Friday, November 23, 2007

Kindle

Responding to Doug Johnson

Interesting post, but...

The thing is, people are depicting the Kindle as though it is replacing books. But this isn't the case.

What Kindle is replacing is the notebook computer. Because we already can read books with the notebook computer. Only:

- we can get them for free
- we can copy them share them all we want
- we can edit them, make comments about them, link to them
- we can make our own

We do this today on computers that cost roughly $1000. The Kindle lowers the cost of the device, but:

- we have to pay for the books
- we can't copy them and share them with our friends
- we can make notes, but we can't link to them
- we can't really make our own

See, the question here isn't, is Kindle a good replacement for books, but rather, is it worth exchanging our more expensive consumer for a device that doesn't let us do what we want with our books?

This question is especially relevant when we get full-feature computers for less than the thee cost of a Kindle.

I think most people will see the Kindle for what it is: an attempt by publishers to 'control the platform' the way telephone companies control the mobile phone platform and the way Apple is (trying to) control the MP3 player platform.

So - the negative reaction is not surprising. The emotion comes from the sighs of exasperation from people who thought we'd been through all this and rejected closed proprietary platforms.

8 comments:

  1. not sure the apple comparison flies - I can freely create audio and video files and put them on my iPod. Hell, I can even create audio files on my iPod using a cheap microphone.

    Kindle wants to charge 99 cents per month to subscribe to a freely available rss feed. not quite the same thing - there are different levels of evilness involved.

    What I'm not sure about is if this is truly evilness, or just the easiest path to get the content. Will there be apps you can run on your computer (ala iTunes) to manage files on the Kindle? Could I use an app to convert my own content and feed a Kindle via the USB cable?

    (second attempt at posting the comment - CAPTCHA is definitely evil...)

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  2. Stephen, well-put.

    With appreciation,

    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net
    http://mguhlin.net

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  3. I agree entirely. From what I've been able to ascertain, Kindle won't even read aloud for readers who need that. I work in special ed, and that matters a great deal to me. There are, of course, multiple ways of turning text into audio on a notebook.

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  4. You can get an asus eee pc for LESS than the price of the kindle, and newegg.com has decently powered laptops starting at $500.

    Definitely a better deal than the Kindle.

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  5. a good rendering:
    Mark Pilgrim's The Future of Reading
    http://diveintomark.org/archives/2007/11/19/the-future-of-reading
    (via http://www.waxy.org/links/)

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  6. So does that mean you don't need $400 IPod since a laptop will do that and more for the same price.

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  7. What I don't need is a $400 music playing device that will only play commercial proprietary music that ic cannot share with my friends or copy onto my other devices.

    The iPod is not as open as it could be, but it at least manages (reluctantly) to allow me to share my music and to import MP3 music, podcasts, and the rest, of my own. I am not tied to the iTunes store.

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