Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Kindle; she burns

The buzz is all over town. Amazon has revealed (oh, as if we didn't already know) the shiny new Kindle 2.0. What does that mean? Well, more Kindle debate. We're all supremely guilty. Almost every bookish blog is pointing it out. Boring. And then you have those actually saying something. I found this nicely put list (I edited out long descriptions) at Read More Books:

  1. Indexing via tags
  2. Dog-earing
  3. Annotations and highlighting
  4. Bookmarking
  5. Massive storage
  6. Long battery life
  7. Extras
  8. Lower price
Right. A lot of interesting points are made, some I agree with, others less so. For instance, the idea that there's no point in buying an eReader while they're more expensive than iPhones. Quite frankly, I think eReaders are worth a lot more than iPhones (size and merit, anyone?). Still, a lot of these points are pretty relevant. And then I realized my point (semi-made in my last entry) wasn't ever addressed. What about other eBooks, Gutenberg or otherwise? But first we'll deal with the claims Read More Books mentioned.

According to Amazon's amazingly detailed product page, a lot of these issues have been dealt with. There's access to dictionaries and Wikipedia, so if you're an info-geek, it'll be simple and easy to get the knowledge you seek. That rhymed. Anyways, the dictionary is built in for apparently easy use. Obviously, I have no idea if this stuff is actually easy-to-use. But the mere idea is pretty interesting. Amazon claims there's also a dog-ear and a margin-writing option, or, in their terms, "annotating" and "bookmarking". The battery life (so long as you don't go wireless) is allegedly two weeks (!) (four days with wireless) and the storage seems oddly large (how do 1500 books fit in 2GB of storage?). Almost all of Read More Books' requests have been met. Almost.

Still, for all the flashy ups (no paper! We like the environment, yes we do), there are a number of irrefutable downs. For instance, the price. Obviously, it isn't that steep. Most consumers remember how expensive the early iPods were and how each new version was equally pricey. I understand why it's so expensive, but I won't spend that much money. Not yet, at least. Not while I can't upload whatever eBooks I want. Not when I have to pay 10 cents to e-mail myself documents (there's a way around it, apparently, but still, the mere fact that this exists...).

And absolutely not when there's no library function. I may purchase a number of books every year, but I also check out about that many from the library. I paid a couple of dollars years ago to get my membership and now I get books for free whenever I choose. With the Kindle, I need to purchase each and every book (for only a buck or two cheaper than the paperback? Please). There's no option of having it for three weeks and then returning it. I have to buy it plain and simple, pay a surprisingly steep price for it (considering how much I'm spending on the Kindle as well), and then... nothing. I can't lend it to a friend (unless I lend my entire Kindle, I guess) and I can't borrow from friends. If I'm already paying so much for the machine, can't I also pay a couple of bucks per year for a free three-week service? I won't go into depth about my Kindle library service theory yet (oh, its day will come), but as much as it seems the Kindle has improved (that "reading aloud" thing is really weird though... watch the vid...) and is rather drool-worthy, it has a long way to go before it can tempt many readers.


  1. No thanks, no Kindle for me, for several of the points you raise. Pay hundreds of dollars for a device in order to 'buy' a book, at almost the same price as the REAL book...and I am totally at their mercy. For excample, not being able to upload any format but theirs. No thanks.

  2. does the kindle offer a solution for the visually impaired? (besides the reading aloud thing, i mean more like bigger text, really close up zoom, things like that)

    and are there picture books?

  3. Caite - I think we'll just have to wait a while longer for them to work out the kinks...

    Gogalucky - No clue about the picture books (from what I can tell, it's all black and white anyways), but there are a bunch of different font sizes. Amazon advertises it as "Now every book in your library can be large print." There are six sizes and if I'm going off of the pictures on the side, the fonts range from small to surprisingly large.

  4. Renting access is a great idea especially if the downloads are done wirelessly, or you pay for access to a site for a limited time.


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