November 26, 2007
Beyond the Kindle Hype
So what is Kindle? Tech Law Prof Blog editor and DePaul Law librarian Mark Giangrande explains succinctly in Thoughts On Amazon's Kindle Reader: "This is a proprietary device that offers wireless access to DRMed text from books to newspapers to [Amazon-] selected web sites [and blogs]." Mark continues
The device sells for $400 and apparently is exciting enough for enough of the literate public that Amazon notes that the item is temporarily sold out due to heavy demand. Reviews on the site breathlessly declare that this is the future of reading. Perhaps.
Perhaps indeed. Continuing reading Mark's post here because I'm now stepping on to my soapbox to say "not likely." Why not? Because it is a "a proprietary device that offers wireless access to DRMed text"! Computerworld may be right that Kindle will be "the forerunner of a number of limited-purpose wireless devices that are expected to hit the market in the next few years" but such devices, particularly limited-purpose gizmos with sticker-shocking price tags are so oh so 20th century I believe their appeal will not be very wide. Yes, I recognize the popularity of iPods but we're now in the iPhone age. Consumers are demanding portable multi-purpose devices and disposable digital content they can easily share with others without having to lend them their handhelds for the weekend. Plus, these gadgets better look neat too and Kindle doesn't. It's bland ... not even ugly enough to earn "lovably cute" status from any cult of users.
Would you buy a Kindle? My very unscientific blogosphere sampling of librarians indicates probably not. Some examples: Jenkins Law Library's Dan Giancaterino post This Baby Hasn't Kindled My Interest, Loose Cannon Librarian, Science Library Pad, Academic Librarian, and Free Range Librarian where K. G. Schneider writes, "I believe we are moving to a networked future. I just hope this isn’t it." Each post offers good reasons to avoid Kindle. I hope you will read them all. Since "we" won't be buying Kindle, here's Paul Glaskowky's unboxing post.
A Few Thoughts About the Technology. What I like about Kindle is the Amazon Whispernet. Apparently "free" (the cost must be charged back to the consumer somewhere in the product pricing formula), Whispernet is built on top of Sprint's EV-DO network to deliver its products. [Kindle Store]. I believe this may be the first instance of a bookseller using a cell phone wireless network for book distribution. (Is it?) Watch out FedEx and UPS! Watch out Amazon too. I can't imagine Steve Jobs not working on an "iReader"component for iPhone right now and cell phones powered by Google's Android won't miss this opportunity. Unlike Kindle, I'm betting the competition will support PDF documents!
Good luck finding comprehensive tech specs for Kindle. See, e.g., 15 Things I Just Learned About the Amazon Kindle, Many details about the Kindle (follow the comment trail) and Engadget's live blog coverage of the the Kindle launch. See also Amazon's Digital Text Platform. Bottom line: Someone is going to have to write Kindle's "missing manual" real soon.
Kindle-ing Legal Publishers. OSU law professor, blogger, and friend Douglas Berman writes:
After learning about Kindle and other e-books in production, I really think the question is not whether, but rather when and how, the traditional casebook will go digital.
Not just casebooks, Doug. Today's law students want the option to buy digital versions of all titles sold by Thomson-West, LexisNexis, Aspen, etc. Some legal publishers, well at least one that I know of, is bundling selected eBooks into proprietary study aid applications. See the very interesting AspenLaw Studydesk which I believe will morph into a sister app for studying for the bar. The legal publishing industry needs to start offering eBooks to law students for all titles in their sales catalog. Kinde-ing their titles is not the way to go but it most definitely is time to light a fire under the major players in the law book publishing industry.
My experience indicates that most recent law book titles are available from our publishers in PDF so it is about time to include a web catalog link to "buy the digital version" now! [JH]
Note to Jeff Bezos. Love what you have done to make my life easier by setting the standard for online shopping, will be buying most of my Christmas gifts from Amazon.com again this year, made a ton of money trading AMZN before the tech bubble burst, but most of all, I'm open to bribery so if you want to ship me a free Kindle, here's my mailing address:
University of Cincinnati Law Library
Clifton Ave. & Calhoun St.
PO Box 210142
Cincinnati, OH 45211-0142
What the heck, it is a business expense or a chartable donation because I'll put Kindle in our library's IT petting zoo after playing with it. [JH]
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Good points, but I think the point of e-Readers is how close to a dead-tree experience it is on the eyes. Kindle 1 sold out! Kindle 2 has so many new and worthy features such as the free access to Wikipedia.
FYI: the Kindle Store has over 170,000 books and growing. An impressive start, don't you think?
Posted by: Kindle Store | Mar 16, 2009 10:09:48 PM