Amazon Kindle International Edition
Lost in translation?
Review It was Amazon's Kindle that really turned the idea of an e-book reader into a true mass-market proposition. Well, in the States, at least, because the first Kindle was only ever available to US-based buyers. Now, however, you can get an "international version" of the Kindle 2 in Blighty. More accurately, you can buy it from Amazon in the US and have it shipped to you in the UK.
Amazon's Kindle: now over here
Look up the Kindle 2 on Amazon.com and you'll find a headline price of $259 and since that's about £155 in real money, you're probably thinking it's a bargain compared to the iRiver Story and Sony Reader Touch Edition, both priced on the wrong side of £200. But by the time you add shipping and import duty, the price of the Kindle is actually £207. Still cheaper than the competition, but not by as much.
Something else worth keeping in mind is that the International Kindle is not the latest version. In the US you can order the Kindle DX, which boasts a 9.7in screen in place of the standard edition's 6in panel.
Before we dive in to the hardware, let's deal with Amazon's Big Idea: buying and downloading content over the air. Buy a Kindle and you get 3G or GPRS access to Amazon's e-book store. There's no up-front charge - the cost is built into the price of the book - and it means you no longer need to download books to computer then copy them over to the reader.
In the US, Amazon's Whispernet network piggybacks on AT&T, but both the carrier and Amazon are keeping mum about who exactly is hauling the data in the UK. To avoid hitting Amazon with serious data roaming costs, the International Kindle lacks the web browser that US users get, nor do you get images in your newspapers, just plain text.
UK-based users can get newspapers on their Kindle too - but minus the pictures
Newspapers? Yes, with the Kindle you can subscribe to a selection of daily papers. Only four UK titles are available at the moment - The Independent, The Times, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail - each of which will set you back $23 (£14) per month. You can also subscribe to a selection of magazines, and though the list is heavily US-oriented it does include both The Spectator and The New Statesman.
And there lies the fail
I actually have an ebook reader, but I buy nothing with drm. If I buy a paper book I can pass it on down the generations, lend it to friends, give it to charity or a school, sell it on, etc etc.
But if I were to purchase a drm ebook from Amazon or the like, I am only hoping, probably in vain, that they will still be around in 10/20/30/40 years time, that their drm servers are still running, that they still support the old formats, etc.
Say my friend has a Sony, how can I lend a book to him ? I want to sell a book six years down the line ? "Oh, I can't" they say. Well fcuk them so. Until drm is extinguished, piracy will be just as prevalent as it is/was with music.
So it's got quite a few features less than the US edition, is missing several formats from its repertoire, has crippled web browsing, and the books are still ludicrously expensive (an e-book should not cost the same as a paperback, end of).
Riiight. No ta.
Well, quite @AC
When I have finished with a book I lend it out, give it to Oxfam, leave it in a hotel library, or liberate them in public places (http://www.bookcrossing.com/)
I can put it in a box, bury it, and in 400 years someone can dig it up and read it.
When it goes out of copyright, people will still have access to it - they won't have to beg some lomg-dead company to unlock it.
ebooks? beyond the Gutenburg project, no thanks.
Oh, and as for the people who want to charge me 90% of the price of the physical object - just how gullible do you think I am?
I don't want an eBook reader
I want a good PDF reader. I'm not interested in ePub or AWX?V or any of these other, frankly silly, formats that publishers are pushing. A book reader is already a significant downgrade from a paper book in everything except portability (which doesn't matter at home); I don't want one that's crippled even further.
It's PDF or nothing.
Audio books win hands down & eyes closed!
I listen to audio books on my iPod, with my eyes closed!
Audio books are DRM free (or can be) and are cheap and freely available on utorrent*
* not that any of us would do this.