The Amazon Kindle – some first thoughts

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have recently taken possession of an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. Initially it arrived with me while I was still in Ireland, and so it is worth mentioning a significant limitation for all non-US users: its functionality is severely limited outside America. In particular, it cannot be used to download e-books from the Amazon Kindle store online; that can only be done in the US and if you are using a US credit card with a US address. Therefore if you have no access to such a payment method, the only e-books you will be able to instal on the device are free ones with an Amazon Kindle format, or with a compatible non-Kindle format (mainly non-secure Mobipocket). Or to be more precise, you will be downloading only the classics or similar books, which can be found easily enough for free. For example, I downloaded the complete works of Shakespeare and pretty much all of the novels by Charles Dickens.

As I am currently in the US for a few days, I have been able to expand the functionality significantly. Using my American credit card I have now been able to stock up the device with recent releases and other books of interest, so that I should have enough to read for quite some time. My downloads have included two novels by Anita Shreve and one by Sue Miller, a book on modern European history and another on science and religion.

As for using the Kindle to read, on the whole my experience is positive. On the plane I read about two hundred pages of a novel by Anthony Trollope (Phineas Finn), and didn’t find the method of reading too irritating. One small gripe: you ‘turn the pages’ by pressing a bar on the right of the screen, and I have found that it is easy to make a careless movement and move the page on before you are ready; you then have to turn back, which requires you to push a smaller bar on the left. But the ‘page’ looks good, and the print is easy to read.

But despite this on the whole positive experience, I cannot say that it altogether ‘feels’ the same as reading a book on paper. The aesthetic pleasure of holding the book, feeling its texture and turning its pages is still somehow special, and is not really replicated totally on the Kindle. I suspect that in future releases the device will become thinner, and more imaginative ways still will be found to create a ‘cover’ that gives it more of a book’s look and feel. But it is not a bad start all the same, and I don’t regret the purchase. Why the Kindle hasn’t been released in Europe beats me, or why European users of the current model released in America are so restricted; maybe that can be addressed soon by Amazon.

So would I recommend the Kindle? Yes, I think I would. But I would suggest that it is used as a back-up for situations where taking hard copy books is not an easy option, rather than as the primary method of reading. And of course, there are other e-book readers out there, some more easily available outside the US.

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3 Comments on “The Amazon Kindle – some first thoughts”


  1. […] Yoindia.com : Shero Shayari in Urdu Hindi & Various other Languages: Forums: created an interesting post today on The Amazon Kindle – some first thoughtsHere’s a short outline As I mentioned in a previous post, I have recently taken possession of an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. Initially it arrived with me while I was still in Ireland, and so it is worth mentioning a significant limitation for all non-US users: its functionality is severely limited outside America. In particular, it cannot be used to download e-books from the Amazon Kindle store online; that can only be done in the US and if you are using a US credit card with a US address. Therefore if you have no […]

  2. Ultan Says:

    Interesting, though I think I will stick with books. Although I can read it I just can’t digest book content that’s not in the traditional format in front of me. The arguments seem less authoritative – if I can even focus in on them. One issue of course is that we know from usability studies that people read differently depending on the medium, so the writing style and strucure needs to adjust. That just can’t happen for some content.

    As for the restriction thing – this drives me crazy too since I am back and towards to San Francisco all the time. I keep my US iTunes accounts, etc (why not as a US citizen), but if someone gifts me music from UK iTunes, can I use it on my account? No. Plus, there are all sorts of other daft restrictions (some of which must be suspect in terms of EU law) between usage of ITunes sites in Europe itself. I moaned about it here:
    http://www.multilingualblog.com/index.php/weblog/commonsense-advisory-report-on-european-online-sales-so-much-for-globalizat/

    On the otherhand, if you’re phyiscally prevented from obtaining a Carla Bruni download early or cheaper from ITunes France, then that’s a good thing…

  3. Saoir Says:

    I am the new owner of an iPhone since Xmas, and have been searching for ebooks over the last two months to read on it. I am completely flummoxed at the pricing of ebooks, and to add to that I am repeatedly coming across current, newly published books where the ebook is significantly MORE EXPENSIVE than the paperback version !
    What on earth is going on ? I am a capitalist and a commercial director of a hi-tec business. I believe in profit and as a wanna-be writer I also believe that writers must earn a fair shake.
    Let’s get real guys. The retail price of a book includes a significant percentage that goes to the shop owner, to cover his profits, his staff wages, his light and heat and his rent, and also to the distributor(s) in the chain between publisher and seller. This percentage is usually in excess of 60%.
    I see parallels here with the ‘head in the sand’ music industry that has been and will, deservedly, continue to bleed income to illegal copiers. I see the same blind effort to screw as much money out of the readers before the inevitable explosion of e-reading occurs and before the parallel explosion of hackers who will start distributing these books free on torrent sites happens.
    Is there no one in the publishing industry who can lift their head up and see the big picture ? I know many people personally who are excited by the whole prospect of e-reading, but these crazy prices are suppressing the whole development of market. One might almost think that the publishers are PURPOSELY trying to suppress the ebook market because they feel they are making bigger profits from paper books – and it is supporting the millions of corner book shops. This would be fine – if it were not for the fact that there is an inevitable momentum in the progression from paper to ebooks. It is as strong a momentum as from Vinyl to CDs to MP3s. It cannot be stopped. It CANNOT be stopped. Change is part of human development.
    Whether is be reading on the Kindle, the Sony ebook reader or on mobile phones such as my iPhone. This is the future (no not 100%, there will always be a market for paper books, but I see an 80:20 mix even 15 years down the road). So the sooner the publishers get their head around this future marketing model the better.
    Average decent people do not want to waste their precious and valuable time searching for illegal copies of books any more than they want to do it for their music. They have a natural tendency to want to pay a fair price. The music industry are still driving ordinary people in their millions to illegal download sites because of their crazy prices and complete lack of awareness of the ‘added value’ principle.
    If the publishing business goes the same route then they will find that the same thing will happen to them. Ordinary people are not stupid and if the publishers fail to wake up in time they will discover a huge portion of their readers will be subscribing to torrent sites and downloading and sharing illegal copies of books, and they will be fighting a rear guard action they will inevitably lose.
    Publishers need to start now – drop prices to a sensible level, promote their writers and their own names. If they do this and pay attention to the principles of added value – they will develop a solid readership base that is happy and willing to pay reasonable prices. If they do this they will keep the torrent sites and the hackers in the shallows and will generate the maximum earnings for themselves and their writers.
    I don’t mind one bit paying a FAIR price. But I am not a complete fool and willing to pay 20 dollars for a book that is available on the high street for 10 dollars ! an e-book I cannot even give to my mother or brother to read when I am finished it !
    Most ebooks of leading ‘quality’ writers should in my view be priced at between 5 to 7 dollars, with recent publishings of best sellers at 10 dollars. That is my absolutely upper limit and I believe it is MORE than fair considering there is NO PRINTING, NO DISTRIBUTING ! and very limited web based distribution costs ( I am very familiar with the minutiae of the costs involved in such distribution). Only marketing remains and that is quite small spread over a decent readership. Non best sellers should be prices at approx. 5 dollars. Of course this is only my broad-brush view. Specialty sectors must be priced differently.
    Am I holding my breath ? nope . . .
    Saoir


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