temporus: (ebook)
( Jul. 20th, 2012 04:31 pm)
It's been quite some time since I've talked Kindle and ebook stuff, so let me correct that.

I'll start off with my impressions of both the iPad (which I've been testing for a project at the Day Job) and the Kindle Fire.

Meh.

Ok, that's not terribly fair. Let me expand.

Back in the fall, I got my wife a Kindle Fire, thinking it would solve her need to have an external light.  She's the type that likes to read herself to sleep at night.  But then aren't we all?  What do you mean no?  Humpf!  I also hoped it would be a decent on hand web browser, email client etc.  As her phone is not a "Smart" phone type, though it at least now can text and browse WAP sytle internet, it seemed an inexpensive and convenient compromise.  I have an android phone, and bought almost all my apps through Amazon instead of through Google, so...should be easy to add those games, etc, to the Fire.  Well, we could.  And it was not bad.  Especially considering the price.   But my wife didn't find the reading relaxing on it the way she does with the regular Kindle. (strike one)  And the screen seemed a bit small to her. (strike two) And transferring TiVO videos was a lot more complicated and tricky than we'd thought.  (strike three.)  So it went back.   I still think for it's price point it's a good machine.  It just didn't wow us the way I'd kind of hoped it would.

As I mentioned, I'm testing out an iPad for work, so I'm finally getting to see what all the "hoopla" is about with it.  I can see why people like them.  Smooth and easy to use.  I'm testing out the wifi only device, and I downloaded the Kindle app to check out some of my books.  Both the technical ones for work, but also just some random others to see how they look.  It's fine.  The app isn't as good as I'd like.  Feels just about the same as the Cloud reader.  And I suspect it pretty much is the same.  Or at least based very much off the same code.  And that's one of the weaker versions of the app.  I much prefer the PC app or the real app to the cloud reader.   There's just more options in the others.  I could tangent into talking about the cloud app, but I won't.  Suffice it to say, the kindle app on iPad is sufficient if not superlative.  I wish they would implement a better way to organize.  (Though that's still one of my peeves.)  My over all impression in regards to the iPad?  Get a wifi only one, and put your monthly money into a good 4G wifi hotspot instead.  Why?  Well, the technology for the hot spots/cellular connectivity will change.  It will change at a rate probably faster than wifi itself.  So, why lock yourself into a technology that will become obsolete or severerly changed when you don't need to?   Wifi will likely remain the way it is, with backward compatibility support for years to come.  IE, your iPad won't be a dinosaur in the near future.  Well, okay, not because the cellular system gets overhauled, again.  Plus, you can support many PCs/devices from one hotspot.  If you're cellular is built into your iPad, it's more of a pain to share it out to friends, at conventions, on vacation with the kids, etc, etc.

One last thing, the iOS version of the Kindle app was supposed to have better support for Kids books.  So I went ahead and bought one in a series that I thought my sons would enjoy.  Bleh.  Not impressed.  If by better they mean because the screen is bigger you can read the text at all, instead of the almost impossibility of it elsewhere...I say, there's still a lot of room for improvement.   I get it, kids books particular the ones with lots of text/graphics interactions, can't be trivially handled by the system.  But if this is the best they can do....

Overall, Kindle continues to need to work on better ways to store and organize books.  I've got hundreds on my account.  Between the ones I picked up for me, the ones I picked up for the Mrs. and the ones I snagged because they were free (like all those classics from bygone eras) it takes a long time to sort through the list.  Even allowing that some of the versions of the app (and only SOME) support Collections, just getting the books sorted into collectiosn is a long and time consuming process.  Better than when you are reduced to just sorting everything by author, title or Recent.  But lacking just the same.  And I don't get it.  At the least, can't they do like Amazon Music and include genre?  Or allow tagging?  There should be more ways for generic sorting even before we decide to personally set them up into collections.

Now a new feature they rolled out, and I just learned about is the ability for you to "reset" a book to start.  This is a godsend.  My wife and I have more than enough overlapping reading habits that the cool feature of Sync is almost essential.  But heretofore, it was a first come first served feature.  If my wife read a book before me, she got the use of it.  If I read something before her, I got the use of it.  For a single book, it's no big deal.  But I've been fortunate enough to snag an omnibus edition here or there.  (Like the first four books of Song of Ice and Fire)  Imagine being somewhere in the middle of book three and having your device battery die.  Then I hand you my freshly charged Kindle but you have to guesstimate and find your way through to the "location".  Being able to reset a book means you get the ability to read anywhere and pck up where you left off, no matter which device you use.

Last observation: kids and lock down.  Yet again, Amazon implemented a good feature, but it only applies to the latest devices.  Well, OK.  That's awfullly disappointing in itself, but at least I get it.  Even if I don't like it.  But, from what I can tell, it's kind of a pain, and not nearly as useful as I would hope.  My understanding is, you can lock down access to all books.  Or none.  Well....um...that's useful?  I guess it was designed with the Fire in mind.  But really, shouldn't there be some way you can set up a variation of your books for your kids?   What I'd love it to be able to put a selection of books on his device (computer, whatever) that are just fine for him to read, without having to go through the effort of setting up seperate accounts through amazon, etc.  For DRM free books, that would probably work.  But I don't want to give him free reign.  He's not quite old enough for that just yet.

So what about you?   What features do you think are missing from your favorite e-reader?
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In case you haven't seen it yet, Amazon is offering a new version of their famous Kindle ereader, this one comes with "Special Offers."  It's $25 cheaper than the standard Wifi version, but it comes with some offers where you can buy other things at a discount.   It also comes with Advertisements on the screen savers.  (Possibly elsewhere, but not in a way that affects reading, according to their info.)

First off, neat.  A somewhat corporate sponsored version of an ereader.   I like that, so long as it doesn't directly impact the normal reading experience.  IE, if you don't drop ads in the middle of books, while I'm reading, or during page turns or some such crap like that to annoy me, I'm totally fine if the screen saver is an advertisement for something else, within reason.  IE, if the ads turn out to be stuff that personally offend me, or I really don't want on my devices, I'd get annoyed.  (Like cigarette ads would piss me off, just for one example, but by no means limited to that.)   So if there's a way we can opt in or out to various categories, I'd be cool with it.  Let me re-iterate here, if some corporation wants to sponsor my reading habits with the thought that I might see an advert or two in between reads or on the screen saver, I'm cool with that. 

However, I do have to say this: really Amazon?  $25?  That's IT?  You want to sell our eyeballs to advertisers for a mere $25 discount?  Really now.  And am I the only one that is looking at that price, the $114 and thinking: were you just too cheap to go the extra $15 and finally cross the $100 barrier?  I mean come on!

So I give them an A for the idea, but a B- on the pricing.  Not just because I want things cheaper, frankly I HAVE a Kindle, it's not that I need one personally at the moment.  No, it's more from a milestone point of view--I think they could have made a major impact beating B&N to the $99 price point.  To put it plainly, eInk alone isn't going to hold up against the veritable onslaught of Android tablets coming on the market now.  (I won't get into the iPad discussion because frankly, Apple is doing what they always do: find a price point and holding to it. Instead of drifting down the price, they'll continue to maintain that price niche and just update and improve the currently available tech in attempts to justify that price point.) 

Ah well, here's hoping for a Kindle 4 that will be color and running something like Android under the hood soon enough.  (I can't help but think that's in the works, what with the new Amazon Android store out and about now.)

So what do you think, would you go for a deal where the ereader was cheap because you'd have adverts/corporate sponsorship to supplement that unit cost?   And just how much of a commercial presence would you deal with before it annoyed you?

I know, I'm a bit behind the ball on reporting this fact.  But that's probably because I don't have a Mac, and therefore while I'm happy to hear the news, it's not something that has much in the way of direct impact on me. 

It's good for Amazon to get this app out there, and I'm really not surprised to hear they put some emphasis on it.  Afterall, they'll be in a lot of competition with Apple, what with the iPad out in mere days.  Let's be real, if there is one thing that Apple does well, exceptionally well, is make all their stuff interact smoothly.  iPods are good on a PC.  But rock when connected with a Mac.  Their backup devices just natively work with their platform.  They make the task of interacting with the equipment easy.  If you want any chance at garnering any of that Mac based user supprot with the Kindle, you damn well better make your app work on any and every platform they've got, because you can bet Apple will do that for their bookstore/reader app.

As to how good this app is on the Mac?  My best guess....not much different than on the PC.  So probaby not as good as they want it to be.  But it's there now.  (If I had to guess, a little too late to make enough impact to matter.)  Still, if you have a Mac, and already use a Kindle, or the Kindle iPhone/Touch app, seems a no-brainer to me, to grab this and install.  Even if you wouldn't normally want to read on your Mac, having the option to is a good idea.  And hey, it'll read .prc and .mobi files that way, so if you don't have another app already to do that, there you go.


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I know, I'm a bit behind the ball on reporting this fact.  But that's probably because I don't have a Mac, and therefore while I'm happy to hear the news, it's not something that has much in the way of direct impact on me. 

It's good for Amazon to get this app out there, and I'm really not surprised to hear they put some emphasis on it.  Afterall, they'll be in a lot of competition with Apple, what with the iPad out in mere days.  Let's be real, if there is one thing that Apple does well, exceptionally well, is make all their stuff interact smoothly.  iPods are good on a PC.  But rock when connected with a Mac.  Their backup devices just natively work with their platform.  They make the task of interacting with the equipment easy.  If you want any chance at garnering any of that Mac based user supprot with the Kindle, you damn well better make your app work on any and every platform they've got, because you can bet Apple will do that for their bookstore/reader app.

As to how good this app is on the Mac?  My best guess....not much different than on the PC.  So probaby not as good as they want it to be.  But it's there now.  (If I had to guess, a little too late to make enough impact to matter.)  Still, if you have a Mac, and already use a Kindle, or the Kindle iPhone/Touch app, seems a no-brainer to me, to grab this and install.  Even if you wouldn't normally want to read on your Mac, having the option to is a good idea.  And hey, it'll read .prc and .mobi files that way, so if you don't have another app already to do that, there you go.


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After giving it a few days to settle down, and to process my thoughts, here's my impression on the new Apple iPad:
 

Not as impressed as I was wanted to be.

Okay, that's the short of it.  Here's the more lengthy explanation of my take on it.

The iPad is essentially a much bigger iPod Touch.  There are differences, to be sure, but when you get down to the core of it, that's the essence of the difference between the devices.   For all intents and purposes, it behaves and acts the same as the iTouch (I don't care if that's not the official name, it's what everyone I know calls the damn thing, so tough) the only difference being the larger screen.   That's pretty much what I expected out of Apple, or rather, it's the minimum I expected out of Apple, when they finally jumped into this space.   Unfortunately, as best I can tell before I get something like this in my hand, that's about the extent of it.

Okay, look: this isn't by a long shot a BAD entry into this sphere.  And watching the videos, I can tell that Apple has thought about this space hard, the space between a real laptop, and a smartphone and found a niche they believe they can exploit.   It's part of the space that dedicated eReaders currently enjoy.  Call it PAD computing, or Tablet, whichever.  I think this is a new niche.  There are just going to be times when you don't want the whole laptop experience, but the tiny freaking screen of a phone isn't going to cut it.   And I think this device fits that niche.   I'll even go so far as to agree with Jobs and say that this niche isn't well served by the netbooks of this world.  Not because they suck, as Jobs implies, but because the ergonomics of them do not quite work as well as we'd hope.

I think this device will garner a following.  I saw many people over the years since the launch of the Kindle decry the current eReaders because they weren't more like what the iPad appears to be.   Add to that the fact that there are plenty of folks who buy into just about anything Apple does, and you can already tell it's going to have some measure of success.   Around the internet you will hear a lot of folks saying this is a game changer.  Especially in the ebook/publishing arena.   Apple is the 8 million ton gorilla in the room, and once they decide to jump into a market space they will change the dynamics.   Competition is a good thing.  But what we don't need is Apple putting Amazon and the others out of the market space, because then it'll just be Apple dominating the ebook scene instead of Amazon.  Thankfully, I don't see that as a short term reality.  With Amazon, B&N, and Apple all with strong products in the space, I think it will help the consumer.

The big problem I see with the iPad is the price.  It's high.  And frankly, with the way I watched the pricing basically not change at all for the iTouch, (they simply retire lower capacity models and keep the prices for the top model in the same range instead of letting the whole device shift downwards) I'm not hopeful that the iPad will come down into a reasonable price range.  I'm sorry to say, despite what they seem to believe, a $500 device is NOT something that every family can afford.  And it really is not competitive with the range of pricing for netbooks which start in the mid to upper $200 range.   I suspect this will rapidly push the price on the Kindle and Nook down.  That's a good thing.  In my opinion those devices need to get below the $200 mark to really break out, and now that we have a device that does more than just books and audio, that's going to by needs push the dedicated reader down in price or push it out of the market.  But....in order for that to really happen, Apple will need to move their prices down.   I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Kindle get below the $200 price point before the end of the year, and the DX to get down into the $350 range, as a result of this showing up on the market.

I don't think of the iPad as an eReader.   I think of it as an entertainment device.  It supports all sorts of entertainment.  Books, movies, music, web surfing, TV (through the iTunes store, but possibly other ways I don't know) gaming.  You might have heard of the weaknesses of the device: lack of multitasking, and lack of Flash support.  I don't know why either of these is the case.  Perhaps multitasking on a phone wasn't as critical, so for that form factor it wasn't vital.  And so far, lack of Flash support hasn't hindered the iPhone/Touch.  But the new form factor will make both of those harder to ignore.  A weakness to be sure, but in the meantime, they bring to the game the best that the iPhone/Touch have to offer.   So I'd call that a wash.

Would I buy one of these?  Not for the money I'd need to spend.  And truth is, at this point in time I don't have the need for it.  My wife and I have Kindles, and we have a netbook in the house.  There's just no point in this particular device for us at this time.  If I didn't have both of those....yes, I'd probably consider it.  But not in this price point.  Also, a 10 hour battery life while good when compared to a laptop...is weak compared to a more typical eReader.  That's the price you pay for a backlit screen.  Well that an eyestrain which I could do without.  But that's a whole nother story.

To sum up my opinion: a solid entry.  Not a revolutionary one.  


Tags:

After giving it a few days to settle down, and to process my thoughts, here's my impression on the new Apple iPad:
 

Not as impressed as I was wanted to be.

Okay, that's the short of it.  Here's the more lengthy explanation of my take on it.

The iPad is essentially a much bigger iPod Touch.  There are differences, to be sure, but when you get down to the core of it, that's the essence of the difference between the devices.   For all intents and purposes, it behaves and acts the same as the iTouch (I don't care if that's not the official name, it's what everyone I know calls the damn thing, so tough) the only difference being the larger screen.   That's pretty much what I expected out of Apple, or rather, it's the minimum I expected out of Apple, when they finally jumped into this space.   Unfortunately, as best I can tell before I get something like this in my hand, that's about the extent of it.

Okay, look: this isn't by a long shot a BAD entry into this sphere.  And watching the videos, I can tell that Apple has thought about this space hard, the space between a real laptop, and a smartphone and found a niche they believe they can exploit.   It's part of the space that dedicated eReaders currently enjoy.  Call it PAD computing, or Tablet, whichever.  I think this is a new niche.  There are just going to be times when you don't want the whole laptop experience, but the tiny freaking screen of a phone isn't going to cut it.   And I think this device fits that niche.   I'll even go so far as to agree with Jobs and say that this niche isn't well served by the netbooks of this world.  Not because they suck, as Jobs implies, but because the ergonomics of them do not quite work as well as we'd hope.

I think this device will garner a following.  I saw many people over the years since the launch of the Kindle decry the current eReaders because they weren't more like what the iPad appears to be.   Add to that the fact that there are plenty of folks who buy into just about anything Apple does, and you can already tell it's going to have some measure of success.   Around the internet you will hear a lot of folks saying this is a game changer.  Especially in the ebook/publishing arena.   Apple is the 8 million ton gorilla in the room, and once they decide to jump into a market space they will change the dynamics.   Competition is a good thing.  But what we don't need is Apple putting Amazon and the others out of the market space, because then it'll just be Apple dominating the ebook scene instead of Amazon.  Thankfully, I don't see that as a short term reality.  With Amazon, B&N, and Apple all with strong products in the space, I think it will help the consumer.

The big problem I see with the iPad is the price.  It's high.  And frankly, with the way I watched the pricing basically not change at all for the iTouch, (they simply retire lower capacity models and keep the prices for the top model in the same range instead of letting the whole device shift downwards) I'm not hopeful that the iPad will come down into a reasonable price range.  I'm sorry to say, despite what they seem to believe, a $500 device is NOT something that every family can afford.  And it really is not competitive with the range of pricing for netbooks which start in the mid to upper $200 range.   I suspect this will rapidly push the price on the Kindle and Nook down.  That's a good thing.  In my opinion those devices need to get below the $200 mark to really break out, and now that we have a device that does more than just books and audio, that's going to by needs push the dedicated reader down in price or push it out of the market.  But....in order for that to really happen, Apple will need to move their prices down.   I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Kindle get below the $200 price point before the end of the year, and the DX to get down into the $350 range, as a result of this showing up on the market.

I don't think of the iPad as an eReader.   I think of it as an entertainment device.  It supports all sorts of entertainment.  Books, movies, music, web surfing, TV (through the iTunes store, but possibly other ways I don't know) gaming.  You might have heard of the weaknesses of the device: lack of multitasking, and lack of Flash support.  I don't know why either of these is the case.  Perhaps multitasking on a phone wasn't as critical, so for that form factor it wasn't vital.  And so far, lack of Flash support hasn't hindered the iPhone/Touch.  But the new form factor will make both of those harder to ignore.  A weakness to be sure, but in the meantime, they bring to the game the best that the iPhone/Touch have to offer.   So I'd call that a wash.

Would I buy one of these?  Not for the money I'd need to spend.  And truth is, at this point in time I don't have the need for it.  My wife and I have Kindles, and we have a netbook in the house.  There's just no point in this particular device for us at this time.  If I didn't have both of those....yes, I'd probably consider it.  But not in this price point.  Also, a 10 hour battery life while good when compared to a laptop...is weak compared to a more typical eReader.  That's the price you pay for a backlit screen.  Well that an eyestrain which I could do without.  But that's a whole nother story.

To sum up my opinion: a solid entry.  Not a revolutionary one.  


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To be fair, since i tend to favor the Kindle in my EReader updates, I figured I'd take a second to mention some of the other ereaders which have recently come to my attention.

The first is the Sony device.  I got an email from Borders, which puts the older Sony Reader Pocket Edition at $199.99.   Wow.  That's pretty significant in my estimation, as I think that $200 is a major price point.  The next major price point in my opinion will be when the first reader drops to $99.99.  I'd say at that price mark, eReaders shift from gizmo, to practical device.  Mind you, quality and function also need to continue to improve, but I think that's inevittable with the number of new entries into the marketplace.  Also of note is that the Sony Reader Touch edition is now at $299.99.  Although I hear mixed reviews about this device, (mostly claiming that the touch screen technology interferes with the screen resolution quality) I have to admit, touch screen technology is sweet.  For me more of a nice to have than need to have though, because touch screen done poorly is, in my opinion, worse than not having it. 

Now engadget has an article talking about Barnes & Noble's entry into the marketplace.  The Nook.  I can't yet find anything about it on the B&N website, so I find that fact a tiny bit frustrating.  However, the launch price is supposed to be head to head with the Kindle, set at $259.  This looks like it might just be the ereader for my friend Blue.  It claims that you can use their built in LendMe technology to loan out books to friends.  Either on their Nook, or on their cellphone/iTouch, laptop etc, if they've got the B&N App for their device, you can loan to them.  That's cool.  It also seems to have Wifi and ATT 3G backing it up, something that I think makes these devices awesome.  It has a color touchscreen interface (separate from the reading screen) and that is the user interface.  Neat, though I'd have to see it in action in person before I know whether I think it's really good.  And unlike the Kindle, B&N will have their device available in stores to check out.  Which means, you'll be able to try before you buy.  That's a huge benefit. There's even a claim, that you can read the ebooks while in the store, so you can browse the ebooks, even if they don't have the book instock, while hanging out at B&N.  Just as if you had the real book infront of you.  Interesting.  Could this be the one to knock Kindle off it's current leader seat?  Not sure.  It definitely has my curiosity.  I will probably check it out.

Now, if these folks figure out how to incorporate social networking into this experience, I think things will really take off.  Consider what[personal profile] sartoriassaid in a response to an earlier post of mine, she doesn't trust the automated algorythms that Amazon uses to generate recommendations for fiction.  But what if, while you scrolled through the bookstore, you could see that ten of your friends rated a book 5 *s.  Not just that the average rating was 4.5*s, but your specific friends.  Or you could recommend books to friends and family through this sort of networking app.  Now sure, you'll probably see a lot of chaff out there, just like you see tons of blips of noise on Facebook or Myspace, but if they tailor it right, you should be able to organize yourself to get a better signal to noise ratio.   And then it would be readers, connecting with readers through their ereaders.  Okay, I'm probably getting all fanciful in the vision, but I could see it working.

What do you think about Social Media for books?  Do you belong to any?  Do they help you find interesting books?

Update: B&N has the official webpage up as of the moment.  You can find more about the Nook here.
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To be fair, since i tend to favor the Kindle in my EReader updates, I figured I'd take a second to mention some of the other ereaders which have recently come to my attention.

The first is the Sony device.  I got an email from Borders, which puts the older Sony Reader Pocket Edition at $199.99.   Wow.  That's pretty significant in my estimation, as I think that $200 is a major price point.  The next major price point in my opinion will be when the first reader drops to $99.99.  I'd say at that price mark, eReaders shift from gizmo, to practical device.  Mind you, quality and function also need to continue to improve, but I think that's inevittable with the number of new entries into the marketplace.  Also of note is that the Sony Reader Touch edition is now at $299.99.  Although I hear mixed reviews about this device, (mostly claiming that the touch screen technology interferes with the screen resolution quality) I have to admit, touch screen technology is sweet.  For me more of a nice to have than need to have though, because touch screen done poorly is, in my opinion, worse than not having it. 

Now engadget has an article talking about Barnes & Noble's entry into the marketplace.  The Nook.  I can't yet find anything about it on the B&N website, so I find that fact a tiny bit frustrating.  However, the launch price is supposed to be head to head with the Kindle, set at $259.  This looks like it might just be the ereader for my friend Blue.  It claims that you can use their built in LendMe technology to loan out books to friends.  Either on their Nook, or on their cellphone/iTouch, laptop etc, if they've got the B&N App for their device, you can loan to them.  That's cool.  It also seems to have Wifi and ATT 3G backing it up, something that I think makes these devices awesome.  It has a color touchscreen interface (separate from the reading screen) and that is the user interface.  Neat, though I'd have to see it in action in person before I know whether I think it's really good.  And unlike the Kindle, B&N will have their device available in stores to check out.  Which means, you'll be able to try before you buy.  That's a huge benefit. There's even a claim, that you can read the ebooks while in the store, so you can browse the ebooks, even if they don't have the book instock, while hanging out at B&N.  Just as if you had the real book infront of you.  Interesting.  Could this be the one to knock Kindle off it's current leader seat?  Not sure.  It definitely has my curiosity.  I will probably check it out.

Now, if these folks figure out how to incorporate social networking into this experience, I think things will really take off.  Consider what[personal profile] sartoriassaid in a response to an earlier post of mine, she doesn't trust the automated algorythms that Amazon uses to generate recommendations for fiction.  But what if, while you scrolled through the bookstore, you could see that ten of your friends rated a book 5 *s.  Not just that the average rating was 4.5*s, but your specific friends.  Or you could recommend books to friends and family through this sort of networking app.  Now sure, you'll probably see a lot of chaff out there, just like you see tons of blips of noise on Facebook or Myspace, but if they tailor it right, you should be able to organize yourself to get a better signal to noise ratio.   And then it would be readers, connecting with readers through their ereaders.  Okay, I'm probably getting all fanciful in the vision, but I could see it working.

What do you think about Social Media for books?  Do you belong to any?  Do they help you find interesting books?

Update: B&N has the official webpage up as of the moment.  You can find more about the Nook here.
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You know, I get  a bit tired of hearing all sorts of reasons why the Kindle isn't like the iPod.   That it's not the breakthrough device.  That we're going to have to wait longer before the real device comes out that turns the market around, and makes everyone want one.

Sorry, but, that's just crap.

Why?

Because you're all misremembering the iPod.  No really.   I'm telling you, you don't remember when he iPod first came out.  How much did the first iPod cost when it hit the market?  Any idea?  How about $399.  Look familiar?  Yeah, that's right, the first iPod cost the same as the Kindle when it launched.   Yes really.   Want to know something else?   It wasn't nearly as slick as the current models of iPods.  It wasn't even as slick as the version of the iPod that just about everyone remembers as the first iPod, but wasn't. 

Now, how many iPods do you think were sold in that first year?  Really take a guess.  Ready?  Okay:  376,000.   Yeah, that's it.  No, the device didn't come online, and then suddenly there were millions of little iPods out in the hands of people.  Nope.  Didn't happen.   In fact, they didn't cross the 1 million units sold mark until the eighth quarter!  (Fourth quarter of the second year the devices were available.)   What that means is, that you probably don't remember the first iPod that hit the market.  In fact, I would say that most of us, didn't see/experience an iPod until the third generation device or later.   It's real easy to tell, if you haven't seen a device that has protruding buttons that come off the front of the faceplate, then you couldn't possibly have seen either a first or second generation iPod.  They had physical buttons on them.  The third generation device came out, and that's when the advertising really picked up, and you had a device with touch sensitive controls.  Everything most people know about the device, starts from that time frame or later, and that's also when the sales per quarter begin to jump.  Further, they didn't cross the million units sold per quarter mark until the fourth quarter of the third year into production.  Of course, by the next quarter, they were selling at least 4 million or more units per quarter, which means we can safely assume that they are selling a million of these devices a month.  Easy.  Currently, they are probably hitting near 3 million a month, with up ticks during the holiday season. 

Now, I have no idea what percentage of units sold go into replacing old units.  IE, if my old iPod now stinks, and I want a new one with feature X, or is smaller, lighter, more capacity, cooler color option, whatever, I go out and buy a new one.  The non-broken ones probably get recycled via gifting them to others.  (Like to your spouse that doesn't have one, or to your kids if they don't yet have them, or to your parents, whichever.)  But some portion of the units do just disappear into the ether, never to return, and some portion stay in productive use.  I think it's safe to assume that no more than 1/3 of the units sold have been permanently retired, and thus we're at a point where there are probably 100 million iPods out there in use today.  The iPod came out in October of 2001, and by October 2004, three years later, and on its fourth generation of device, it dominated the market space with something above 70% total market share, and hasn't let go.  So it took three years.  That's also about the time where you see the huge jump in sales to be more than a million units per quarter into the million units per month range.  I don't think that's a coincidence.   You'll also note that it was with that fourth generation of device, that the current seamlessly slick version of the iPod that we all DO remember is there.  It's from that fourth generation on that you get that one sweet simple interface, just a little multipurpose disk touchpad that runs it all. 

So, okay what's the point?  People keep wanting to compare the Kindle to the iPod, and say: see, it doesn't match up.  It can't ever be that popular or good.  The sales aren't enough.  Or the price is too high.  They say the the look is a bit clunky.  The interface isn't perfect.  All these things are true about the iPod's first generation device too.  We're 6+ years into the iPod generation, but yet people don't really remember where the original came from, and how much effort, work, and improvements Apple put into the device to make it the market leader.  I'm sorry to report that the device did not spring forth fully formed from Steve Job's forehead.  It started with that one, now classic, device, and built over years to the point where every kid on the block wants one.  So far, if the unofficial numbers are to be believed, it seems as if the Kindle is poised to follow down this same path.  Now, is reading books as cool as listening to music?  I think so, but I'm a geek who loves reading.  Of course to be the break out device in its own sphere, the Kindle doesn't have to sell as many units as the iPod has.  But the fact that it appears to be following in the same general trend sure doesn't hurt.

This is not a slam against the iPod.  I see nothing wrong with the device or its history.  But I think people have a rather distorted memory of the success of that little gem, and that distorted view discounts the amount of time, energy, and effort that Apple put in to making the brand a success.   The current costs, value, and ubiquity of said device didn't show up over night, but was accomplished in the long haul.  Trying to compare the first few months of a new device, against the current popularity, or even the vaguely remembered apparent boom of the initial iPod is poorly done by those who want to decry that the ebook reader's time has not yet arrived.
Tags:
You know, I get  a bit tired of hearing all sorts of reasons why the Kindle isn't like the iPod.   That it's not the breakthrough device.  That we're going to have to wait longer before the real device comes out that turns the market around, and makes everyone want one.

Sorry, but, that's just crap.

Why?

Because you're all misremembering the iPod.  No really.   I'm telling you, you don't remember when he iPod first came out.  How much did the first iPod cost when it hit the market?  Any idea?  How about $399.  Look familiar?  Yeah, that's right, the first iPod cost the same as the Kindle when it launched.   Yes really.   Want to know something else?   It wasn't nearly as slick as the current models of iPods.  It wasn't even as slick as the version of the iPod that just about everyone remembers as the first iPod, but wasn't. 

Now, how many iPods do you think were sold in that first year?  Really take a guess.  Ready?  Okay:  376,000.   Yeah, that's it.  No, the device didn't come online, and then suddenly there were millions of little iPods out in the hands of people.  Nope.  Didn't happen.   In fact, they didn't cross the 1 million units sold mark until the eighth quarter!  (Fourth quarter of the second year the devices were available.)   What that means is, that you probably don't remember the first iPod that hit the market.  In fact, I would say that most of us, didn't see/experience an iPod until the third generation device or later.   It's real easy to tell, if you haven't seen a device that has protruding buttons that come off the front of the faceplate, then you couldn't possibly have seen either a first or second generation iPod.  They had physical buttons on them.  The third generation device came out, and that's when the advertising really picked up, and you had a device with touch sensitive controls.  Everything most people know about the device, starts from that time frame or later, and that's also when the sales per quarter begin to jump.  Further, they didn't cross the million units sold per quarter mark until the fourth quarter of the third year into production.  Of course, by the next quarter, they were selling at least 4 million or more units per quarter, which means we can safely assume that they are selling a million of these devices a month.  Easy.  Currently, they are probably hitting near 3 million a month, with up ticks during the holiday season. 

Now, I have no idea what percentage of units sold go into replacing old units.  IE, if my old iPod now stinks, and I want a new one with feature X, or is smaller, lighter, more capacity, cooler color option, whatever, I go out and buy a new one.  The non-broken ones probably get recycled via gifting them to others.  (Like to your spouse that doesn't have one, or to your kids if they don't yet have them, or to your parents, whichever.)  But some portion of the units do just disappear into the ether, never to return, and some portion stay in productive use.  I think it's safe to assume that no more than 1/3 of the units sold have been permanently retired, and thus we're at a point where there are probably 100 million iPods out there in use today.  The iPod came out in October of 2001, and by October 2004, three years later, and on its fourth generation of device, it dominated the market space with something above 70% total market share, and hasn't let go.  So it took three years.  That's also about the time where you see the huge jump in sales to be more than a million units per quarter into the million units per month range.  I don't think that's a coincidence.   You'll also note that it was with that fourth generation of device, that the current seamlessly slick version of the iPod that we all DO remember is there.  It's from that fourth generation on that you get that one sweet simple interface, just a little multipurpose disk touchpad that runs it all. 

So, okay what's the point?  People keep wanting to compare the Kindle to the iPod, and say: see, it doesn't match up.  It can't ever be that popular or good.  The sales aren't enough.  Or the price is too high.  They say the the look is a bit clunky.  The interface isn't perfect.  All these things are true about the iPod's first generation device too.  We're 6+ years into the iPod generation, but yet people don't really remember where the original came from, and how much effort, work, and improvements Apple put into the device to make it the market leader.  I'm sorry to report that the device did not spring forth fully formed from Steve Job's forehead.  It started with that one, now classic, device, and built over years to the point where every kid on the block wants one.  So far, if the unofficial numbers are to be believed, it seems as if the Kindle is poised to follow down this same path.  Now, is reading books as cool as listening to music?  I think so, but I'm a geek who loves reading.  Of course to be the break out device in its own sphere, the Kindle doesn't have to sell as many units as the iPod has.  But the fact that it appears to be following in the same general trend sure doesn't hurt.

This is not a slam against the iPod.  I see nothing wrong with the device or its history.  But I think people have a rather distorted memory of the success of that little gem, and that distorted view discounts the amount of time, energy, and effort that Apple put in to making the brand a success.   The current costs, value, and ubiquity of said device didn't show up over night, but was accomplished in the long haul.  Trying to compare the first few months of a new device, against the current popularity, or even the vaguely remembered apparent boom of the initial iPod is poorly done by those who want to decry that the ebook reader's time has not yet arrived.
Tags:

Okay, for anyone on my flist who hasn't heard of this yet, Amazon has launched their own digital book/electronic reader.  It is known as the Kindle, and you can read something about it here:

Link to Amazon Kindle Page

The next test, was finding whose books I could purchase, so I started doing some random searches on authors I would consider purchasing if I were to own a Kindle.  Most of whom would be in the SF, F, and H fields.   Here's who I could find:

One of the features I was a little disappointed about was magazine subscriptions.  While I do like having subscriptions to the physical magazines, because that's cool, I might actually get a few more stories read if I had it all digital and didn't need my laptop to do the reading.  IE, it's something I'd consider.   What's sad is that NO Fantasy, SF, or Horror magazines are available through this service.   Even more, there are only (at the time I write this) eight (8) magazines available for subscription at all.   Maybe it doesn't sound cool to others the way it does me.   But there's hundreds of Blogs you can subscribe to, I'd have though magazines would want to be available this way too.  Perhaps it's just going to take a while to get there.

I'm curious what other people think.   Mostly from a consumer aspect, though if you happen to be an author and want to share opinions about the device from that side too, cool.   But especially those friends of mine who aren't writers, you book readers you.  What do you think?  Does something like this meet your needs?   Or are you going to give this a heck no, no way no how reaction?   I'm real curious.  (Opinions, such as: if they could bring down the price tag to $200 I'd go for it are welcome too.)

I think for me the hardest part is this:  I can't test drive one.  At least with the Sony reader, I can find one in a store somewhere and play around to see what I think.   I don't usually buy electronics sight unseen.  I'm not that trusting.  I'd be more inclined if I got say a 90 day money back guarantee trial from Amazon.  Please dear readers (all five of you) share your thoughts too.

Edit:  I'm seeing lots of hits, with no posting.  Anyone want to share where you found this entry from?  I'm very curious how so many people found this one post.

Okay, for anyone on my flist who hasn't heard of this yet, Amazon has launched their own digital book/electronic reader.  It is known as the Kindle, and you can read something about it here:

Link to Amazon Kindle Page

The next test, was finding whose books I could purchase, so I started doing some random searches on authors I would consider purchasing if I were to own a Kindle.  Most of whom would be in the SF, F, and H fields.   Here's who I could find:

One of the features I was a little disappointed about was magazine subscriptions.  While I do like having subscriptions to the physical magazines, because that's cool, I might actually get a few more stories read if I had it all digital and didn't need my laptop to do the reading.  IE, it's something I'd consider.   What's sad is that NO Fantasy, SF, or Horror magazines are available through this service.   Even more, there are only (at the time I write this) eight (8) magazines available for subscription at all.   Maybe it doesn't sound cool to others the way it does me.   But there's hundreds of Blogs you can subscribe to, I'd have though magazines would want to be available this way too.  Perhaps it's just going to take a while to get there.

I'm curious what other people think.   Mostly from a consumer aspect, though if you happen to be an author and want to share opinions about the device from that side too, cool.   But especially those friends of mine who aren't writers, you book readers you.  What do you think?  Does something like this meet your needs?   Or are you going to give this a heck no, no way no how reaction?   I'm real curious.  (Opinions, such as: if they could bring down the price tag to $200 I'd go for it are welcome too.)

I think for me the hardest part is this:  I can't test drive one.  At least with the Sony reader, I can find one in a store somewhere and play around to see what I think.   I don't usually buy electronics sight unseen.  I'm not that trusting.  I'd be more inclined if I got say a 90 day money back guarantee trial from Amazon.  Please dear readers (all five of you) share your thoughts too.

Edit:  I'm seeing lots of hits, with no posting.  Anyone want to share where you found this entry from?  I'm very curious how so many people found this one post.
.

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