Kindle – Amazons eBook reader

Seems like today is the day of the big announcement of the “Kindle”, Amazon’s eBook reader. Since there hasn’t been an official announcement, one has to resort to the quasi “exclusive” Newsweek story in order to comment on it. There arealready some remarks on paidContent, O’Reilly Radar and Daring Fireball, but given my history with eBook Readers i thought i’ll also give you my $0.02.

After reading through the article, the Kindle is:

  • definitely not a device for european markets (and most other worldwide marketes too)
  • sports an too restrictive vendor lock-in model (even more restrictive than Apples iPods)
  • is not the eBook i would buy
  • but it may be the device that gets the eBook reader market started, so that other better eBook reader devices (read: bigger iTouches) are interesting for their manufacturers to build.

Quotes and comments

Therefore the Kindle (named to evoke the crackling ignition of knowledge) has the dimensions of a paperback, with a tapering of its width that emulates the bulge toward a book’s binding. It weighs but 10.3 ounces, and unlike a laptop computer it does not run hot or make intrusive beeps. A reading device must be sharp and durable, Bezos says, and with the use of E Ink, a breakthrough technology of several years ago that mimes the clarity of a printed book, the Kindle’s six-inch screen posts readable pages. The battery has to last for a while, he adds, since there’s nothing sadder than a book you can’t read because of electile dysfunction. (The Kindle gets as many as 30 hours of reading on a charge, and recharges in two hours.)

Looks a lot like the the iLiad. Interestingly, the iLiad as a non-american device isn’t mentioned once in the article. Only the Sony eReader is.

Devices like the Kindle, with its 167 dot-per-inch E Ink display, with type set in a serif font called Caecilia, can subsume consciousness in the same way a physical book does.

The itouch clocks in 160 DPI, so not much difference here.

It’s based on the EVDO broadband service offered by cell-phone carriers, allowing it to work anywhere, not just Wi-Fi hotspots.) As a result, says Bezos,”This isn’t a device, it’s a service”.

This means, allowing it to work anywhere where EVDO is available. And last time i looked CDMA (the technology underlying EV-DO) wasn’t headed for world domination.

Does the “This isn’t a device, it’s a service” also preclude loading free books onto the device? If Apple did something right with the iPod is to market it as a device with an accompanying service: iTunes, but not mandate that the service is the only way to use the device. Although (recently they seem to go more and more that way, with iTouches not being able to mount as a drive.)

Bezos explains that it’s only fair to charge less for e-books because you can’t give them as gifts, and due to restrictive antipiracy software, you can’t lend them out or resell them. (Libraries, though, have developed lending procedures for previous versions of e-books—like the tape in “Mission: Impossible,” they evaporate after the loan period—and Bezos says that he’s open to the idea of eventually doing that with the Kindle.)

If it is restricted to the “DRM-only, only connected to Amazon’s service

and that of the Open Content Alliance, a consortium that wants the world’s books digitized in a totally nonproprietary manner. (The driving force behind the alliance, Brewster Kahle, made his fortune by selling his company to Amazon, but is unhappy with the digital-rights management on the Kindle: his choice of an e-book reader would be the dirt-cheap XO device designed by the One Laptop Per Child Foundation.)

Actually i had the chance to get my hands on an XO a couple of times and i don’t think it will make a good eBook reader for first world markets.