There’s been much recent discussion of Amazon’s new e-book, Kindle, on KairosNews, if:Book and many other places. Apparently the device has sold well here at the start and has received more positive reviews than I’ve seen for past e-books. Here are what seem to be the main issues for me:
- Cost: at $400, that’s a steep buy-in for a device I’m not sure I need.
- Wireless web access: It seems like the main positive of Kindle is that you get free EVDO internet access. Unfortunately, the device is designed for reading electronic books, not surfing the web. It seems like the device missed its mark! I would pay $400 for a mobile device that would bring me quality, free web access. Who would care about reading books on it!
- Proprietary book formats: Do I really need to explain why this is undesirable?
Anyway, here’s how I think you get this product out to a bunch of young, tech-loving consumers. If you have electronic versions of textbooks, give students who buy the device a couple hundred bucks worth of e-book textbooks. Most students will go through that in a year. Then they’ll be back next year buying more. It’s not unlike the way that Microsoft gives away its Office product to students (or at least they used to when I was working at Penn St).
Personally, I don’t see buying this thing. I don’t have any problem accessing books in their print form. I like the idea of digital ink making the screen more readable. I really like the idea of free, cellular web access included. Perhaps when the web access is better or when the device doesn’t look so clunky or when e-books start to take better advantage of the fact that they are being published in a dynamic, convergent media network rather than on paper.