Press conference of the month (Amazon/Kindle)…

[UPDATE 2: It’s all there (videos, etc) on the Amazon.com home page and especially www.amazon.com/kindle

[UPDATE: live blogs via Erick Schonfeld and Peter Ha confirm "No data plan. No multi-year contract. No monthly bill. Amazon picks up the tab ’so you can just read’." that part I really like]

…is bound to be Amazon’s official launch of the Kindle today, scooped in a major Newsweek spread and driving the blogosphere into a general frenzy; there should be some live blogging from the event on TechCrunch and elsewhere;

I can probably live with (i) its ugliness, (ii) its high price, (iii) its restrictive DRM, (iv) its non-‘standard’/non-open reader software, and (v) its being yet another device [yow, that's one helluva harsh list], but only if it (a) performs like blazes (no page-turning lag), (b) is comfortable on the eyes (bound to be ok on that front with e-ink), (c) gives me a stellar experience (see next).

As an illustration of point (c): when I was studying Spanish, I used to read a lot of Spanish-language news on handhelds, and found that some embedded tap-to-translate software I installed (from Lingvosoft) made all the difference in the world, and in fact made the subjective experience far better and far more convenient for me than any other combination (hard copy, dictionary, desktop browser, etc). Sure, I could do the same with a browser and the right software, but it was less convenient than my ubiquitous “portable Spanish news”.

Hey, I first heard about the Kindle while browsing with my great ol’ Tablet PC (blogged previously) in my lap… which itself is great mainly as a read-only device! So if Amazon can pull it off, full marks to ‘em. If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d bet against it being an iPod for books, but (by analogy with the iPod) several vendors have to push hard within that niche first. Amazon’s Kindle may not be ‘it’, but it will be interesting to see if it ignites that niche sufficiently for the next vendor to get it right. Google, for instance, which is amassing a great collection of scanned-in books.

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3 Responses to “Press conference of the month (Amazon/Kindle)…”

  1. Barry Norton Says:

    Is “no page-turning lag” possible with eInk? I didn’t think so.

    Certainly the Sony Reader was very slow… but not compared with turning the page of a real book and finding your place.

  2. Marc Says:

    You’re right… I should have said ‘acceptable lag’, which seems ‘just about OK’ on this from what I have seen…
    It’s got a lot of strikes against it, but is a very worthy attempt. I figure it’s more of a Zune for books than an iPod ;-)

  3. Barry Norton Says:

    Mmmm, they’re bound to get that for the DRM but it does read unDRMed ASCII and Mobi content (much like the iPod reads unDRMed MP3s as well as DRMed AACs from the official store), and since there is yet no eBook iPod it’s maybe fairer to call it a Diamond Rio.

    Thought you might find this interesting: http://diveintomark.org/archives/2007/11/19/the-future-of-reading

    (Though the 1984 references are terribly hackneyed.)

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