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?

Well, they said they were working on it, and just before the end of 2010, Amazon delivered their new lending feature.  In many ways, this version of the feature mirrors what Barnes and Noble has done for their ebooks.  The specifics can all be researched here: 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200549320

The jist of it for those that don't want to follow the link is you can loan out books to others, whether Kindle owners, or just users of the various Kindle Apps for a period of 14 days.  However, much like the B&N version, you can loan out each book only once to just one person.  While the book is out on loan, the original user can't access and read the book.  I think that it's quite reasonable to set up the technology to work in this fashion, such that as long as the book is out on loan, you can't read it yourself.  That mimics the way it would work for a real book.  Of course, unlike a real book out on loan, you get it back automatically after 14 days.  Whether your buddy is done reading it or not.   Good for you, of course, but not so good for your friend if you didn't appropriately coordinate the loan. 

I'm disappointed that you can only lend each book once.  I get that the publishers don't want to have people buying a book, then lending it to every friend, and thereby losing all those additional sales.  But often, I'll loan out the first book of a series, and that's all I need to loan out to friends to get them interested in an author.  So some books, I loan a lot, whereas others, even by the same author, I don't loan ever.  Perhaps if there was a way to reset the clock, maybe once every few months, or even once a year would be nice.  It would be a shame to loan out a book my one and only time, only to later learn that the person didn't even get the chance to read or finish the book.  It would also be nice if there was a built in feature that tracked how far along the reader was in the book, and perhaps allowed you to extend the loan for a few extra days, maybe even just once, so that the borrower can finish if they hadn't gotten all the way through the book.  

But this cuts back one of the most common complaints I've heard against ebooks, and it really is about time that Amazon caught up on this feature, because it's something the public wants.  Whether they'll actually use it?  Hard to say.  But it's here, and perhaps over time, the feature will be refined and improved with user feedback.

Like many of the other features, however, this one is controlled by the publisher.  Which means that the publisher has the say on whether they want to allow lending of their books.  Keep that in mind.  The pressure is on Amazon, now that there's a lot of competition.  Let's see if they will keep their pack leader position, or if they will give it up.
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Okay, when I say the Kindle is dead, I mean my Kindle.  My original old K1 died.  It was a sad death.  Mainly because it was just the screen that died, not the device itself.  I meant to blog about this a while ago when it happened, but damn it, a whole hell of a lots been going on and well, as you can tell I haven't been much around lately. 

So in any case, over the summer we lost my wife's cable/charger for her K2.  And out of desperation, since she had gotten really used to the comfort and ease of reading on a Kindle, I loaned her mine.  I wasn't using it as much at the moment, and I have three stories worth of physical paper books to work my way through.  So, no big deal.  Well unfortunately, right about the time I found another cable that would allow us to charge up her K2, the screen on my K1 went strange.  I wish I'd taken a photo of it before I tried to fix the problem, because it was wild looking.  It was as if all the words were melting on the page.  Had an almost impressionist quality to the look of the screen.  (Okay, I might be using that word wrong, since I'm not an art type person and don't really know enough to make a claim to a specific art style, so I'm fudging it.)

Well, in trying to shut the whole thing down, and reboot from scratch, the screen went black.  And it went black for good.   Sad, because I'd considered trickling that one down to Dad, when I finally got a K3.  So I checked into the possibility of replacing the screen, and I think the cost for the screen alone was going to run $99.  Since they won't sell you the part unless they intend to do the repair, and since labor's got to cost something...you can see where this is going.  The repair would cost at least as much as buying a new Wifi unit.  Possibly more.  So I held off for a while, and my family bought it for me for the holidays.  So I am again finally in possession of the Kindle.   I am excited.  It's really a great little device.  I'm going to have to think about which cover to pick up.  I like to lug mine around a lot, so I need something to protect it.

In other news, while Google isn't officially supporting Kindle with their Google Bookstore, I was able to download on of their editions (a public domain work, so it was free) and transfer the PDF manually to my Kindle.  It works.  I can read it.  Not as good as a read as I would like, and I'd be a heck of a lot happier being able to have a native mobi/prc file to support and use on my device.  But it's good to know that the option is there, even if, with the smaller sized Kindle, the PDF makes the font rather on the small side, not exactly comfortable for reading.  Or maybe it's my eyesight going.  I really am due for an eye exam.  Wonder if I can fit one in before the end of the year.
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So, two quite interesting things revealed recently in regards to the Kindle.  One is the fact that the K2 is due for an update soon.  So if you've got one, sometime this month, you should get it.  Most important thing in this entire update: ability to organize your collections.  Finally!  (More details here.)  Unfortunately, this is not a release for the K1, so those of us still using a K1, sadly out of luck.   However, there is word out there that Amazon will be providing this feature for K1s, so there will, hopefully, be an update for the K1 sometime in the "near" future.  As an aside, the Kindle for PC app also got a recent upgrade.  Some slight improvements.  Seems a tad faster, and more options for reading.  (Black text on white background, white text on black background, sepia tones, and an ability to control the brightness.)  Nice bits, but doesn't change my general opinion that the PC app is just on the OK side, not so good as the actual device or the iPhone/Pad app.

So clearly, Amazon is under the gun, and working hard to get these apps up to speed.  I mean, we're at one month post iPad now, right?  So, yeah, Amazon's got to work to keep things positive in their court.  On the other hand, it's probably not helping their PR much that they are having some fights with Penguin group over Kindle editions.  Right now, you still can't get Jim Butcher's latest novel in Kindle format (in the USA) and in response, Amazon is selling the hardcover for the price it wanted to sell the ebook.  I'd call if funny, but in reality, it's just the kind of frustration that consumers hate to see: two big corporations bickering with the consumers losing out no matter which way the penny falls. 

Last little bit here, was a little revelation by Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov's, that they have approximately 4,000 Kindle subscribers.  All I can say about that is BINGO.  That's exactly what I was talking about when I said the SF &F magazines need to get out some Kindle editions, and reap some of that benefit.  Which I think was good advice, however, it appears, from what several respected editors are recently telling me that there are backend issues from the Amazon-side preventing them from being able to provide their magazines as Kindle Magazines.  Several have recently begun handling them as "books" from a Kindle POV.  I think its a good effort on their part to try and make things happen in any fashion that they can.  However, the problem as I see it, is that the steady income stream I'd envisioned for such magazines isn't likely to be as straightforward.  Instead of turning the millions of Kindle owners into potential subscribers in a literal sense, they are instead forced back to a "newsstand" approach where they've got to get their wares out on the "racks" where they hope to attract each individual buyer every single month without fail.  That's going to be more of a challenge than they might want, and I suspect that the return on investment there will be comparably smaller than if they could get into the official Magazine list.  The benefits of not being a magazine subscription do have some compensating factors.  For example, I cannot share my Asimov's subscription with my wife.  It's locked down to my Kindle.  If I saw a story I thought she'd really want to read, I'd have to swap with her.  Further, if I should trade in my K1 at some future point, I might lose my "back issues" of Asimov's.  I know I could transfer the live subscription to a different device, but not so sure that I can read the back issues elsewhere.   At least with the issues I've picked up in "book format" I can share them with the wife, or to other devices, etc.  A small bit of silver lining for the customer. 

Here's a small list of SF & F magazines you can get in Kindle format, but not as "subscriptions.

Clarkesworld
Realms of Fantasy
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Fantasy Magazine

I'll happily add others if folks can point them out to me.

Now of course, you can buy other magazines in PDF format, or even PRC/MOBI format, and therefore would be able to read them on a Kindle.  But those you have to go out and look for, and I think that cuts down significantly on the potential sales.
So, two quite interesting things revealed recently in regards to the Kindle.  One is the fact that the K2 is due for an update soon.  So if you've got one, sometime this month, you should get it.  Most important thing in this entire update: ability to organize your collections.  Finally!  (More details here.)  Unfortunately, this is not a release for the K1, so those of us still using a K1, sadly out of luck.   However, there is word out there that Amazon will be providing this feature for K1s, so there will, hopefully, be an update for the K1 sometime in the "near" future.  As an aside, the Kindle for PC app also got a recent upgrade.  Some slight improvements.  Seems a tad faster, and more options for reading.  (Black text on white background, white text on black background, sepia tones, and an ability to control the brightness.)  Nice bits, but doesn't change my general opinion that the PC app is just on the OK side, not so good as the actual device or the iPhone/Pad app.

So clearly, Amazon is under the gun, and working hard to get these apps up to speed.  I mean, we're at one month post iPad now, right?  So, yeah, Amazon's got to work to keep things positive in their court.  On the other hand, it's probably not helping their PR much that they are having some fights with Penguin group over Kindle editions.  Right now, you still can't get Jim Butcher's latest novel in Kindle format (in the USA) and in response, Amazon is selling the hardcover for the price it wanted to sell the ebook.  I'd call if funny, but in reality, it's just the kind of frustration that consumers hate to see: two big corporations bickering with the consumers losing out no matter which way the penny falls. 

Last little bit here, was a little revelation by Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov's, that they have approximately 4,000 Kindle subscribers.  All I can say about that is BINGO.  That's exactly what I was talking about when I said the SF &F magazines need to get out some Kindle editions, and reap some of that benefit.  Which I think was good advice, however, it appears, from what several respected editors are recently telling me that there are backend issues from the Amazon-side preventing them from being able to provide their magazines as Kindle Magazines.  Several have recently begun handling them as "books" from a Kindle POV.  I think its a good effort on their part to try and make things happen in any fashion that they can.  However, the problem as I see it, is that the steady income stream I'd envisioned for such magazines isn't likely to be as straightforward.  Instead of turning the millions of Kindle owners into potential subscribers in a literal sense, they are instead forced back to a "newsstand" approach where they've got to get their wares out on the "racks" where they hope to attract each individual buyer every single month without fail.  That's going to be more of a challenge than they might want, and I suspect that the return on investment there will be comparably smaller than if they could get into the official Magazine list.  The benefits of not being a magazine subscription do have some compensating factors.  For example, I cannot share my Asimov's subscription with my wife.  It's locked down to my Kindle.  If I saw a story I thought she'd really want to read, I'd have to swap with her.  Further, if I should trade in my K1 at some future point, I might lose my "back issues" of Asimov's.  I know I could transfer the live subscription to a different device, but not so sure that I can read the back issues elsewhere.   At least with the issues I've picked up in "book format" I can share them with the wife, or to other devices, etc.  A small bit of silver lining for the customer. 

Here's a small list of SF & F magazines you can get in Kindle format, but not as "subscriptions.

Clarkesworld
Realms of Fantasy
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Fantasy Magazine

I'll happily add others if folks can point them out to me.

Now of course, you can buy other magazines in PDF format, or even PRC/MOBI format, and therefore would be able to read them on a Kindle.  But those you have to go out and look for, and I think that cuts down significantly on the potential sales.

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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Took them a while, but it seems as if Amazon has now caught up (in general) with Barnes & Noble with the alternate means to accessing your Kindle books.   Today they came out with a Blackberry App.  This is good news for Kindle purchasers/owners as it expands the overall reach of diferent devices you can use to read your purchased works.

Of course this won't make a dent in the overall mentality I hear from some folks such as Cory Doctorow that the Kindle is a roach motel that forces you into a proprietary system and that you won't be able to take your books outside of the Kindle.  (To be fair, that's a characterization of the way Cory presents it, not a verbatim quote.)  He's hardly the only one who constantly insists that Kindle is a closed system.  During the whole of Amazonfail, I bit my tongue on more than one occasion, with all the "informed" folks taking stabs at the Kindle spreading a lot of outright false information.   The idea was presented quite often that purchased books were only availble on a single hardware format.  Which is patently false.  You can read a Kindle ebook on an actual Kindle, naturally, but they had an iPhone/Touch app for quite a long time, and for the past several months a PC app.  (Unfortunately not available for the Mac yet, they are still listing that as "coming soon.")  Never mind the constant intoning that you can only get books for your Kindle through Amazon.  Utter hogwash non-sense.  But that's would be a whole other conversation I could go into that has nothing to do with what I'm posting about.

We've now got a blackberry Kindle app.

Unforuntately it seems only for a limited selection of supported models, mostly of the newest variety.  Gah.  That sucks.  And worse, there's no details about when they might be expanding this to any older models.   I don't like that as it might mean they are just bailing on anything older than what's on the list now.  It would surely cut into their potential userbase.   It's also only available for US phones.  Again, kinda sucks.  But, as the iPhone app has expanded beyond our shores, perhaps this will too.  And lastly, it seems that like the PC you only get books--no magazines, newspapers or blogs.  Well, for me personally no big loss there, since I don't get any newspapers or blogs, and the magazine choices are so limited there's not much incentive for me to get any other than Asimov's.  (And that mainly as a space saving issue so I don't have to have unlimited shelfspace in my house as they pile up.)  And, no search feature.  Bleh.

So, cool that Amazon has finally gotten this out of the gate.  But again, the performance looks pretty weak.  I'm going to have to give this a C-. 
It seems that the reigning champion non-Kindle device goes to the iPhone/Touch.  Which, assuming that app will work as is and is allowed on the iPad, that bodes well for users who already have and use this on their existing iPhone/Touch and happen to make the expensive investment in an early iPad.  Easy portability to a new reading device.
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Took them a while, but it seems as if Amazon has now caught up (in general) with Barnes & Noble with the alternate means to accessing your Kindle books.   Today they came out with a Blackberry App.  This is good news for Kindle purchasers/owners as it expands the overall reach of diferent devices you can use to read your purchased works.

Of course this won't make a dent in the overall mentality I hear from some folks such as Cory Doctorow that the Kindle is a roach motel that forces you into a proprietary system and that you won't be able to take your books outside of the Kindle.  (To be fair, that's a characterization of the way Cory presents it, not a verbatim quote.)  He's hardly the only one who constantly insists that Kindle is a closed system.  During the whole of Amazonfail, I bit my tongue on more than one occasion, with all the "informed" folks taking stabs at the Kindle spreading a lot of outright false information.   The idea was presented quite often that purchased books were only availble on a single hardware format.  Which is patently false.  You can read a Kindle ebook on an actual Kindle, naturally, but they had an iPhone/Touch app for quite a long time, and for the past several months a PC app.  (Unfortunately not available for the Mac yet, they are still listing that as "coming soon.")  Never mind the constant intoning that you can only get books for your Kindle through Amazon.  Utter hogwash non-sense.  But that's would be a whole other conversation I could go into that has nothing to do with what I'm posting about.

We've now got a blackberry Kindle app.

Unforuntately it seems only for a limited selection of supported models, mostly of the newest variety.  Gah.  That sucks.  And worse, there's no details about when they might be expanding this to any older models.   I don't like that as it might mean they are just bailing on anything older than what's on the list now.  It would surely cut into their potential userbase.   It's also only available for US phones.  Again, kinda sucks.  But, as the iPhone app has expanded beyond our shores, perhaps this will too.  And lastly, it seems that like the PC you only get books--no magazines, newspapers or blogs.  Well, for me personally no big loss there, since I don't get any newspapers or blogs, and the magazine choices are so limited there's not much incentive for me to get any other than Asimov's.  (And that mainly as a space saving issue so I don't have to have unlimited shelfspace in my house as they pile up.)  And, no search feature.  Bleh.

So, cool that Amazon has finally gotten this out of the gate.  But again, the performance looks pretty weak.  I'm going to have to give this a C-. 
It seems that the reigning champion non-Kindle device goes to the iPhone/Touch.  Which, assuming that app will work as is and is allowed on the iPad, that bodes well for users who already have and use this on their existing iPhone/Touch and happen to make the expensive investment in an early iPad.  Easy portability to a new reading device.
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temporus: (backup)
( Nov. 18th, 2009 10:47 pm)
Yes, I'm a major advocate of the Kindle, having been excited about the concept of eInk from the first day I heard about it a good half a decade ago now, long before any practical eReader based upon its technology was ready for the public sphere. I still think that as a concept, both environmentally, and ergonomically, having a dedicated device with an eInk screen for reading text is virtually as good as reading an actual paper book. However, I know that not everyone wants to shell out the big bucks (at this time) to get an eReader. And truth be told, I knew I was an early adopter going in. There'd be a risk that I was making a bad choice, and the devices would flop, and it would be another ten years before eReaders had another go. Something I know from personal experience is this: you only have to get burned once by a piece of technology to get bitter and resentful.

An example is the time we implemented a Lotus Domino feature called Shared Mail. The purpose was to save space on your systems, by storing only a single copy of any email that had multiple recipients, and then giving only pointers to the mail file of those users who were addressed in the message. Well, all the testing went well, and we were starting to roll it out big time, and then the main repository that had all those emails in it got corrupted, and we nearly lost a ton of emails all in one fell swoop. That was in the 90's. You bring up the words "Shared Mail" in my department, and you will still to this day hear major groans. And we're not alone by a long shot. In fact, whenever Lotus brings out a new feature that even remotely sounds like Shared Mail, admins around the world all collectively groan. Once bitten, twice thrice shy.

So this whole ebook technology is a big risk. People love it. They hate it. Some will probably treat it much like Shared Mail. Others will consider it the newest indispensible tech. But among the biggest reasons I hear people complain about these new readers are these two: what if company X or Y stops supporting that hardware. How will I continue to read the books I paid for--and--why should I buy a device in that price range, when I can get a netbook for about the same cash, and get all the features of a full fledged computer.

More indepth review under the cut )

Lastly, I think these are fine, especially as addendums to the main product line of dedicated eReaders. And if you like the screen, and don't mind it, go for it. Download them yourself, and try them out. They're FREE afterall. Both are nice ways to dip your foot into the ebook market. But in my opinion, neither replace a nice, dedicated eInk device. I'm afraid if I'm on my PC, I'd be too tempted to check email and twitter, and LJ, and...you get the point.

And really, truly, lastly, if you do get this kind of software remember, you'll want to back up the books you download/purchase. Because you just never know, and after all, as today is Wednesday BACK UP YOUR DATA!!!
temporus: (Default)
( Nov. 18th, 2009 10:47 pm)
Yes, I'm a major advocate of the Kindle, having been excited about the concept of eInk from the first day I heard about it a good half a decade ago now, long before any practical eReader based upon its technology was ready for the public sphere. I still think that as a concept, both environmentally, and ergonomically, having a dedicated device with an eInk screen for reading text is virtually as good as reading an actual paper book. However, I know that not everyone wants to shell out the big bucks (at this time) to get an eReader. And truth be told, I knew I was an early adopter going in. There'd be a risk that I was making a bad choice, and the devices would flop, and it would be another ten years before eReaders had another go. Something I know from personal experience is this: you only have to get burned once by a piece of technology to get bitter and resentful.

An example is the time we implemented a Lotus Domino feature called Shared Mail. The purpose was to save space on your systems, by storing only a single copy of any email that had multiple recipients, and then giving only pointers to the mail file of those users who were addressed in the message. Well, all the testing went well, and we were starting to roll it out big time, and then the main repository that had all those emails in it got corrupted, and we nearly lost a ton of emails all in one fell swoop. That was in the 90's. You bring up the words "Shared Mail" in my department, and you will still to this day hear major groans. And we're not alone by a long shot. In fact, whenever Lotus brings out a new feature that even remotely sounds like Shared Mail, admins around the world all collectively groan. Once bitten, twice thrice shy.

So this whole ebook technology is a big risk. People love it. They hate it. Some will probably treat it much like Shared Mail. Others will consider it the newest indispensible tech. But among the biggest reasons I hear people complain about these new readers are these two: what if company X or Y stops supporting that hardware. How will I continue to read the books I paid for--and--why should I buy a device in that price range, when I can get a netbook for about the same cash, and get all the features of a full fledged computer.

More indepth review under the cut )

Lastly, I think these are fine, especially as addendums to the main product line of dedicated eReaders. And if you like the screen, and don't mind it, go for it. Download them yourself, and try them out. They're FREE afterall. Both are nice ways to dip your foot into the ebook market. But in my opinion, neither replace a nice, dedicated eInk device. I'm afraid if I'm on my PC, I'd be too tempted to check email and twitter, and LJ, and...you get the point.

And really, truly, lastly, if you do get this kind of software remember, you'll want to back up the books you download/purchase. Because you just never know, and after all, as today is Wednesday BACK UP YOUR DATA!!!
temporus: (kindle)
( Oct. 7th, 2009 08:37 pm)
I haven't done a report on new Kindle details in a while.  Today's news is quite interesting.

Today, Amazon released an INTERNATIONAL version of their Kindle ebook reader.   I had a feeling this would be coming down the pike eventually, since a number of other ereaders were coming out on the market, and the major advantage that Kindle has is the link to the Amazon store.  If that link only worked outside the US, it would be fantastic.  I'll admit though, I didn't think they were ready for it this year.  I mean, I figured the technology wasn't likely a problem, but that somehow their contract with Sprint might preclude the idea.  But then I think that shows just how US minded I am, and how I've been trained to believe in the locked into a phone vendor philosophy they brainwash us with here.

And now, if you have the International version of the reader, it will work anywhere.  Note, from what I can tell, the International version will work in the US, but if you are a US customer and go abroad and use the wireless download, you'll incur an extra fee.  And as it says that extra fee is for US customers only, I suspect they don't want it abused.

However, this presents and interesting phenomenon in that there will be two identical Kindles, one that is just US only (Now lowered to $259!)  and a International version ($279)  The bigscreen DX stays at the moment US only and still runs at $489.  I so want one, but can't possibly justify it at the moment.

I think Amazon is poised on the brink.  If they can shave off a bit more of the cost on these, I think you'll see the market for the ereaders and hence the ebooks themselves explode.  If you could have all the features of the Kindle at the $200 or under mark, I think a good number of casual readers will find these fantastic.

I still think there's a culture shift that needs to happen as so many, many people will say, again and again to me: but I just love the way a book feels, and I don't think I could enjoy a book on a screen.  I kind of get tired of hearing that argument, but I can understand where they come from.   Here's my opinion on the matter: if you haven't tried reading on the Kindle (or Sony or equivalent quality eInk reader) I think you're rushing to a judgement without taking it for a test drive.   Don't flip on the screen look at it for a second say: neat, then ignore it.  Read a story.  Read a whole story.  See what happens once you get absorbed into reading.  I think you'll be surprised to find how easy it becomes to forget about the reader itself, and get lost in the story.

What do you think?  What's your price point before you'd buy an ereader?  
Tags:
temporus: (Default)
( Oct. 7th, 2009 08:37 pm)
I haven't done a report on new Kindle details in a while.  Today's news is quite interesting.

Today, Amazon released an INTERNATIONAL version of their Kindle ebook reader.   I had a feeling this would be coming down the pike eventually, since a number of other ereaders were coming out on the market, and the major advantage that Kindle has is the link to the Amazon store.  If that link only worked outside the US, it would be fantastic.  I'll admit though, I didn't think they were ready for it this year.  I mean, I figured the technology wasn't likely a problem, but that somehow their contract with Sprint might preclude the idea.  But then I think that shows just how US minded I am, and how I've been trained to believe in the locked into a phone vendor philosophy they brainwash us with here.

And now, if you have the International version of the reader, it will work anywhere.  Note, from what I can tell, the International version will work in the US, but if you are a US customer and go abroad and use the wireless download, you'll incur an extra fee.  And as it says that extra fee is for US customers only, I suspect they don't want it abused.

However, this presents and interesting phenomenon in that there will be two identical Kindles, one that is just US only (Now lowered to $259!)  and a International version ($279)  The bigscreen DX stays at the moment US only and still runs at $489.  I so want one, but can't possibly justify it at the moment.

I think Amazon is poised on the brink.  If they can shave off a bit more of the cost on these, I think you'll see the market for the ereaders and hence the ebooks themselves explode.  If you could have all the features of the Kindle at the $200 or under mark, I think a good number of casual readers will find these fantastic.

I still think there's a culture shift that needs to happen as so many, many people will say, again and again to me: but I just love the way a book feels, and I don't think I could enjoy a book on a screen.  I kind of get tired of hearing that argument, but I can understand where they come from.   Here's my opinion on the matter: if you haven't tried reading on the Kindle (or Sony or equivalent quality eInk reader) I think you're rushing to a judgement without taking it for a test drive.   Don't flip on the screen look at it for a second say: neat, then ignore it.  Read a story.  Read a whole story.  See what happens once you get absorbed into reading.  I think you'll be surprised to find how easy it becomes to forget about the reader itself, and get lost in the story.

What do you think?  What's your price point before you'd buy an ereader?  
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:
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:
Via this link, over on [profile] arachnejericho's blog  there are 240,000 sold.  The article she cites goes further to mention an expectation that there could be between another 500,000 and 750,000 units sold in the next four quarters.  So let's look at the numbers?  Somewhere between 3/4 and a million users.   People wonder why I keep saying: get your SF & F magazines out there for the unit?   There's currently (Well, as of two days ago when I last checked) only 16 magazines available.  At all.  The only two SF&F magazines available are Asimov's and Analog.  But think about this: right now they make up one eighth  of the options for customers under the heading Magazines. (If you throw in Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen's you find that genre magazines make up 1/4 of the currently available options!) 

Look, maybe not everyone is going to want to subscribe to magazines on their Kindle.  And you can make things available other ways, such as F&SF has as noted here:  http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/blog/2008/07/29/fsf-and-kindle/  by Gordon Van Gelder.  Now, I'm hardly privy to the details that Amazon is willing to negotiate with publishers.  People who want to go out of their way to obtain something for their Kindle will.  So, dedicated fans of F&SF won't likely have a problem grabbing their copies off Fictionwise, and loading them up to their devices.  Still, I can't help but think that right now, is an opportune moment for the SF & F markets to get in on the ground floor of something.   Being one of the few choices available for new users of the device has got to make your odds of picking up random subscriptions better.  I mean, imagine being one of only 16 magazines on a newstand.  Don't you think that Asimov's is seeing some kind of uptick in sales being there?  (Yeah, that's idle speculation.)  When a friend of mine used to work for Ebsco subscription services, he told me that their whole concept, sales-pitch, etc, was based on the idea that somewhere around 4% of everyone who sees an add for something, will buy it.  The more people you get your item in front of, the more people you'll get to buy.  I have no clue how accurate that is.  I'm about as far from a sales type person you'll find.  I prefer my life in the caves of the datacenter supporting the salesforce through keeping things running.   But it makes sense to me, that if its easier for me to find something, that's the item I'm more likely to buy.  And people who own Kindles will be on the Amazon site.  A lot.

Look, if you're something like a Clarksworld, or a Strange Horizons, or Fantasy Magazine, you might want to think about how you could make a go of it.  Heck, if you're an online zine, consider doing it as a Blog subscription.  Especially if you are currently giving away the fiction for free now.   I mean, why not?  Blogs run at $1-2 a month.  Okay, so as a blog, maybe you don't stand out to the same degree that you do as a "magazine".  There's 374 blogs available, so you might not get as much coverage there.  And I don't know what the revenue split is.  (I'm sure heavily in their favor.)  But odds are good there'll be a half a million of these things out there by year's end.  That's a darn large user base to tap into.  Get 1/100th of those, 5,000 subscribers to your magazine or blog?  Let's see:  that's anywhere from $5,000-$15,000 a month in raw sales.  Even if you only get, say a 0 take: $18,000-$54,000 a year?   I think that'd help pay those authors.  And the internet bills.  Maybe even a little for the staff too?  Yeah, I think that's at least worth looking into.  (Now, to play my own devil's advocate:  If you all ready get people to donate....perhaps you lose out.  Especially if people start to figure that since the cost of the magazine is X, but previously had donated X Y yearly....they might start to just donate X, since they figure that's the cost.  Or, they may just switch from their normal donation to the subscription method, and then you'd lose out.  See, this is why I stay in the caves, and fix servers.  Business models and ideas make my head hurt.  A lot.)

 
Via this link, over on [profile] arachnejericho's blog  there are 240,000 sold.  The article she cites goes further to mention an expectation that there could be between another 500,000 and 750,000 units sold in the next four quarters.  So let's look at the numbers?  Somewhere between 3/4 and a million users.   People wonder why I keep saying: get your SF & F magazines out there for the unit?   There's currently (Well, as of two days ago when I last checked) only 16 magazines available.  At all.  The only two SF&F magazines available are Asimov's and Analog.  But think about this: right now they make up one eighth  of the options for customers under the heading Magazines. (If you throw in Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen's you find that genre magazines make up 1/4 of the currently available options!) 

Look, maybe not everyone is going to want to subscribe to magazines on their Kindle.  And you can make things available other ways, such as F&SF has as noted here:  http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/blog/2008/07/29/fsf-and-kindle/  by Gordon Van Gelder.  Now, I'm hardly privy to the details that Amazon is willing to negotiate with publishers.  People who want to go out of their way to obtain something for their Kindle will.  So, dedicated fans of F&SF won't likely have a problem grabbing their copies off Fictionwise, and loading them up to their devices.  Still, I can't help but think that right now, is an opportune moment for the SF & F markets to get in on the ground floor of something.   Being one of the few choices available for new users of the device has got to make your odds of picking up random subscriptions better.  I mean, imagine being one of only 16 magazines on a newstand.  Don't you think that Asimov's is seeing some kind of uptick in sales being there?  (Yeah, that's idle speculation.)  When a friend of mine used to work for Ebsco subscription services, he told me that their whole concept, sales-pitch, etc, was based on the idea that somewhere around 4% of everyone who sees an add for something, will buy it.  The more people you get your item in front of, the more people you'll get to buy.  I have no clue how accurate that is.  I'm about as far from a sales type person you'll find.  I prefer my life in the caves of the datacenter supporting the salesforce through keeping things running.   But it makes sense to me, that if its easier for me to find something, that's the item I'm more likely to buy.  And people who own Kindles will be on the Amazon site.  A lot.

Look, if you're something like a Clarksworld, or a Strange Horizons, or Fantasy Magazine, you might want to think about how you could make a go of it.  Heck, if you're an online zine, consider doing it as a Blog subscription.  Especially if you are currently giving away the fiction for free now.   I mean, why not?  Blogs run at $1-2 a month.  Okay, so as a blog, maybe you don't stand out to the same degree that you do as a "magazine".  There's 374 blogs available, so you might not get as much coverage there.  And I don't know what the revenue split is.  (I'm sure heavily in their favor.)  But odds are good there'll be a half a million of these things out there by year's end.  That's a darn large user base to tap into.  Get 1/100th of those, 5,000 subscribers to your magazine or blog?  Let's see:  that's anywhere from $5,000-$15,000 a month in raw sales.  Even if you only get, say a 0 take: $18,000-$54,000 a year?   I think that'd help pay those authors.  And the internet bills.  Maybe even a little for the staff too?  Yeah, I think that's at least worth looking into.  (Now, to play my own devil's advocate:  If you all ready get people to donate....perhaps you lose out.  Especially if people start to figure that since the cost of the magazine is X, but previously had donated X Y yearly....they might start to just donate X, since they figure that's the cost.  Or, they may just switch from their normal donation to the subscription method, and then you'd lose out.  See, this is why I stay in the caves, and fix servers.  Business models and ideas make my head hurt.  A lot.)

 
temporus: (kindle)
( Apr. 30th, 2008 11:17 pm)
I just happened to get an email about new books available on the Kindle.  Which prompted me to take a peek at the Amazon site, and see what all else was new, since the new announced books seemed a bit generic to me.

What did I see?  New Magazines.

Asimov's and Analog!!!

Joy.

I picked up the Asimov's to see how it looks.   Generally speaking just fine.   I think the poetry is going to be an issue, since line formatting can be a bit more important to poetry than it would be to prose.  I'm glad to see these onboard.  (As with Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen too!)

Oh.  And apparently, as of today (I think) there's an announcement on the main Amazon site that they have finally ramped up production to the point where if you order a Kindle, you'll get one, without the long delays.  (Like I had to suffer through.)  That's good news for them.

On another point, I have discovered that my minor issue was due to the SD memory card, because I've been using a different card for over a month now, and it's been fine.  I will have to see how I can get that card swapped out.  Not sure if I can do that at the store, or if I'll have to go through the manufacturer.  I do note that my battery life is significantly better now that I've taken to turning it off during transport.   I suspect that despite the cover, when I carry it in my knapsack, one or more of the keys is getting pressed, and that might have been taxing on the battery.   With the device off, that's a non-issue.   

So we're closing in on almost 120,000 books available from their site.  Not bad for what, 6 months since they launched?  (That's just about 50% increase in titles carried.)   Magazines and newspapers are coming on, if at a slower rate.    We'll see if it can hold up.  I still just wish I could get a peek at the numbers.  How many units are out there?  I don't know if/when we'll ever get to know.  But so far, so good, I should think.   

Now I know I often get all rosy about the device, and that's the geek side of me talking.   But on the writer side, it's not all sweet smelling and perfect.   Just as a bit of counterpoint, you might want to go check out what SFWA's contract committee has to say about the standard Amazon contract as it regards to publication on their devices.  If you are an approaching it from the author or publisher side of things, then its worth your time to read through the annotated copy of the contract.  

I've no doubt that things are changing.  How much?  How fast?  How far?  These are questions that remain.  But ebooks aren't going away.   Will things change for the better, or worse?  I don't think either.  But it will be different.
Tags:
temporus: (kindle)
( Apr. 30th, 2008 11:17 pm)
I just happened to get an email about new books available on the Kindle.  Which prompted me to take a peek at the Amazon site, and see what all else was new, since the new announced books seemed a bit generic to me.

What did I see?  New Magazines.

Asimov's and Analog!!!

Joy.

I picked up the Asimov's to see how it looks.   Generally speaking just fine.   I think the poetry is going to be an issue, since line formatting can be a bit more important to poetry than it would be to prose.  I'm glad to see these onboard.  (As with Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen too!)

Oh.  And apparently, as of today (I think) there's an announcement on the main Amazon site that they have finally ramped up production to the point where if you order a Kindle, you'll get one, without the long delays.  (Like I had to suffer through.)  That's good news for them.

On another point, I have discovered that my minor issue was due to the SD memory card, because I've been using a different card for over a month now, and it's been fine.  I will have to see how I can get that card swapped out.  Not sure if I can do that at the store, or if I'll have to go through the manufacturer.  I do note that my battery life is significantly better now that I've taken to turning it off during transport.   I suspect that despite the cover, when I carry it in my knapsack, one or more of the keys is getting pressed, and that might have been taxing on the battery.   With the device off, that's a non-issue.   

So we're closing in on almost 120,000 books available from their site.  Not bad for what, 6 months since they launched?  (That's just about 50% increase in titles carried.)   Magazines and newspapers are coming on, if at a slower rate.    We'll see if it can hold up.  I still just wish I could get a peek at the numbers.  How many units are out there?  I don't know if/when we'll ever get to know.  But so far, so good, I should think.   

Now I know I often get all rosy about the device, and that's the geek side of me talking.   But on the writer side, it's not all sweet smelling and perfect.   Just as a bit of counterpoint, you might want to go check out what SFWA's contract committee has to say about the standard Amazon contract as it regards to publication on their devices.  If you are an approaching it from the author or publisher side of things, then its worth your time to read through the annotated copy of the contract.  

I've no doubt that things are changing.  How much?  How fast?  How far?  These are questions that remain.  But ebooks aren't going away.   Will things change for the better, or worse?  I don't think either.  But it will be different.
Tags:
I waited a while to post up my thoughts on the Amazon Kindle, because I wanted to allow some time for the *shiny* to wear off, and for it to become just another device I own.  So it's been just about six weeks, and I think that is enough time for me to have some experience and give an initial burst of feedback.  I might check in about how I feel with it near the six month mark, and then at the one year mark, to see if the experience has much changed.


One final thought, if you run into me in person, at a convention, or perhaps at one of the Garden State Horror Writers meetings and want to hold the device, and take a look at it, please go ahead and ask.  I keep it with me almost all the time, and I want to let people--especially writers, editors, and others in publishing--take a few moments to see and feel what the device is like for themselves. 
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