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Why I Don't Want an Amazon Kindle For Christmas Thursday, November 29, 2007

#1 User is offline   Chefelf Icon

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 01:19 PM

Why I Don't Want an Amazon Kindle For Christmas

Two-Part Disclaimer: 1) I love Amazon.com. I would estimate that I make about 85-90% of all non-food items through Amazon.com. 2) I have never used an Amazon Kindle. However, this is a list of reasons that I don't want an Amazon Kindle, not a review after use. Please consider that before authoring your hate mail. Thank you.

God, I love Amazon.com. Amazon.com was designed with me in mind. It has nearly everything I need for sale and delivered directly to my home. I can't really think of any purchase other than groceries (which are also available through Amazon) that I have made in the last year that has not been ordered through Amazon.com. It's a great site with great service that has a huge impact on the way that I live. Up until recently the only complaint I had for Amazon was its lousy website design. Even that got upgraded recently.

Then Amazon released the Amazon Kindle. For those of you who are not familiar with it, check it out (amazon.com/kindle). It's Amazon's attempt to create a e-book reader. After dozens and dozens of failed e-book readers (Sony's being the most recent flop), Amazon has decided to take a whack at it. Books are the one last holdout of old media technology to not be usurped by a new digital format. And there's a good reason. There has neither been a decent digital book reader or a public demand for such technology.

Here, check out Amazon's video for the Kindle:



It's Named "Kindle"
Sure, there's lots of dumb names. The Nintendo Wii springs to mind. People get used to names pretty quickly and they don't sound as dumb anymore. The interpretation for this could be that this is going to kindle a revolution in electronic books, or that it's going to kindle new interest in this technology. However, using the term kindle to refer to a medium that is generally known for it's flammability is just dumb. I hope the second generation model is called the Kindle 451.

It's Hardware, Not Software
It's odd to me that Amazon would choose now to get into the hardware market. Especially with a device like this. To me it seems like hardware is not the way to go for e-books. I don't really think people are clamoring for e-books anyway, but for the people who are interested, wouldn't they be much more interested in a piece of software that would allow them to read books on any device? Amazon brags about how the Kindle can read newspapers, blogs and books and you can take it anywhere. I already have several devices that match that can do all those things. Why would I want to purchase another that is much more limited? My laptop can read blogs and newspapers (and e-books). My phone can do that and a heck of a lot more. If Kindle were the name of a piece of software that could offer inexpensive book downloads to any portable device, then that would be something to brag about. In this definition, inexpensive has to be defined as costing less than a paperback book.

It's as Ugly as Sin
I know this has been done to death but it's just plain ugly. There's not denying it. It's big, awkward, and ugly. Not to mention that it looks like a device that would have been released at least ten years ago. If you showed me this with no prior knowledge of the product and told me it was something Amazon was working on in 1995 I would easily believe it. In fact, it looks remarkably similar to the Apple Phone from 1983 which never really made it off the ground.


Apple Phone (1983)



Amazon Kindle (2007)


I can't help but wonder if they were going for a retro feel or if they're just really, really out of touch. Still, a retro feel could be achieved with something about half the size.

The Price = $399
Four. Hundred. Dollars. I just can't wrap my head around this. This is what it costs to get an Xbox 360, a PS3, an iPhone or 1.6 Nintendo Wiis. This may be comparing apples to oranges, but all of these devices are much more desirable and are loaded with multimedia functionality. Comparing the apples to something also resembling apples you could also get anywhere between 100-200 paperback books on Amazon Marketplace. Sure, it takes up less space than 200 paperback books but that leads me to my next point . . .

It Costs More For a Kindle Book Than For a Real Book
Purchasing a device to read books for $399 (something my eyes do for free) is a tough enough sell. The fact that books are $9.99 to download is completely unacceptable. It costs $7.99 for a brand new paperback book at a bookstore. Through Amazon Marketplace I can purchase more paperbacks for between $0.01 and $3.99. So how is it justified that you should spend $2.00 more than I've ever spent in my life to buy something that has virtually no production cost?

It Charges You Money For Things That Are Usually Free (Part 1 - Documents)
If you want to send a document to your unique Kindle email address it costs money to do so. $0.10. Sure, that's not a huge amount of money but since most of us have been using email for at least a decade and are used to this being closer to the neighborhood of $0.00 it's kind of a slap in the face. Especially after forking out $399 to purchase the device. You can transfer files for free via USB connection, but c'mon, how hard would it be to simply allow you to email files and save the hassle of hooking up a USB cable.

It Charges You Money For Things That Are Usually Free (Part 2 - Blogs)
Similarly you can subscribe to blogs and newspapers. There are many downsides to this. It costs $1.00 to subscribe to a blog. You can only select from a list of about 300 of the top A-list blogs. It costs $1.00 to subscribe to a blog. When you have subscribed to a blog it doesn't function like you would be used to (e.g. no ability to use comments, login, etc.). It costs $1.00 to subscribe to a blog. Oh, and it costs $1.00 to subscribe to a blog. $1.00. To subscribe. To a blog. For those of you keeping track at home, you usually pay about the same about to subscribe to a blog as you do to email yourself a file. $0.00.

It's Bigger Than a Book
The Kindle is huge! They brag on the demonstration videos about how it weighs 10.3 ounces, which is less than an average paperback book. That loses a lot of its impact when you see that it's clearly much larger in size than a paperback book. Personally I'd rather have a device that weighed more than a paperback but was also smaller. People say they can hold it in one hand. Sure, you can also hold a baby in one hand, by cradling it in the crook of your arm. This is a two hand device that can technically be hand in one hand, but it doesn't appear to be comfortable to do so. It's light enough but just too big.

A Full QWERTY Keyboard
Not helping its size is the seemingly unnecessary QWERTY keyboard. You use it to type in books to search for (makes me think there could have been an easier way to do this) and you can use it on the onboard experimental broken web browser that is in something resembling pre-alpha. You know, that is if you want to browse the web in black and white.

It's Black & White
This e-ink technology is pretty impressive yet I am not impressed. People are used to having things in color. Sure, most books are black and white, that isn't being disputed. However, this reader claims to read blogs as well, something we're used to navigating in a full color interface. While I've heard raves about e-ink and it doubtlessly saves battery power, I can't see a benefit to using it over a color display. The second you ask that device to do anything other than read an e-book, it begins to seem all the more crappy. I don't think people are looking for a device that only does one thing and as long as the Kindle uses e-ink it's only going to do one thing well and the rest of it will seem crappy.

Again, I haven't used the device, but after reading about it on Amazon's site and looking at all the downsides to this thing, why would I ever want to? I can't even imagine an alternate universe, in an infinte number of alternate universes, where I would want to purchase this product.

I think there's a market for a way to read books on a portable device but I'm reluctant to believe that proprietary hardware is the way to break into this market.

My advice, get a subscription to Audible.com (if you click that link you'll get a free audio book). For $400 you can get two years and two months worth of subscription service (27.75 books!). With the Kindle $400 gets you the device with no books. You make the call.
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#2 User is offline   Heccubus Icon

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 05:57 PM

Isn't it just easier to buy the book? I mean are we really so lazy that turning pages has become an excruciating affair?
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Posted 30 November 2007 - 02:38 AM

I don't think it looks so bad. It looks like something you might see in a sci-fi movies from the 50s, a refreshable newspaper that people read while driving around in their flying cars or polishing their skin-tight spacesuits. If it had the same spoiled cream color as the iPhone Apple Phone, yeah, that would be horrible.

I agree with Heccubus. Support your local library; check out a book and rack up lots of late fees.
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#4 User is offline   Laura Icon

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 12:28 PM

The book is perfect. It's portable. It's small and light. It holds lots of information. Basically you can't improve on a book. And a major advantage of books over every other form of entertainment is its very low-tech-ness: it doesn't go off during a power outage (sure, you need light, but that's what the sun and candles are for), it doesn't rely on batteries... Plus they smell nice.

That said, I currently work in the e-book industry and I can give you some reasons why e-books, in certain situations, make more sense than regular books. THAT said, I can also tell you why an e-book reader is dumb idea and nobody wants it.

Ebook Advantage #1: Space. You can store thousands of books without taking up any extra space in your home.

Why an e-book reader does not help: You can use your computer for this purpose and doubtless, if that's what you want it for, you can store more e-books on your computer's hard drive than on the reader's. And the reader may not take up much space, but you already have a computer anyway. Sure, the reader may be (marginally) more portable than your computer, but A--they have these things called "laptops" these days and B--how many books do you need to carry with you, anyway? You're not going to read more than approximately one book on your daily commute. Maybe if you're going on a long trip to somewhere that doesn't sell books, like Antarctica or Woonsocket (BURN ON MY HOMETOWN), but then, you know. Bring your laptop or a good PDA phone and you can play games, too.

Why I don't consider this an advantage anyway: I *like* having thousands of books in my home.


Ebook Advantage #2: Subterfuge. It isn't obvious you're reading a book, so you can multi-task reading at work or at home while telling your kids "Mommy's working."

Why an e-book reader actually hurts: If you're using an e-book reader it will be just as obvious that you are reading as if you were reading a book. Sure nobody will see the cover so they won't know WHAT you are reading (actually, wouldn't this be a disadvantage most of the time? don't you like to broadcast what you are reading so everyone on the subway knows how awesome you are? no? just me?) but it still isn't as anonymous and work-like as using a computer. Plus on the computer you can play games.

Why this isn't super important to me personally: Most of what I want to read online is in html anyway (fanfiction). If I'm going to read a book that's available as a book, I'll read it as a book. I don't like looking at PDFs or PDF equivalents.


My problem with the name "kindle" is that it makes it sound like they want to burn books. Amazon, your customer base is built on people who love books. Not just the information, but BOOKS, themselves. Making a move that makes it look like you want to obsolete books is just dumb. A smarter move would have been to realize from the failure of other attempts that an e-book reader is a dumb idea and to go for the reputation as a company that's pro-book.
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Posted 01 December 2007 - 10:09 AM

Did I mention that it costs money to get newspapers and magazines as well? Also, they advertise this as having "top newspapers delivered before you wake up." 1.) That happens with regular newspapers. 2.) They used to talk about the internet like that back in the 1991 when people would wakeup, download a newspaper or group publication and then print it out on a dot matrix printer to read it later.

As for showing off what I'm reading? I usually employ the trying-to-hide-what-I'm-reading-from-everyone technique on the subway or train.

I suppose that there is a chance you'll be somewhere where you can't buy books but I'd be willing to bet that if you are in such a location there definitely won't be any access to user your reader to download them either, you'll have to have them already.

My phone can display any page on the internet, can play music and audio books. As soon as someone develops an application (I'm sure they already have) to display e-books it will be able to do that to. So do I want to carry a device that just reads books or do I want to carry a device that's 1/4 the size and can have full internet access, a phone, an audio book player and a full music player? FOR THE SAME PRICE!

It seems pretty obvious to me.


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Posted 01 February 2008 - 02:42 AM

Blargh. That really is an idiotic product.

The idea of an ebook reader to me isnt all that bad. I mean there are some things that can be improved over a regular book, but not at high cost and without a lot of extras. It should focus on giving one the advantage of reading without the drawbacks and at a lower cost per book.

My idea would be for a small laptop like item that would fold out like an actual book and have a key pad and flash port on one side with a matte viewscreen on the other side, along with a little display on the "cover" that would give basic information like what file is currently open and the number of files on the device. There should be no internet capability. The internet will kick any books ass in an attention contest. Finally and most importantly the goddamn thing should look and if possible feel like a book. Maybe add one of those tasseled book marks and a hard cover, and an optional attachment for the back that will allow it to stand up on its own.

But the design isnt as important as the actual books. A company like amazon should be able to sell a product like that for 200 tops and then use the profits from that to set up a top notch software system similiar to limewire. Download books for a small fee which is split between amazon and the books authors (like, 2 dollars tops, people) or use the software to convert word documents into files readable by your device. Also, there are thousands of marvelous books in public domain. No service should outright require people to buy the books, as public domain books could be offered free so that you can read good books on 200 dollars and have a choice as to whether to spend more. Little drives with books already on them could be offered in stores for virtually no cost for those without computer and internet access.

Why no one's tried this before I have no idea. I generally do a good bit of my reading using e texts from project goutenburg, which is completely free. Even still I'd happily shell out a hundred or so dollars to be able to do so more portably. The device isnt what youre buying, because that would just be a loss. What youre buying in an e book reader is a way to cheeply read a lot of books and thus make up the costs of the reader. If not, like Chef said, why not just buy them in paperback?

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 08:59 PM

It should focus on giving one the advantage of reading without the drawbacks and at a lower cost per book.
sonnerie portable gratuite
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#8 User is offline   barend Icon

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 07:22 PM

Seeing as this has been bumped, I'd like to take the opportunity to say that the Wii still sounds very silly to me years later.

Just for the record.
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