Monday, September 29, 2008

Why the Kindle truly changes the game

So, I've had my Kindle now for 2 or 3 weeks and it's pretty incredible: it does truly change the way that I read. Example 1: I was in an airport looking at hardback books that cost about $26 in the airport bookstore, so I turned on the Kindle, turned on the wireless, went to the online store, found the same books for $9.99, and purchased and downloaded the one I wanted in less than 1 minute. Example 2: I was at the gym this morning on the stair climber when I finished my book, so I hopped on to the Kindle store, found a book I wanted to read for $6.99, downloaded it, and continued my workout with a new book to read.

It's easy to compare the Kindle to the first gen iPod: lots of feature requests, some design issues, some kludgy software issues -- make no mistake that this is an early adopter piece of hardware. However, consider how far and how quickly the first gen iPod has changed into the iPhone and iPod Touch. It's not hard ot image the next generation Kindles with bigger screens, smaller frames (maybe even flexible or foldable), expanded document type handling (i.e., PDF, Office XML, etc.), built-in wifi and Bluetooth. I wonder if Kindles could even be subsidized by publishers in some sort of subscription model (i.e., subscribe to receive 5 Penguin books per month delivered via Whispernet for 2 years and receive a Kindle for $99).

One of the things that sucks about the Kindle as compared to the iPod is that all of the boxes of books in my basement cannot easily be loaded into my Kindle like ripping a CD. Presumably Amazon has a record of every book I've purchased through them -- maybe they could be some sort of verification clearinghouse for me to get digital versions? Even if Amazon played that role, I still have tons of books that I did not purchase from them. Just like the CD manufacturers, book publishers never conceived of, or at least never implemented, a unique serial number system for each book produced, so there's no way for me to verifiably claim a copy as my own.

More to come I'm sure.

Link -- Amazon Kindle

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