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Kindle Versus The iPhone

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the xtc-vs.-adam-ant dept.

Books 376

Bernie Campbell writes "Forbes takes a look at the recently announced Kindle ebook from Amazon, and considers the possibility that Apple may have beaten them to the punch. 'Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has a not-so-secret weapon when it comes time to load up the iPhone with content: Google ... Google's Book Search project has already pumped much of the world's printed matter into Google's servers. Downloads of classic titles, such as Bleak House, can already be had for free. Mix Apple's iTunes content distribution smarts with Google's vast storehouse of content, and you'll have an instant competitor to Kindle -- one with a touch interface and the ability to play movies and music, too.'

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Goog (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21422975)

My GMail tagline right now.

Fool.com: The Motley Fool - Amazon's New $400 Paperweight

Beat to the punch, indeed.

No Thanks (2, Insightful)

SpinningCycle (1191577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423005)

I'll take real books please. No batteries required.

Re:No Thanks (5, Interesting)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423181)

I believe the Kindle was also going to be the size of a standard paperback book. That means its screen size is going to be a lot more functional for reading than the relatively small size of the iPhone screen.

When will people get over the iPhone already? Really, it's just a phone.

Re:No Thanks (3, Informative)

FatAlb33rt (1177781) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423761)

I'm not sure how you got modded troll... perhaps it was someone who is totally in love with the iPhone had mod points and took offense to that last sentence.

Mods: Read this: If you are the person who modded the above Troll, I suggest you go and read the moderator guidelines. If you think its still justified, how about making a comment as to why you think it still deserves -1, Troll.

I fuckin hope I get to meta-mod the parents comment.

Re:No Thanks (0)

lazy_playboy (236084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423905)

Well, it's quite plainly more than 'just a phone'. It may well be priced out of the market for a lot of people (including me), but saying it's 'just a phone' is either ill-informed or a troll.

Re:No Thanks (2, Interesting)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423563)

I've been reading PDFs on my Palm for a couple of years now. That's all the e-book I need.

From an avid reader (3, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423007)

I'll wait a long time to get the kindle. I've always found a paper book to be more convenient than anything online. The kindle is, apparently, quite light and very easy to read, which fixes a couple of the problems. But can you lend a book to a friend or just give it away? What about take it to the toilet and not have to worry? What about a low replacement cost? It looks like they have the price per book to a reasonable level, but everything about paper books is perfect for me. The kindle would have to be amazing to supplant my current library, and the same goes for the iPhone.

Re:From an avid reader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423131)

Also, I'm a big underliner/note taker on the leaf pages, corner bender. Would Kindle let me bookmark or highlight important sections? Draft a comment, like a yellow stickie on a page? ... Fan of paper books.

Re:From an avid reader (0, Offtopic)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423133)

But can you lend a book to a friend or just give it away?

Lend books to friends, are you kidding? Novels and light reading can be had from the public library; the type of books I collect tend to be those that are vital for my research, and those are expensive and only get more so with time. When I succeeded in getting a fairly cheap copy of Joseph's The Synchrony and Diachrony of the Balkan Infinitive [amazon.com] , which now costs fifteen hundred bucks, do you think I'm going to lend it out to someone who might lose it? Granted, this doesn't hold for all, but the other academics here know what I'm talking about. Kindle would only make things easier for us if it meant easy replaceability from digital copies, but unfortunately there's often DRM involved.

What about take it to the toilet and not have to worry? What about a low replacement cost?

Some of the folks who frequent this News for Nerds site are already used to using their notebook on the toilet with no problems, except for that poor guy who burnt his penis a couple of years back.

Re:From an avid reader (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423923)

He wasn't talking about you asshat. You're book purchasing and reading habits are clearly not those of the typical consumer.

Toilet? (1)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423153)

If you can use your balckberry playing BrickBreaker and emailing the misses, you can surely use the Kindle on the hopper! :)

Re:Toilet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423459)

How the h*** do you know I play BrickBreaker on my BlackBerry while on the toilet?!?!

Re:From an avid reader (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423159)

No you can't give digital copies away, well you can but then are are comitting a crime. But you can get over 12.000 book titles for free [pgpdp.net] . Paper books are great, but I love having information at my reach, just being able to call up any book very fast would be a great thing.

Re:From an avid reader (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423195)

Um small nitpick, if you drop your paperback book or your ebook into a filled toilet your screwed either way.

I do understand the your point the price is way to expensive, and they generally have problems with various formats. For $400 I expect touch screen, and possibly black and white web surfing.

The advantage though is that with e-ink the display is absolutely easy on the eyes to read. If Sony would only support more than just Windows I would break down and grab one.

Re:From an avid reader (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423271)

for your small nitpick, I did it a few years back and replacement was cheap. Probably not the case with the kindle.

Re:From an avid reader (1)

ReeceTarbert (893612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423611)

I've always found a paper book to be more convenient than anything online.
Not only that, there's something very physical about holding a book in your hands -- not to mention that some of them smell good too -- and with e-books is not quite the same.


On the other hand, carrying around a 1200+ page book or, heaven forbid, trying to read one in bed is far from comfortable. And what about those times when you wish you had something to read with you, or you didn't know in advance that you wanted to read just THAT book? That's why it's nice to be able to carry a few around all the time. All in all, it's an acceptable compromise: you lose a little, you gain little.

That being said, this baby from Amazon fails completely to... kindle my interest. Sorry, couldn't resist! :P


RT
--
Your Bookmarks. Anywhere. Anytime. [simplybookmarks.com]

Re:From an avid reader (1)

Mex (191941) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423747)

Hey, for the amount of books I've lost "lending" to friends, this thing might be a bargain.

"Yeah, I'm reading this GREAT book... What? Oh, no, sorry, I can't lend it to you... I mean, it's in my personal e-reader, it's not an actual book... sooorry =)"

They compete in the same market... (5, Interesting)

kevmatic (1133523) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423015)

If you forget the price difference, the monthly fee the iPhone requires, the shorter battery life of the iPhone (how long can it last if the display is lit nonstop?)...

Not to mention that the iPhone display is smaller and lower resolution.
And that Amazon already has a lot of pull with book publishers.
I'd buy a Kindle if I knew I could get all my college books on it.

Re:They compete in the same market... (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423079)

If you forget the price difference, the monthly fee the iPhone requires, the shorter battery life of the iPhone (how long can it last if the display is lit nonstop?)...

If you also forget that the Kindle will have similar monthly access fees ($1.99/mo for RSS or more for books which would then have no printing fees and almost no distribution fees) and it looks like something from 1989. Not only that but what else does it do? Not much compared to any mobile device out there.

I'll stick with reading Foo on my mobile device and will continue to happily pay for monthly service and free reading of shit on the web.

Re:They compete in the same market... (2, Informative)

leehwtsohg (618675) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423299)

hmmm? Only as long as you read blogs on it. For books, the fee is simply included in the price, as for newspapers.

Re:They compete in the same market... (1)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423081)

From my experience reading HTML books from Baen on my iPhone, I can get upwards of 6 hours. Now, that was in a dimly lit space, so the display wasn't as bright as it could have been, so your results may vary.

Re:They compete in the same market... (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423933)

I get 8-9 hours on my Thinkpad X40 with a new battery.

re: monthly fees, etc. (3, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423485)

I don't think this is nearly the issue you're making it out to be. The iPod touch could offer e-book reading capabilities just like the iPhone, and you need no monthly contract for it. The books could be purchased (or free ones offered online for download) from iTunes on a PC or Mac, and sync'd into the memory of the iPod touch or iPhone to read later - regardless of connectivity during the time you're viewing the book.

Battery life becomes sort of a non-issue too when you think about it practically. Who is going to read a Kindle for anywhere near the 30 hours of promised battery life, non-stop? If you just recharge your device each night before going to bed, either Kindle or iPod touch/iPhone will get you through hours of reading during the day with no problem.

The Apple alternatives win out in size/portability too. Sure, the screen is smaller - but it's bright and easily readable. I have the iPhone (currently hacked with 3rd. party apps), and I've already read a book on it using a free e-reader application on it. It's quite usable, and nice because it's always with me. (I'm already going to carry my cellphone all day long, on my belt-clip, so I don't miss calls. It's nice to be able to grab it and read a few pages of a book I'm working on reading whenever I get a few free minutes here and there. I doubt I'd be lugging a book-sized, $400 Kindle with me everywhere I went too, just to accomplish the same thing.)

I do agree the Kindle could find a great niche market in colleges/universities. It'd sure beat a book-bag full of textbooks. But how durable is it going to be? Can you trust it to work reliably and not develop stuck buttons, a cracked screen, etc. etc. ?

Re:They compete in the same market... (4, Insightful)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423519)

I'd buy a Kindle if I knew I could get all my college books on it.

When some big company figures out that college textbooks are going to be the first big market for ebooks, I'm going to invest in them.

Re:They compete in the same market... (1)

KingRoo (232714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423703)

for one:
      https://ebooks.primisonline.com/eBookstore/ [primisonline.com]

disco: i work for MHE, but not in this group [otherwise, it wouldn't have that ugly "null" string bug, right SB? ;)]

Re:They compete in the same market... (1)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423673)

What price difference? Both devices cost $400.

Re:They compete in the same market... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423787)

One of them costs $400 plus a 2-year contract. That's a pretty big difference.

The iPod has e-paper? (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423021)

Because that's the point of Kindle, isn't it? It is an electronic device that feels similar to a real book and let's you concentrate on the reading. It doesn't have a shiny screen and it won't distract you with calls.

Re:The iPod has e-paper? (3, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423085)

Except that Amazon gave in to creeping featurism before they had even managed to establish their market in the first place. So rather than a simple "device that feels similar to a real book and lets you concentrate on the reading", we have a monstrosity with dozens of buttons and wireless connectivity... much unlike a real book.

Whoops.

Re:The iPod has e-paper? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423623)

What seemed silliest to me is the idea that it plays MP3s. Who is spending $400 on an e-book reader and doesn't own an mp3 player?

Re:The iPod has e-paper? (1)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423311)

And then there's the other plus of e-paper; the battery life.

Re:The iPod has e-paper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423531)

I agree with this comment. Speaking from my experience with the Sony eBook reader, until Apple adds eink and the ability to read an entire book on one battery charge, you're comparing apples to oranges. How many people print long documents to avoid reading on an LCD?

Re:The iPod has e-paper? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423449)

Yeah, the e-ink is important, not just because it's easier on the eyes if you're reading a lot, but because it uses far less energy. Part of the justification for e-ink is that it only requires electricity to re-draw the page. Once you render the page to the screen, you can leave that page displaying all day long without using any electricity.

So I don't think the iPod or iPhone are direct competition for e-book devices. The only real way in which they compete is in that you might choose Audible books instead of Amazon e-books, if you're the sort who might like listening instead of reading.

Personally, I'm not sold on the Kindle yet-- I might have to play with it before I could be convinced that it's worth my money. However, I think the idea is on the right track: a device roughly the size and weight of a small-ish paperback book, very low power consumption, and a screen that can be read easily in sunlight. However, it still remains to be seen whether avid readers (the sort who might spend $400 for a book-reading device) are willing to give up actual books. For myself, I like the look and feel of books, their ruggedness, their simplicity. I like keeping the books I've read on a shelf like trophies, and giving them to friends who might enjoy them. Since everything else in my life is pretty high-tech, I like the aesthetic feel of carrying bound paper. Even if e-books are somewhat convenient, they still have to overcome a lot to find a market.

Re:The iPod has e-paper? (1)

dstiggy (1145347) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423861)

It says on amazon's website that the Kindle will actually have the ability to play Audible's books as well. So you can actually have your choice between reading or listening. Now what would be really great is if you could buy both of them together and have it switch between reading to you and you reading it to yourself at your convenience.

I'll start buying ebooks ... (4, Insightful)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423025)

... when it's possible for me to sell, swap, borrow, and/or loan them.

It seems like none of the people who design ebook systems have ever been in a used book store or a library, or have ever lent a favorite book to a friend.

Re:I'll start buying ebooks ... (4, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423061)

It seems like none of the people who design ebook systems have ever been in a used book store or a library, or have ever lent a favorite book to a friend.

Sure they have. And their first thought about it was "this must be stopped".

I didn't think RMS's "Right to Read" was actually being interpreted as a business plan.

Re:I'll start buying ebooks ... (1)

Dr_Banzai (111657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423173)

Don't you think the author of the book should be able to decide whether distribution is permissible? Some authors feel that everyone who reads their book should pay something, but many authors would allow their book to be distributed freely.

When you buy a book you are really buying the content inside the book. With paper books there's a limit to how many people can read a single copy of a book, but with electronic books there's nothing preventing everybody in the world from endlessly copying the data of a single book.

Re:I'll start buying ebooks ... (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423637)

but many authors would allow their book to be distributed freely.

Authors who want their books to be distributed freely are quite able to do so in any one of a number of ways. E-books don't change this at all. It's just a different way of distribution.

but with electronic books there's nothing preventing everybody in the world from endlessly copying the data of a single book

There's nothing inherent in e-books or e-book readers that would stop a publisher from using rights management to restrict copying. The Kindle is a good example of this. Books purchased for the Kindle are DRM'd.

Re:I'll start buying ebooks ... (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423645)

When you buy a book you are really buying the content inside the book.

Ah - no, you're not. What you're buying when you buy a book is access to the content represented in the book. When you buy a book, you buy a physical object that can be used to control access to that content. This is why

With paper books there's a limit to how many people can read a single copy of a book,

Because the physical nature of the book controls access.

but with electronic books there's nothing preventing everybody in the world from endlessly copying the data of a single book.

That's correct - and that's the big issue, isn't it? Controlling distribution of information has always been about controlling access. The fact that, historically, the compensation to the collector or originator of a work was tied to duplication of objects which grant access to that information, makes the modern situation complicated, because the ability to duplicate objects is ubiquitous, and the ability to control access must then change (which is why we have DRM, and thus why people don't like it - we had a restriction removed, and some people want to reinstate that restriction).

Re:I'll start buying ebooks ... (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423487)

Well - from the Amazon product page:

Eliminating the need to print, Kindle makes it easy to take your personal documents with you. (...snip...) Kindle supports wireless delivery of unprotected Microsoft Word, HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files.

So its a bit like the iPod situation (speaking as a happy iPod owner who has never spent a penny on iTunes) - the "lock in" is an artifact of DRM - if you can get unprotected content you can use it on the hardware. Now, if I can just find the "Book drive" in my computer so I can rip my book collection... Ah. Problem :-)

Its just a shame that the Kindle looks so fugly - and, unless the guy holding it has very small hands, exactly the wrong size (screen still a bit small for tech/illustrated books but the whole thing looks too big to slip in a pocket c.f. a paperback- if they could make the whole unit about the size of the display).

In functionality yes, in feel no. (1)

Askjeffro (787652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423049)

Why is this even a comparison? Book fans are going to appreciate Kindle's interface and feel much more then they ever could on their iPhones.

The iPhone is great for what it is designed for; reading books was not one of its design criteria. Besides, the idea of Apple relying on someone else to provide the content goes against Apple's business plan of the iPhone regardless of how many board members Apple and Google share.

Baen (1)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423051)

For me, at least, the iPhone already makes a decent ebook reader when coupled with Baen Books' archive of books in HTML format. Just type in the URL, and it's all there. No special software needed. I just wish more publishers would make their books available in HTML. Sure, it's the lowest common denominator in terms of quality, but text is text.

Bullcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423077)

While the iPhone has similar resolution to the Kindle in terms of DPI, it does not have the screen real estate required to display enough text for it to be considered an effective eBook reader.

Are you kidding me? (3, Informative)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423087)

Clearly the author of that Forbes article hasn't tried reading too many of the books on Google books. While there are some really nicely formatted ebooks on there, most of the collection consists of horrendous scans of esoterica only useful to researchers with a tolerance for photographs that may be blurry, noisy, or shot at funny angles.

Re:Are you kidding me? (1)

Greg Lindahl (37568) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423751)

... Except that Bleak House, in particular, is available as a well-formatted Project Gutenberg book.

Re:Are you kidding me? (1)

kneemoe (1042818) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423845)

fair enough, but with the iPhone you've got more options, eBooks app is a great third party application if you don't mind hacking the phone, otherwise there's a number of online sources (of course I can't find the one site I'm thinking about while replying)

Except LCD screens are shit in the sun (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423089)

Why do apple fanboys feel the need to compare their devices to everything else and ignore the most important aspects of the other device? Come back when apple do a proprietary formats free device that fits in my pocket and works on the beach in the midday sun. That's not to say amazon's product is DOA.

Trying to imagine (5, Funny)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423091)

I'm trying to imagine less enjoyable way to read a book than on an electronic screen the size of a post-it, but I'm not having much luck. Maybe the audio version by Fran Drescher?

Re:Trying to imagine (1)

slaingod (1076625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423871)

Pretty sure that like most other dedicated ereaders out there, it has a screen at least the size of a tradeback (5x7 ish?).

Don't understand the Kindle at all... for the... (2, Insightful)

juuri (7678) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423093)

... consumer.

On Amazon's side I get it. Locked in customers, paying a premium for a device they are already eating the entire hardware cost on. The Kindle is a pure Nintendo play (which is great for a business). Profit on hardware, profit on software, even profit on content the user already owns.

On the consumer side though, what is the compelling sell through? E-Ink? Perhaps except the Libre has grown up and is now in generation three on US/Japanese shores and Sony actually finally learned from their mistakes and made putting user generated/owned content on the device an easy process. The Kindle doesn't even compare well with the more expensive offerings as they are all colour and offer full PDF viewing.

How did this thing get to market? The hardware is silly it is so outdated with regards to style. The software is crippled from the go. Believe it or not heavy users of books *are* price conscious. They will not appreciate being taken for a ride. This whole package reads like some silly dot.com plan and given that Amazon says they have spent three years on it, shows how much they just don't get it. This thing has sat insulated inside Amazon as some hidden away project without regards to the changing market. The Kindle would have been *great* three years okay... questionable at this time last year, but now? Hubris.

I do look forward to picking one up next year though for $80 with some reverse engineered software though.

Re:Don't understand the Kindle at all... for the.. (2, Insightful)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423389)

This may sound kind of dumb, but here goes.

ebook readers are literally hardware. they are made with a tough plastic case, and an unbendable plastic screen that smudges easily. these materials conduct heat away from your hands quickly. some have pointy styluses.

this is not something that you want near you when taking a bath, reading in bed, or cuddled up on the sofa.

contrast that with a book, even a hardcover: the pages are soft and bendable. you can write on them, if you want. the cover materials are more like insulation than conductors so your hands stay warm. if you accidentally drop it, it won't break or shatter. some books even have a pleasant smell. it's pretty foolproof and if you do manage to destroy it, no big deal it was only $15, not $400 so you don't have that nervous i-have-to-protect-my-tech feeling and you can just enjoy the nice cuddly warm book on your cuddly warm sofa in your cuddly warm blanket.

GPL is the answer.. (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423775)

Not dumb everyone thinks the same, but I've been using my laptop as a reader for so long and it works very well. I've had long discussions about this with an editor of childrens books, she really loves books too. There is no way to convince her or you that this is the shit, because it isn't.

There are issues to solve, and it's going to take a while to solve them, but what is fixed on this is that you can get lots of books fast (1 minute to download), and cheap.

But it's not free, it's a lock in. Perhaps these kind of devices will win over a greater mass to the Free Software/Against DRM movement.

Re:Don't understand the Kindle at all... for the.. (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423393)

I could see a Kindle-like device being useful. While it doen't mention RSS specifically, Kindle's product page mentions being able to read blogs. I could see a portable hardware RSS reader being handy. Catch up with some sites/blogs during the commute into work. (So long as you don't drive into work like I do. Please don't Kindle and Drive!) That said, $400 is an insane price point. Give me a similar device for under $100 and I might just bite. At $400 though, I'll nod my head and comment about how interesting it looks and then I'll fire up Google Reader within a Prism instance on my laptop.

Re:Don't understand the Kindle at all... for the.. (2, Insightful)

ahabswhale (1189519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423769)

The Kindle may fail but not for the reasons you speak about.

"Profit on hardware, profit on software, even profit on content the user already owns."

Sounds a lot like the iPod and iTunes which of course were total failures...
This is about providing content people want in a very convenient fashion with a nice interface...just like the iPod and iTunes. Amazon is going one better though by offering books for significantly less than what you'd pay for their paper-based brethren.

As for the lack of PDF support...this is a non-issue since you can get free software that will convert PDF to mobi (which kindle does support). I also think the need for PDF support is way overplayed. If I bought it, it would be to read books -- not to read random white papers I downloaded from the web.

Kindle may fail but it will fail because people simply can't make the leap from paper to digital when it comes to books. There's something about holding a book in your hands that can't be beat, imho. That said, having a dictionary at the ready as well as wikipedia look-ups is very nice. When I read I usually keep a dicitionary nearby but it has to be a fat one with a huge number of entries to be worth a damn and I don't like keeping a fat book on my bed like that. The Kindle is cool but paper may still be cooler.

Amazon are fools (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423101)

They're incredibly out of touch with reality if they think people are going to pay $399 for a book reader, in addition to paid content/subscription. They might have small chance of success if they offered the device for $99. At the current price, it's nothing more than a curiosity a la AIBO/Segway.

It's just a white Newton! (1, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423127)

Apple actually had Kindle's market sector covered way back in 1993. The Newton had pretty much the same form factor, and with applications like Paperback [thefedors.com] it was an excellent book viewer in it's time.

The E-Ink Fallacy (2, Insightful)

Eloquence (144160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423141)

The theory of e-ink is that you want something that lasts for endless hours so that you don't have to recharge it. In return, you'll be willing to accept page turning delays, type lagging, strange user interfaces, no backlighting, and a monochrome display.

I think that's a fallacy, because we are already used to carrying one or two devices around with us that we have to recharge: a small mobile device and a larger laptop-sized device. In both cases, the trends are clear: people want longer battery life and screens that work under sunlight. The market will satisfy these trends. And these devices won't be limited by DRM or strange wireless plans. The iPhone or N800 form factor does indeed support eBook like reading. And, as noted, since we use these devices constantly, we're used to making sure that they are charged.

That is not to say that there won't be a niche for e-ink devices, but I am very doubtful that the Kindle can kindle much anything. It's an interesting gadget, and at $150 or so it might have a sizable market -- but not at $400.

Re:The E-Ink Fallacy (2, Interesting)

Eloquence (144160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423221)

(PS: To be fair, though, there'd be one reason for a guy like me to get a Kindle: flat fee access to Wikipedia from anywhere where there's EVDO. Then again, an offline wiki reader that can auto-update when you have a net connection would do just as well.)

Re:The E-Ink Fallacy (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423575)

Pretty easy.. there are HTML dumps of Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] available, you can put them on a SD. No auto update yet, and they are pretty big at least 7GB compressed..

Re:The E-Ink Fallacy (1)

juuri (7678) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423243)

The theory of e-ink is that you want something that lasts for endless hours so that you don't have to recharge it. In return, you'll be willing to accept page turning delays, type lagging, strange user interfaces, no backlighting, and a monochrome display.

Well you are leaving out the other major selling point of E-Ink it looks fabulous. The resolution and dot pitch of E-Ink displays were simply amazing compared to anything else just two years ago. Unfortunately for the backers conventional displays have really upped their pixel density greatly. E-Ink still looks better, *far* better than mid range small LCDs but they won't for much longer. E-Ink has always had a huge disadvantage, much like HDTV, that it has to be seen in person to understand the real difference.

Re:The E-Ink Fallacy (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423479)

That is not to say that there won't be a niche for e-ink devices,


No you can't read books on N800 and iPhone there is too much fiddling. As soon as you start having a LCD as big as a the eInk devices you have no battery life anymore. There are alot of e readers out there, you can get eInk devices at $350, but you are right it's not really interesting until they get that price down.

Re:The E-Ink Fallacy (1)

steveg (55825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423589)

Well, you list "screens that work under sunlight" as one of the features people want. So far, e-ink is the only electronic technology that makes that easy. Some kinds of LCD (non-backlit) make that possible, but it's not nearly the contrast.

The Kindle is too expensive and too locked down, but its e-ink is not its achilles heel. It may be its biggest advantage. I have a Sony Reader, and the e-ink is the best thing about it. Lots of people complain about no backlighting for e-ink -- if I had to have backlighting I'd probably give the thing back. Backlit screens are harder on the eyes. You can read better in the dark with backlighting, but it makes reading in the sun much harder, and LCD screens make my eyes tired a lot faster in any light than e-ink. I read a *lot* more in the sun than I do in the dark. And true, current e-ink is monochrome (which is fine for my uses), but color e-ink is supposedly not that far away.

The Kindle, for all its ugliness, did some things better than Sony -- the page turn buttons are much more intelligently designed. If I cared about search, the ugly keyboard would be a plus. I don't, so that doesn't much matter. A user replaceable battery is something that more manufacturers should do -- that's a much bigger deal than most seem to understand.

The wireless seems like a nice idea with no use for someone who wants to put his own content on there. The lack of support for PDF is just silly, the support for HTML (which the Sony doesn't do) is good. Unlike others, so far as I can see, I think I'd *like* the hardware, but the *package* doesn't sound attractive at all.

Re:The E-Ink Fallacy (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423627)

The best point about e-ink is that it has the same properties of paper - LCD screens shine light in your eyes, which isn't really all that nice compared to paper. e-ink screens have capsules which are actually coloured black / white - the colour displayed is the actual colour of the capsules - and to display a page, the screen just rotates these to the correct orientation. The result is you're seeing ambient light reflected from the screen just the same as if you look at paper.

Not arguing your point about the price though. The only significant use I can think of is for holidays - on a beach holiday, I'll usually get through a book every couple of days, and my wife manages to read more than one a day. If you're travelling by plane, 20 books is a significant amount of your weight allowance.

Re:The E-Ink Fallacy (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423873)

The theory of e-ink is that you want something that lasts for endless hours so that you don't have to recharge it. In return, you'll be willing to accept page turning delays, type lagging, strange user interfaces, no backlighting, and a monochrome display.

I think e-ink is a step in the right direction. You list "no backlighting" as a drawback, but honestly I'd prefer no backlighting to required backlighting. It is a lot easier on the eyes to look at an opaque surface than at a light source for 8 hours. The UI is also unrelated to e-ink itself. That said, no it isn't good enough to replace a regular book or overcome the convenience and cost savings of just using an existing PDA.

And is cheaper, too (1)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423143)

one with a touch interface and the ability to play movies and music, too. Guess what other, cheaper product has that same ability: yes, the iPod Touch, for (by the time Kindle comes out) probably hundreds less. For me, and from what I've read others agree, the two-finger touch on Safari is the most compelling feature of the iPhone. I don't need its phone capabilities, I just want a web browser with wifi that navigates easily, and that's the iPod Touch, isn't it?

Kindle: EPIC FAIL (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423157)

No wifi, no pdf support, no support for encrypted (purchased) mobipocket ebooks (only unencrypted), no paper backup options for ebook purchases, nickle and dime charges for wireless transfers, selling access to web sites that are basically free including blogs, $400 and an exterior look inspired by 1980's Coleco products all lead to one conclusion: EPIC FAIL.

Re:Kindle: EPIC FAIL (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423533)

selling access to web sites that are basically free including blogs

You're right of course. You should write a blook. And sell it on Amazon.

Re:Kindle: Too rich for my blood. (1)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423705)

No wifi, no pdf support, no support for encrypted (purchased) mobipocket ebooks (only unencrypted), no paper backup options for ebook purchases, nickle and dime charges for wireless transfers, selling access to web sites that are basically free including blogs, $400 and an exterior look inspired by 1980's Coleco products all lead to one conclusion: EPIC FAIL.
  • You can use USB if you don't want to use "Whispernet", and saving the cost and energy usage of another chipset is fine by me. You wouldn't want them to pull the EVDO feature, would you?
  • PDF support in Sony Reader (the competition) is crap. The minute you go with PDF, you lose all the control the user has over presentation. I'd like to be able to munge PDFs into the thing, but only if they can be handled primarily as text, which is not trivial in the general case.
  • If you bought DRM-laden MobiPocket books, go figure, you're out of luck. (Why are we arguing for *more* DRM?)
  • Who needs a paper backup when you can always re-download if something happens? (Isn't the absence of paper rather the whole *point*?)
  • Would you rather pay a "transfer fee" per purchase or a monthly subscription *and* the price of the reading materials? (Plus, if you want to copy your converted material, you can just use the USB interface to avoid the ten cent convenience fee.)
  • They're not selling access; they're selling bandwidth. Frankly, more power to them, as that's another feature *I* don't have to pay for. My recurring cost would be zilch, and that's a good thing to me.
  • Can't argue with you about the high cost, and I was trying to come up with what it looked like. It is a bit like Coleco, or perhaps like the version of the 2600 that was all black, sharp-edged plastic with not a hint of wood grain.
Anyway, looking at it from a reader's perspective, I dare say that the only prohibitively negative line item is the price. If I could get one for $200, I'd give it to myself today. (It's my birthday, after all.) For $400? I just can't justify that, especially considering the complete lack of books such as the Homecoming saga from Orson Scott Card (which is my current reading material). If I were more into best-sellers, it might look a little better.

Honestly, though, if I bought one, I'd likely use it primarily with Project Gutenberg texts, as I really enjoy them, but it's unpleasant reading them on any of my current devices. The thing that really intrigues me, however, is the whole Whispernet thing. It almost looks like this is the beginning of the Star Trek PADD. Wherever you go, you've got universal wireless access to all data -- it's not nearly to that extent yet, but you can see how it's a glimmer of the future.

Book Selection (1)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423189)

The one area I see this as a benefit is for technical books. I have a pretty good library of reference books and carrying them around is not feasible. These are not the books that are freely available via Google's book search. The ability to scan through a library of tech books would be very nice, as well as being able to buy them directly. I also see this as much easier for textbooks - no longer would you need to carry a giant bag of books. The iPhone/iPod is also MUCH harder to read than e-paper. The screen size is a big difference, as well as the surface. I really don't see these as competing with a proper e-reader. Given all the above, it is still hard for e-books to prosper, given how incredibly well adapted the book is for it's purpose. So while at work or school I may look to a Kindle or other e-book reader to look through various tomes, at home at the end of the day when I read for pleasure it will always be a real book.

The Eyes Have It (1)

petehead (1041740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423259)

Kindle won't burn my retinas from staring at it for long periods of time as is done when I, ya know, read. The iphone does. ...but it still costs too much.

Textbooks (1)

quizteamer (758717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423287)

It seems like the Kindle could be really useful for college students if amazon could get a good deal going with the textbook companies. I'd be more willing to buy a device that cost 400 bucks if I could get each of my textbooks for around 40 or 50 bucks. In a couples of semesters, it would pay for its self. There is also the added bonus that I could carry around a 10 oz device instead of 6 or 7 pounds of books.
That being said, the textbook companies would most likely not agree and the iPod touch or the iPhone would become be my device of choice.

Re:Textbooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423603)

That being said, the textbook companies would most likely not agree

When they realize that it would put an end to people buying used books, they'll be all over this stuff. Except that your encrypted pdf will still cost $150, and self destruct on the last day of class (what, you wanted to study for your finals or keep it as a reference? Well, we can sell you an extension!)

Be careful what you wish for...

We hate book readers, we love book readers (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423295)

Remember when Sony was pushing this thing everyone wondered what the purpose was. Now Nick Bezos puts a carefully worded letter on amazon.com and it's the must have product. Remarkable that after Apple finally showed the PDA wannabes what customers wanted all along, and that they should have sold what they knew customers wanted all along, someone still came out with this plastic monstrosity.

Re:We hate book readers, we love book readers (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423635)

Perhaps the fact that there are soo many book available helps? The problem with ebooks have always been that there is no way to get books for them.

Kindle gets it all wrong (1, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423361)

If you look at why the iPod succeeded it was because it was an attractive MP3 player with some great software that let you rip and burn music. Oh and the software let you buy tracks conveniently and cheaply. It succeeded because it played the content already out there even if Apple made it easy to sell you more in a proprietary format.

Now look at Kindle. Aside from being ugly as sin, the device is almost entirely proprietary. Where the hell is the support for the common document formats? At $400 this device should have full and complete support for text, html, prc, lit, rtf and pdf. At least. Some crappy converter service or software simply doesn't cut it. Sony's Walkman devices also had converters for MP3 to ATRAC3. Look how disastrous that proved.

I really don't understand what the hell is going through Amazon's head. The device is ugly, proprietary and expensive. I don't even see e-paper as a compelling reason since Sony's Reader is significantly cheaper. And Sony seem to have gained a clue in the intervening years and are now far more standards compliant then they used to be. The Reader device supports more standards and even plays MP3s and AAC.

Amazon seem to have created the worst of all worlds. Either they should keep the device proprietary but slash the price. Or they need to open the thing up to common book formats and make it useful. It definitely needs a redesign in either event.

It does support common document formats! (3, Insightful)

samweber (71605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423685)

Where do you get the idea that it is "almost entirely proprietary"? If you look at the technical details section, it says it supports "TXT, Audible (formats 2, 3 and 4), MP3, natively; HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MOBI, PRC through conversion".

Re:It does support common document formats! (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423857)

Where do you get the idea that it is "almost entirely proprietary"? If you look at the technical details section, it says it supports "TXT, Audible (formats 2, 3 and 4), MP3, natively; HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MOBI, PRC through conversion".

What part of "through conversion" is hard to understand?

why is iPhone spam on the front page? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423363)

It's not like it's the only phone with web access.

Apple would need more than the iPhone... (1)

Quebec (35169) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423367)

Without E-Ink it doesn't matter if you have the content or not, your display will not be practical enough, it may have bells and whistles, colors, speed and touchscreen but your battery will run out faster and for reading comfort the resolution won't be enough. Battery life (e-ink does not consume current to maintain a drawn screen, nor does it needs any backlight) and the number of pixels in a page counts so much more than the rest for reading.

I thought the same thing (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423383)

I thought the same thing when I read about this new device from Amazon. My iPhone already functions like an eBook reader when I'm reading long documents on the web and PDFs or Word Documents from the mail application. You'd think it would be rather trivial to add support for ebook's to iTunes.

Not even the same market! (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423415)

How are they comparing the Kindle with an iPhone?!?!?!? The iPhone does have a nice big screen, but the e-ink displays I've seen are just much nicer on the eyes despite being less pretty, and genuinely comparable to reading printed paper. They've been beaten to the punch more by Sony's Reader which is already onto version 2. I'd much rather see a comparison of how those two stack up than against the iPhone.

moD down (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423435)

Love the Kindle but... (2, Interesting)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423451)

For me, the price of a book is essentially $4. This is $3.99 shipping plus the symbolic $.01 that most used-book dealers charge as the nominal price for used books sold on Amazon (hardcover or paperback, the same). Dealers get their profit from the difference between the shipping compensation that they get on the sale from Amazon and the actual cost of shipping the book. There are more expensive books on Amazon marketplace of course (textbook, non-obsolete computer books, ...), but these aren't going to be available from $10 on Kindle are they ? If books on Kindle were $5 for novels and about $15 for "useful" titles, that would seem more fair to me, given that the publisher does away with printing, logistics and the possibility that the book will be read by more than one person (in a library, borrowed by a friend or re-sold as a used book).

This, or the device should be at an aggressively subsidized price, made up from sales of content.

I like the device, and love the business model independently of the price point though.

Re:Love the Kindle but... (1)

steveg (55825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423927)

Exactly. There's a disconnect. High price for the device, high prices for the books, and they are DRMed. RSS feeds, but from Amazon only, and all "monetized".

I'll stick with the Sony. The unit is also high priced (although not as high priced as the Kindle) but since it accepts user content much more readily, inexpensive content is much easier to find. My SD card on the Sony has about 130 books on it, mostly either classics or inexpensive content from Baen or the like. Sure there's a lot of content that's not available in un-DRMed form -- in those cases I buy dead tree or skip them entirely. I am not looking to replace all my reading with the e-reader. I carry 'real' books around as well, just less than I used to.

I just like having a whole library available to me at the drop of a hat. I also read material that I used to print out from electronic sources -- now I can dump it on to the Sony. That was the *real* compelling reason for getting it. The Kindle doesn't sound like it will offer that opportunity.

Be Kind to the Kindle! (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423475)

i was shocked to see that the two-year-old photo of the Kindle actually turned out to the Kindle...

this ebook leads me to believe that Amazon's new ebook reader was designed by the same engineers who brought you the Pontiac Aztec and the Honda Outlook...

Newspapers: maybe. Books: No Way (1)

bumagovitch (181060) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423515)

An iPhone is *not* the form factor I want when I read a book. Never mind all the (cogent) battery and functionality issues brought up here. Who wants to sit down with an iPhone and read Bleak House? (And yes, I read Dickens :-) )

IMO, Amazon has the right idea -- a book-shaped object that doesn't require tech-savvy, computer syncs, etc. to use. My only issues with it are that a) it's ugly and b) it still feels like you're holding a technology. But the ability to keep bookmarks, search, sync periodicals, etc. are awesome. It's not an eBook, it's a portable *library*.

What I'd like to see: Kindle v2, which looks like a lovely leather-bound book. The controls are on the edge, inset by the cover, and the text shows up on both faces of the book. Only it holds up to 1000 books and all major periodicals.

Kindle: Hideously Ugly, Grossly Overpriced Copycat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423541)

What are we waiting for?!?!?!?

Better: Kindle vs Sony PSP! (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423553)

PSP wins hands down w/a hacked firmware and the Bookr PDF/text reader, along with built-in Wifi and Web browsing on a nicely sized screen!

oh, and a PSP is US$169 new, plays movies, mp3s, and does slideshows...

p.s. you can also use it to play some neat games

and I have 20/20 vision (1)

notorious ninja (1137913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423581)

Is it just me, or is the iphone's tiny screen not conducive to reading? Does anyone really want to spend hours squinting at that tiny screen?

No (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423625)

No, Palm beat them both to the punch 10 years ago. I have read more books on my palm than on any other medium....including paper ....I could literally carry a small library of books around with me in my pocket that could be easily accessed to read a few pages, or paragraphs or sentances when i got a minute or two. Waiting in line? Read a page...in the waiting room? Read a chapter....on a plane? Finish the book.

The only thing missing from the equation now is a distribution model. Amazon's got it.

The only problem now is that I don't know of anybody who would actually WANT one of these things. Believe it or not, not that many people read on a regular enough basis to justify dropping serious cash on a device that *ONLY* reads ebooks. While I probably would, to compare this thing to the iPod is, simply, ridiculous.

Palm Vx for me (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423891)

It was easy on the eyes, and in dark situations the indiglo backlighting worked great.

Windows Mobile EBook Readers Are More Useful (1)

meehawl (73285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423653)

Reading just PDFs off Google gets old fast unless you're really interested in 19th century Victorian travelogues. The best all purpose 3G-enabled multi-format ebook reader [mobileread.com] now with the best resolution is the Toshiba G900. It's a PocketPC phone with 800x400 colour screen. Because US carriers are loathe to offer any advanced phones besides Apple's, it doesn't seem to be subsidised. Google says it costs $600-$800 unlocked [google.com] . There's a couple of HTC smartphones Athena [google.com] , (640x480, $900!) or Universal (640x480, $200-$600 [ebay.com] on eBay). The Universal has a lot of different OEM names [wikipedia.org] . If you restrict yourself to non-3G carriers, and want to leech off WiFi, why not just get an EEE or a Nokia tablet? Cheaper, better screen than most phones, and more flexible. Hacking the ip[hone repeatedly is a bit like the entire PSP debacle. Too much time spent noodling with exploits, not enough time spent developing apps. Sure next year migth be different, but won't there still be signed apps? And you'll have missed out on real ebook reading for months and months.

Eventually perhaps, for now all have drawbacks (1)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423683)

I expect that the ebook reader of the future will look a whole lot more like the iPhone than the Kindle.
A keyboard is only used a tiny tiny fraction of the time on a ebook reader, letting one account for that much of the device's size is just bad engineering.
E-paper should look as much like normal paper as is technically possible. Normal paper does not have a bezel, and can be printed upon all the way to it's edge.

I do like the Kindle's free EVDO "whispernet" model, but I think they're way to aggressive in trying to get that money back (Amazon won't even let you load your own documents onto the Kindle without paying them a $.10 fee for each one you load, and they charge even more to access otherwise free content like blogs and public domain books from Project Gutenberg and such. And while Kindle offers "experimental basic web browsing" at the moment, they have made no commitment to continue offering access to anything but their paid download store.) If they expect me to pay $399 for one of those gadgets they're going to have to let me do a good bit more without sending them all my money and private data.

Eventually I look forward to a tablet with all of the advantages of LCD, OLED and EP displays, a cheap optional mobile broadband plan (possibly with free access to online stores), and decent local connectivity. But for now there are a lot of compromises to be made no matter which device you choose. Given my presonal mix of phone use, web browsing, music listening, video watching, reading of free online content, and reading of bought or borrowed printed content, I'm probably going to go with an iPod Touch when they release the SDK. Someone who spends less time reading things online, or more time on the phone (enough to justify buying $40 a month worth of minutes) might be better off with something else.

Amazon doesn't charge fees for loading documents (1)

samweber (71605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423903)

Amazon won't even let you load your own documents onto the Kindle without paying them a $.10 fee for each one you load, and they charge even more to access otherwise free content like blogs and public domain books from Project Gutenberg and such.
Amazon DOESN'T charge any fees for putting documents on the Kindle! If you read the product manual (near the bottom of Amazon's page) you'll find that you can just connect the Kindle to your computer with the supplied USB cable, and *PRESTO*, the Kindle appears as an ordinary drive. You can freely move content back and forth.

Not to mention that it has SD card support.

Intrusive advertising (1)

twoboxen (1111241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423727)

Ok, so the Forbes video link has a 20 second advertisement before the actual content. That's fine--I can stand that. However, the content is a lady on for about 12 seconds introducing what content will show up "after the break". Then there is ANOTHER advertisement. What the hell?

Dumbest comparison ever! (1)

traveller604 (961720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423739)

Really. As shiny as the iPhone ism it's a shitty ebook reader. The screen is just too small! Nokia N800, there you get closer, but even at 4,1" it doesn't quite suite people with less than perfect vision. How about the Sony Reader then? Yeah that didn't cross the writer's mind..

OT: is Jeff Bezos ill? (0, Offtopic)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423757)

I saw his enthusiastic promotion of the Kindle on Pete Rose last night. However he was twitching all over the place. I would have thought he has a dyskinesia like Parkinsons. Extreme stress can increase the symptoms, i.e beingin in interviews from morning to night.

The iPhone is NOT a PDA... (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423821)

... and it would make a REALLY shitty eBook reader. The screen is tiny and it takes WAY too much effort to (accurately) change pages. If I've got to read anything on a tiny screen, I'd rather use my Axim, which has a similarly-small screen but it also has higher resolution (640x480) and hardware buttons to neatly, easily jump a page (screnful) at a time.

I'm all for having multiple redundant copies of every manual ever made at my fingertips no matter where I am, and I'd love to have some handy PDFs on my iPhone for God-knows-what, but when I hear 'eBook' I think "something that I'd like to curl up with for a few hours," which definitely ain't the iPhone.

At least for some of us... (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423935)

this is utterly ridicolous. Compare reading from the iPhone's tiny display to reading from a laptop's screen. I would summarize the former as torture and the latter as mildly functional.
Now compare both to reading from paper... ah yes, now there's a ginormous quantum leap in ergonomy isn't it? If the Amazon e-paper gadged delivers on its promise, the iPhone will just never be considered a device for reading books.

Now, I know there are people with vastly better eyesight than me. Still, I would hope that they, too, aprecciate ergonomy of reading long texts.
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