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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I like to browse for Kindle news, so let's use this thread to post interesting stories that we come across. This is from Entertainment Weekly -- an A review for the Kindle!

Digital Commentary
Reading with Kindle
Can the Kindle sway a book geek? -- A look at whether Amazon's gadget is a worthy replacement for the morning paper

By Rick Tetzeli

Looking forward to a two-month stretch of several long business trips and a vacation, I decided to sacrifice myself for the good of our new tech section and tackle a ridiculous challenge: Could I live for that whole time with just a Kindle, Amazon's electronic-book reader? No books, newspapers, or magazines (save EW, of course!)? The answer seemed obvious: No. I'm a book geek, I've read The New York Times every morning since I was 12, and I make my bones editing a magazine.

Two months later, I have to admit that the Kindle is a pleasure, the best tech gadget I've laid my hands on since the iPod. It's so good that I've found myself humming a dismal version of an R.E.M. tune: It's the end of all print as we know it, and I feel fine. Actually, I wouldn't take things that far. But any device that forces you to start thinking about what a world without books, magazines, and newspapers would actually look like - What will we put on the shelves? Will the magazine racks of the world become (oh, God) kindling? Will my daughter Tal scooter to school down Manhattan streets emptied of newsstands? - must be pretty damn good.

The Kindle is still rare enough that it begs looks and questions in a New York City subway car. So for the uninitiated, let me quickly explain: The Kindle is a white plastic device, measuring 7.5'' x 5.3'' x 0.7'', with a large e-paper screen and a pretty useless keyboard, simple ''next'' and ''previous page'' buttons, and a scroll wheel for navigation. You can download books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs through Amazon's wireless network. The Kindle lets you adjust text size, take notes, click on links within blogs, connect to the Internet, and find definitions via the New Oxford American Dictionary.

That's the catalog blurb, more or less. The real definition is this: Reading on a Kindle is just as good as reading a physical book - but with extra benefits.

I began my two months with a test I knew the Kindle would fail: Could I possibly fall as deep into a great book on the Kindle as I can with a regular book? To find out, I ordered titles from two of my favorite authors, Richard Price (Lush Life) and Andre Dubus III (The Garden of Last Days). While the Kindle's light weight was initially disconcerting, I soon found myself clicking through the novels just as automatically as I once turned pages. On a laptop, the quality of the text and the glare of the screen distract from longer reads. The words on the Kindle, however, somehow have the textured feel of a new hardcover.

That said, the Kindle can't replace books just yet. The Kindle store, your primary source for downloads, is no better stocked with fiction than an average airport bookstore. The prices are good, and you can occasionally nab a cheap, surprising find (the complete poems of John Keats for $3.19!). But there's no guarantee you'll find your favorite best-sellers - and good luck trying to find older titles: I found just 19 of the 50 volumes on EW's list of the top books published since 1983.

The biggest surprise I encountered was in reading some of the newspapers and magazines you can subscribe to (sadly, not EW yet). I now enjoy the Kindle edition of the Times more than the real thing. Yes, I miss the photographs, but honestly (sorry, photo editors!), I don't miss them that much. Since you navigate by clicking through article headlines and blurbs, reading the Times, Newsweek, or Fortune is like reading a blog, only without the headache of a computer screen. I find myself reading more full-length articles, both mainstream features and off-point surprises, than I ever did with the print versions - the experience is totally different; instead of scanning a newspaper spread or busy magazine pages, your eye is focused only on the list of articles, making it easier to find stories you're interested in. And finally, the prices are great: My brother-in-law Mark, who lives in Massachusetts, glommed onto my Kindle during vacation, and loved it so much that he figured out the following ploy (in order to convince his wife that he should buy it): He saw the Kindle for $395, found a promotion that cut $100 off the price, then got a Kindle subscription to The New York Times ($168/year) and dumped their home subscription ($697/year). Satiating tech lust has never been so cost-effective!

Actually, thinking of the Kindle as a tech device is all wrong - for one thing, it's terrible with blogs, since it does a poor, slow job of linking to the Internet from them. The Kindle is really just the next step in reading. For now, it's a great way to travel with books and newspapers and magazines, and the best example yet of how the worlds of deep reading and digital innovation have begun to happily collide. The next logical step is already under way: Amazon is rumored to be working with many colleges across the country to test a college edition of the Kindle. In this future, when Tal scooters to school, she won't be swerving around under the weight of a heavy sackful of books on her back. A,,20232376,00.html

Premium Member
19,280 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Some interesting statistics...
Book Business
AAP Releases August Sales Figures

Book sales tracked by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for the month of August increased 0.6 percent to $1.5 billion, compared to August 2007. Calendar year-to-date sales were down 1.4 percent.

Categories posting an increase in August included:

•E-books sales jumped up by 82.9 percent for the month ($4.3 million), and the category also posted a 52-percent increase for the year.

•The children's/young-adult paperback category increased 18.4 percent in August with sales totaling $69.4 million, reflecting an increase of 14.1 percent for the year.

•The adult-hardcover category increased 9.2 percent in August with sales of $100.9 million; year-to-date sales decreased 3.6 percent.

•Sales in the professional and scholarly category increased three percent in August ($99.8 million), but decreased one percent for the year.

•Adult-paperback sales increased 1.8 percent for the month ($147.4 million) and increased by 9.5 percent for the year.

•Higher-education publishing sales increased by 0.6 percent for the month ($826.0 million) and increased 3.2 percent for the year.

Categories posting a decrease in August included:

•Sales of university-press hardcover books dropped 17.8 percent in August with sales of $6.4 million; sales decreased by 6.4 percent for the year.

•The net elementary/high school basal and supplemental K-12 category posted a decrease of 16.6 percent in August with sales of $741.5 million; the category decreased 1.7 percent for the year.

•University-press paperback sales also posted a decrease of 13.9 percent for the month, with sales totaling $9.8 million; sales were down 7.6 percent for the year.

•Religious books decreased 10.8 percent for the month with sales totaling $61.1 million; sales were down by 7.7 percent for the year.

•The children's/young-adult hardcover category decreased 9.3 percent for the month with sales of $96.4 million; sales for year-to-date dropped 35.5 percent.

•Audiobook sales posted a 6.9-percent decrease in August, with sales totaling $11.9 million; sales for the year decreased 26.8 percent.

•The adult mass-market category decreased 4.5 percent for August with sales totaling $70.1 million; sales increased 2.1 percent year-to-date.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
An article that should be in every Kindler's archive. This is the one from the New York Times that explains that Amazon pays the same price for an ebook as they do for a hardback (I've bolded the relevant paragraph). So when someone asserts that ebook prices should be much less than what they are, because Amazon pays less, you can point them to this. They don't, at least not right now.

June 2, 2008
Electronic Device Stirs Unease at Book Fair

LOS ANGELES - Is the electronic book approaching the tipping point?

That topic both energized and unnerved people attending BookExpo America, the publishing and bookselling industry's annual trade show, which ended at the convention center here on Sunday.

Much of the talk was focused on the Kindle, Amazon's electronic reader, which has gained widespread acclaim for its ease of use. Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, spent much of a packed session on Friday evangelizing about the Kindle, which he said already accounts for 6 percent of his company's unit sales of books that are available in both paper and electronic formats.

But excitement about the Kindle, which was introduced in November, also worries some publishing executives, who fear Amazon's still-growing power as a bookseller. Those executives note that Amazon currently sells most of its Kindle books to customers for a price well below what it pays publishers, and they anticipate that it will not be long before Amazon begins using the Kindle's popularity as a lever to demand that publishers cut prices.

Overall, traffic at the book fair seemed lower than in past years, a reflecting perhaps that some editors did not make the long trip west from Manhattan, as well as the fact that the growth in the book business has slowed.

While authors including William Shatner, Andre Dubus III and Ty Pennington drew big crowds of booksellers seeking autographs, several books by little-known authors scheduled for publication were being pushed hard by publishers. Those include two that use witches, of a sort, as their protagonists and one whose author is in shaman training.

One, "The Heretic's Daughter," is a novel about Martha Carrier, the first woman to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Mass. The author, Kathleen Kent, is a 10th-generation descendant of Carrier (though not a witch herself, said Reagan Arthur, an editor at the book's publisher, Little, Brown). Another, "The Lace Reader," by Brunonia Barry, is set in modern-day Salem, where the narrator hails from a family of women who can read the future in a pattern of lace. The novel, being published by William Morrow in July, was previously self-published by the author.

Kira Salak, the author of the third novel, "The White Mary," draws on her travels across Papua New Guinea for an account of a journalist searching for a missing reporter who is thought to have committed suicide but might still be alive. According to Sarah Knight, an editor at Henry Holt, the author has undergone shaman training in Peru.

Booksellers, who make up the other major group attending the publishing convention, are also concerned that electronic books could become more than a passing fancy for an electronically savvy subset of customers. "It certainly does feel like a threat," said Charles Stillwagon, the events manager at the Tattered Cover Book Store, a large independent bookseller in Denver.

Nearly all publishers say their sales of electronic books are growing exponentially. Carolyn K. Reidy, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster, said its sales of electronic books will more than double this year compared to last year, after growing 40 percent in 2007 from 2006. David Shanks, the chief executive of Penguin Group USA, said his company sold more electronic books in the first four months of 2008 than in all of last year.

The numbers are still small, which helps to account for the rapid growth. Ms. Reidy said that electronic book sales last year totaled about $1 million, a sliver of its annual sales of roughly $1 billion. During the convention, Simon & Schuster said it would convert an additional 5,000 titles to electronic format this year, more than doubling its number of electronic books and making available many of the best-selling books on the company's backlist of consistent sellers.

Electronic books have been available since 1968 and have gained broader attention at least since 2000, when Stephen King sold 600,000 copies of "Riding the Bullet," an electronic-only thriller, in two days. Now, however, "we're finally at the tipping point," Ms. Reidy said.

Much of the expected growth in electronic books can be tied to the Kindle. When Amazon introduced the product, it sold out of the machines on the first day. The company needed months to adjust its manufacturing capacity and supply chain to be able to keep Kindles in stock, which Mr. Bezos said it has now accomplished.

The chief competitor to the Kindle is the Sony Reader, which has been on the market since 2006 and has also helped boost sales of electronic books. Some technology critics have given the early advantage to the Kindle, however, which downloads books, daily newspapers and magazines wirelessly; the Sony Reader downloads content via a wired connection.

Even Mr. Bezos said he does not expect electronic books to replace bound paper versions anytime soon. "Anything that lasts 500 years is not easily improved upon," Mr. Bezos said. "Books are so good you can't out-book the book."

But he also claimed that Kindle users are buying more books, not simply exchanging one format for another. He said that after buying a Kindle, Amazon customers purchase just as many physical books and two and a half times as many books overall, or three electronic books for every two physical copies.

Some publishing executives dispute that claim. "We don't see people buying both versions," Mr. Shanks said. "I think there is almost a one-to-one cannibalization."

But neither Amazon nor Sony will say how many of their products they have sold, making it impossible for publishers to assess the size of the market or for bookstore owners to evaluate the threat.

One publisher estimated that Amazon had sold roughly 10,000 Kindles, while another estimated that as many as 50,000 electronic-book readers of all types are in general circulation. But both publishers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that those figures were little more than educated guesses.

Amazon sells most Kindle books for $9.99 or less. Publishers say that they generally sell electronic books to Amazon for the same price as physical books, or about 45 percent to 50 percent of the cover price. For a hardcover best seller like Scott McClellan's "What Happened," the former press secretary's account of his years in the Bush White House, that would mean that Amazon appears to be selling the selling the book for about 25 percent below its cost.

(Mr. Bezos probably did not endear himself to people in the publishing industry fearful about his company's power when, in response to a question after his speech, he waxed enthusiastic about how his "lottery ticket" wealth from the success of Amazon is allowing him to invest in a project to provide commercial travel to suborbital space.)

Electronic readers have nevertheless gained many fans in the publishing industry. Random House and Penguin, among others, have equipped their entire sales force with electronic-book readers, allowing them to avoid having to lug around as many preview editions of books. Editors at many of the larger publishing houses also use the devices to read manuscripts submitted by agents and authors.

A big advantage of the products is that bookstores never sell out of copies of an electronic book, something Mr. Bezos demonstrated by downloading and reading from "What Happened," which in hardcover format has sold out in many stores. Amazon itself expects to be unable to ship new copies until June 21, according to its Web site. says it expects the book to be available June 6. That too makes bookstore owners nervous about the future of electronic books. "We're always concerned with any competition," Mr. Stillwagon, of Tattered Cover, said. "The technology has progressed, and people are embracing it. For us, every book sale counts."

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19,280 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You know, it really makes me feel good when a Nobel prize winner likes the Kindle! How come this fact doesn't get as much publicity as Oprah? LOL.

June 6, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Bits, Bands and Books

Do you remember what it was like back in the old days when we had a New Economy? In the 1990s, jobs were abundant, oil was cheap and information technology was about to change everything.

Then the technology bubble popped. Many highly touted New Economy companies, it turned out, were better at promoting their images than at making money - although some of them did pioneer new forms of accounting fraud. After that came the oil shock and the food shock, grim reminders that we're still living in a material world.

So much, then, for the digital revolution? Not so fast. The predictions of '90s technology gurus are coming true more slowly than enthusiasts expected - but the future they envisioned is still on the march.

In 1994, one of those gurus, Esther Dyson, made a striking prediction: that the ease with which digital content can be copied and disseminated would eventually force businesses to sell the results of creative activity cheaply, or even give it away. Whatever the product - software, books, music, movies - the cost of creation would have to be recouped indirectly: businesses would have to "distribute intellectual property free in order to sell services and relationships."

For example, she described how some software companies gave their product away but earned fees for installation and servicing. But her most compelling illustration of how you can make money by giving stuff away was that of the Grateful Dead, who encouraged people to tape live performances because "enough of the people who copy and listen to Grateful Dead tapes end up paying for hats, T-shirts and performance tickets. In the new era, the ancillary market is the market."

Indeed, it turns out that the Dead were business pioneers. Rolling Stone recently published an article titled "Rock's New Economy: Making Money When CDs Don't Sell." Downloads are steadily undermining record sales - but today's rock bands, the magazine reports, are finding other sources of income. Even if record sales are modest, bands can convert airplay and YouTube views into financial success indirectly, making money through "publishing, touring, merchandising and licensing."

What other creative activities will become mainly ways to promote side businesses? How about writing books?

According to a report in The Times, the buzz at this year's BookExpo America was all about electronic books. Now, e-books have been the coming, but somehow not yet arrived, thing for a very long time. (There's an old Brazilian joke: "Brazil is the country of the future - and always will be." E-books have been like that.) But we may finally have reached the point at which e-books are about to become a widely used alternative to paper and ink.

That's certainly my impression after a couple of months' experience with the device feeding the buzz, the Amazon Kindle. Basically, the Kindle's lightness and reflective display mean that it offers a reading experience almost comparable to that of reading a traditional book. This leaves the user free to appreciate the convenience factor: the Kindle can store the text of many books, and when you order a new book, it's literally in your hands within a couple of minutes.

It's a good enough package that my guess is that digital readers will soon become common, perhaps even the usual way we read books.

How will this affect the publishing business? Right now, publishers make as much from a Kindle download as they do from the sale of a physical book. But the experience of the music industry suggests that this won't last: once digital downloads of books become standard, it will be hard for publishers to keep charging traditional prices.

Indeed, if e-books become the norm, the publishing industry as we know it may wither away. Books may end up serving mainly as promotional material for authors' other activities, such as live readings with paid admission. Well, if it was good enough for Charles Dickens, I guess it's good enough for me.

Now, the strategy of giving intellectual property away so that people will buy your paraphernalia won't work equally well for everything. To take the obvious, painful example: news organizations, very much including this one, have spent years trying to turn large online readership into an adequately paying proposition, with limited success.

But they'll have to find a way. Bit by bit, everything that can be digitized will be digitized, making intellectual property ever easier to copy and ever harder to sell for more than a nominal price. And we'll have to find business and economic models that take this reality into account.

It won't all happen immediately. But in the long run, we are all the Grateful Dead.

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19,280 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
"Saves" might be a little extreme but some interesting info here, nonetheless.

Oprah Saves Amazon
By Rick Aristotle Munarriz
October 27, 2008

It's Oprah Winfrey to the rescue for's (Nasdaq: AMZN) nascent Kindle. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his company's revolutionary e-book reader were the stars of Winfrey's show on Friday. "It's absolutely my new favorite favorite thing in the world," she said, but the gushing didn't end there. "I know it's expensive in these times, but it's not frivolous because it will pay for itself," she pointed out. "The books are much cheaper, and you're saving paper."

Winfrey didn't give away cars this time, but she is giving folks a price break on the $359 device. Between now and Nov. 1, Amazon shoppers who enter OPRAHWINFREY as a promotional code get a Kindle for just $309.

I'm not sure to whom Bezos had to sell his soul to land this ringing endorsement, but it's huge for Amazon.

You can't spell Winfrey without "Win"
No one outside Amazon knows how many Kindles have been sold since its debut 11 months ago. That's peculiar, since Amazon is usually quick to tout its holiday sales or Harry Potter book orders.

Even if there are competitive reasons to keep these numbers close to the vest -- reasons such as keeping rival gadget-maker Sony (NYSE: SNE) in the dark -- it also doesn't help win over potential buyers who are shying away from squandering money on an item that may be discontinued if it doesn't catch on.

Winfrey's support will help change that outlook. Thanks to her series of monthly book recommendations, Winfrey's audience consists of many devout readers. If she can convince them that making a large upfront investment in the Kindle will pay off through discounted electronic-book purchases, the Kindle is going to be a hot seller over these tricky holidays.

Inspirational metrics
"We will not introduce the new version of the Kindle until next year at the earliest," the company noted during last week's conference call.

That's a good thing, since buyers may have been apprehensive in recent months; rumors that enhanced Kindles would hit the market before the holidays have been circulating. That comment -- along with Winfrey's $50 price break -- should sway many of those straddling the fence.

A robust run on Kindles would be huge for Amazon, especially when combined with some of the metrics that Amazon did reveal during last week's call:

* 10% of the unit sales from titles available both in digital and physical formats are coming from the Kindle camp.
* The selection of available Kindle titles has doubled since last November's launch.
* The typical Kindle buyer winds up buying 60% more books in Kindle format than he or she used to buy in physical form through Amazon, yet those same folks continue to buy physical books as well, at pre-Kindle rates.

That last point is huge. There are workarounds to get e-books for the Kindle outside Amazon, but it remains a tight ecosystem, in the mold of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and the way it hooks up iPod buyers with the iTunes Music Store. Since the initial wave of early adopters is made up of diehard bookworms, Amazon's grasp is significant. If you're Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS), how do you compete? Borders Group (NYSE: BGP) was an early backer of the Sony Reader, but it's no match for a rival with a proprietary gadget that now has Winfrey's kiss of breadth.

You can't spell Oprah without "ah"
I guess we'll soon find out whether Winfrey is the Kindle's golden goose. If Amazon begins spilling the beans on Kindle sales -- and it has the perfect opportunity to rattle off how many units it moved over the weekend or wait a few more days to give us the first week of the Winfrey bump -- you'll know it's a winner.

Winfrey's touch isn't always Midas-worthy. Her arrival at Sirius XM Radio's (Nasdaq: SIRI) XM didn't lead to an acceleration of subscriber growth or even the overtaking of Sirius in new quarterly additions. General Motors' (NYSE: GM) spunky move to give away 276 Pontiac G6 sedans to her studio audience in 2004 backfired when the winners began bellyaching about the tax bill on the prize.

However, anyone who has seen how her monthly book pitch can influence national best-seller lists can't deny her influence on folks who love to read. If Kindles don't sell like hotcakes now, maybe they never will.

2,696 Posts
Thanks for posting these. I esp found the last one interesting, since I am one who was influenced by Oprah.
What I think is important is word of mouth. I was swayed by her, but also by reading the customer reviews which
were overwhelmingly good.
I knew about it, had seen it every time I logged on to A and did more research, when Whoopie raved about it on The View
a few months ago. I think what really won me over with Oprah's plug, is that she is not a gadget person, she only just got
a cell phone! I love books, the actually physical part as well as the content. I love the feel and smell of the paper and design
of the cover. I just saw that a Kindle could be an addition to my reading entertainment and will probably not replace books


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19,280 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
from the Squawking Tech blog:

Oprah and Amazon's Kindle: Why Women May Be Key To Driving Adoption
posted by Lee, on October 27th, 2008 at 12:32 pm

On Friday, Oprah emphatically endorsed Amazon's Kindle on her show. It's a pretty interesting move since Oprah's audience isn't full of typical technology early adopters. While her endorsement is unlikely to make the Kindle a mainstream hit overnight, it may be a sign that women are a critical demographic for the device.

As is, the Kindle costs $359, which is an enormous barrier for most consumers. For men the Kindle also represents an additional item to carry, one that doesn't fit nicely into a pocket. So while the Kindle certainly offers a better reading experience than the iPhone's Stanza app, the monetary and physical costs represent significant barriers to adoption amongst men.

For women, however, the Kindle's cost/benefit ratio is far more favorable. To begin with, a purse is a much more convenient place to carry a Kindle than a pocket or even a briefcase. My girlfriend usually carries everything from a book and an iPhone, to a pair of shoes, in her purse. Fitting a 10 ounce Kindle in wouldn't take much extra effort.

Furthermore while (an increasing) many women have smart phones, far fewer of them have them then men. This alone means that women as a demographic are more likely to compare the Kindle to the alternative of paperback books, rather than their Stanza enabled smart phone.

Still, women aren't immune to the Kindle's high price (which is $50 off under Oprah's special). However, if Amazon can bring the price of the Kindle down over time, women may be key to driving long-term adoption.

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19,280 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
An interview with Jeff Bezos, from US News & World Report

Jeff Bezos on Amazon Kindle and Digital Media
Amazon founder describes forays into electronic books, music, and video

By David LaGesse
Posted October 29, 2008

It began as a simple online bookstore, but Amazon has grown into the largest online retailer of a wide array of goods, from electronics to toys to groceries. We spoke with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos about how the company is helping forge new markets for digital media, including music , videos, and downloadable books for its Kindle reader. Excerpts:

The Kindle was a departure for Amazon. Was it a significant step for you and your team to design and manufacture a stand-alone product?

Companies can extend in at least two different ways. One, they can take an inventory of their skills and then they can say, "OK, with this set of skills, what else can we do?" That's kind of a skills-outward approach. Another way is to start with the customer needs and work backwards. Given our customers, you can say, "What needs do they have that we could fulfill, even if it requires us to develop new skills?" Kindle is an example that's firmly in that second camp. We have a large base of customers who love reading. How else can we make reading even easier for those customers, even if it requires us to develop new skills?

We certainly had to go out and hire people who had expertise in hardware design, hardware manufacturing, and so on. If you're going to start with the customer and work backwards, even if it requires you to develop new skills, you certainly have to have a long-term orientation. We started working on Kindle more than four years ago.

Are there other hardware products in the pipeline?

We're really focused on Kindle. Kindle has really surprised and excited us. We have much more traction at this point than we expected to have. We're now up to over 190,000 titles on Kindle. That is double the number of titles we had at launch. More than 10 percent of book units we sell in that universe of titles is in Kindle format. We took 14 years building our physical books business. To have more than 10 percent of unit sales already being Kindle format where we have both Kindle version and a physical version is pretty astonishing to us.

In its first version, is Kindle a better experience for someone who wants to read a book than a conventional book?
Yes. Our design objective for Kindle was to make it a better reading experience than a physical book. That was a very challenging design objective. The book is an object that has resisted change for 500 years. Anything that resists change for 500 years is going to be difficult to improve on.

There were the technologies that we brought together-the electronic ink display together with 3G wireless. Then there was business innovation on top of that-making the wireless plan free, so you don't have a monthly data charge, and bundling the cost of the wireless delivery into the cost of the book. You might buy a New York Times bestseller for $9.99 and it gets delivered to your Kindle in 60 seconds. You don't have to go find a Wi-Fi hotspot. It's very simple.

Once you use Kindle for a while, you realize physical books aren't as convenient as you once might have thought they were. Consider when you lay in bed at night reading. My wife is always hopeful I'm going to read my Kindle and not something on physical paper because it doesn't make any sound when you turn the pages. You can read Kindle with one hand. I can't read a book with one hand. You can get a new book in less than 60 seconds with Kindle, which I can't do with a physical book. If I come across a word whose meaning I don't understand, I can right there on my Kindle look up the meaning.

Once you get accustomed to Kindle, it's awfully hard to go back.

Can the Kindle be more? Can it, for example, also be a media player?

We're very focused on making Kindle a purpose-built reading device. Reading is important enough that it deserves a purpose-built device.

How about Amazon's other download services-the MP3 store and video download store. How important is the business of digital media to Amazon?

I think it's very important. Obviously, we still have a big physical distribution business of music CDs, DVDs, and a very meaningful Blu-ray, high-def business. Those businesses will continue for many years. But if you look out far enough out into the future, it makes sense for these products to be distributed digitally.

So one day, Amazon could be selling more in digital downloads than in physical goods?


At least when it comes to media.

Right. I'm certainly thinking of media. If you asked me, "What product category has surprised you the most?" I would tell you shoes. I can't believe how many shoes we sell. And I don't think shoes are going to get digitized anytime soon.

Can the music store succeed without devices designed specifically to work with it?

I think so. One of the things we are doing is making sure the Amazon MP3 store has a good set of [software links] so that any device can interoperate with our store. That would have been a very difficult strategy to do with DRM [digital rights management, or copy protection]. Because our store is completely DRM-free, it really can work with any device.

Videos are not DRM free. Does that raise added hurdles for that business?

To computers it is not an issue, if you want to watch on PCs or Macs. If you want to watch on a television, right now we have arrangements with TiVo and also with Bravia. Over time, that will get worked out. But it is certainly more complicated right now. There are fewer devices. I think, though, if you look just a few years into the future-I don't know how far into the future you have to look, but I don't think it's very long-most new televisions are going to come with built-in Internet streaming.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Octochick posted this in another thread, but I thought I'd include the whole article here for archival purposes. From the New York Times:

November 2, 2008
The Medium
Pump Up the Volume

I'm alone on a cold October morning at Kennedy Airport. The flight will be pleasantly solitary. I anticipate my enforced freedom from conversation and the Internet with excitement bordering on euphoria. There's a Major Tom factor to air travel now: silent go the devices as up we rise, while the taut invisible Web wires snap one by one until finally we're floating in a placid immaculate zone where no one can Twitter or gchat or e-mail. If the airlines knew how precious that icy aloofness was to some passengers, they'd find a way to make us pay for it. The JetBlue ColdSpot.

Even so, I'm taking a Kindle with me on this flight, for the first time. Amazon first offered its Kindle, a device for reading e-books, a year ago, and I don't know why I waited so long to buy one. I can't seem to put it down. It's ideal for book reading - lucid, light - but lately it has become something more: a kind of refuge. Unlike the other devices that clatter in my shoulder bag, the Kindle isn't a big greedy magnet for the world's signals. It doesn't pulse with clocks, blaze with video or squall with incoming bulletins and demands. It's almost dead, actually. Lifeless. Just a lump in my hands or my bag, exiled from the crisscrossing of infinite cybernetworks. It's almost like a book.

And like a book, the Kindle is reasonably user-friendly. It's just not user-obsequious. It sits patiently while you read it. It doesn't do much more. With effort, you can digitally crick the corners of pages and make rudimentary notes in the margins. But it doesn't turn literacy into a sensory flood. To read on a Kindle, you still have to go, mentally, more than halfway to the experience. You have to commit to concentrating, integrating new material, persevering when you might be stopped by thorny words or elusive concepts. The Kindle shows you the words on the pages, but the words don't light up or move or turn into cartoons, and you - and you alone - make meaning of them.

A sustained encounter with just about any good book on the Kindle is a rich, enormous, demanding, cerebral event. It's like reading used to be - long ago before anyone had ever seen the brightly backlighted screens of laptops, cellphones and iPods that, when activated, turn everyone's personal field of vision into layers of garish light and sound, personal Times Squares. The Kindle screen - nonbacklighted "electronic paper" that requires little energy - looks dusty, like newsprint.

As an electronic device, it should be said, the Kindle is a complete bust. We all know what to look for now in consumer electronics, thanks (largely) to Steve Jobs, who with his Macs and iPods made high-design commodities of such extreme tactile pleasures that users have long reported desires to chew them, lick them, even copulate with them. No such urge possesses the Kindle user, who maintains a more formal relationship with his device, no matter how open-minded and forward-thinking he privately feels in owning one.

What's most enjoyable about the Kindle are the books that take it over and how readily and inexpensively you can get them and read them. What's not enjoyable is everything else: the bumpable buttons that constantly flip your pages and lose your place, the pointy and cruel keyboard that is stiff and ineffective, the lily-white casing that is ugly when new and dingy and gross when used.

Really, it's terrible. How this prototype ever made it into production I don't know. It's as if its creators had never seen an iPhone. Or a Walkman, for that matter. Where have they been? And the Internet capability that the device offers (almost exclusively so you can download books and other reading material from Amazon) is so poor - its parameters so hard to determine, its browser so ungracious and inaccessible - that you're discouraged from ever exploiting it.

At the same time, and you'd be justified in thinking I'm just seeking a silver lining to rationalize my homely new purchase (it cost $360, after all), there's some way in which the Kindle's weak Internet connection and elusive browser are the best parts of the machine. As I said, the Kindle feels insular and remote from the wild world of commerce and buzzing data swarms. But the fact that it's connected to the Web sort of - it has to be, right? Or how else could I download all these books? - makes the Kindle somehow better than a book. Because while I like a few hours on an airplane, I can't say I want to move into a locked library carrel and never visit the Internet again. And I like that the Kindle, which connects to the Web through some proprietary Amazon entity called a Whispernet, is not completely out of it. The Kindle acknowledges the Internet; it hears its clamorous demands. It just ignores those demands. For the user, this means the Kindle bestows on the contemporary reader the ultimate grace: it keeps the Internet at bay.

Download a good book - Marilynne Robinson's "Home," say - and the design flaws of the Kindle quickly become irrelevant. The buttons, the angles, the casing all recede - and I even lose the shopaholic part of my brain that cares about "casing" enough to learn the word for it. The Kindle circumvents the tech critic in all of us and finds (welcome back!) the long-neglected reader. With a gray screen that uses actual black ink that has been given an electric charge (wow), the Kindle does everything you long for from a book and everything you may have despaired of finding again.

In short, you get absorbed when reading on the Kindle. You lose hours to reading novels in one sitting. You sit up straighter, energized by new ideas and new universes. You nod off, periodically, infatuated or entranced or spent. And yet the slight connection to the Web still permits the (false, probably, but nonetheless reassuring) sense that if the apocalypse came while you were shut away somewhere reading, the machine would get the news from and find a way to let you know. Anything short of that, though, the Kindle leaves you alone.

And alone is where I want to be, for now. It's bliss. Emerge from the subway or alight from a flight, and the Kindle has no news for you. No missed calls. It's ready only to be read. It's like a good exercise machine that mysteriously incentivizes the pursuit of muscle pain while still making you feel cared for. The Kindle makes you want to read, and read hard, and read prolifically. It eventually makes me aware that, compared with reading a lush, inky book, checking e-mail is boring, workaday and lame.

But no sooner have I decided that, for now, I've discovered in the Kindle a way to tame the anxiety of the demanding digital world without totally abjuring its pleasures, when I find myself explaining the device to my seatmate on the plane. (He asked! I swear!) As I splutter on about it, I suddenly realize that the Kindle is, above all, uncool. I can see him furrowing his brow as I praise the Kindle's uneasy relationship with the Internet. He looks at the gray screen and says, "That's way too dim."

To my discomfort, I struggle to return to my Robinson novel. But after 10 minutes of self-consciously reading and rereading the same pages, I get into it again. The shadowy hue of the "page" and the letters of digital ink become my whole world once more. And my seatmate, with his awesome 3G iPhone, has nothing more to say to me. My Kindle announces me as an oddball, a wallflower. A reader, then.

192 Posts
I guess we're all Discerning Geeks!
I ran across this on the MSN Tech & Gadgets page

Gifts for the Discerning Geek
As the holiday season approaches, here are some choice geek devices that are sure to please people who love well-designed gadgets.

Amazon Kindle E-Book Reader (© PC World)
Amazon Kindle E-Book Reader

The Amazon Kindle isn't new, but it remains a near-perfect gift for techies of a literary bent. The combination of fast, simple wireless access to a growing list of books, newspapers and blogs, plus an easy-to-read screen, makes the Kindle a dream for frequent travelers. I don't love Amazon's digital-rights management; the page-turning buttons are easy to hit accidentally; and the design is, well, ugly. But it's an ugly you can grow to love. As to rumors of a next-generation Kindle, Amazon says that "there will not be a new Kindle until next year at the earliest."

795 Posts
I've been called worse things than a geek! In retrospect it is amazing that Sarah Palin didn't mention any subversive literate kindle-using elites in some of her stump speeches. Maybe she doesn't know about the kindle yet and what a danger it is to democracy.

Premium Member
19,280 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wisteria Clematis said:
I've been called worse things than a geek! In retrospect it is amazing that Sarah Palin didn't mention any subversive literate kindle-using elites in some of her stump speeches. Maybe she doesn't know about the kindle yet and what a danger it is to democracy.
I think you hit the nail on the head...


Rivery, we have another Kindle in the News thread. I am going to merge these two together. I like keeping all the news articles together in one place, so we have an archive. L

4 Posts
Just had to share - I was up early this morning, listening to a local radio station, KGO in San Francisco, about 5:00 and the anchor mentioned the Kindle as the new "hot" item to buy.  He said because of Oprah's endorsement, the Kindle has sold out and won't be available until mid February.
I'm so glad I got mine!  Pat

869 Posts

Great thread!  Hope I can find some articles to share  :)

It's to see & hear the buzz the Kindle & users of are generating!

HAPPY, happy, happy to be a 1G user of the Kindle -

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