Kindling the Flame

Pajamas Media » Amazon’s Kindle Draws the Reader In

Then, while I was writing the music industry piece for PJM, I wanted to re-read The Long Tail. I’d long ago lent my copy to someone, I didn’t know who. I could have ordered another copy, for about $18, and gotten it in one day (for another $4 shipping) … or I could push the one-click button and have it delivered to my Kindle for $10. Right now. Less than a minute later, I had it.

Pick your reason: Just in time delivery, long battery life, that e-paper screen, the ability to tote an entire library around in your coat pocket, ease of reading, you name it: Once people start using an e-book reader (especially the Kindle, it seems) they become hooked.

I wish I’d bought the Kindle – not for the connectivity, which I can more or less duplicate by lugging my notebook around with me, since it has EVDO – but for the huge amount of material available from Amazon. Still, I have to hope that Sony will beef up their own offerings, and that publishers will start to get clued in. The latest book in the John Sandford Prey series was just released, and even Amazon didn’t have an e-book version. I have to admit that irritated the hell out of me. I had to pay eight bucks more than I should have, and go into a Borders and lug around a huge, heavy, unwieldy hardcover, in order to read it. And then I have to store the damn thing on my already groaning, overstuffed shelves. What a pain in the ass.

The point is that people are being converted to these readers easily and quickly because of something their detractors – most of whom haven’t tried them – fail to understand. They are better at delivering the entire reading experience, from purchase to storage, than paper books. And once the price point of these readers drops by fifty percent or so, that will become obvious even to the obtuse, DRB-obsessed Luddite mandarins who run the publishing biz. (via Instapundit).

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


Kindling the Flame — 10 Comments

  1. Next generation and I will be there. I would like a slightly increased screen size and a better control interface. I don’t think the wait will be long.

    Anyone who travels and reads will own these. I have often traveled with almost as much space for books as clothes. Weight? All the books and still less than a pound.

    University? Shut down the bookstores. It will all be electronic.

    Shelves full of technical manuals? Gone.

    I like books. I’m a luddite. I’d bet I’ll come out in the light in the next year.

  2. if these were ~200, I’d own one now. I really wish the comic book industry would jump on the bandwagon as well, but I don’t see them trying that any time soon.

    I also wish there was an easy/native .pdf->.azw converter. To my understanding, there isn’t.

  3. I’m waiting for the price drop and more cookbooks to become electronic. Especially the fundamental cooking references. Software built in for recipe conversions? Give that to me and other chefs and I’m there with bells on.

    Yeah, 200 hundred bucks and culinary resources? I’ll buy it.

    And I don’t like the design of the Kindle. It looks like a cheap, plastic toy and I really don’t like the sharp edged look. Frankly, I think it’s butt ugly. I admit I’m part of the Apple esthetic, but really, if you’re going to shell out the that kind of money, it should at least look as if it’s worth it. Bill’s Sony is a sharp looking device.

    Also, does anyone think that Amazon, after recouping their initial investment in Kindle, would begin to effectively give it away in order to make their money on content/subscriptions? That would really open up the floodgates.

  4. Hmm. I just checked out cooking at the Kindle store. They’re adding more. There’s a lot of dreck there, but they have McGee and a number of other references including Formulas, Yields and Sizes and HACCP Food Safety. That’s more than I expected to find. And give cooking its own independent category instead of being tossed into Lifestyle & Home.

    Still. Fundamentals like Professional Chef (CIA), Gastronomique, and Escoffier would sell a lot of culinary professionals on this. I really see the potential of this as a resource if they can provide the content I need.

    Yeah, it’s getting closer, but it’s not quite there for me.

  5. i wouldn’t mind having one but not for $400.

    That’s why you have to appreciate early adopters like Bill. They’re why I can have a DVD player for 39 bucks. I mean, for that money, anything with a plug that doesn’t burn the house down is a good deal.

  6. Bill Quick,

    I agree with you that the world will go to electronic books eventually.

    However, both you and Lagavulin (in McArdle’s blog) indicate the Kindle is not convenient for back & forth reading. You specifically mention use of reference works as being inconvenient.

    I would suggest further that the issue is the amount of time it takes to change pages; and that the issue would also a problem for technical reading generally. If so, that would also limit the Kindle’s utility for college students. (Aside from the question of the Kindle’s cost, which will drop with time.)

    Therefore, I think the range of reading material that would be addressed by the Kindle would be mostly either news or novels: things that are read through without going backwards.

    A weakness of that range: How many novels do I read at one time? Not very many!

    What do you think? What types of books have you been reading with the Kindle?

  7. I would suggest further that the issue is the amount of time it takes to change pages;

    Actually, for general reading, the short (a second, maybe) delay in turning a page rapidly becomes unnoticeable. In fact, I timed turning a page by hand versus turning a page in the Sony reader, and the reader was faster. You just don’t notice the delay with a paper book, because you are physically involved in turning the page.

    And you’re right – I’ve been reading novels. I read a lot of novels.

  8. Bill,

    I agree that it takes about a second to turn a page in a real book – if I’m going from one page to the next. But if I’m trying to jump to another section (without taking the time to find the page number of the section in the table of contents), I can flip through a bunch of pages very quickly. I don’t think you can do that with a Kindle or Sony Reader.

    This doesn’t matter with novels, but it would bother me if I were looking at a textbook, and needed to check other sections, estimate how long it would take to finish the section or chapter, etc.

    So the question is:
    – Since I only read one novel at a time, is there an advantage to being able to carry around half a dozen novels at a time?
    – Would a college student with 10 to 15 textbooks to read find a Kindle useful? I’m doubtful, unless s/he’s a literature major.

Leave a Reply