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Kindle ain't no e-book reader

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Kindle users can subscribe to magazines, automatically updated over Whispernet, which are much more likely to appeal to the non-book-reading audience and might be more conducive to the Web 2.0 paradigm where readers can add their comments to stories. They can also pay for RSS feeds from websites, though asking users to pay for something they are used to getting free won't be easy. If the platform achieves any success then perhaps those sites can be convinced to create a Kindle-edition: a transition from the web to a magazine form.

Despite all the hype it seems unlikely that Kindle will be a success, at least in this incarnation. The device is ugly and as long as it's considered an e-book reader it's going to pale beside the competition. It might be on the most-wanted list at Amazon.com this Christmas, but it's hard to believe many people will really want to spend $400 on it.

But next year, when Google snaps up that nice 700MHz frequency block, and launches a device based on Android with the same kind of capabilities as Kindle - perhaps even with a licensed Kindle engine - then we'll see the two biggest players in Web 2.0 promoting its hardware incarnation, and it's hard to imagine what could stand in their way.

As Ben Bova put it in his book, Cyberbooks, almost 20 years ago when publishers held a lot more power then they do these days:

For a long moment Malzone said nothing. Then he sighed a very heavy sigh. "You're saying that a publisher won't need printers, paper, ink, whole-salers, route salesmen, district managers, truck drivers - not even bookstores?" "The whole thing can be done electronically," Carl enthused. "Shop for books by TV. Buy them over the phone. Transmit them anywhere on Earth almost instantaneously, straight to the customer." Malzone glanced around the shadows of the room uneasily. In a near whisper he told Carl, "Jesus Christ, kid, you're going to get both of us killed."

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