Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is the Kindle 2 a "cultural shift?"

I recently ordered a Kindle 2 for Glenn and have been reading up on the device. I found an interesting video and article on Yahoo finance about the Kindle that focuses on the wider implications of the Kindle on sales and reading in America.

The interviewer on the video wonders if there will be a cultural shift in how reading is experienced with Kindle readers--but the expert who is on states that the goal of the Kindle is to replicate rather than change the reading experience. It sounds like it is simply a faster and more efficient way to read rather than going out and purchasing books. Kindle 2 has the potential to have an impact on book sales, according to the expert. I also heard on the video that there are only about 500,000 Kindles in existence which can have an impact on book sales as the Kindle purchasers are voracious readers who might trade downloads for actual books. Kindle accounts for only 10% of books in existence but 5% of the public buys 95% of the books. And of those 5%, many are Kindle owners.

I wish the Kindle 2 would show up from Amazon--I am dying to try it out. Did I mention I ordered it for Glenn?


Blogger HMT said...

I'm interested in your experience with it. $350 is a lot of wooden books. The convenience factor seems very nice but I'm putt off by the fact that the eBooks (nearly 0 cost to produce) are priced the same as the physical counterparts. Also (much like buying digital music used to be), the books are tied to the device so I can't sell or loan them like I can with "real" books. This should also be reflected in a lower price. So for now... I stick with the "real thing". After all It's worked for me for 40 years (and generally for much longer than that).

5:43 PM, February 25, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:01 PM, February 25, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:05 PM, February 25, 2009  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

Thank goodness for early-adopters. Hopefully another version will make its way into the market so that I can finally buy one. You early adopters make possible the many upgrades that are often made to new products.

6:54 PM, February 25, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nah, the oil to make that stuff will run out and soon we'll be turning to paper made from hemp to bring back the good old books.

Besides, HMT is correct. All these e-book fancies are just another way to overprofit and screw the customer.

6:56 PM, February 25, 2009  
Blogger liz said...

I also ordered a Kindle 2.0 and got the e-mail the other day that it has shipped. I ordered mine for me but I think my husband might take it over because he is a slow reader and is interested in the feature that will read the book out loud for you. I am a voracious reader and my main reason for getting it is that I am just out of room for books. All my shelves are full, I have stacks of them by my bed, I give grocery bags full of them to my mother. I live in a big house too. It would cost me a lot more than $350 to get more shelves put in my house. I can't wait til it gets here.

7:03 PM, February 25, 2009  
Blogger David Foster said...

There will probably be certain niches where products like this will do particularly well. I read somewhere that the Sony eBook is popular among romance-novel readers, some of whom go through lots of books pretty quickly and find it convenient to be able to store them on the eBook. Apparently the eBook product manager even made an appearance at a romance novel convention.

Also, the Kindle and eBook technology is getting competition from iPhones and netbooks..hard for me to believe anyone wants to read a book on an iPhone, but apparently people are doing it.

7:22 PM, February 25, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hoult said...

I think it is much too big, and does only one thing, both of which mean I'd just leave it home.

I've now read literally dozens of full length novels on my iPhone, largely because I owned it already and it is always on me.

8:40 PM, February 25, 2009  
Blogger BR said...

You'll pry my paper books from my cold dead hands! ;)

I could see this useful for trade magazines, tech manuals, text books, etc. But for entertainment stuff, I want something I can curl up in a couch with, fold the pages, bend the cover, etc. It's more comfortable that way.

9:19 PM, February 25, 2009  
Blogger Obi-Wandreas, The Funky Viking said...

On a certain level, one can see the usefulness. Peter Cohen of Macworld Magazine, for example, remarked last week that he had to spend hundreds of dollars to renovate a section of his house, much of which was for the purpose of book storage. It would've been a lot cheaper if he could simply have purchased all of those books for the kindle.

I'm a bit of a techie, but only where I think it makes sense. In this case, I'm not that interested. I like having a physical library. It's not only much nicer and easier to browse, it's also a trophy room of literary conquest. Each tome tells a story of how many times a book has been read, and in some cases what I was drinking while reading it.

I have not tried a Kindle, so I can't speak to readability. I have yet to see any screen, however, that can compete with paper for sheer ease of reading. It's a simple question of direct vs. indirect light.

Longevity is also an issue. Perhaps the great unanswered question of our time is that of long term storage of digital data. Nobody really knows how long our current data storage will last. Hard drives, home-made optical discs, etc. all degrade much faster than we'd like to think. Paper lasts for centuries, doesn't need power, never becomes a legacy format, and can't be wiped out by an EMP.

I find it telling that even though one could access any book on a datapad, Captain Picard still had a shelf full of books in his quarters. I'll keep my stacks of books, contraband children's books and all.

9:21 PM, February 25, 2009  
Blogger Mad William Flint said...

I'm one of those early adopter weenies (proud of it) and have been using the Kindle 1 for the last year.

It will never replace pulp for me but the readability is impressive. Plus I find most books are markedly cheaper for the kindle.

And I can put anything on there that's available in plain text or pdf formats, which opens up all the classics.

12:52 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

David wrote: "hard for me to believe anyone wants to read a book on an iPhone, but apparently people are doing it."

Agreed. I am stupified that people want to watch movies on their iPod. The younger guys value portability more than people my age I guess.


8:28 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger Larry J said...

One of my coworkers let me play with his Kindle 1. The screen was impressive and the second generation device is supposed to be better. It seems like a good product but the price point is a bit too high for me right now.

8:41 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger Mark said...

I have the original Kindle and LOVE it, and I talked my wife out of buying it for me six months before she finally did because I didn't think I'd like it. I actually don't see the Kindle 2.0 as that big a step up and in some ways a step down, in particular I don't think the 2.0 will take an SD card which the 1.0 will. So yeah, the 2.0 has more internal memory than the 1.0, but the 1.0 memory is limited by the number of SD cards you're willing to buy.

It's bigger than an i-phone, but it also displays a book-sized page of text in a readable font. The text is excellent, really looks like ink on paper. It's no bigger than most books, and it's a lot thinner than most books.

Oh, I also bought a 2 CD set of classics of the Western canon for $30, about 400 books. Yeah, I could have gotten them free from Guttenberg, but that's a lot of downloading too.

If you're interested I go into more detail on the Kindle at my blog:

8:49 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I do my reading on an iPAQ Pocket PC. So far, the combination of screen and eyeballs works for me. When they make the Kindle more gracious in accepting any common, un-DRM form of text, I'll probably get one. Until it's jailbroken, no way.

9:32 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger bones said...

I used to carry books everywhere and when I finished what I had would have to wait to get home or to a bookstore to "resuply". While I loved paper books and never thought ebooks could replace them being able to carry a full library with hundreds of titles in my pocket made up for any lack. Now after years of reading them, ebooks seem natural. I will say I dislike proprietary formats that try and lock in devices. That, and the fact that Amazon quit selling ebooks and trashed eveyones online bookshelves that were purchased from, them have prevented me from serious consideration of the kendle.

9:43 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger jay c said...

Kindle won't be able to replicate a paper book until you can turn its pages. I've read ebooks, but I much prefer the feel of a real book. Maybe it's just nostalgia. I still listen to 80s music too.

9:53 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger Todd said...

I used to be a voracious reader and still enjoy the physical aspects of reading. The feel of the book, the touching of the pages and even the smell of books. I do two types of reading now a days, pleasure reading and work reading (i.e. periodicals and technical/managerial texts). Most of the books I own, I want to own. To physically have on my book shelf. I often re-read from my library as you would re-watch a favorite movie. It is easy to spot my technical books, they are the ones full of page tabs and high-lights. I could maybe see changing my technical reading to electronic (have played with that in the past to mixed results). I like the ability to do full material searches and not have to rely on the often inadequate indexing that is common in technical material. I am consumed as to the ability to highlight and book-mark. I have had bad experiences with Acrobat in this regard when material is “protected”. I do not have this issue with physical books. As other have noted, I also have seen little cost savings when moving to digital. I am saving the publisher lots of effort and expense related to creating, delivering and storing a physical copy, why are digital copies not priced to take this into account? I would also be worried about format changes. My physical books are good as long as I can turn a page but if the electronic format changes, will I be able to convert my digital library to the new format? Just my 2 cents…

10:30 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

Once all information is available only electronically, then the Memory Hole becomes realistic.

11:41 AM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger vivictius said...

The Kindle and related will be usefull once we can get actuall usefull texts on them, i.e. technical manuals and textbooks. For something that Im only going to be reading for a day or two, putting a bunch of them on an electronic reader isnt much of a benifit.

12:55 PM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger Alex said...

Kindle doesn't replace:

* Graphic novels(glossy pages, color)
* Japanese manga
* Books with illustrations

Let's not pretend that it's 100% replacement for all reading requirements.

3:20 PM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger bones said...

I do want to say that there are no real savings yet for ebooks. The cost of tech and development for what is such a new and changing format doesn't save most publishers much money. Lets face it books cost little to produce you pay for the content.

6:27 PM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Kindle 1 is good.

However, there is some decided "Price-creep" going on with the books. They used to be pretty much $9.99 or less . . . now they're creeping into the $15 or more range.

If Amazon thinks I'm going to pay essentially the same price for an {probably} temporary ebook that I could buy in hardback (with discounts) for the same price, they're crazy.

5:36 PM, February 27, 2009  
Blogger Kevin said...

Dr. Helen,

I've a Kindle 1.0 and love it. I initially owned the Sony e-reader, but overall disliked it. the software that allowed you to purchase books was clunky, appeared to have been designed in the 70's, and was definitely user-unfriendly. I love my Kindle, and have actually found myself reading more often because of it. My only hope is that more older titles become available on it. However, I definitely prefer it to paper books. If I can't get an e-book, I'm just not gonna bother with reading it.

Hope you enjoy your Kindle 2.0, I think you'll find it to be money well spent.

10:25 PM, March 01, 2009  
Blogger liz said...

I have just fired up my new Kindle and am 20% into my first book -- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and I LOVE it. I boosted the print size up a notch so the page displays about 2-3 paragraphs. I thought I wouldn't like having the page turn so often but I have realized that there are always distractions around here so it is really helping me focus on the part of the book I am reading. When I'm holding a book, I tend to lose track of where I am when the kids or the dog demand attention and the small page size is really helping me pay attention. It gets the thumbs up from me, but I am interested in reading current literature and I never reread a book. I have a stack of books waiting to be read and it's going to be hard for me now. I also like the little counter that tells me how far into the book I am and I have tried the electronic voice reading to me -- not sure if I will like the feature or not.

10:47 PM, March 01, 2009  
Blogger ErikZ said...

You'll have to let us know how you like it. I got my Kindle 2 the day it came out and I've been using it every day.

I can finally start buying books again without having to turn into a librarian.

It does everything I would ask from a book. I just need to buy it a decent case.

3:37 PM, March 02, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hoult said...

In case anyone missed it, today Amazon released a free Kindle application for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Hopefully that means you can read the content you've paid for on either device, or both.

3:02 AM, March 04, 2009  

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