged to slap VAT on top of the book price *and* delivery regardless of where you buy it from.
am on supposed to be on pre "primary gifting period" spending lock down from about now onwards.......but I really do rather like the look of these.
Nice idea, but how much??!
I think the opening comment completely misses the point on cost.
The cost of the device itself has never been as huge a problem as the cost of every e-book purchased. Most e-books I've ever looked at sell for around the same or even MORE than the physical books. However they have no re-sale value (thanks, DRM), and they cost absolutely nothing to produce and distribute, so why does the cost not come down?
Yes, electronic format is cool, and it is nice to have 20,000 books in one device, but most people only read ONE book at a time! It's not like MP3s, where most people like to listen to many tracks in one day, hence electronic format is far more convenient and there doesn't need to be a price advantage. Books however is a completely different product and these readers will never take off until e-books are substantially cheaper.
Price and the format are critical
People don't like format wars, and ebooks are the mother of all format wars. Seriously we've been subjected to 10 years of this shit where dozens of proprietary ereaders & apps have sprung up for PCs & devices. Each platform of course heavily favours one particular proprietary format, usually ties the format to a store and ignores or pays lip service to other non DRM formats.
The consequence of all this fighting is the ebook market place is a wasteland of failed services and cliques busy building little alliances and fiefdoms. No one seems to want to take their head out of their asses to question what would happen if they worked together on a single DRM and format, and stopped engaging in predatory / cartel like price fixing.
If the industry were to unite around a single open format and sell their books at a fair price and a fair & competitive basis from various online vendors then sales of ebooks would increase ten fold. Everyone would benefit. I am surprised publishers are letting Amazon get away with things so far. Don't they remember what happened to the recording industry and Apple? The publishing industry should be mandating a level playing field for their own independence and long term viability.
The laughable part is the only people unaffected by this infighting and warring are the pirates who can scan a book, proof it and have it out within hours of general release. The general public are the victims here, either by buying into a proprietary anticompetitive service, or by sitting on the sidelines until the war ends. And there is no sign of that happening any time soon.
Yup, works for me...
I've had mine about a month now. Like El Reg, I went for the WiFi only version, and I've had no cause to regret that.
The key selling point for me is that Amazon are careful to charge slightly less for eBooks than the currently cheapest physical versions (if the book's in hardback, the eBook will be slightly cheaper than that, if it's in paperback, it'll be cheaper than that), which is where things went wrong with Watersone's tie-in with the Sony Reader. This tends to take books that are currently top-selling paperbacks below £3 for the Kindle version, which combined with instant delivery is a good deal.
Magazine subs work nicely, too - obviosuly this works better for text-focused mags (Asimov's and Analog work well for me), and are generally well-priced.
On a recent three-day business trip, I was happy to have the Kindle (size of one paperback) rather than the physical version of the latest Peter F Hamilton book (size of one brick), and have more to read after that without any extra weight.
O'Reilly eBooks transfer nicely over USB, too.
So far, there isn't anything I don't like about it.
Loading it with files
What's the current story with getting files onto the Kindle ?
In the past I've read about having to email to Amazon, so that they can charge you for the privilege.
My work generates a fearsome array of PDFs and flat text, so I'd almost never use it for novels, just work :(
Re: Loading it with files
Email files to firstname.lastname@example.org -- have only tried a few supported formats so far. But no serious fails as yet.
3 ways to get your files onto your Kindle.
1. Drag and drop on a PC as the Kindle is recognised as a USB Mass Storage device.
2. Email to your kindle address email@example.com and free Wifi delivery (and conversion to .azw format if you want it.
3. Email to your the other whispernet delivery email address for delivery via 3G at cost of 99p/MB
Transferring files to a Kindle
Just connect via supplied USB cable, the kindle is then treated as a detachable hard drive. Then it's just drag & drop. (Into the kindle's document folder.)
epub not a problem
The lack of epub format is really a non issue. Download http://calibre-ebook.com/ and you can convert from many formats. Converting from pdf even works very well. You can also convert sites such as the bbc news and theregister to a magazine and have it sent via email automatically.
Not DRM'd files
Calibre cannot convert files with DRM. So you will not be able to buy or borrow ePubs and then convert them to Kindle.
So the lack of ePub support IS a problem.
i like these
but i still think that the keyboard is unnecessary, anything that could bring the price down even more. These readers need to be almost disposable, if they are truly to take the place of books
That's all well and good
...but how would you use the Kindle store or the web browser without a keyboard?
Very tempted by this as the iPad and other slates are too pricey, but... no ePub support, no sale. Amazon need to cater for all formats, not just tie it to their own. iBooks on an iPod Touch is still a better option in this regard.
Fun feature on the 3G version: it works pretty much anywhere in the world.
So you can check websites/email/etc using the built-in browser without any charges whatsoever. Amazon don't really talk this feature up (maybe because it's experimental), but it makes it a bit of a bargain...
There's always a reason
They don't talk it up, so that they can quietly disable it or start charging access fees for it later, without consumers being able to sue them.
Actually bought one the other day, figured it'd be useful for carrying various user manuals and parts 'microfiche' around. I'm very impressed with it (I splashed the extra £40 for the 3G so that I can grab what I need from our servers even if there's no Wifi on site).
There is a couple of annoyances IMO;
They say that PDF support is native (and it is), but if you browse the net to find a PDF on the (admittedly experimental) browser, you can't view it. You can't even download it to view it, the browser will only download AWZ, TXT or Mobi files.
The second annoyance is (again) in the browser. If a site has provided a link and specified it should open in a new window (i.e. target=_blank), you can't access it. The browser doesn't support multiple windows, and they haven't thought to just ignore the _blank and open it in the current window. The end result, is some links are inaccessible on the kindle.
I'll accept that the browser is experimental, and it doesn't detract from the ability to read with the device (it's actually very good at that!), but it would be nice to see this fixed.
Glad the item was reviewed, I had assumed the Audiobook/MP3 functionality only worked with headphones (hadn't noticed the speakers). The audio quality is actually surprisingly good (based on the 1 track I have on there!).
You can get books for free from Gutenburg, manybooks.net and probably a few others.
OH, the only other issue is deleting books. It's not very intuitive, pressing menu doesn't offer the option. You have to highlight the book and then press left on the Navi pad to be offered the delete option.
All in all, I'd recommend it. Reading from it's easy on the eyes, and (most) books are reasonably priced. If you find that Amazon are charging too much, you can buy it elsewhere and convert it into a supported format on your PC. Granted it loses the ease of having the book delivered by 'Whispernet' (you can get Amazon to convert and Deliver for 99p per meg though)
Pricing has been silly for quite a while, but there is still no professional platform for readers to acquire and store their ebooks.
What happens if you (unthinkably) decide that Amazon and the kindle is not the platform for you? Can you transfer purchases? Get a refund? Are there any assurances that you won't be buying your way in to a digital dark age with every book?
It's a nice enough screen, and it's nice to have the option of buying ebooks, but the remains no future for ebooks, until someone comes along (much as Amazon did with digital music) and pioneers a format that ensures customers are in charge of their books what is the point in paying a high price for an rental.
This is the one aspect which puts me off buying a kindle.
ebooks need to be as transferable as mp3's (and preferably DRM free) before I'll switch.
Alternatively a subscription service giving me access to x number of books pre month for y pounds per month would tempt me as long as the ratio of x to y was correct
re: Future Proof?
You can get Kindle clients for Mac OS/Windows/Android/etc, so you can always access your books somehow - even if you don't have a Kindle. Agreed, it would be nice to have a choice of non-Amazon e-readers but at least the multi-platform support means I shouldn't be locked out of my content.
The Whispersync feature is actually very cool: I can read a few pages on my phone, then when I pick up my Kindle, it's moved the book on to where I left off. Very nice!
"Can you transfer purchases? Get a refund? Are there any assurances that you won't be buying your way in to a digital dark age with every book?"
Amazon's kindle apps for other hardware have shown that they're platform-agnostic. If they can put their books on another platform that comes available, they likely will. Not so much competing ebook readers, but general-purpose devices for which they can write their own reader app.
They have their iPad app, which supports the device that some expected to kill the kindle. They have apps for Mac OS X, Windows, Android, Blackberry, and iPhone. Their attitude seems to be that they don't really care what device you use, and are happy to help you use other devices by writing the software, so long as you buy some of your books from Amazon. (The software will also read .mobi files from sources other than Amazon, so you're not locked in.)
If Amazon stops making hardware, I'm sure there'll be software support on a variety of other devices.
And if Amazon were to kill their whole ebook business and end-of-life the kindle reader software I'm sure the then-current DRM will be cracked before long, and at that point Amazon won't be putting up any obstacles or changing formats to keep the DRM viable.
I purchased one the day it was released having preordered it and I havent regretted it once! Its light, easy to read everywhere, ultraportable and very comfortable. I spent hours reading it in the sun in Spain without a hint of glare or eye strain. All my files are converted to .azw for free by the Amazon email conversion thingy or just kept as .mobi. The file restriction really isnt a problem. Page flow is smooth, images rendered correctly even though they are monochrome. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to purchase an ebook reader.
I've had mine a few weeks now and I'm really happy with it. Lighter to carry and easier to read than a paper book. There is an issue with the availability and price of titles, but now the thing is selling like hot cakes hopefully the publishers will start to take the platform more seriously.
Public Domain Books
I too am a bit concerned about buying DRM format books tied into one hardware vendor. However, at £109 if you read a log of "classic" books then it will easily pay for itself. There's a huge amount of stuff out of copyright, although in the UK that isn't until 70 years after the death of the author (so you'll have to wait until 2016 for any HG Well, although you'll find online versions in the US where the copyright period isn't so long).
At this price it gets to the point where you don't have that much to lose.
I've seen no mention if the Kindle allows its software to be updated, and if Amazon are doing this - so that for instance an improved browser could be installed. Anyone know?
Otherwise, I'm really tempted by the Kindle. My only worry is I love to read in the bath...
They do post updates periodically. Maybe not as often as users would like.
They also post source code for the linux portion of the device software. They don't post the source of the proprietary, Java-based kindle software.
Why hasn't it been ...
It runs linux, and if you search you'll find video of Xclock running on a kindle 2.
There's a number of people doing kindle hacks. They've figured out how to hook up a usb network connection, etc.
But the "kindle" functionality is a proprietary, closed-source, Java app.
I've also had one for a few weeks and loving it.
As other have pointed out, if you have an eReader, then you should get Caliber. Yes it took a bit of time to set it up the way I want, but now I can just import files in, press one button, and have them auto-converted and sent over USB to the Kindle.
As for the cost of eBooks, well, I've only bought one (Zero history - William Gibson), and that was a bit cheaper than the hardback, and being able to read it less than a minute after I clicked the pay button was great (although my wallet is now scared).
Mine is betraying a few build quality issues however. It's picked up a rattle, the power button is getting sticky, and it's had more than it's fair share of random freezes.
All in all though I'm glad I bought it, usually Amazon get about £20-30 of my money a month for dead tree books, but I'm running out of shelf space. So far, I've spent £10 on ebooks, and the rest of my reading has been, ahem, 'other' ebooks. So I think in the long run it'll save me money.
Read in full sun!
That's the most important point for me. Try that with an LCD!!!
3G Page Sync
There is one BIG win for me that made me glad that I purchased the 3G version - page sync.
I tend to read on my Kindle at home and then use the Kindle client on my iPhone when I'm out and about on the bus or the train.
When I finish reading on the Kindle and suspend it, it will automatically sync the current page out to Amazon's cloud so that when I open the client on the iPhone, it will jump to the current page.
It's seamless and it "just works".
regional locked *BOOKS*?!
love the kindle, had it since they released the international version. But to me surprised, there are many books that I can't buy because I don't live in the *right* country!
I know it is the publishers fault, but still, to find a book then to find out that you can buy the physical copy but not the kindle copy because you are not in the US is unfair. Those are *BOOKS* for cry out loud.
since when do you need to be in the right country to be able to buy and read a book!
other then the regional lock on some books, I really do love the kindle and its single functionality.
DRM / ePub
Of course, ePub is used quite widely by those libraries that support ebooks, which has DRM to delete the file after the lending period is up. This isn't mentioned in the review as a downside of the Kindle, as you can't borrow from your local library.
but of course DRM being DRM it is already..., let's just say I suggest you goto the i (heart) cabbages blog.
Calibre is a good shout for the ePub conversion; it does make a number of assumptions I don't like, but it's not a deal-breaker.
I have the Wifi version delivered last Friday. I have issues with PDF rendering, but then the PDFs that I'm reading aren't rendered by any e-reader particularly well; the only device I've seen it render well on is the iPad and I'm not about to stump up that kind of money.
think about the books
Lovely though the e-reader idea is I still want paper books on my shelves at home.
Now if Amazon were to offer a free e-book download of the text when I bought a real book then I'd get a Kindle.
3G Roaming possibly only for wikipedia....
Reasonable review, but I agree with others here that the 3G is probably a better choice.
I have heard that 3G roaming only works for purchasing books abroad and accessing wikipedia only (although if you're on a Vodafone network you may still get full internet).
Not exactly a surprise considering what that might mean in roaming costs for Amazon!
Also there are some hidden features on the Kindle, not worthy of a review here but Minesweeper, screen capture and a picture viewer are all there... (see a weblog called GeoPlanIT for info)
Concerned about T+C
I am interested in e-readers, but as previously mentioned I won't buy one until the format is universal and prefereably DRM free. In the short term this isn't likely (realisticly its not likely in the long run either but I live in hope) and the kindle is the best of the available readers in terms of features and catalogue.
But I won't be buying one because of the Amazon terms and conditions; which basicly imply that Amazon have the right to look at anything on the device. All your purchaces, notes, bookmarks and current page info is backed up every time the device calls home and Amazon appear to reserve the right to use this data however they like.
Additionally there are no safe guards against them remotely deleting or modifying content, whether it be paid for, as with the 1984 insident, or added manually by the device owner.
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