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Hands-On With The Kindle 365

Posted by Zonk
from the cheaper-e-ink-plz-k-thnx dept.
Amazon's Kindle e-book may have sold out in record time, but there's still a lot of discussion about the device's merits. Neil Gaiman likes it well enough, but it's sent Robert Scoble into a fit of apoplectic rage. For a real, meaty, hands-on look at the way the device operates in everyday life, Gamers With Jobs writer Julian Murdoch has a slice of life with the Kindle. He takes us through his Thanksgiving holiday weekend with the device, noting the quirks (good and bad) that cropped up with Amazon's new toy. "Short of reading in the tub, the Kindle is easier to read in more places, positions, and situations than a physical book ... But it's far from perfect. It is expensive. The cover, which I find completely necessary, is in desperate need of more secure attachment (Velcro works great). The book selection is less-than-perfect, although I imagine this will improve with every passing day. And Amazon needs marketing help. The Kindle's launch reeked of 'get it out fast.' The big-picture marketing efforts (like video demonstrations and blurbs from authors) were great, but simple things like communicating how freakin' easy it is to get non-Amazon content on to the device, for free, remain horribly misunderstood."
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Hands-On With The Kindle

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:25PM (#21494847) Homepage Journal

    I don't understand why people would buy this at ~$400. May as well just go and get a low end tablet pc, which you could use for a multitude of other uses.

    I'm not the NYT's typical top-ten reader, so I'm not sure something like this would immediately appeal. The last few books I've read were printed from 10 to 50 years ago, which would place them well beyond this device. Pros and Cons just don't weigh enough in favour and like I said, what does this do that a tablet couldn't do? Maybe when they drop it to ~$50 and I can sync it like my iPod to my favourite content feeds each morning it would hold some promise.

    Also, books don't require batteries. I've got several devices around now, which all have some form of rechargeable (and expensive to replace) cells. I worry a bit about the availability of replacement cells several years down the road.

    • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:30PM (#21494913)
      Here's what it'll take for me:

      + Reader has to be under $100.
      + Books have to be half the price of print books or lower.
      + No bullshit DRM. I better be able to back the content up, copy it to my ipod, save it on my hard drive. Whatever.
      + I better be able to resell it, just like I can resell a used book. Otherwise, all of this is just a run-around way for the publishing industry to attacked the used book trade, which they hate more than almost anything else on earth (including their loathing of public libraries).
      • by Kingrames (858416)
        "No bullshit DRM."
        You're out of luck. It's one of its features.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Says who? What he's suggesting is a list of features/wants for a hypothetical competitor to the Kindle. There's nothing to stop anyone here from developing one. Make up a prototype, make sure you aren't stepping on any of Amazon's patents, power the thing with free/open source software. Find a way to get it produced, either by pitching it to an OEM or contact or line up some offshore manufacturing muscle in Taiwan or Korea (you may have to do your own manufacturing engineering or hire one), and then find
          • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:12PM (#21495485) Journal

            "Hypothetical" competitor to the kindle? There already are such devices which predate Amazon's own release as well. This one [bookeen.com] looks good. Again, a highish price but it looks better than Amazon's own (Linux support being one of, though not the top, reason for that). Sadly, like the Kindle, it has also sold out completely, but I'm seriously thinking of putting one on order.
      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:37PM (#21495015) Homepage Journal
        -It's going to be a while
        -They are
        -Explain to me how you do this with paper books?
        -Good point, something that must be addressed by congress. So get involved.

      • by rootofevil (188401) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:42PM (#21495079) Homepage Journal
        how about instead of ebooks being cheap: you purchase the physical book, and get access to the kindle version immediately. that way you can start reading before it shows up if you really need it (think textbooks).
        • by Seumas (6865)
          That's what Amazon does on some books. Of course, they charge $2 to $4 for a (DRM'd?) PDF file of it. If the book is only $12, why would I spend $2 to $4 just to get a digital copy of what I already bought? Meh.

          I don't need lots of books cluttering up my life, so I'd be just fine with digital only, given cheap prices and great freedom to backup/use/etc how I see fit. If I have to re-buy it in ten years when media formats change or they stop supporting some special format, then I'm screwed. A physical book c
      • by leehwtsohg (618675) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:52PM (#21495197)


        • Under $100: I don't agree. But I think they should bundle it with books to make it basically free.
        • Books half price: they should be cheaper than paperback. It isn't clear how much cheaper. CDs are basically free to make, and yet expensive to buy when filled with music.
        • No bullshit DRM: Here I totally agree. Even though books are available now in many formats and comparable volume (e.g. kindle/mobi, microsoft lit, sony lrf) I only buy microsoft lit books. Why? Because the format was broken, so I can save unprotected, and I'll be able to read the books no matter what device I buy in the future!
        • Reselling of digital books is a bit of a problem, without DRM. Are you sure you'll delete the book once you give it away? It is a bit similar to the problem of digital music. Say you ripped your CD collection to MP3, and then the CDs were stolen. Will you delete now your MP3s? Can you sell your used MP3s? But I think that borrowing of books from friends should be possible with digital books, and the library problem has to be solved.

      • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
        drm-free content that can be resold. doesn't take a genius to see that a system like that will be horribly abused.
      • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:17PM (#21495549) Homepage

        + Reader has to be under $100.

        How about free [mobipocket.com]? Provided, of course, that you provide your own Blackberry, Palm, Smarter-Than-Thou-Phone, PC or other geek-faux-wang. If you don't already have one you can probably find something acceptable at or near your $100 price point. It won't have the big e-Paper screen that the Kindle does, but I have no troubles using a smaller display.

        * Books have to be half the price of print books or lower.

        e-Book pricing is all over the place right now, with titles ranging anywhere from free [baen.com], free [manybooks.net], or free [gutenberg.org], all the way to about the same as printed books [mobipocket.com]. As the market grows expect to see more pressure on prices which should force things down a bit, but don't hold your breath.

        + No bullshit DRM. I better be able to back the content up, copy it to my ipod, save it on my hard drive. Whatever.

        Some books ship with bullshit included while others come pas-des-merde-des-vasche. With a good reader you can feed it anything from flat ASCII text, HTML or PDF files through to insanely encrypted tracts of bull and have something readable come out the other end. The choice is yours.

        + I better be able to resell it, just like I can resell a used book. Otherwise, all of this is just a run-around way for the publishing industry to attacked the used book trade, which they hate more than almost anything else on earth (including their loathing of public libraries).

        Yes, you can absolutely resell the hardware that you read books on just like you resell a used book. Reselling _data_ is a trickier problem, as it is nothing like a used book. Besides, the only way for second hand ebooks to have any value would be if they included "Bullshit DRM". Which do you want, resale or steerpoopage?

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        + I better be able to resell it, just like I can resell a used book.

        If you have a choice between the new hardcover for $15 or the ebook for $10, and you can later sell the hardcover for $5, then in both cases you can't recover $10 of the original purchase price. In the end, the ebook saves you a trip to the used bookstore, and a tree.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eh2o (471262)
        - Reader price, probably will happen eventually.
        - Book price: I agree fully; also I noted that while Amazon has a decent price for bestsellers (9.99), many technical books are just as absurdly expensive as they are now ($50-70 and up). I think I'll just stick to the library...
        - Backups: Amazon backs up all your purchases automatically (unlike Apple iTunes, I might add).
        - Resell; probably won't happen, but rental/checkout might. If this gets popular the universities will demand bulk subscriptions (e.g. I h
    • by Radon360 (951529) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:41PM (#21495057)

      Take a look at the specs [amazon.com].
      This thing doesn't sync, nor use WiFi. Instead, it downloads content through Sprint's wireless 3G network (the same one that their phones use). There is no subscription fee for this (the data service). It will also download newspaper and magazine subscriptions daily (no syncing or need to find a WiFi hotspot).

      Perhaps their pricing model is built around including some type of specially negotiated data plan with Sprint that is amortized over the projected lifetime of the device. (Just speculation).

    • by geekoid (135745)
      Becasue it's designed to be used like a book, tablets are not.

      True books don't require batteries. OTOH, books don't have built in dictionaries, thesauruses and access to wikipedia.
      You also can't adjust the font size.

      It's almost like they're different things.

      • by ObjetDart (700355)
        True books don't require batteries. OTOH, books don't have built in dictionaries, thesauruses and access to wikipedia. You also can't adjust the font size.

        You also can't instantly search for any word or phrase inside a paper book.
        You also can't carry 100 paper books in the space of one paper book.
        You also can't instantly buy a new paper book while riding a train or bus.
        The list goes on and on...

        So I agree, they ARE different things, and that's the whole point which lots of people seem to be missing!

    • For $400 you can get an Asus EEE and read DRM-free PDF files.
      • For $400 you can get an Asus EEE and read DRM-free PDF files.

        Or you can get the Kindle and read DRM-free PDF files. You can also browse blogs and websites, as well as do lookups on wikipedia with the kindle. Plus, unlike the Asus EEE, the Kindle is designed to be easy to hold and operate one handed. Oh, and because it uses the 3G network (no fee, presumably included in cost of the device) you don't need a wireless hotspot, you can read slashdot on the go anywhere you have a cell signal.

    • by Aladrin (926209)
      Where do you find a tablet pc for $400? Or was that just hyperbole? Even good PDAs are still $400, so I don't see how you can get even the crummiest Tablet PC for that.

      As for reading books on a device... You obviously aren't the target audience if you read that seldom. I -do- read often enough that this is in the right price range. In fact, I bought my n800 to read eBooks on... And the Palm TX before it, and a few pocket PCs before that, and Palms before that... I admit that I've spent more on the de
      • From the various reviews I've read the Kindle may look clumsy and it's not exactly pretty, but apparently it feels very comfortable to hold. As for the whole DRM issue, that only applies to the books you download from amazon. You can connect the device to your computer with a USB cable and it gets recognized as a external HD, then you just copy PDF, txt, doc, or mobi files (as well as mp3 it seems) over to it and you can read them on the go. So, if you want to keep using your DRM free source of e-books you
        • by cicatrix1 (123440)
          Most of what you said is correct, however it doesn't do PDF. You'd have to convert them into something else.
      • Aren't you guys missing the point of the device, which is the E-Ink display? This should make it heads and shoulders above anything else on the market, including those reflective LCDs, and especially outdoors.
      • The Palm T|X sells for around $150 these days.

        I've been using one for over 2 years as my eBook reader of choice, and almost never open a regular book now. Toss PalmFiction on it, and you have a top notch e-book reader that can read HTML, MS Word, RTF, Text, PalmDoc and a number of other DRM-unencumbered formats.

        Want a more integrated experience? There are over 10 other e-book readers for the PalmOS, some which have their own DRM-encumbered formats, some where you can purchase directly from the eBook app, etc.

        Project Gutenberg encodes their documents in Plucker format, which has a native PalmOS reader.

        The T|X has WiFi and Bluetooth support, and can connect to the internet via cellphone BT link, WiFi router, USB uplink with a computer, or even IrDA.

        It has a 320x480 (2.5" x 3.5") screen, which might seem small, but works really well for reading text. Text can be displayed at any size and be linked to dictionary lookup/wikipedia/etc. Plus, the device fits in my pocket, so I'm actually likely to have it when I want to read a book.

        Apart from the eBook features, the device can link to common calendaring and address book apps, browse the web, etc., act as a VoIP phone if you install a microphone, be used to watch movies, listen to music, CREATE content and take advantage of the thousands of software applications written for the PalmOS platform.

        Oh, and it can run Linux too :)

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:39PM (#21495887)
      "what does this do that a tablet couldn't do?"

      - Cheaper
      - Lighter
      - Smaller
      - Doesn't overheat. (Sadly, TabletPCs aren't that friendly in that regard.)
      - More battery friendly
      - Easier on the eyes
      - EV-DO syncing. (Wikipedia in places your Tablet PC would find challenging.)

      It's a specialized device. It's not necessarily for you. I wouldn't say it's a total waste, either. If not for the early adopter price, I'd have one right now.
  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:26PM (#21494855) Journal
    >but simple things like communicating how freakin' easy it is to get non-Amazon content on to the device, for free, remain horribly misunderstood.

    And it is in Amazon's interest to show people who might otherwise buy material how to avoid buying material... how?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samweber (71605)
      Can we avoid conspiracy theories? Especially when they made it quite clear that you could, but from the product description page and in their manual, which you can download from them.

      I really don't see how they could have made it much clear, and the fact that people still don't understand it reflects more on them, I think, than Amazon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)
        No, Amazon Wasn't being clear on the Kindle website at all. Putting it in the manuals is only good if you have bought the thing.

        • by HistoricPrizm (1044808) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:06PM (#21495393)
          Actually, you can download the manual from the Amazon site. However, it still isn't clear in the manual. You have to put two and two together, and those sections are about 15 pages apart in the manual. Nowhere does it explicitly state, "Hook the Kindle up via USB and you can transfer certain files for free". That would have been nice, but I think the GGP was somewhat correct in saying that there's not a real big advantage to Amazon in making the explicit statement. It also doesn't really jive with their main marketing point, the wireless connection through Sprint and lack of a need for a computer. There are some good discussions on the Kindle page regarding this topic, but, as with most of Amazon's Customer Discussions, you have to wade through a ton of crap.
  • Free as in Beer? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by techpawn (969834) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:26PM (#21494865) Journal
    easy it is to get non-Amazon content on to the device, for free, remain horribly misunderstood

    If I'm not tied to a single source for my books then I may consider it, but I still enjoy they actual book feelings though. Weight, smell, etc... Some parts of reading a book have nothing to do with what is written... At least for me.
    • Agreed.

      There is still nothing like curling up with a good book. Maybe someday people will do all their reading from a computer screen, a la TNG, but I doubt it.
      • by iluvcapra (782887)
        Characters often read books on TNG and in the movies, and not just antiques. I seem to remember a few VIP presentations (one in ST6 stands out in my mind) that were actually delivered with a presentation pad and an easel, which I think made an important statement about the plain utility of such things.
      • One of the reviews I read made an interesting point in that a comparison was made between paper books versus kindle and cds versus ipods. Essentially the argument was, if you're at home you rather read a paper book or listen to a cd, but if you're going somewhere Kindle and an iPod are simpler. Neil Gaimon was complaining that he missed having his trial Kindle when he had to fly somewhere because it limited the books he could bring with him to only a few because of size/weight.
    • by bluemonq (812827) *
      Unless your books from other sources have no DRM (or you can find some my to remove it) and there's some way to convert it to a compatible format, you're out of luck.
      • by techpawn (969834)
        If that happens (DRM Free) What are the chances you can barrow EBooks from a library that delete themselves after X number of days unless you contact the library... That would be another wonderful feature, a true electronic library that doesn't cost you per month.
        • by bluemonq (812827) *
          Your library (local or virtual) would need to partner with Amazon, then, as Only their DRM'ed files work on the Kindle. *Someone* will have to pay for it somehow. Somebody always has to.
          • by techpawn (969834)
            Yeah, I know... Sadly I was picturing a perfect world where Digital Rights Management was something that only a sysadmin was concerned about and it was to actually protect you and your data.
    • by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:54PM (#21496093) Homepage

      but I still enjoy they actual book feelings though. Weight, smell, etc... Some parts of reading a book have nothing to do with what is written...

      That's like saying you won't drive a car because you like the smell of a horse's ass.
  • Kindle (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:28PM (#21494889)
    Ah, so it's more Kindle-ing for the e-book's fire, eh? OW OW OWWW! No hard fruits! *Watermelowned*
  • Do you mean to tell we that Amazon, a reader that makes money by selling things, aren't talking too much about ways to get non-Amazon content? Besides, what is non-Amazon content? Blogs, RSS feeds, and stuff you upload onto the device. Methinks PR didn't think these were great selling points. That's interesting...
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:34PM (#21494951)
    But it's a 14 minute video! Linked from the front page of Slashdot!!
    Oh my.
  • An analogy (Score:5, Funny)

    by 4thAce (456825) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:39PM (#21495041) Homepage
    I think the Kindle will be to traditional books as this device [segway.com] is to walking.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by davidbrit2 (775091)
      So in other words, totally superfluous, and largely the laughing stock of its domain?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 4thAce (456825)

        So in other words, totally superfluous, and largely the laughing stock of its domain?
        On the contrary, Segway still seems to be holding onto its tiny, tiny niche for now. My point was more that for every Segway out there there is probably a million people who walk. If Amazon could sell one Kindle for every million books sold everywhere, they might be content with that.
    • Re:An analogy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MrSteveSD (801820) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @06:26PM (#21498121)
      Maybe this particular ebook reader will fail, but I wouldn't write off ebooks in general. Back in the mid 90s as a Uni student I had huge heavy boxes of books which I had to cart back and forth each term. I'd have rather had them all on one little 10 ounce ebook! The same really goes for all of my technical books I keep at work.

      As for non-fiction/newspapers/magazines, these are the kind of things I read on the train. Turning a page is quite tricky when you're jammed in like sardines or you only have one hand free. I think ebooks certainly have the potential to make reading more convenient in various ways.
  • This just in, Gutenberg wins again!
  • by jesdynf (42915) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:51PM (#21495189) Homepage
    If you can't say it with written words, it wasn't worth saying. These "video shows" and "podcasts" are nominally entertaining but worthless for conveying any kind of real information. Please don't link to them like they're big-people essays -- it doesn't matter how smart you are, I can read ten documents written by people almost as smart as you are in the time it takes your stupid "veeblog" to buffer, play its stupid intro, and replay the series of meat noises you've encoded the information into.

    Please. Just pass them by.
  • by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:52PM (#21495201)
    a digital book should *NOT* be 10 dollars. i don't care if its a new book and only available as a hardcover for 18 bucks. i'm not spending 10 bucks for it. when the paperback is released, it still looks like the price of the e-book costs about the same, if not a little cheaper than the paperback. if they were selling new releases for like 2 bucks and paperback-released books for a buck (or just sell them all for 99 cents a piece), it would be a huge factor for people who buy a lot of books. it means they may eventually start saving money in the long run if they read that often. plus, it may entice people just to read more often in the first place or to even purchase books on impulse. they may not even read all the books they purchase if its at that price. i think they'd sell a lot more books and make more money due to having lower production costs. books are priced more than music. once the music/filesharing fiasco ends (which will probably be within this decade), books will be next. its a fringe market right now, but more and more books are becoming available online.
    • I agree Digital books should be less then the paperback book New or Not. There is a lot of money that goes into printing books, Most the the books now are digital first then they print it, it should be easy to go from digital to digital and the publisher, author and Amazon will get more money then normal printed book. $10.00 is steep but I think it is priced right now to attract publishers not consumers as much... Because to make it succeed it needs a large quantity of titles available. Now Amazon is seei
    • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:21PM (#21495613) Journal
      All I can say is take an economics class. You aren't entirely off base, but a good microeconomics class will pretty much explain why it is as it is and why your points aren't entirely accurate. But the key point is that you seem to think that you are paying more for the materials than the content and also ignoring the costs of servers/bandwidth/etc. If I were to open my own "Sahara" book store and sell every e-book for $1 how long do you think it would be before I went under from having smoking servers, angry employees wanting to get paid, and a disgustingly large electric and bandwidth bill? The "e" part only takes out one tiny slice of the cost...the actual printing...which is pretty small over a large enough production. You are still paying an author, a publisher, a retailer, and all the associated employees in getting the book from draft to print and all the marketing in between.

      I agree that the price of ebooks will likely come down as the demand for them increases, but I doubt they will get to be as cheap as you want them.
      • by Jearil (154455) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:55PM (#21496115) Homepage
        eh, Apple sells songs for $0.99 each which weigh in at about 3-4mb each.

        A 50,000 word novel with an average word length of 5 characters (plus 1 for spaces or punctuation), is only 300k. Let's even up it to 150k word novel that's a bit wordy, maybe 9 characters a word (plus 1 for spaces or punctuation). That's still just 1.5mb, half the size of a song. As long as we're talking just plain text, it's pretty cheap. You could even compress it, and text compresses very well.

        I can understand having to pay the people who write and maintain the software, the editors, authors, marketing people, possibly artists for cover art.. but bandwidth for the actual transport of the written text is so small that it really shouldn't have that much of an effect on the final price. I can't imagine that the bandwidth costs to transfer 1.5mb of text is greater than several hundred pages of paper, glue, ink, and physical transport to a store (and the store clerks, and all other costs associated with physical retail).
      • by Altus (1034) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @04:18PM (#21496441) Homepage

        bandwidth cost is much lower than the same costs for physical books which include not only printing but also shipping and handling, which alone is probably more than the bandwidth on a per book basis. The grandparent might be a bit off on the $1 number but he is right that nobody is going to pay the same price for a text file that they would pay for a paperback.

        Books arent like music, they dont have as much replay vaule, your not sitting on a train thinking, "man, if only I had that book I finished last week I would read it again right now." Most people read one book at a time, or a few books at a time in some cases and there is much less value in carrying your entire library with you. So given all that, why would you buy a device to do that just to pay the same price for the book as you would for a nice bound copy?
  • Doesn't handle PDFs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kludge (13653) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @02:53PM (#21495209)
    I read that the thing does not handle PDFs. Is this true?
    If it doesn't, why would anyone buy it?
  • After actaully reading the two articles that I could access (Scobles delivered:

    kyte: Browser Requirements
    In order to view the kyte website, you will need the following:

    1. JavaScript enabled.
    2. If using Internet Explorer ActiveX must be enabled.
    3. Version 9.0.28 of the

    in Firefox on my Mac) I have to say that this thing looks pretty tempting. I too was skeptical, but the authors have me thinking twice.

    I'm not forming opinions 'til I can get my hands on one.

    Oh gosh - that last sentence

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cal Paterson (881180) *

      Oh gosh - that last sentence probably cost me about 4000 Slashdot karma points...
      Just occurred to me; it's pretty interesting that a whole subculture (slashdot) can be self-depreciating.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:04PM (#21495359)
    For that price, the Asus Eee PC is a better deal. I got one - neat little thing and it can actually be used for real work, since with SSH, I can do anything with it.
    • by Falladir (1026636)
      The Eee PC doesn't have a high-resolution e-paper screen. Some people might be able to read for hours and hours on a laptop, but others find that they get eyestrain from the light and from the crappiness of fonts at 120 dpi. Also, the Eee PC won't get anything close to the battery life of this thing (think about taking it on a plane or in a car) and it will be hard to curl up with. I've read comic books in bed on my laptop, and it's pretty awkward. (That said, I'd really love for the thing to be able to
  • Theory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <`RealityMaster101' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:12PM (#21495475) Homepage Journal

    You know, I think I have a theory on why people get so upset about the idea of digital book readers. It's not the DRM, it's not the batteries, it's not whether you can loan your book...

    The biggest problem is ego.

    People who read a lot of books LIKE having huge bookshelves to impress people on how many books they have. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO read more than thou, hence, I am more intelligent. Bow down and kiss my ring!"

    How many of these people keep around books they know they will NEVER read again? Why not donate them to the library, and clear up space on the ol' bookshelf? Because they like having the scorecard on the wall. Having an e-book spoils all the fun.

    I think this is actually a generational thing. I'm noticing that younger people have no problem downloading scanned books, reading them, and moving on. I think the ego stroke of the big library will eventually be extinct, like we're seeing with big walls of record collections.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Khaed (544779)
      I think I qualify as a "younger person" and I like the library of books I've built up for myself. It has nothing to do with ego; I don't parade my shelves around in front of people or point it out. They're not prominently displayed. They're just there. I like them. I still have the first fantasy novel I ever read, over ten years ago. I haven't read it in a while, but I might someday.

      There's a sort of connection some of us have with books. We just like books. Some people collect stamps, or old comput
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rbanffy (584143)
      Well...

      Here we own a lot of books. We also have quite a few bookshelves around the house. We also have a splendid collection of vintage computers. We don't have them to impress people, although we love to invite our friends for dinner. What I like about having books around is the feeling it gives me when I pass by a shelf and grab some book I liked and re-read a couple pages on the couch. What I like about them is the fact I can pass by the shelf and pick one up at random and, when I am gone, my children an
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrJimbo (594231)

      People who read a lot of books LIKE having huge bookshelves to impress people on how many books they have.

      Or maybe they don't like buying the same books over and over and over again. Once I've read a book, I usually don't want to read it again for another few years but after 3 or 4 years it is almost like it is a new book to me again and I get a tremendous hunger to read it again.

      I then have to re-buy the books that I've given away or donated. Often they are no longer in print so I have to get a crapp

    • 1984 (Score:4, Funny)

      by CustomDesigned (250089) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @04:50PM (#21496913) Homepage Journal
      My biggest problem E-books is how easy they are (the DRMed ones) to centrally control. The Ministry of Truth was an expensive operation, what with collecting, incinerating, and reprinting books they wanted to change. E-books can be "updated" at the push of a button. WORM media and the kind of widespread copying publishers hate are our weapons against the rise of the Ministry of Truth.
    • Different Theory (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)
      I think that people who look down on people with lots of books are insecure about their own reading habits.

      What - that's a load of crap I pulled out of my ass? Congrats. You're right.

      Here's what I do know though - you're full of crap about why people like having books, why people read, and ultimately, why people like large libraries. It's for the same reason that people collect records, plates, coins, stamps, insects, door knobs and other things: they like the objects, and they like collecting them. Books t
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SevenTowers (525361)
      What's given away can't be loaned to friends or passed on to the next generation...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cleojo42 (573624)
      Um, no.
      As a person who will probably never give up the tangible book with pages (and I am 30, I don't know where that puts me in your 'younger generation'), I have to disagree.
      There is more to the book culture than my shelf is bigger than yours.

      I look over the shoulder of someone that I am sitting behind on the bus to check out what book they are reading.
      I lend out books.
      I write in mine.
      I like the smell of books.
      I borrow books.
      I sell books to the used bookstore.
      I utilize libraries.

      I am
  • While Kindles blemishes aren't exactly earthshattering, I think it suffers from the negative side of the iPod halo effect. We are starting to expect that electronic equivalents will more clearly improve on the original. Just glancing at the Kindle (without probing its deeper features, since consumers likely won't initially either), I don't quite understand why it's so convoluted. Why is there a keyboard on a book? Why not more screen? Why a button for next page, why not tap the screen? Why does it look like
  • Publishers, DRM, etc (Score:2, Interesting)

    by samweber (71605)
    A lot of the same kinds of comments are coming up here as in other forums about the Kindle.

    Firstly, even though this article points out explicitly that you can put your own content on the Kindle, lots of people still seem to refuse to believe it. You can! And you can use USB to backup the files, as well.

    Secondly, DRM isn't really Amazon's fault. All publishers are really, really aware of electronic rights. There are major disputes between the Author's Guild and publishers because of this. Recently, in
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:33PM (#21495787) Homepage
    The Kindle might make it. That's a very convincing review.

    It's not a hardware problem; it's never been a hardware problem. My year-2000 Rocket eBook is more than good enough to read books for pleasure. Seven years of progress is seven years; all they needed to do was not screw up, and it sounds as if they didn't.

    The biggest problem by far with previous efforts was title availability. Sure, they would have an eBookstore with "thousands" of titles, and if you asked the question "is there anything there I want to read?" the answer would be "sure."

    But ask the question the other way around, as someone who buys books rather than someone who is sold books. The question then becomes "is book XYZ, that I know I want to read, evenavailable?" The reviewer makes it clear that this is an important question for him, too, and that he thinks Amazon falls a little short. But only by comparison with the ideal. Comparison with earlier eBook efforts is like night and day.

    Just before the "eBooks are dead" meme hit, i.e. at about the peak of the craze, I took a look at the book list for Oprah's book club. I thought that was a very fair test. They were scattered across publishers, they were not so old as to be out of print and mostly old enough to allow time for format conversion, and all of them were good books that some disinterested party thought were worth reading. I compared eBook formats and audiobook format, audiobook being an example of a non-print medium for which the conversion costs and distribution costs were far higher than for an eBook.

    As I recall, of about forty-four books, something like thirty-eight of them were available as audiobooks, i.e. most of them. And a grand total of six were available in any eBook format at all. And of the three dominant eBook formats at the time--Microsoft .LIT, Adobe eBook Reader, and Gemstar--no format had more than three of the books available.

    Now, the very first precondition of eBook success is that, darn it, the books you want need to be available. That's not sufficient, but it's necessary. The holes in title availability were huge. For example, to pick one of my favorites at random, there was nothing by Barbara Kingsolver available in any of the three formats.

    On a very informal test recently in which I just listed ten books I had bought or was considering buying, I found that eight out of ten were available in Kindle format. Including nine books by Barbara Kingsolver, two of which I haven't read yet.

    The second thing is price. By the way, Amazon is honest in saying most books are under $9.99. Many of them are priced a little lower, in fact. These days mass market paperbacks are costing $6.99, $7.99, $8.99 and trade paperbacks are mostly above $10. So it's fair to say Amazon is charging paperback prices, even for books that aren't out in paper. Do I think that's a good price? No, I think it's way too high. But it is much much much better than before. In the old eBook days, the uniform policy was that if the book wasn't out in paper yet, the eBook price matched the hardbound price.

    I must have had a dozen conversations with strangers watching me read my Rocket eBook, and they all went the same way. Increasing interest. Not deterred by the $300 price of the device. But when they asked what the books cost and I said "Hardbound prices if the book isn't in paper," the conversation would stop dead right there and I could see their interest level plummet to zero. Maybe they didn't actually roll their eyes but it felt like it.

    DRM is sucky. Half the fun of books is being able to lend them. Can you imagine not being able to lend a book to your wife even if you each had your own device? And I am stuck with DRMed Gemstar-format content that will die when my Rocket eBook dies (and its battery life, once 20 hours, is now down to about 2). Locked to a hardware serial number in a proprietary format, and the company is bust and their servers are shut down and no customer-service people to help. So d
  • Where do I begin? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by coyote4til7 (189857) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:51PM (#21496049) Homepage
    Memo to Bezo-man, CEO d'Amazon:

    Preface,
    Dude you really really need to talk to people outside the early adopter, gadget/freak crowd. In anything remotely resembling the device's current form, this device is doomed.

    First give it buying appeal:
    *) Drop the price ... a lot
    *) Make it a _lot_ less ugly...
    *) I shouldn't have to pay Amazon everytime I blink

    Make it a little less geeky
    *) Make it so the keyboard can be slid out of the way
    *) Make it a _lot_ less ugly...

    Make the content have a life longer than the device
    At some point your content will outlive the device:
    1) It fails (and stockholders will make them pull the plug)
    2) It succeeds (and to survive the imitators, it becomes non-backward compatible)
    3) You just want the latest version and want to take your content with you
    4) The darn thing breaks/gets stolen/etc
    Since everything has to go through Amazon for a fee, if you want to keep all that stuff you paid for, you're going to pay how many times per device switch times how many devices in your life?

    Give me the ability to do all those book things
    *) Support more document formats (text, pdf and html should be a bare minimum)
    *) Have content longevity (see previous section)
    *) Don't give me anything in a proprietary format ... or ... if this thing pisses me off I want the option to take all that shit I paid real money for and really keep it _and_ use it on something else.
    *) Let me push stuff from my computer to my kindle directly ... without stupid converter tool
    *) Let me do annotations/notes/highlighting on pdfs and ship the modified doc back to my computer ... you know ... the ebook equivalent of the stuff a lot of us book people and geeks --your core audience-- do with paper books
    *) For bonus points, give me the option to search both the content of books and my notes
    *) For double bonus points, make that search rip through my annotations
    *) For even more bonus points, give me a Mac/Windows App to manage my docs (think iTunes)
  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:53PM (#21496079) Homepage Journal

    Heresy!

    But it's true, and I've been saying it for at least five years, ever since I first got my Rocket eBook reader. Read the article, and you'll understand why. Yes, eBook readers have some downsides, but not many, and they're trivial compared to the upsides -- assuming, of course, that you can get the books you want in electronic format.

    Until you've done it, you simply can't understand how liberating it is to be able to read without holding the book in your hands. As the author of the article says, he found he could read while eating, holding his daughter, even running hard on a treadmill. And he's absolutely right that a good eBook device is "invisible" -- within a minute or two you completely forget that you're using it, because it gets out of the way of the content that it's presenting. Reading on your PDA or your laptop is not the same thing at all, because those devices don't get out of the way. Laptops are too big, too heavy, too powerhungry and PDAs are too small.

    Here's my bottom line on just how much better eBooks are: My choice of reading materials has adapted to what I can get electronically, because I find paper books so annoying. Luckily, I was already a fan of much of the stuff from Baen Books, and they provide all of their stuff in electronic, DRM-free format for a very reasonable price (half the price of a paperback for single books, and about $2 per book if you buy their Webscription bundles). Because of the super convenience of an eBook, I now read almost nothing but Baen's titles.

    BTW, as for reading in the tub: I've been doing it for years with my eBook. Just don't drop it in the water and you're fine (have you ever dropped a paperback in the tub? I haven't). If you're really worried about it, though, there's a very inexpensive and simple solution: Get a big ziploc baggie and put your eBook in it. Seal it up tight and you have no worries about water, sand or anything else getting in, and you'll have no problem pushing the buttons or reading through the clear plastic. I find that I can read eBooks in many places that I wouldn't take a hardcover book, because I'd be too afraid of damaging it, and it's not feasible to read a paper book wrapped in plastic. I also like the fact that my LCD-display eBook reader is readable in the dark. The Kindle isn't, but it's better in daylight (my eBook works in full sunlight, too, but it is a little harder to see).

    eBooks are the future not because they're cool gadgets but because they make for a better reading experience.

  • Not a book iPod (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drix (4602) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @03:54PM (#21496085) Homepage
    I keep hearing this described as the iPod for books, which strikes me as a really misguided goal. I don't want an iPod for books, and most serious readers I know wouldn't either. There's something fundamentally different between flipping wantonly through my ever-shifting collection of 10,000 albums and singles, and spending days or weeks immersed in a single great book. I couldn't give a hoot about being able to store 200 books, or download a new title at the drop of a hat. What is the point of wireless? The most voracious readers I know would not find themselves constrained by the need to occasionally hook up to a PC and 10 or 20 more titles. I could map out my entire reading for the next five years in about 5 minutes of downloading from Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org]. The reading world just doesn't spin as fast or as serially as the iPod world. It's off-putting to see it now falling under the iPod rubric, where it will be forced to compete for a dwindling slice of our increasingly short attention span.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm completely open to the idea of an e-book; as an environmentalist I positively love it. But it seems like too much attention has been focused on making an iKindle, to the detriment of the actual reading experience itself. e-ink is much better than LCD, certainly, but anybody who would claim it's is as pleasing to look at as even a $.99 paperback has pretty low standards. And I feel like a real opportunity has been missed in making it waterproof, too. Who wouldn't love to be able to read in the shower! :-) Anyways, going solely on what I've heard from reviews, I'd have to say I agree with the assessment that it probably should have gone on sale in time for Christmas `09. Technology will continue its inexorable march towards perfection, and in a couple years today's screens will look primitive. Early adopters and gadgeteers will snap this up, but readers will stick with our dead trees for a few years yet.
  • Well I like it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bangzilla (534214) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @04:13PM (#21496375) Journal
    I received my Kindle two days after launch and have been using it steadily since then. What do I like best? Bottom line it's the "always connected" capability. I use this for downloading books (natch), newspapers, blogs (/. was the first...) and web browsing (lost count of the number of times that a quick check of Wikipedia has settled a breakfast/lunchtime/dinner argument). I've also taken to downloading the first chapters (free) of books in which I may be interested. I'm glad I did in many case - the hype behind books does not always match reality (natch again). I downloaded chapter 1 of Steve Colbert's "I am America" - god knows how that's at the top of the NY Times best seller list, it's *awful*. Glad I could read chapter 1 and realize this was not a book for me. (and no, it wasn't the politics that turned me off - it's just poorly written prose. Mr. Colbert should focus on what's he's good at: TV)

    As for the cost: It's fine given that it has bundled always-on wireless access. If I had to pay $25 a month for wireless for the device and if the device was, say, $100 - I'd be out of pocket in 12 months. TCO is good. Look past the $400 price tag and realize what you are getting for the money. A version 1 ebook (it's pretty good - will get better with V2, V3.....) and 24x7x365 wireless access to a huge library. Good value in my book!
  • Oh dear (Score:4, Funny)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@davidge ... k ['co.' in gap]> on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @05:05PM (#21497161) Homepage
    Amazon is touting this as the iPod of e-book readers ... it's actually the Zune of e-book readers.
  • iPod (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m1a1 (622864) on Tuesday November 27, 2007 @05:07PM (#21497195)
    I remember the slashdot comments about the iPod when it first debuted. For those who don't, let's just say it looked about like these comments on the Kindle, lots of hate everywhere from people who had never seen, let alone used the device. The complaints were pretty much identical, too (DRM!, too expensive!, how is this better than a laptop?).

    Thus, I'll go ahead and predict the success of the Kindle here and now. Within 2 years 90% of slashdot readers will own one, and those who don't will own a knock off that runs open source firmware.
  • by akpoff (683177) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @01:44AM (#21501607) Homepage
    Like others around here I found the $400 price tag a bit steep but after thinking about it decided that for the wireless access and being able to carry multiple books with me it might work. While carrying literature with me is nice I also want to be able to carry reference books as well, or a book on whatever topic I'm studying. So, what's available? Lots of stuff. Checkout the Kindle [amazon.com] library. 91,000+ books! Wow!


    Now, start browsing. Yes, New-York-Times bestsellers are $9.99 or lower. Sadly few of the books in the Computers and Internet [amazon.com] section are significantly cheaper than the physical versions: Fred Brook's Mythical Man Month [amazon.com] - $25.91 in eBook format. Martin Fowler's Refactoring [amazon.com] - $35.87. Joshua Block's Effective Java [amazon.com] - $39.99. To be fair, not all computer-science books cost that much but $25+ for an eBook is too much for me.

    So while the overall selection is good and the prices on a lot of large-print-run books are great, it looks to me like the publishers are sticking with the view that books with low print runs must be priced higher, even when electronic. Too bad. I was hoping Amazon eBooks would let me carry more of the stuff that interests me beyond literature.

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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