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November 20, 2007


I think Amazon's new e-book reader, Kindle, is actually a pretty exciting piece of technology. The proof is in the product, of course, and until I've actually seen one, I'll have absolutely no idea if it's worth the price. But given that I'm currently traveling, and the six books I've brought are weighing me down rather substantially, a 10-ounce device that lets me flip through a few hundred titles seems like a sound idea. Moreover, the ability to annotate, and highlight your text, then export the finished product, could be near revolutionary. I mark my books up already, but the marks remain in the margins, and are hard to collect, and sort, centrally.

Now, Kindle may be a bit less useful to me, as I get most of my books free through work, and they won't come in Kindle format. But I'm still interested. So if anyone from Amazon is reading, and wants to get one into my hands so I can use my remarkable Opinion Leader powers to hype -- or trash -- their product, don't be shy.

November 20, 2007 | Permalink


It looks like it doesn't let you read PDFs, only its own proprietary format. That kind of sucks. If it wasn't for that it sounds fantastic.
As it is, I will have to stick to the ancient Palm I got off Freecycle for reading electronic stuff. And the Ipod works pretty well for reading books with no diagrams or charts.

Posted by: kali | Nov 20, 2007 6:09:43 AM

Sounds like too few books to be worthwhile, uh, for a medievalist. 88,000 titles? I'm guessing most of those are books one doesn't feel inclined to write in, unless you're a compulsive Koontz-annotator.

Posted by: Karl Steel | Nov 20, 2007 9:02:05 AM

The proprietary file type is a pretty big negative. Not having .pdf or .doc handling seems like it might be enough to turn me away from the product altogether, but that is indeed a pretty slick piece of hardware. :)

Posted by: Clayton | Nov 20, 2007 9:36:45 AM

When we did the vintage fashion book, back in 2002, the publisher released it in both formats--dead-tree and E-book for numerous platforms.

It's still in print, but the e-book sales remain very, very low. I think text-only books, particularly large, unwieldy hardback ones, are natural candidates for e-bookification. But paperbacks, and handbooks and guidebooks (like mine) that have photos and illustrations, are better in 3-D, methinks.

That said, I'm interested to hear/read reviews of this new e-book reader. Please keep us posted (so to speak), Ezra.

Posted by: litbrit | Nov 20, 2007 10:02:28 AM

the Sony product uses open standards, but isn't net enabled. but then again, the Kindle's EVDO connection isn't free and it costs money each time you subscribe to an RSS feed and from what I hear, even if you already own a book, it's $1 every time you want to download it to the Kindle.

Posted by: Cody | Nov 20, 2007 10:04:01 AM

The cost of books or blogs (the stuff I'd read on it) is just too much. Ten dollars a book is out of my price range, especially one that I can't resell later on or give to someone else to read (who's a non-Kindle user). Blogs cost at least a dollar a month to get an RSS feed? Ten cents per an email received? And no native PDF support. I'd be willing to buy it if the books were cheap and the blogs were free. As it is, supporting it is just too expensive.

Posted by: Alex | Nov 20, 2007 10:11:05 AM

Kindle? It's a bit too Fahrenheit 451 for me.

Posted by: jerry | Nov 20, 2007 10:15:53 AM

It seems to me that I have been seeing variations of this discussion regularly for the past ten years. I'm beginning to think that a really good ebook reader is like controlled fusion reactors: just around the corner--always has been, and always will be.

That being said, I would not even glance at a product that required its proprietary format. When I actually buy an ebook reader, I will head straight for Project Gutenberg.

Posted by: Richard Hershberger | Nov 20, 2007 10:30:12 AM

Looks like a great product for the crackberry types. For the rest of us, I can't say I see the point in spending $400 to buy a device to mimic a 200-year-old device that still works just fine.

Posted by: sparky | Nov 20, 2007 10:30:13 AM

Not the first ebook reader, and it won't be the last.
With a ten ounce profile, a tiny screen, way too many buttons, a proprietary file format and a minuscule library I fail to see what separates this from earlier flops.

eBooks will come some day.
But not this day.

Posted by: Anthony Damiani | Nov 20, 2007 10:37:49 AM

I've been waiting for like 10 years for a good mass-market e-ink product. Companies have been super slow in rolling out products, probably because they all flop. They keep making the same mistake: Luxury pricing combined with crippling DRM. Either one is fine but the combination is just a bad investment. This one looks like a step down from the Philips product a few years ago, although Wikipedia browsing is kind of amazing.

Posted by: Other Ezra | Nov 20, 2007 10:41:01 AM

... It totally has been 10 years: Here's the article in Wired magazine.

Posted by: Other Ezra | Nov 20, 2007 10:46:08 AM

I own a Sony eReader that I received as a birthday gift a few months ago. It is slim, stylish, and easy-to-read. It holds about as many books as the Kindle, but also handles RTF and PDF documents; so, Project Gutenberg is indeed my friend. It's not perfect: it doesn't have wireless, you can't annotate or make notes, and the books are more expensive for new releases. That said, there's a decent selection of books, with an emphasis on the classics, at the online store. The new version is even better-looking, and puts the looks of the Kindle to shame.

Did I mention it's $100 cheaper?

Posted by: James F. Elliott | Nov 20, 2007 11:19:38 AM

Jerry beat me to it. Kind of a creepy name, if you ask me.

Posted by: Tom Hilton | Nov 20, 2007 11:26:03 AM

So if anyone from Amazon is reading, and wants to get one into my hands so I can use my remarkable Opinion Leader powers to hype -- or trash -- their product, don't be shy.

Oh, he is So-o crass.
Our Dear Leader is

Posted by: has_te | Nov 20, 2007 12:25:53 PM

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