unKindle thoughts

Amazon have released their new e-book reader, the Kindle, this week. It’s of absolutely no relevance here in Australia because it’s not offered for sale here, we don’t have our own Amazon store, and we can’t use the wireless network it’s based on.  That said, a thought or two.  It seems unreasonable to say that something is or isn’t going to be successful when it’s only just been released, but a couple things did occur to me. First, it’s the coolest name for a new device since Microsoft released the Zune.  Second, neat use of ’70s retro styling.  Way to go. And, third: who wants another dedicated device for reading?  Isn’t it obvious that the category killer here will be a nice, cool looking object that is a phone, a music player, a video player, a websurfing thing and an ebook reader? It’s not that we can’t carry the Kindle. It’s that we can’t carry it with our cell phone, our iPod, our camera, our Blackberry and whatever else we may or may not have.  One object to rule them all. That’s what we need.

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  1. e-book problems:

    1. DRM and multiple incompatible file formats. And limited range of titles, and the prices…

    2. Emphasis on dedicated (and expensive) reading devices instead of the multi-function devices people already own – iPods, phones, PDAs, etc.

    3. Trying to make the “experience” of reading of ebooks “just like print books” so existing dead tree readers will take to them, instead of understanding that the market for ebooks is (primarily but not exclusively) the under-forties, who do everything online and via screens now. They play computer games, download music & movies, make and drop friends, via their phones, PCs and the net. They don’t give a rat’s about how “print-like” anything is and are turned off by non-interactive objects. Dead trees are for old people dude.

    Publishers should be trying to expand the number of recreational readers (and thus their market), particularly in the teen and twenty-something bracket, via e-books, not selling e-books to the same customers that already read print books. Get to the people who would never think to go into a bricks and mortar bookshop (or a library), maybe even some of those who’ve not read a book since they left high school, and normally spend their free time playing Halo. The young male demographic is ripe for expansion – men like toys…

  2. I don’t think it necessarily is what we need, or at least it will take a while for technology to catch up. The e-paper style displays are quite distinctively different in a lot of ways, and much more ‘book like’.
    And I don’t think we want out phone and music player to have a screen big enough to read a decent book on, and we don’t want to read a book on something as small as our phone.

    That said, I think it will fail, or significantly change before it succeeds. Its currently DRM infested, in a clumsy way, even though the music industry has finally caught on that people hate that.

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