The Kindle has landed.

November 19, 2007


So, it’s finally here, and damn, it’s still ugly. Really, really ugly. Go watch the video demos (short one at the top, longer one lower down). But it has some things going for it.

There are a lot of touches I really like, like easy ordering of low-price ebooks direct from Amazon without having to be near a computer. Online back-up of your books is very smart – one customer losing their whole library after dropping one of these in the bath would pretty much kill it. The big page-turner paddles on the side will be good for peoples’ frequently contorted, curled-up-on-the-sofa reading positions, and the dog-ear bookmark is nice and friendly, although the purists will probably hate it.

But there’s a lot not to like, even beyond the let’s-party-like-it’s-1989 styling. E-ink just still isn’t good enough: there’s the ‘black flash’ as you turn the page, and the snail-like refresh speed means they’ve had to put in that scroll-wheel barometer thing in the side, which is not good. The whole feeds thing is a misnomer: you have to pick ‘your feeds’ from an Amazon-approved list (currently numbering 308), which is great if you just want Boing Boing and the NYT, but pretty rubbish if your tastes are more eclectic – and you don’t want to pay 99 cents for the privilege (is that a one-off or a subscription?). And the killer for me is that you can only read your own documents by emailing them to Amazon, who’ll convert them and add them to the Kindle ‘for a small fee’. Whoa. That’s just stupid. It’s also such a waste of the rather clever connectivity hardware they’ve packed in there.

Still, Amazon aren’t making this for me – they’re making it for regular, heavy readers, who are book- and not computer-focussed, which is an excellent decision – they will certainly please more people – and explains the video endorsements from Toni Morrison, James Patterson and others. It’s not for techies. We’ll see if the $400 price tag is attractive to non-techies.

It is, without doubt, the best ebook reader out there because it has the iTunes-like connection to all the books you can get, built in. That’s the USP. But I still don’t think we’re going to see mass ebook take-up any time soon, not until e-ink improves and we sort out a format that can move seamlessly between different devices, like mp3. If I can read it on this, I should be able to read it on my laptop, phone and even TV too.

And could someone please explain why they used ‘profligate’ (adj. utterly and shamelessly immoral or dissipated; thoroughly dissolute, recklessly prodigal or extravagant.) as their example word from the dictionary? Reminds me of this story.

UPDATE: For more on the Kindle, you could do worse than Buzzfeed’s roundup.


  1. […] Notebook ยป The Kindle has landed. James evaluates the Kindle (tags: kindle ebooks) […]

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  2. […] auf booktwo gestern schon zu lesen war: das Kindle ist da. Die Zukunft des eBooks, wenn es nach Amazon geht. […]

    Pingback by ViennaWriter’sBlog » Blog Archive » eBooks… again… — November 20, 2007 @ 9:20 am

  3. […] Booktwo isolates some of the problems and plus points of the Kindle. […]

    Pingback by » links for 2007-11-20 — November 20, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

  4. […] some other views are also emerging. Booktwo points out some negatives. So, for example you can email documents to your Kindle. But you have to email them to Amazon, who […]

    Pingback by » Kindle Update — November 30, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  5. I tried commenting with my openID but I got a big blank page in return and I’m pretty sure the comment didn’t stick and now I’ve lost it. Anyway, great post. I’d love to have a go on a Kindle – I reckon it must be more satisfying in use than the pics suggest. I did track ‘kindle’ on Twitter for a while and got nothing but negatives, though (my favourite tweet: “My wife wants a Kindle. She’s dead to me now…”). Oh dear. The sad thing is, if this gadget really is doomed, as I suspect, that Bezos has form in this area and doesn’t seem to have learned anything:

    Comment by Steve Bowbrick — December 4, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

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