Feeds

Amazon's $399 folly book reader

Just a lot of Kindling

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Reading has never been cheaper, and for most of us, requires no additional machinery - only the source material itself. So why do we need to pay the online retailer Amazon.com $399 to read books?

That's the cost of the company's Kindle, a gadget with an 800 x 600 E Ink screen. Apparently the company has been working on the device since 2004. It's priced at $100 more than Sony's E Ink-based reader, which has received rave reviews, and, like every electronic book-reading predecessor, has failed to set the world alight. Kindle, however, has a built-in Wi-Fi 3G connection - just what you always wanted from a book.

Amazon.com Kindle

Kindling

The Kindle weighs 284g (10oz) and Amazon claims the battery lasts 30 hours per charge.

Why Amazon embarked on this folly isn't clear from a hagiographic feature by Newsweek's Steven "Collective Intelligence" Levy - whose brain must have fallen out in the course of his genuflecting before Amazon boss and amateur spaceman Jeff Bezos.

Levy doesn't mention the long history of ebook failures - Gemstar/Rocket, anyone? - nor does he give any justification for the title: "Reinventing the book". Levy raves about the "killer user interface" - does it kill humans? Or flies? - without explaining why. In addition to delivering digital books, Amazon also hopes to drive print subscriptions from the major publishers: Time Warner and the New York Times are partners for the launch, just as they've been partners for every e-book reader launch we can remember.

Optimistic estimates put the current e-book market at around $25m a year. That's a rounding error for the publishing industry. And just to give you some perspective, ringtones - another digitally-delivered good - gross as much revenue as e-books do in a year... in 33 minutes.

"I'm rooting for Jeff and the Kindle," said Tim 2.0'Reilly, even more predictably.

Yet it's doubtful whether Amazon, or anyone else, could make a success of an e-book reader even if it gave them away for free.

You simply have to imagine history in reverse. If a new technology called PTech were invented today, and promised vastly improved flexibility, durability, convenience, and richness of browsing and reading - as well as ridding books from DRM - it would destroy the Digital Book market overnight. We have PTech today, of course - it's called paper, and it's simply a superior technology.

So an extra $399 for something you don't need - and that's more cumbersome and inconvenient than before? Arise, Sir Jeff.

Amazon has made some interesting technology bets recently, its S3 service being the most radical. This isn't one of them - and it's Bezos' lack of imagination (something he shares with his fellow "digital visionaries") that strikes one here. Their view of the world is so narrow, and so single-mindedly digital, that when they look into the future - that all they can see is their reflections. ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.