The New Kindle

By

For the last few years there has been a lot of speculation about the future of publishing.  The downturn of the economy coupled with the already in-decline publishing industry has been the impetus for all sorts of debate about the rise of self-publishing, the viability of on-demand publishing, the madness of digital rights management, and the inevitability of electronic book readers.

For the largest part of all this talk and ado I’ve been of the mind that there is only one thing I know for certain: I’m not going to start reading on any kind of electronic device and you can have my traditionally bound books when you pry them from my cold dead hands.

There is more to reading a book than just the words on the page, right?  There’s the beauty of the paper, the typesetting, the bindings, even just the weight of it in your hand.  Things that just aren’t there if you’re staring at a computer screen.

It goes even deeper than that for me as a writer.  I can write and edit something all day long on my laptop but when I see it in print and hold it in my hand it inevitably reads differently on paper.  The physical presence of it in your hand gives it import and substance and finality, doesn’t it?   So to the revolutionaries and prophets of the coming electronic age I have said, “No, thank you.”

Now it’s time for me to offer them my apologies.  I was mistaken.

After a great deal of hem-hawing around and curious investigation I finally managed to talk myself into buying an Amazon Kindle.  I’ve been using it for a month or two now, long enough to develop some solid opinions and I have to admit that it’s the real deal.  In many ways I now prefer it to an actual, physical book.

I can already hear you shaking your head as you read that.  You’re thinking to yourself, like I did, that there’s no way you’d switch from actual books to reading off an electronic screen.  But before you discount me entirely let me tell you why I changed my mind.

I’m the sort of person that typically reads four or five books at a time.  Depending on my mood I might pick up Hugo, Buechner, Lewis, Berry, or maybe even Barry.  This presents a sizeable problem to a man that travels often and has to weigh the packing of his suitcase against the weight of the many books he’d like to have with him along the way.

The Kindle did away with that problem in one swift stroke.  It lets me have a quarter of a million books at my fingertips no matter where I am.  That’s because included in the purchase price of the Kindle ($250) is access to Amazon’s Whispernet 3G network that allows you to purchase a book wirelessly, from the Kindle Store’s library and download it in about thirty-seconds flat.

That means that when I’m sitting in a restaurant talking to a friend and he recommends a book that I can, right there, on the spot, pull my Kindle out of my backpack, buy the book, and be ready to read it without ever leaving the table.

On top of that, new books that are currently on bookstore shelves in hardback only and selling for $30 usually sell for about $10 on the Kindle.  So a few weeks ago as I was perusing the shelves at Barnes and Noble and came across Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I remembered Matt Conner’s review of it and decided I needed to buy it.  But when I picked it up and realized it was going to cost me $24 I put it back on the shelf and walked away.  Then I remembered my Kindle.  I pulled it out and bought the book for $9.  I downloaded it right there in the Barnes and Noble and went to the coffee shop to enjoy it, $20 richer than I’d have been otherwise.

Now I don’t go to the bookstore without it.  This makes bookstore owners want to put out a hit on Kindle-carriers, I’m sure.  But wait, just because I buy a book on the Kindle doesn’t mean I won’t buy a hard copy later.  I will certainly still pick up a hardcopy of a book, even if I’ve already read it digitally, simply because I want it on my shelf.

So the Kindle undoubtedly simplifies the buying of books but what about the reading of them?

One of my biggest aversions to the idea of digital reading was the eyestrain that results from reading off of a screen.  That’s not an issue anymore.  The Kindle uses a technology called digital ink that, in my opinion, is actually easier on the eyes than reading a physical book.  The best way I can describe it is that it’s sort of like looking at an etch-a-sketch.  The screen produces no light so the eye fatigue that usually results from looking at a computer isn’t a factor.  You will, however, need ambient light to read, just like reading any other book.  The lettering is rendered in very high resolution and is black on a light grey background.   You can even size the font to please your own eye.

Do you like to make notes and highlights when you read?  Me too, and that’s all built into the Kindle.  So is a dictionary.  Not sure what that obscure word means?  Just move the cursor to the word and the definition instantly pops up.  Any notes you take or highlights you make are copied to a personal file on the device that you can reference later and link to via your own personal footnotes.

I can also email Word and PDF documents to the Kindle and read them like any other book (though there are a few file translation issues that result in imperfect formatting at times.)

Battery life?  About a week.  Size and weight?  About the same as a trade paperback.

The device isn’t perfect, though.  It is still very much an emerging technology that the publishing industry hasn’t quite figured out what to do with.  Some of the buttons and functions are a bit clunky and there is a lot more that could be done with the software when it comes to hyper-linking and searching.

Overall though, it is quickly becoming something that, like my iPod, I wonder how I ever got along without.  I can buy newspapers and magazines and have them delivered directly to my Kindle the moment they come out.  The same applies to blogs.  Blogs are available via a subscription price of usually a dollar a month (the Rabbit Room should be available in Kindle format soon.)  There is some doubt about the future viability of the blog subscription model though because the Kindle comes with free internet access and a crude (thus far) browser with which you could easily circumvent the fee.

At this point it’s foolish to think that digital readers like this are not going to play a major part in the future of the written word.  Remember carrying around all those school textbooks?  No more, they’ll all fit on your Kindle.   Want to look up that quote but you left the book at home?  No problem, your entire library is in your backpack.  Lost a book?  Not an issue, you can re-download anything you’ve bought from Amazon at any time for free (unlike iTunes.)

Imagine books that hyperlink to video and audio clips.  Imagine books with soundtracks or even sound effects (that’s right, the Kindle has speakers, it’s an MP3 player, and will even read the book to you.)  Is this all this possible with the Kindle in its current incarnation?  No, but anyone that’s lived through the last couple of decades knows that technology moves at a frightening pace.

Remember what I said about a book being about much more than just the words on the page?  I was wrong.  I was wrong and it seems so obvious to me now.  I haven’t yet read a book on the Kindle and wished I had bought the physical book instead (although I have thought that I would like to go buy a physical version much in the same way that movie geeks love to buy a special edition DVD.)  A book is about the story.  It’s about communication.  I love cover design, and paperstock, and the feel of a unique book in my hands just as much as anyone else, but when it comes right down to it, when it comes to the reading, all that other stuff disappears into the background.  What matters is the story.

I submit that if while reading a book you find yourself marveling at the texture of the paper or the quality of the binding that you are perhaps not lost in the storytelling and isn’t that where a reader really wants to be?  The transportation to the realm of Other isn’t something that can be stopped by the digitization of the words upon which the traveler wends his path.

Is the Kindle for everyone?  Certainly not.  Niether are iPods, nor cell phones, nor laptop computers but the days when the idea of reading books electronically was relegated to the world of Star Trek are gone.  Electronic books are coming and while I’ll always enjoy a good old-fashioned book, I’ll enjoy the new-fangled electronic ones as well.

Profile photo of Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


39 Comments

  1. Lee Younger

    Pete, great review. Can you drop the Bible on that thing? Different versions? That’d pretty awesome if you were trying to remember some verse in the middle of a conversation and wanted to make sure you had it right…

  2. Leigh McLeroy

    Yes, you can load a Bible on Kindle. A 70-something woman in my Sunday school class pulled one out of her tote bag last week.

    I agree with Pete that the portability and flexibility of the e-reader offers real advantages, but I cannot imagine my home without shelves of dearly-loved, well-worn books, and only a sleek Kindle on the coffee table…and the thought of having a kid in my lap and reading together on a Kindle seems cold somehow.

    But travel without toting bajillion books – yes indeed!

  3. Tony Heringer

    Pete,

    Thanks for the review. You’re the second person to give the Kindle a warm and fuzzy review — similar personality too. Hmm…what would Gladwell make of that? Probably a million dollars in book sales — rim shot! 🙂

    I just left a breakfast meeting with the CIO for Gwinnett County public schools – the largest school system in our state (GA). The question of digital media came up and he felt it still wasn’t viable for the scale they’d need to eliminate textbooks in the schools but I’m with you, that day is coming.

    As far as news is concerned, most of that is available online for free ad nausea but the features – even crude ones such as look up, web browsing, etc. will make tools like this one invaluable.

    Are there any issues with it being an Amazon only device? I wouldn’t think so, but are their works you can’t get to that you’d want? You touched on battery life, but what about storage capacity? I wonder when we will eliminate some libraries because we could access the material for free via the Web – which would also act as the storage media (clog up somebody else’s disk/server space thus taking that “not in my backyard” argument to the cyberlevel :-)).

    Are there any knock offs like Kindle? I thought I saw one in Borders the other day? What about illustrations? Does Kindle just carry text? That part of it would be a big loss in my estimation. So, it has to be more than text. How does the import feature work? Our library does have digital media, I wonder if the two would be able to talk to one another.

    I’m sure I or someone in the Heringer house will own one these tools sooner rather than later. Thanks again for the input. Look forward to the conversation this thread is likely to generate.

  4. LauraP

    Pete,

    My husband thanks you for solving his “what to get her for her birthday/Mother’s Day/anniversary” dilemna. I’ve been considering a Kindle for quite some time, but had the same reservations. There are some books that I have packed up and moved with me since high school, and there will always be some volumes I just have to have printed on paper and sitting on my shelf. But your review might have just pushed me over the edge. The lure of being able to tote dozens and dozens of books around with me, and the instant gratification of being able to download new ones in 30 seconds might just be more than I can resist!

    Now, why don’t you sign up as an Amazon Associate, post a link, and collect a 10 percent commission on all of the Kindles the rabbitheads are going to be buying today…. 🙂

  5. elijah

    But what about used book stores? What about passing beloved books along to others? What about libraries? What about the smell of rows and rows of small parcels of wonder? I’m sure the Kindle is great, but it seems expensive and exclusionary to me.

  6. becky

    Ok, as one who has made her living designing book covers for fifteen years, I am now officially depressed. “A book is about the story. It’s about communication.” The cover, paper, font, layout, etc., are about visual communication and should also be about the story. Good book design enhances the reading experience. It should all work together as a whole. I just don’t think you can get that on a Kindle.

    Some books would be fine to read electronically. I think electronic textbooks are a stroke of genius. There could be links in the book to take you to websites if you want to learn more about a topic, or see examples. Or links to a professor’s notes online, or an interactive learning site. You could click on a cited source and be taken to that source to read the quote or idea in context. The possibilities are endless.

    But in general, I still want the actual book in hand. I want to dogear the pages I like, put a sticky note by something I want to go back to, and turn a page instead of pushing a button to scroll down. My copy of Gilead has stickies and dogears galore.

    I love children’s books, and I can’t emagine beautiful illustrations translating well to electronic form. One of my favorites is The Tale of Despereaux. I love the story, but I also love the cover and the deckled edges of the pages in my copy. They look like the books in the library that Despereaux reads and the other mice nibble. How do you reproduce that on an electronic book?

    I guess that if I had my choice (and I think I do) I would use both.

  7. becky

    Oh, and by the way, checking out a book at the library for free saves me more than downloading it to a Kindle.

  8. LauraP

    OF COURSE to used bookstores, dog-eared pages, passing books along and libraries! The world would be less without them, and a Kindle could certainly never replace them. Becky, you’re right — some books would never translate well. I view it as just one more delivery system with pros and cons. I read a lot on the web, but it doesn’t replace my books or daily newspaper.

  9. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Yes, the kindle can display pictures in very nice grey-scale. No color yet.

    Yes, you can get the Bible, for free even. I’m sure there are scads of versions available but I haven’t looked.

    I expect the Amazon only issue to be a problem in the future. Basically, it’s the same as the iPod/iTunes model and I’ve heard that Apple and Amazon are working together on something. I admit it’s kind of scary to think that one company might control all distribution and pricing for any kind of media, but on the other hand, when you do it as well as Apple does, who can really argue.

    Yes, there are a ton of competing devices. Sony makes the big one but after I played with a demo one in the store for a while (both the new touch screen one and the older model) I don’t think Kindle’s got anything at all to worry about. Kindle is a far superior product to anything else on the market.

    I can’t stress the iPod analogy enough. For anyone that claims books just aren’t the same digitally, go back and insert iPod for Kindle and CD/Record for Book in your argument and you’ll see what I mean. I resisted the changeover to MP3’s for ages but now I scarcely ever buy a CD. I still love having one and opening it and reading the liner notes and all that but when it comes right down to it, that’s the very smallest part of the product. Three days after I’ve bought a CD I’ve probably forgotten I own it because the part of it that counts is on my iPod.

    I’d really like to see booksellers and publishers find a way to offer digital copies for free if you buy the hardbound. That would rock.

    I’m also hopeful that the coming of digital reading will improve the market for well-designed books. I’d love to see books released to the mass market digitally and then be able to find the hard-bound edition in a book store that offers a lot more aesthetic value–I mean just let the book designers go hog-wild and design things that are far more that just a reading experience.

    As for libraries, I don’t know. I’ve never really used a library for checking out books and doubt I ever will. But I find it hard to imagine that libraries would ever disappear completely. Like used music stores, though, used books stores and bookstores in general are likely to become more rare and they are going to have to provide more than just books on a shelf. Sad, but absolutely inevitable.

  10. Tony Heringer

    Pete,

    You ever checked out Mars Hill Audio? They supply the liner notes just like they always have and these liner notes unlike maybe a CD are great reference material. If you have not checked this out, then you should — you and your Kindle will go wild with all the book recommendations that come with ever edition of the audio journal. Here’s the link: http://www.marshillaudio.org/about/aboutmha.asp

    As for not using a library, shame on you if your library system is like the one here in Gwinnett (http://www.gwinnettpl.org/index.html ). My library card unlocks all sorts of free web content and digital media. Plus, I can search for and reserve all sorts of books and other media online and they will be delivered to my local branch no matter where they might reside in the library system. So, I just go in to my local branch and pick up my selections, check them out myself. There is a nice building if I want to hang out and read there our browse the physical shelves, but the online process makes library use a snap.

    You connect a device like Kindle to that, well, you’d give folks tremendous access and extend the reach of the local library into rural areas or places with limited access to funds for building or maintaining a library or library system. That’s one application but one that is perhaps not quite there but I would think would be coming soon.

    Also, you didn’t mention capacity. How much room is on this thing? At some point you would fill up this little electronic library would you not? This is likely the reason for grey-scale due to storage limitations.

  11. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    I imagine the capacity is, for all intents and purposes, almost infinite. I have no idea what the exact size is but text files are so minuscule that you could easily have thousands of books in only a few hundred megabytes.

    The greyscale is a result of the digital ink technology not size limitation. I’m sure there will be color readers out sometime in the future.

    As for libraries, I just don’t see how using a library is all that much different from piracy. I’m glad they are there because they are great places and are invaluable for reference and research. But if a person can afford a novel then I think they ought to be buying it if they want to read it. I know there are a thousand exceptions but unless the book is public domain, I feel like I’m stealing when I check one out.

    Thanks for the link, Stephen.

  12. Benjamin Wolaver

    Sounds great. This is the first thing I’ve read to make me reconsider my position on digital media. The idea of flying on a plane without a million books… priceless. My only problem is that many of the books I read are out of print, so an e-book might no work for them, unless Project Gutenberg somehow got involved.

  13. Tony Heringer

    Pete,

    This is a public library. Trust me you are paying for the book and then some. I saw those pics you snapped at that Tea Party, so you know what I’m talking about. 🙂

    Alright, I’ll do the geek thing, its storage is limited to 2GB internal (approximately 1.4GB available for user content) per Amazon’s website. Which means while books in grey-scale are virtually unlimited (1500+) when you start loading other stuff — you mentioned MP3s, Word documents, PDF files, etc. you run out of space quicker than you can say Apple. Don’t get me wrong, this is a cool device, I’m just not there yet given the Library access we have here.

    For me, the other part that would be annoying is its another device in a land of devices (laptop, phone/PDA, MP3 player which I use for running and now Kindle). At some point there will be a happy reduction in the amount of disconnected and disparte electronics in my house. 🙂

  14. Peter B

    Pete — you don’t hold a CD in your hand while you listen to it, do you? I have to agree with Becky on that one (though I was quite impressed with the Kindle 2 when a co-worker brought one in last month).

    Tony — the greyscale is a limit of the available technology, rather than the storage space. I had wondered about capacity as well, but if you can re-download for free after you’ve bought an item, that shouldn’t be as much of a problem. Besides, it’d be easy to have 16GB of flash memory in those suckers; that’s a lot of text.

    Lee — yes, but it’s just not the same smacking someone over the head with a Kindle.

  15. Curan

    This is good for students. Cross reference and everything and quite convenient locating that specific passage or notes.

    But u can never replace the joy of holding a book and marvelously reading while sniffing the smell of it…

    It’s like iPod, it’s great for travels but it would never replace Cds an Vinyls.

    Just another accessories for convenience cause we earthlings love convenience.

  16. becky

    “But if a person can afford a novel then I think they ought to be buying it if they want to read it.” That’s exactly my point, Pete. All of us can not afford to buy novels. In times when I have had more money than I do now, I have purchased many books. But financially, that is just not an option for me at present. Should some people not be allowed access to literature because we can’t afford it? Should good books be a luxury available only to those with more disposable income? And Tony makes a good point. The public library is funded by my tax money. I am sure that there are many good arguments for the existence of libraries and the benefits they bring to society. For me, I am just grateful to have a good library nearby.

  17. Mark

    I think the point Pete is trying to make with the library and the Kindle is general is being missed. I don’t see the Kindle as erasing all that we hold dear about books, the written word, etc. I’ve got more books than I know what to do with, and I love the way a book feels in the hands. But there are also tons of books that I’d love to read without toting them around. Let me give an example:

    I am going to own books by C.S. Lewis. I am going to buy the physical copies of books by the likes of AP, N.T. Wright, and Leif Enger, no questions asked. But there are also quite a large number of books out there that I am interested in, but not enough to warrant space on the already crowded bookshelf, like the latest Malcolm Gladwell, Three Cups of Tea, John Grisham.

    I don’t see it as having to be mutually exclusive. Books will still go on, the Kindle will find new ways to reach out to the reading public. Technology will always have increases on the one hand, but then again, when you can’t find an electric plug, a good book doesn’t require electricity. Simply put, there is room for both.

    Frankly, i’d be thrilled to be able to travel with less books. I love the textbook idea as well. That would make it so much easier on a student’s life. And the magazine and newspaper ideas might be the saving grace for failing newspapers in an economic time when their printing is becoming less viable with each passing day.

    So as an avid reader who loves books and will still BUY real books, i welcome the kindle….and about the libraries: if you have the money, buy the book, if not, no worries, enjoy the library. it’s like listening to music on myspace versus buying someone’s actual album.

  18. Larry

    Great post and conversation thread. The Soney E Reader and Kindle are great devices for those predisposed to the availability and portability of a large collection of content (newspapers,blogs and books). For travellers it is truly a blessing. I pulled a total rookie move on a return flight from Singapore, finishing my books with eight hours remaining in my flight.

    A couple of things . . . Pete, Amazon is selling access to these books at a significantly reduced price. Meaning, publishers are selling the books to Amazon at their list price less discount. The $9.99 price point on most titles is a pricing strategy that will hook you as a reader. That pricing model is not sustainable. The question is — would you have purchased Outliers at the SAME price as the cloth?

    Also, a friend set his Kindle down on the airplane seat to unfold the sleeping part of his seat and snapped his Kindle right in half. You have to be pretty careful with the device. Somehting I am sure will improve over time.

    Once the formatting issues get straightened out, think how awesome having all your college textbooks on a device like this would have been. My kids backpacks I can barely lift. I think there is a future there.

    Actually I could go on and on about this, but the great thing about these devices is that people are READING and not playing Nintendo DS. I’ll always buy printed page, but for convenience and having a fun gadget that incorporates my love for reading — why not?

    Larry

  19. Tony Heringer

    Pete B.

    Do you see Tablet type laptops going this way? I like the idea of this technology but really don’t want a device that goes part of the way toward what I really want – 1 device that I can tote around and connect to various media outlets — music, movies, books, etc. I’d still have my little MP3 player for now (I run with it) but I’m hoping someday that even that will be sort of a detachable part of the whole device — kinda like a detachable day pack on a full backpack.

    Other points to ponder. Are we interpreting/judging the technology in light of the prior version – a book and not the Web, a cd/album and not digital music? What is the Web generation going to come up with? I think about cars and how we still refer to horsepower. Or clocks, we reference time as “quarter past”, “half past” and my kids will go “What?” because they mainly think of time digitally. Thoughts my brother?

    Larry/Mark,
    I’m with Pete in spirit I’m just giving him a hard time about the libraries comment. We’re like two kids punching each other on the arm:-)

    The textbook being eliminated is just part of what educators want. They want a full blown learning system to go with the digital media. So, you’d have the text but also the ability to take quizzes and tests on the materials and have that information reported back to the teachers/parents. This type of technology, rightly deployed, has the ability to radically alter education but that is another topic – one that the home school folks out there are probably really excited about.

  20. Peter B

    Mark: great point about the differences between books.

    Becky: having recently begun Despereaux with my oldest daughter, I heartily concur.

    Benjamin: a guy I work with has had a Kindle for a couple of months. He reads every night, and he’s only plugged it in twice (and it wasn’t dead at the time).

    The neat thing about it is that you only use power when you turn the page; the “digital ink” actually sits in a stable state when you turn the thing off, so you can display a favorite image on the front without draining the battery.

  21. Pete Peterson

    I don’t mean to disparage libraries. I love libraries. I know we pay for the library system with our tax money but my point was that if everyone was using the library, authors would be broke and that’s why I choose not to use it and buy books instead. It’s not like the library is paying a royalty to authors every time someone checks out their books.

    (I have similar feelings about used book stores but I just can’t resist those. Poor, poor, authors.)

    The Kindle isn’t any more fragile than an iPod, cellphone, or laptop. That said, misuse it and yes, it’ll break.

    Larry, I’ve also read that Amazon is taking losses on some of the books they sell in order to push the technology. I don’t think the price is going to change though, I think the industry is going to have to change around it. I would not pay full price for a digital book and I don’t think anyone else would either.

    I was talking to a friend this week that works the business side of music and he was telling me about how hard it is to get people to buy CD’s anymore. What’s considered a best-selling CD these days doesn’t sell enough to have been worth the news ten years ago. People just don’t buy them anymore and the music industry still trying to figure out how to cope with it.

    I don’t say that’s either a good thing or a bad thing but either way the book publishing industry needs to take note because their world is headed down the same path.

    Battery Life: The Kindle doesn’t have any lights so it doesn’t take any power to stay on. The only time it uses power is when it generates a new image (page). That means it only uses power for a split second every few minutes, depending on how fast you read. So for me, reading casually, the battery lasts about a week.

    Now, I just finished editing a couple of books and used the Kindle to take hundreds of notes. Everytime you take a note that is a lot like turning a page, it uses power because it’s displaying what you are typing. And when I say a lot of notes, I mean a LOT of notes, like thousands. In that case I had to recharge the battery every two days or so.

    Tablet PCs? I don’t think the Kindle or any other reading device will merge with a computer any time soon. No one wants to read off a screen. Reading off a Kindle is nothing, repeat-nothing, like reading off a computer screen. There is no light. It looks like paper. It won’t hurt your eyes. As I said in the review, I actually think it is easier on the eyes than paper.

  22. Peter B

    Actually, I think Tony was thinking the *other* way, i.e. that tablets would move toward Kindle-ness. This breakthrough screen technology has barely been through its second set of APGAR tests; it has a lot more growing to do, and I get the feeling we’ll see some crossover within the next few years.

  23. Larry

    I can almost assure you the price will increase and in fact has crept up on some titles from $9.99 to $12.99. The issue of pricing of books in the e-space is yet undefined — parity pricing, pay one price for both etc., While the device hovers int he $300 range, we are still talking about a relatively small audience. IF the price for the device were to dip to the $125 or even $99 level then I’d bet on paying higher prices.

  24. Thaddaeus Caldwell

    I love the idea of reading books on a hand held device
    I actually use a nokia n800 for it all the time. I mostly read books off gutenberg.org (public domain works), though I have been able to buy electronic books in some format.
    What I hate about the issue of ebooks is DRM. DRM is ridiculous. I understand that they do not want you to be able to copy and upload it onto the internet (not that DRM really stops that, the only DRM for ebooks that has yet to be cracked is Sony’s) but I really think DRM effects the guy that wants to read his ebook on whatever device he has and not be limited to devices that run the specific program that they want to use.
    Second is the exclusive nature of the Amazon and the kindle. Only releasing some books in Kindle format and not in other formats.
    To me the future will end up being a DRMless ebook format for many things but till then I refuse to buy an ebook reader that encourages DRM.

  25. Larry

    Thaddaeus,

    Check out Cory Doctorow’s hilarious take on DRM and ebooks at the recent O’Reilly Conference. http://blip.tv/file/1996369
    He very much agrees with you. Heavily formatted books, formulas and figures, illustrations etc., are also a big hurdle for publishers to overcome in being able to convert content for Kindle.

    Larry

  26. Thaddaeus Caldwell

    thanks, I’m watching it right now.
    Quick point, he was write about kindle DRM.
    Its just mobipocket secure format with a different filename it was cracked very quickly. The only problem is you cannot buy a ebook off amazon without first owning a registering a kindle with your account.

  27. Profile photo of S. D. Smith

    S. D. Smith

    @sdsmith

    Can you update Twitter from/to it? Because if I can’t see what Ashton Kutcher and 50Cent are up to while reading The Count of Monte Cristo, then I don’t want it.

    I’m still not using the modern books from printing presses. Dang modern contraptions. I use scrolls. Hieroglyphics on cave walls, preferably.

    Seriously. Nice post, Pete. I move towards imbibing. Hopefully something newer than this will hit (transporting the entire book directly to my brain?) and we can inveigh against that, waving our canes in the air with a strident reluctance.

  28. Thaddaeus Caldwell

    yes you do still get covers and artwork, atleast if you buy from a place like fictionwise. I just bought the hobbit from fictionwise.com it was a secure mobi file and at the time I thought it was fair use to remove drm so I did, and it has a cover artwork and also several sketches of things in it as well.

  29. ginny

    I have a kkndle2-LOVE IT…I went to Hawaii in Feb. for 2 weeks and just got back from Aruba last night. I like to read several books at once as well, Pete. I try not to take hard covers because they are heavier, so that limits my choices when traveling. I did not have my kindle in Hawaii, I got it just before the trip to Aruba. The power lasts for about a week. I am not good with technology and still I LOVE IT…The wireless feature did not work in Aruba – you have to have access to Sprint I think. I understand this is also true when traveling in Europe. NOT A PROBLEM…just shop before you leave and download all boooks you want for your journey. I am a BIG HIGHLIGHTER…no more juggling my pen on the exercise bike – hold the TINY joystick and highlight away. Cannot say enough good things about this device. Do I miss my books? Somewhat…but the joy of convenience is fast replacing my need to hold a book. I WILL STILL BUY BOOKS…at least, I think I will…

  30. Tony Heringer

    Forget Kindle. How do I get Ginny’s travel schedule? I’ll trade my Charlotte and Raleigh trips next month for Hawaii and Aruba. I’ll even lug books with me. 🙂

  31. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    I’m pretty sure that since his book is published under contract with a publishing house that the publisher would have to be the one to make that call.

  32. Peter B

    Look out, folks; the Kindle DX is here! Boasting a 9.7″ screen and iPhone-like tilting capabilities, it joins us at a mere $489 price point.

    Ouch. Paper may be with us a little longer.

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