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Kindle Versus The iPhone 376

Posted by Zonk
from the xtc-vs.-adam-ant dept.
Bernie Campbell writes "Forbes takes a look at the recently announced Kindle ebook from Amazon, and considers the possibility that Apple may have beaten them to the punch. 'Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has a not-so-secret weapon when it comes time to load up the iPhone with content: Google ... Google's Book Search project has already pumped much of the world's printed matter into Google's servers. Downloads of classic titles, such as Bleak House, can already be had for free. Mix Apple's iTunes content distribution smarts with Google's vast storehouse of content, and you'll have an instant competitor to Kindle -- one with a touch interface and the ability to play movies and music, too.'
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Kindle Versus The iPhone

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  • No Thanks (Score:2, Insightful)

    I'll take real books please. No batteries required.
    • Re:No Thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by letxa2000 (215841) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:02PM (#21423181)

      I believe the Kindle was also going to be the size of a standard paperback book. That means its screen size is going to be a lot more functional for reading than the relatively small size of the iPhone screen.

      When will people get over the iPhone already? Really, it's just a phone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FatAlb33rt (1177781)
        I'm not sure how you got modded troll... perhaps it was someone who is totally in love with the iPhone had mod points and took offense to that last sentence.

        Mods: Read this: If you are the person who modded the above Troll, I suggest you go and read the moderator guidelines. If you think its still justified, how about making a comment as to why you think it still deserves -1, Troll.

        I fuckin hope I get to meta-mod the parents comment.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by LKM (227954)
          You're right, gp should not have been modded Troll. Should have been Flamebait. You and me, though, we're clearly Offtopic.
      • Re:No Thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:51PM (#21424053) Homepage
        The iPhone actually isn't just a phone. In fact, it's arguable whether or not it's among the best phones out there. There are phones with simpler--i.e. phone only--interfaces, nicer form factors (little flip phones, for example) and probably better sound, clearer reception, etc.

        The attraction of the iPhone is that it isn't just a phone. I don't have one, and probably won't get one for some time, but there are times--like when I'm traveling--that I would prefer to have one device that fulfills the functions of my Palm, my phone, and my video iPod all at once. The fact that this device does all this and more, including what I believe is a best-of-breed palmtop web access interface, puts it well outside the "just a phone" category.

        But the real point here is not that it's the best thing ever. It's not. The point is that people only have (a) so much money, and (b) so much patience and space for carrying around gadgets. If people didn't want to carry a phone, a palm and an iPod, and consolidated them into an iPhone, then they aren't likely to want to add a new device for reading purposes unless there is something really revolutionary about the device. For someone who has to read on a portable device for a living, I can see them getting this and using it. If it were really cheap, I could see it being a popular gift. If the interface were sleek and simple, maybe it would be successful. But unfortunately, it's not all that awesome, and it's not cheap. I'd be very surprised if it gained more than a tiny niche audience.

        People don't want one more thing to sync, to charge, to update, to carry, to protect. The iPhone is not the best at each thing that it does. However, it's good enough at a lot of things, including, potentially, at being an e-reader, that it's probably going to be tough for an expensive, single-function device to compete with it without some major advances.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by letxa2000 (215841)

          People don't want one more thing to sync, to charge, to update, to carry, to protect.

          That's why I have a Treo, and have had it for years. It can do all the things you mentioned--web browsing, email, MP3 player, video player. In the end, what I value is the phone, the Palm aspect (its calendar, etc.), and I occasionally use the web browsing and email. I used the video player and MP3 player to see that it worked. Then I was done with that. I usually use an Mp3 player when I'm biking and have the MP3 p

      • Re:No Thanks (Score:5, Informative)

        by illumin8 (148082) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:52PM (#21424069) Journal

        I believe the Kindle was also going to be the size of a standard paperback book. That means its screen size is going to be a lot more functional for reading than the relatively small size of the iPhone screen.
        This is something people are missing out on a lot. I have an iPhone, and it's great for mobile web browsing, but reading anything on that screen for longer than an hour or so your hands get cramped just from trying to hold it. The Kindle was designed to be held like a book. When we hold books, we shift the posture of our hands every time we turn a page, or shift from the left page to the right page. Why? Because hands aren't designed to be held crunched up in one position for hours on end. They need to move. Small screens like the iPhone weren't designed for the needs of book readers.

        I feel the need to point out that there's a lot of FUD in the original article as well. I think the Forbes editors might have some AAPL stock perhaps?

        From TFA:

        There are also big questions about the device's wireless connection. The device will tap into fresh content via an EV-DO (Evolution-Data Only) wireless network. Will there be a monthly subscription fee?
        No, they already said there was no monthly fee for wireless access.

        How much of the Web will users be able to surf? Newsweek's Levy was able to download a copy of Charles Dickens' Bleak House from Amazon for $1.99, but anyone with full Web access can get the same title from Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) Book Search for free.
        Actually, you can download eBooks in text or mobi format for free from the Kindle, so anything on Google book search should be free for the taking. Also, even though you have to subscribe to blogs if you want digital delivery of the content for offline reading, you can still browse to any blog or website and read it right from your Kindle. The only disadvantage: You have to use the next/previous page buttons to scroll up and down the web page. It's a limitation of the e-Ink technology, because you obviously can't smoothly scroll a page with a scroll bar that requires 1 second to update it's screen.

        There is a lot of FUD out there about the Kindle, but I think it's going to be pretty amazing. Can you imagine having every O'Reilly book ever made on the thing, and the ability to do full text search/grep capability through your entire library of technical books? That alone is a killer app.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ucblockhead (63650)
        Kindle doesn't have a big enough screen. I believe that for these devices to really take off, they need to be large enough to display technical references/textbooks correctly. Then, they will explode. It's not the casual entertainment reader they should be targeting. It's the people who have to haul lots of massive books around everywhere as references.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jaysyn (203771)
      I've been reading PDFs on my Palm for a couple of years now. That's all the e-book I need.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EaglemanBSA (950534)
      Agreed. If for no other reason than my real book is mine. No copyright issues, no DRM (if it comes to that), no subscription costs, etc. I have a print copy of my book, and I can write in it, spill coffee on it, and do whatever the hell else I want with it (short of photocopy and sell it).
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:50PM (#21423007)
    I'll wait a long time to get the kindle. I've always found a paper book to be more convenient than anything online. The kindle is, apparently, quite light and very easy to read, which fixes a couple of the problems. But can you lend a book to a friend or just give it away? What about take it to the toilet and not have to worry? What about a low replacement cost? It looks like they have the price per book to a reasonable level, but everything about paper books is perfect for me. The kindle would have to be amazing to supplant my current library, and the same goes for the iPhone.
    • by emj (15659)
      No you can't give digital copies away, well you can but then are are comitting a crime. But you can get over 12.000 book titles for free [pgpdp.net]. Paper books are great, but I love having information at my reach, just being able to call up any book very fast would be a great thing.
    • by peragrin (659227)
      Um small nitpick, if you drop your paperback book or your ebook into a filled toilet your screwed either way.

      I do understand the your point the price is way to expensive, and they generally have problems with various formats. For $400 I expect touch screen, and possibly black and white web surfing.

      The advantage though is that with e-ink the display is absolutely easy on the eyes to read. If Sony would only support more than just Windows I would break down and grab one.
      • for your small nitpick, I did it a few years back and replacement was cheap. Probably not the case with the kindle.
    • by Mex (191941)
      Hey, for the amount of books I've lost "lending" to friends, this thing might be a bargain.

      "Yeah, I'm reading this GREAT book... What? Oh, no, sorry, I can't lend it to you... I mean, it's in my personal e-reader, it's not an actual book... sooorry =)"
  • by kevmatic (1133523) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:51PM (#21423015)
    If you forget the price difference, the monthly fee the iPhone requires, the shorter battery life of the iPhone (how long can it last if the display is lit nonstop?)...

    Not to mention that the iPhone display is smaller and lower resolution.
    And that Amazon already has a lot of pull with book publishers.
    I'd buy a Kindle if I knew I could get all my college books on it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)
      If you forget the price difference, the monthly fee the iPhone requires, the shorter battery life of the iPhone (how long can it last if the display is lit nonstop?)...

      If you also forget that the Kindle will have similar monthly access fees ($1.99/mo for RSS or more for books which would then have no printing fees and almost no distribution fees) and it looks like something from 1989. Not only that but what else does it do? Not much compared to any mobile device out there.

      I'll stick with reading Foo on my
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by leehwtsohg (618675)
        hmmm? Only as long as you read blogs on it. For books, the fee is simply included in the price, as for newspapers.
    • by King_TJ (85913) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:21PM (#21423485) Journal
      I don't think this is nearly the issue you're making it out to be. The iPod touch could offer e-book reading capabilities just like the iPhone, and you need no monthly contract for it. The books could be purchased (or free ones offered online for download) from iTunes on a PC or Mac, and sync'd into the memory of the iPod touch or iPhone to read later - regardless of connectivity during the time you're viewing the book.

      Battery life becomes sort of a non-issue too when you think about it practically. Who is going to read a Kindle for anywhere near the 30 hours of promised battery life, non-stop? If you just recharge your device each night before going to bed, either Kindle or iPod touch/iPhone will get you through hours of reading during the day with no problem.

      The Apple alternatives win out in size/portability too. Sure, the screen is smaller - but it's bright and easily readable. I have the iPhone (currently hacked with 3rd. party apps), and I've already read a book on it using a free e-reader application on it. It's quite usable, and nice because it's always with me. (I'm already going to carry my cellphone all day long, on my belt-clip, so I don't miss calls. It's nice to be able to grab it and read a few pages of a book I'm working on reading whenever I get a few free minutes here and there. I doubt I'd be lugging a book-sized, $400 Kindle with me everywhere I went too, just to accomplish the same thing.)

      I do agree the Kindle could find a great niche market in colleges/universities. It'd sure beat a book-bag full of textbooks. But how durable is it going to be? Can you trust it to work reliably and not develop stuck buttons, a cracked screen, etc. etc. ?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Amouth (879122)
        my question is exactly what formats does it read.. it has an SD slot to expand storage - but can i just copy over my existing eBooks or stuff from random projectes to the sd card and read it that way?

        while i find the instant download from amazon very very very nice - and i would love to buy and use one and to support this - i do NOT want to have to rebuy my current 300+ book lib to be able to read them on this thing.

        also the price is understandable but..

        100 = i would already own one
        200 = i would have grumb
    • by mypalmike (454265) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:24PM (#21423519) Homepage
      I'd buy a Kindle if I knew I could get all my college books on it.

      When some big company figures out that college textbooks are going to be the first big market for ebooks, I'm going to invest in them.
    • by njfuzzy (734116)
      What price difference? Both devices cost $400.
      • by cduffy (652)
        One of them costs $400 plus a 2-year contract. That's a pretty big difference.
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:51PM (#21423021) Homepage
    Because that's the point of Kindle, isn't it? It is an electronic device that feels similar to a real book and let's you concentrate on the reading. It doesn't have a shiny screen and it won't distract you with calls.
    • by timster (32400) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:56PM (#21423085)
      Except that Amazon gave in to creeping featurism before they had even managed to establish their market in the first place. So rather than a simple "device that feels similar to a real book and lets you concentrate on the reading", we have a monstrosity with dozens of buttons and wireless connectivity... much unlike a real book.

      Whoops.
      • What seemed silliest to me is the idea that it plays MP3s. Who is spending $400 on an e-book reader and doesn't own an mp3 player?
      • by cduffy (652)
        And needing to hook up a USB cable to add content is more like a real book? I don't think the wireless connectivity (free EVDO! What's not to like?) is something to complain about.

        Indeed, the proof is in the pudding -- or, in this case, the reading. I'm not inclined to give much credence to the complaints of folks who haven't actually held one of these in their hands.
    • by sayfawa (1099071)
      And then there's the other plus of e-paper; the battery life.
    • Yeah, the e-ink is important, not just because it's easier on the eyes if you're reading a lot, but because it uses far less energy. Part of the justification for e-ink is that it only requires electricity to re-draw the page. Once you render the page to the screen, you can leave that page displaying all day long without using any electricity.

      So I don't think the iPod or iPhone are direct competition for e-book devices. The only real way in which they compete is in that you might choose Audible books in

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tom (822)

      feels similar to a real book and let's you concentrate on the reading.
      Then why did they put a keyboard on it? I don't get it. I consider it totally stupid, and that alone is a reason for me to not consider buying it. I don't need a keyboard on a book, and it takes away precious screen real-estate.
  • by Bearpaw (13080) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:52PM (#21423025)
    ... when it's possible for me to sell, swap, borrow, and/or loan them.

    It seems like none of the people who design ebook systems have ever been in a used book store or a library, or have ever lent a favorite book to a friend.
    • by nuzak (959558) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:54PM (#21423061) Journal
      It seems like none of the people who design ebook systems have ever been in a used book store or a library, or have ever lent a favorite book to a friend.

      Sure they have. And their first thought about it was "this must be stopped".

      I didn't think RMS's "Right to Read" was actually being interpreted as a business plan.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Well - from the Amazon product page:

      Eliminating the need to print, Kindle makes it easy to take your personal documents with you. (...snip...) Kindle supports wireless delivery of unprotected Microsoft Word, HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files.

      So its a bit like the iPod situation (speaking as a happy iPod owner who has never spent a penny on iTunes) - the "lock in" is an artifact of DRM - if you can get unprotected content you can use it on the hardware. Now, if I can just find the "Book dr

  • Are you kidding me? (Score:4, Informative)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:57PM (#21423087)
    Clearly the author of that Forbes article hasn't tried reading too many of the books on Google books. While there are some really nicely formatted ebooks on there, most of the collection consists of horrendous scans of esoterica only useful to researchers with a tolerance for photographs that may be blurry, noisy, or shot at funny angles.
    • ... Except that Bleak House, in particular, is available as a well-formatted Project Gutenberg book.
  • by Bombula (670389) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:57PM (#21423091)
    I'm trying to imagine less enjoyable way to read a book than on an electronic screen the size of a post-it, but I'm not having much luck. Maybe the audio version by Fran Drescher?
  • by juuri (7678) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:57PM (#21423093) Homepage
    ... consumer.

    On Amazon's side I get it. Locked in customers, paying a premium for a device they are already eating the entire hardware cost on. The Kindle is a pure Nintendo play (which is great for a business). Profit on hardware, profit on software, even profit on content the user already owns.

    On the consumer side though, what is the compelling sell through? E-Ink? Perhaps except the Libre has grown up and is now in generation three on US/Japanese shores and Sony actually finally learned from their mistakes and made putting user generated/owned content on the device an easy process. The Kindle doesn't even compare well with the more expensive offerings as they are all colour and offer full PDF viewing.

    How did this thing get to market? The hardware is silly it is so outdated with regards to style. The software is crippled from the go. Believe it or not heavy users of books *are* price conscious. They will not appreciate being taken for a ride. This whole package reads like some silly dot.com plan and given that Amazon says they have spent three years on it, shows how much they just don't get it. This thing has sat insulated inside Amazon as some hidden away project without regards to the changing market. The Kindle would have been *great* three years okay... questionable at this time last year, but now? Hubris.

    I do look forward to picking one up next year though for $80 with some reverse engineered software though.

    • This may sound kind of dumb, but here goes.

      ebook readers are literally hardware. they are made with a tough plastic case, and an unbendable plastic screen that smudges easily. these materials conduct heat away from your hands quickly. some have pointy styluses.

      this is not something that you want near you when taking a bath, reading in bed, or cuddled up on the sofa.

      contrast that with a book, even a hardcover: the pages are soft and bendable. you can write on them, if you want. the cover materials are m
      • Not dumb everyone thinks the same, but I've been using my laptop as a reader for so long and it works very well. I've had long discussions about this with an editor of childrens books, she really loves books too. There is no way to convince her or you that this is the shit, because it isn't.

        There are issues to solve, and it's going to take a while to solve them, but what is fixed on this is that you can get lots of books fast (1 minute to download), and cheap.

        But it's not free, it's a lock in. Perhaps these
    • I could see a Kindle-like device being useful. While it doen't mention RSS specifically, Kindle's product page mentions being able to read blogs. I could see a portable hardware RSS reader being handy. Catch up with some sites/blogs during the commute into work. (So long as you don't drive into work like I do. Please don't Kindle and Drive!) That said, $400 is an insane price point. Give me a similar device for under $100 and I might just bite. At $400 though, I'll nod my head and comment about how
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ahabswhale (1189519)
      The Kindle may fail but not for the reasons you speak about.

      "Profit on hardware, profit on software, even profit on content the user already owns."

      Sounds a lot like the iPod and iTunes which of course were total failures...
      This is about providing content people want in a very convenient fashion with a nice interface...just like the iPod and iTunes. Amazon is going one better though by offering books for significantly less than what you'd pay for their paper-based brethren.

      As for the lack of PD
      • "Profit on hardware, profit on software, even profit on content the user already owns."

        Sounds a lot like the iPod and iTunes which of course were total failures...

        Actually, with the iPod and iTunes, it was made really easy for people to rip CDs, and was advertised as such, so most people could load the content they already had. It also supported the mp3 format, used by popular P2P services so many people re-downloaded music they had in other formats (as well as other music). How are you supposed to quickly and easily load your current books onto the Kindle?

        It is also interesting that Apple ran and runs the iTunes store at near break-even pricing so they only reall

  • Amazon are fools (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:57PM (#21423101)
    They're incredibly out of touch with reality if they think people are going to pay $399 for a book reader, in addition to paid content/subscription. They might have small chance of success if they offered the device for $99. At the current price, it's nothing more than a curiosity a la AIBO/Segway.
  • by Andy_R (114137)
    Apple actually had Kindle's market sector covered way back in 1993. The Newton had pretty much the same form factor, and with applications like Paperback [thefedors.com] it was an excellent book viewer in it's time.
  • The E-Ink Fallacy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eloquence (144160) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:00PM (#21423141) Homepage
    The theory of e-ink is that you want something that lasts for endless hours so that you don't have to recharge it. In return, you'll be willing to accept page turning delays, type lagging, strange user interfaces, no backlighting, and a monochrome display.

    I think that's a fallacy, because we are already used to carrying one or two devices around with us that we have to recharge: a small mobile device and a larger laptop-sized device. In both cases, the trends are clear: people want longer battery life and screens that work under sunlight. The market will satisfy these trends. And these devices won't be limited by DRM or strange wireless plans. The iPhone or N800 form factor does indeed support eBook like reading. And, as noted, since we use these devices constantly, we're used to making sure that they are charged.

    That is not to say that there won't be a niche for e-ink devices, but I am very doubtful that the Kindle can kindle much anything. It's an interesting gadget, and at $150 or so it might have a sizable market -- but not at $400.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Eloquence (144160)
      (PS: To be fair, though, there'd be one reason for a guy like me to get a Kindle: flat fee access to Wikipedia from anywhere where there's EVDO. Then again, an offline wiki reader that can auto-update when you have a net connection would do just as well.)
    • by juuri (7678)
      The theory of e-ink is that you want something that lasts for endless hours so that you don't have to recharge it. In return, you'll be willing to accept page turning delays, type lagging, strange user interfaces, no backlighting, and a monochrome display.

      Well you are leaving out the other major selling point of E-Ink it looks fabulous. The resolution and dot pitch of E-Ink displays were simply amazing compared to anything else just two years ago. Unfortunately for the backers conventional displays have rea
    • by emj (15659)

      That is not to say that there won't be a niche for e-ink devices,


      No you can't read books on N800 and iPhone there is too much fiddling. As soon as you start having a LCD as big as a the eInk devices you have no battery life anymore. There are alot of e readers out there, you can get eInk devices at $350, but you are right it's not really interesting until they get that price down.
    • by steveg (55825)
      Well, you list "screens that work under sunlight" as one of the features people want. So far, e-ink is the only electronic technology that makes that easy. Some kinds of LCD (non-backlit) make that possible, but it's not nearly the contrast.

      The Kindle is too expensive and too locked down, but its e-ink is not its achilles heel. It may be its biggest advantage. I have a Sony Reader, and the e-ink is the best thing about it. Lots of people complain about no backlighting for e-ink -- if I had to have back
    • by asc99c (938635)
      The best point about e-ink is that it has the same properties of paper - LCD screens shine light in your eyes, which isn't really all that nice compared to paper. e-ink screens have capsules which are actually coloured black / white - the colour displayed is the actual colour of the capsules - and to display a page, the screen just rotates these to the correct orientation. The result is you're seeing ambient light reflected from the screen just the same as if you look at paper.

      Not arguing your point about
    • The theory of e-ink is that you want something that lasts for endless hours so that you don't have to recharge it. In return, you'll be willing to accept page turning delays, type lagging, strange user interfaces, no backlighting, and a monochrome display.

      I think e-ink is a step in the right direction. You list "no backlighting" as a drawback, but honestly I'd prefer no backlighting to required backlighting. It is a lot easier on the eyes to look at an opaque surface than at a light source for 8 hours. The UI is also unrelated to e-ink itself. That said, no it isn't good enough to replace a regular book or overcome the convenience and cost savings of just using an existing PDA.

  • one with a touch interface and the ability to play movies and music, too. Guess what other, cheaper product has that same ability: yes, the iPod Touch, for (by the time Kindle comes out) probably hundreds less. For me, and from what I've read others agree, the two-finger touch on Safari is the most compelling feature of the iPhone. I don't need its phone capabilities, I just want a web browser with wifi that navigates easily, and that's the iPod Touch, isn't it?
  • Remember when Sony was pushing this thing everyone wondered what the purpose was. Now Nick Bezos puts a carefully worded letter on amazon.com and it's the must have product. Remarkable that after Apple finally showed the PDA wannabes what customers wanted all along, and that they should have sold what they knew customers wanted all along, someone still came out with this plastic monstrosity.

    • by emj (15659)
      Perhaps the fact that there are soo many book available helps? The problem with ebooks have always been that there is no way to get books for them.
  • Without E-Ink it doesn't matter if you have the content or not, your display will not be practical enough, it may have bells and whistles, colors, speed and touchscreen but your battery will run out faster and for reading comfort the resolution won't be enough. Battery life (e-ink does not consume current to maintain a drawn screen, nor does it needs any backlight) and the number of pixels in a page counts so much more than the rest for reading.
  • I thought the same thing when I read about this new device from Amazon. My iPhone already functions like an eBook reader when I'm reading long documents on the web and PDFs or Word Documents from the mail application. You'd think it would be rather trivial to add support for ebook's to iTunes.
  • How are they comparing the Kindle with an iPhone?!?!?!? The iPhone does have a nice big screen, but the e-ink displays I've seen are just much nicer on the eyes despite being less pretty, and genuinely comparable to reading printed paper. They've been beaten to the punch more by Sony's Reader which is already onto version 2. I'd much rather see a comparison of how those two stack up than against the iPhone.
  • by El Cabri (13930) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:19PM (#21423451) Journal
    For me, the price of a book is essentially $4. This is $3.99 shipping plus the symbolic $.01 that most used-book dealers charge as the nominal price for used books sold on Amazon (hardcover or paperback, the same). Dealers get their profit from the difference between the shipping compensation that they get on the sale from Amazon and the actual cost of shipping the book. There are more expensive books on Amazon marketplace of course (textbook, non-obsolete computer books, ...), but these aren't going to be available from $10 on Kindle are they ? If books on Kindle were $5 for novels and about $15 for "useful" titles, that would seem more fair to me, given that the publisher does away with printing, logistics and the possibility that the book will be read by more than one person (in a library, borrowed by a friend or re-sold as a used book).

    This, or the device should be at an aggressively subsidized price, made up from sales of content.

    I like the device, and love the business model independently of the price point though.
    • by steveg (55825)
      Exactly. There's a disconnect. High price for the device, high prices for the books, and they are DRMed. RSS feeds, but from Amazon only, and all "monetized".

      I'll stick with the Sony. The unit is also high priced (although not as high priced as the Kindle) but since it accepts user content much more readily, inexpensive content is much easier to find. My SD card on the Sony has about 130 books on it, mostly either classics or inexpensive content from Baen or the like. Sure there's a lot of content tha
  • by blhack (921171)
    No, Palm beat them both to the punch 10 years ago. I have read more books on my palm than on any other medium....including paper ....I could literally carry a small library of books around with me in my pocket that could be easily accessed to read a few pages, or paragraphs or sentances when i got a minute or two. Waiting in line? Read a page...in the waiting room? Read a chapter....on a plane? Finish the book.

    The only thing missing from the equation now is a distribution model. Amazon's got it.

    The
  • Reading just PDFs off Google gets old fast unless you're really interested in 19th century Victorian travelogues. The best all purpose 3G-enabled multi-format ebook reader [mobileread.com] now with the best resolution is the Toshiba G900. It's a PocketPC phone with 800x400 colour screen. Because US carriers are loathe to offer any advanced phones besides Apple's, it doesn't seem to be subsidised. Google says it costs $600-$800 unlocked [google.com]. There's a couple of HTC smartphones Athena [google.com], (640x480, $900!) or Universal (640x480, $200 [ebay.com]
  • I expect that the ebook reader of the future will look a whole lot more like the iPhone than the Kindle.
    A keyboard is only used a tiny tiny fraction of the time on a ebook reader, letting one account for that much of the device's size is just bad engineering.
    E-paper should look as much like normal paper as is technically possible. Normal paper does not have a bezel, and can be printed upon all the way to it's edge.

    I do like the Kindle's free EVDO "whispernet" model, but I think they're way to aggressive in
  • ... and it would make a REALLY shitty eBook reader. The screen is tiny and it takes WAY too much effort to (accurately) change pages. If I've got to read anything on a tiny screen, I'd rather use my Axim, which has a similarly-small screen but it also has higher resolution (640x480) and hardware buttons to neatly, easily jump a page (screnful) at a time.

    I'm all for having multiple redundant copies of every manual ever made at my fingertips no matter where I am, and I'd love to have some handy PDFs on my iPh
  • this is utterly ridicolous. Compare reading from the iPhone's tiny display to reading from a laptop's screen. I would summarize the former as torture and the latter as mildly functional.
    Now compare both to reading from paper... ah yes, now there's a ginormous quantum leap in ergonomy isn't it? If the Amazon e-paper gadged delivers on its promise, the iPhone will just never be considered a device for reading books.

    Now, I know there are people with vastly better eyesight than me. Still, I would hope that they
  • by aldheorte (162967) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:46PM (#21423951)
    Nokia N810 [nokiausa.com] The iPhone putatively requires carrier contract, has lower resolution, and isn't a full blown browser, but the N810 is. Plus the N810 is Linux and open. Whether it is Project Gutenberg, Google Books, or whatever, the N810 is perfectly positioned as a book reader and oh-by-they-way a fully functioning computer as well. No affiliation with Nokia, just been following the latest in this area.
  • I worked at a small company here in Dallas, TX that made manufacturing equipment that goes into bi-stable lcd assembly lines. That was five years ago. So, as with many products of this type (Ipod), the marketing hype has caught up with the technology.

    Furthermore.. I'd be surprised if there is a big market for an ebook reader these days with cheap laptops everywhere or PDAs. My Palm IIIe was able to read text files just fine with great battery life. So.. Where is the benefit to the consumer? Will Amazon di
  • by toybuilder (161045) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:46PM (#21423957)
    My wife and I recently had a new baby, born preemie, and we ended up spending LOTS of time in the hospital. It was driving my wife crazy to not have things to read while staying with the baby. She bought an iPhone so that she could browse the web. A little while later, I bought a Sony Reader (PRS-505, the one that came out only about a month ago) which is like the Kindle in terms of how you would use it while reading.

    After a week, my wife "stole" my Sony Reader, and uses it much more than the iPhone. It's much easier to read a full page of text on the 6" screen with the higher resolution. And, it's easier to use one-handed, because there are dedicated buttons to flip through pages.

    Reading a website on the iPhone reminds me of the bad early days of HTML when people would put large pages inside a scrollable frame, and you were 'looking through a port hole' to see the entire page.

    The other nice thing is that she could read continuously for eight hours. The iPhone, with its backlight, can't do that.
  • DRM on books? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Swift2001 (874553)
    Who needs it? Here's my "dream" device: it automatically loads whatever you want from the world's libraries for free. It has the Dewey Decimal System encoded in it, and anything available for Inter-Library Loan can be downloaded in seconds. It looks a lot less dorky than this hideous design -- who did it, the guy who designed the '60s Paper-Mate pen? -- and it costs what three or four hard-cover books cost. Then I might be interested. Until then, haw haw, it's Kindling. Lose a book in an airport, you're o
  • you'll have an instant competitor to Kindle -- one with a touch interface and the ability to play movies and music, too.

    Oh yeah, it's a phone too.
  • Ihave not seen an iPhone yet but based on my experience reading ascii books (from the Baen Free Library) on the video iPod the screen is definitely not good for books. It hurts the eyes terribly to the point that I am wondering whether there is significant UV or IR being emitted from it; when on a train if I turn it on to start reading a book my eyes immediately start to feel leaden. You can't change the fonts, you have to scroll in a circle,you can't change the fonts, etc. In comparison reading books on my
  • I would love to get my magazines on the iPhone and carry them around with me for whenever I have some downtime. A iPhone version of Zinio Reader? Perhaps when the SDK comes out? Here's hoping...
  • A lot of the complaints about the Kindle center from it's high starting price. While Bezos can make the comparison that the iPod came out at the same price point and succeeded, there's one critical difference between the two: free import of already owned content.

    That's right. Forget that iTunes had a store all set up for digital distribution, as Amazon is aiming for with their Kindle. Anyone who paid $399 for an iPod got to include their ENTIRE CD COLLECTION for free, and iTunes did all the work! It che
  • They fixed one of the problems with the Sony Reader - they have 8 times the selection of DRMed books just going in, and the Amazon store is head and shoulders better than the Sony store when it comes to usability. From the looks of it, they didn't fix the other part of the problem: free content - they'll charge you for reading a Project Gutenberg book? They should also be offering free downloads of Kindle editions when you buy the print edition - as a way of developing something analogous to ripping a CD.
  • by Wonderkid (541329) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @06:10PM (#21427515) Homepage
    ...several years ago, there was a credible media report that Apple were/are buying up the rights to a large number of books. Further, the multitouch interface used by the iPhone and iPod Touch would lend itself perfectly to an 'eBook'. No need to use external buttons like the Kindle, simply drag your fingers across the screen to turn the page, or pinch your fingers to zoom in. Not to mention using iTunes to make a purchase and download it. Oh, and most importantly, it won't be the iPhone that allows all this, but an all new device under development by Apple. Where's the iBook laptop? No where. But the trademark still exists. Go figure...

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