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In-depth review: can Amazon’s Kindle light a fire under eBooks?

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Daniel Eran Dilger
Amazon’s new Kindle ebook reader is billed as the iPod for digital reading. Will it inspire a new era of mainstream electronic reading, just service a dedicated niche of hard core readers, or simply fizzle out into failure? We put the new device through its paces to find out.

eBook vs iPod: Amazon’s Digital Strategy
The deck isn’t stacked in Amazon’s favor. Unlike Apple’s iPod, which only improved upon the technology and design of music players that already enjoyed an established market, the Kindle attempts to outmaneuver existing ebook devices that have never really achieved mainstream popularity. The Kindle faces the daunting task of cultivating ebook adoption in the scorched soil that failed to yield sustainable growth for earlier ebook vendors over the last decade.

If anyone could make ebooks work, it’s likely to be a company like Amazon with the clout and connections to line up content and reach a wide market of avid readers. Last year, Borders, the second largest US book vendor, similarly partnered with Sony to sell its new Reader. Barnes and Noble, the number one bookseller, turned down the offer to participate, telling the Associated Press, “We have sold e-readers before and they haven’t done particularly well.”

Continues: AppleInsider | In-depth review: can Amazon’s Kindle light a fire under eBooks?

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9 comments

1 Norm Potter { 12.10.07 at 10:24 pm }

It will be difficult to duplicate the Amazon sales model, but Kindle is a dog when handling images. Apple should link with somebody like Barnes and Noble and do it better in the iTouch.

2 Robert.Public { 12.10.07 at 11:54 pm }

I am passionate about the idea of carrying a library in my pocket. So much so that I outlined what I think a good device would feature a lot like dan’s imagineering jaunts. I am more interested in how such a device could primarily change the educational textbook, teaching manual industry, foreign language instruction………. It would be great to have something that would allow notation, citation, online academic journal access (EBSCO etc.). To be honest as a college student, lugging 20 to 30 lbs. of textbooks around campus is absurd considering the technology we have available. If Apple could get the textbook publishers on this and sell through iTunes U they could make a killing.

3 lightstab { 12.11.07 at 1:03 am }

Dan, what happened to your pal, Prince McLean? What does he think about the Kindle?

4 addicted44 { 12.11.07 at 7:13 am }

If Apple were to get into this field, it would be essential that they go with the eInk technology, rather than LCD screens. eInk is just FAR easier on the eyes.

However, they will have to solve two basic technology problems. Integrating Multitouch, and secondly the slow refresh, which is why I dont think the technology is there yet for Apple to make the kind of ereader product they would be proud of.

Amazon has done well, but not good enough to make this mainstream. Besides, its ugly looks and unergonomic design REALLY hurt it.

5 Apple TV Digital Disruption at Work: iTunes Takes 91% of Video Download Market — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 12.11.07 at 7:23 am }

[...] ← In-depth review: can Amazon’s Kindle light a fire under eBooks? [...]

6 Brau { 12.11.07 at 9:24 am }

The problem I see with e-books is that they don’t fit the human dynamic. Despite the surge to technology, the paperback has survived very well for a few reasons:

1. Most bookworms like to read to escape technology which means an e-reader by its very nature is an affront. I certainly don’t want to *navigate* a book, I just want to turn the page.
2. When reading at the beach, would you leave one on your towel when you go for a swim? No. A paparback? Sure. The e-book user will have to guard it from being stolen.
3. Paperbacks don’t have batteries that go dead just when you are getting to the good parts.
4. Bookworms love to share books to fellow readers when they are done with them. Will they want to lend out their e-book? No.
5. Those who are so remote that they have little access to physical books usually don’t have broadband/cell networks and don’t like doing long downloads via their dial-up … because they usually fail right in the middle.

7 osViews | osOpinion { 12.11.07 at 11:16 am }

In-depth review: can Amazon’s Kindle light a fire under eBooks?…

In-depth review: can Amazon’s Kindle light a fire under eBooks?
Amazon’s new Kindle ebook reader is billed as the iPod for digital readi…

8 nextcube { 12.11.07 at 2:26 pm }

It sounds like Amazon needs the display technology from the XO-1 laptop (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLPC_XO-1#Display) for the next version of the Kindle. It would meet the goals (easy readability and low power consumption in monochrome mode, but with fast updates and the option for color) of the Kindle quite nicely. (I’d also like to see XO-1′s lithium ferrophosphate batteries move into more products as well, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

9 James Katt { 12.11.07 at 4:22 pm }

The Kindle is so poorly designed, it’s going to fail.

If it could have been done as simple as the iPhone, it may have a chance.

Actually, I would rather have Apple design something like an electronic eBook – a tablet version of the Mac or iPhone. It would be fantastic as a platform and reader.

Leave it to Apple to innovate and move the the industry ahead.

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