Amazon Kindle set to go massive
Print not dead, but tombstone prepared
Amazon's Kindle e-book reader will sell more than 380,000 in 2008, according to analysts at CitiGroup. UK retailer Waterstones agrees that e-books are the future and is putting Sony Readers into its high street stores.
The Kindle figures are based on positive reviews of the product as well as the way it's still topping Amazon.com's best-selling list. Analyst Mark Mahaney reckons a Kindle is going to be the must-have item for this Christmas, pointing out that his predicted sales are roughly the same as those achieved by the iPod in its first year, particularly impressive as the Kindle can only be sold in the US as it requires access to the CDMA network over which its whispernet connectivity operates. He also reckons that by 2010 the Kindle will be contributing $1 billion annually to the online-bookseller-turned-everything-emporium - four per cent of their total revenue.
But it's not just Amazon who are backing electronic books in 2008 - Waterstones will be selling Sony's Reader product from the middle of September, as well as pushing content through its website. Putting the Reader into shops makes a lot of sense as it's impossible to convey the quality of the electronic-ink screens used on e-books, and many people change their opinion of the idea on seeing one with their own eyes.
Electronic ink technology has great potential beyond electronic books, and the Kindle is much more than an electronic book. Always connected over its whispernet network - actually a mobile phone connection - it heralds a new way of using wireless networks, and puts a great deal of power into the hands of the device manager (Amazon in Kindle's case).
Sony's product is closer to what one would expect from a book - it lacks the connectivity to offer new ways of interacting, but by allowing punters to see what they're getting it could serve as an introduction to electronic books, and pave the way for some more interesting deployments in the future. ®
Kindle? I love it!
I have a Kindle that I bought a couple of months ago. It's great; it goes everywhere
with me. I've read it sitting on mountaintops waiting for the wind to come around
before flying my hang glider, in my tent after flying, in restaurants and at home in
bed. It works just like a book.
I was just on a 10-day trip with my Kindle, reading it every day for several hours, and
didn't bring the charger. It was down a couple of bars on battery by the end of the
trip. I keep the wireless switched off unless I need to download something, and the
battery lasts for ages.
Content is available. There are thousands of free ebooks out there for download,
and still more through vendors other than Amazon. Yes, you can pay for content
through Amazon too, but you don't have to. The books I buy are DRM-free and
I'm happy to support authors who provide me with stuff to read.
My paperback collection is about 3000 volumes, accumulated over a 30-year
period. I read *a lot*. The collection takes up a lot of space in the various book
cases I've built around the house, but the hundred or so books in my Kindle
don't take up any room at all.
One thing I particularly like about the Kindle, vs a "regular book" is the page
turning. When I'm eating, I'm usually reading. With a paper book, it's hard to
keep the pages from flipping unless I find something to set on them to hold
them in place. With the Kindle, I just set it flat and tap the "next page" bar as
needed. There's one on each side so I can hit it whether I'm holding a sandwich
in my right hand, or holding the Kindle in my left. With the cover flipped back,
I can loop the elastic strap around one hand to hold it, and curl my fingers around
to hit the next page bar. It's very versatile in that regard, works great no matter
which way I'm holding it.
My one complaint was the cover, which it fitted into loosely. I fixed that with a
couple pieces of Velcro, which lock the Kindle into the cover so it won't fall out.
Now when I hand it to Mom and she flips it upside down, it doesn't take a dive
toward the floor. :-)
If Amazon came out with a larger-format version, I'd buy one. I'd particularly like
to have a full letter-size display with PDF support, for the piles of electronic
component datasheets that I currently print out on dead trees. It would be great
to have that material available for easy reference on an e-ink display.
It's not a web browser. It's not a PDA. It's a book, and it works just like one. As
for the moisture-proof aspect....just how dunk-resistant do you think a paper
book is? At least the Kindle can be wiped off, and it doesn't curl up its pages.
There's also the Bebook for £229,
http://mybebook.com/index.html. No Mobipocket support yet, but I've been told this will come in a free software upgrade in a few weeks.
Also a new machine ib November/December with RSS news feeds support and Wifi for more but not much more than the above price.
So I think I'll wait. Even if I don't bother with the WiFi version, the price of the current model should drop.
Mine's the one with 200 books in the pocket.
Waterstones are not taken in
Yes, Waterstones are selling the Sony reader. Our local branch is getting a grand total of 4 of them in. And are advertising it with a discrete single A4 advert by the science fiction section. Hardly an overwhelming endorsement and if comments from people who have imported them from the States are anything to go by, they'll need to keep one or two of them back for warranty replacements.
Personally, I'll stick to ereader on my ancient monochrome Clie.