Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazon Kindle electronic book

I just came across the Amazon Kindle electronic book, which was released today, and found it very interesting. Check out the video overview in the preceding link. They have obviously put a great deal of thought into it. I thought that one of the most interesting things from a technical and business model perspective is that the book has wireless connectivity (using EVDO 3G cell phone technology) with no ongoing service plan. You order books directly from the device and they are downloaded within a minute. The device itself isn't cheap ($400) and you pay for the books, but nevertheless this is the first service like this that I'm aware of without a monthly fee. You can also order a number of newspapers and magazines, and read certain blogs (not clear if you can add RSS feeds from the stuff I've seen so far), and all of these are automatically delivered wirelessly to the device. You get free wireless access to wikipedia. And there's a way of emailing your own documents to the device ("for a small fee").

They have put a lot of emphasis on making the actual reading experience very book-like, and use the "electronic paper" technology which was also used in Sony's e-book, which I haven't experienced (yet) but which has good reviews. And the form factor is quite book-like. But then they've added in additional technology where it makes sense, like having a built in dictionary, bookmark capabilities, etc. And of course you have all of the good features of shopping at Amazon like book reviews and recommendations, and it is automatically tied to your existing Amazon account.

I'm always interested in significant new innovations in how users interact with technology (like the iPhone), and this seems to me to be a candidate for something in that league - in fact it could be more significant than the iPhone if successful, in terms of changing the way people do things (reading, in this case). So anyway, I was sufficiently intrigued that I have ordered one to give it a try - it should arrive tomorrow, and I'll report back on my experience. 


Aaron said...

OK - a couple of things on this - first, couldn't they have made it a little prettier? It looks like something from an old "space" tv show from the 70's.

Secondly - will they give you electronic copies of all the books you've already bought on Amazon? That would be very cool.

Peter Batty said...

I agree it looks a bit ugly in a lot of the pictures - though some reviews say it's a bit better when you see it for real ... we'll see! And it certainly would be nice if you got copies of previously bought books - I haven't seen any mention of that, but maybe we can drop Mr Bezos a line to suggest that! It would also be nice if it could access subscription based services like O'Reilly's Safari. I just found out that they charge for access to blogs, which somewhat balances out the "free" wireless access. But overall I'm still intrigued by a lot of aspects of it.

mentaer said...

If you receive it, can you also review the drawing of images nad map-like pictures? would be interesting to me.
(I also wonder what will happen with Platic Logic as they "show"/fake in a picture an Ordnance Survey map on the display:

Aaron said...

99c a month per RSS feed?? Is that true? Coz that can get pretty expensive quick if you use it for this (which I guess isn't the point of the machine, but they touted it as a feature).