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Tag Archives | Amazon Kindle
[NOTE: Here’s a post that first appeared in our free T-Week newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.]
So help me, I’m in favor of progress. I grew up loving magazines and feel blessed to have spent a large chunk of my life to date working on them, but when they go away, I’ll be okay with it. Most of the things that magazines do well, the Web does even better, and the inherently interactive nature of the Internet lets it do an array of things that are simply impossible for paper magazines. As for newspapers–well, they’re already dead to me.
Books, however, are different. Them, I don’t want to disappear–ever. I own and like Amazon’s Kindle, but if I had to choose between it and printed books, I’d opt for the latter in a nanosecond. Even so, the Kindle is already good enough to leave me thinking that it’s pretty much inevitable that printed books will begin to look archaic within the next decade. Once something starts to look archaic, it usually becomes archaic. So I’m thinking that by the time 2019 rolls around there will be a lot fewer books and a lot fewer bookstores, and, perhaps, a lot fewer book authors.
No doubt Sony is beginning to feel the heat from Amazon. While its Sony Reader was on the market much longer than Amazon’s Kindle has been, in the short time Amazon’s device has been with us it has taken the e-book world by storm.
Suddenly Sony is finding itself in a position it probably would rather not be in: take on Amazon directly or risk being relegated to also-ran status against its growing competitor.
Well, the first move in what will probably be a multi-step response is a partnership with Google. Sony will initially offer about 500,000 copyright-free books for its device that have been scanned by Google’s book search service.
Reader users would also be happy to hear all these titles would be made available for free. Most of Kindle’s titles are priced at $9.99 and above.
As per copyright law, Google will not be able to offer full versions of books that still have copyright. However, its collection before 1923 would be made available to the Sony Reader.
With these new books, the Reader would catapult past the Kindle for most titles available. Amazon only offers about 250,000 books, but has taken the business model of offering only the most popular and current titles. Sony would have about 600,000 titles available after Google’s digitized library is added.
Is this a good move? It remains to be seen. One thing that Sony has going for it is the fact that it can be sold internationally fairly easy. The Kindle uses CDMA technology, which is rarely used outside of the North American continent.
While the Reader needs to be tethered to a computer to download books, it can do this anywhere. Sony could exploit this weakness to its advantage if it so desired. Amazon, you might want to start considering a GSM version, no?
Until early last week, there was one Kindle e-reader–the original one. Now there are two: Amazon’s Kindle 2 and the app for the iPhone and iPod Touch which the company released last night. They have one huge thing in common: 240,000 electronic books, mostly going for ten bucks apiece. And beyond that, the two Kindles have remarkably different sets of upsides and downsides. After the jump, we’ll compare and contrast.
Kindle reader for the iPhone and iPhone Touch falls short of being the ultimate iPhone e-book application. It fails to replicate all the major features of a $359 Kindle device. It’s on the rudimentary side in certain areas. I found one or two instances of issues that were either quirks or outright bugs. I’d love to see a book reader for iPhone that was as polished and functional in its own way as the phone’s iPod software–and this isn’t it.
Despite everything, it’s a delight to have Kindle on the iPhone. What makes Kindle Kindle isn’t software as much as it is content–240,000 books’ worth of it, by far the largest collection of e-books ever assembled. Getting access to those books on a phone is by far the biggest deal in content for Apple devices since Apple itself added moves and TV shows to the iTunes Store. And given that there are far more iPhones and iPod Touches on the planet than Kindle devices, this could be a bigger moment for electronic books than the introduction of the Kindle in 2007 was.
It may not have been inevitable, but it was a darn good idea–and it’s extremely cool to learn it’s reality, not just wishful thinking. Starting tomorrow, Amazon.com will be distributing a free iPhone application that puts Kindle e-books on the phone, giving owners of Apple’s handset access to by far the most comprehensive source of commercial published works. Not only will books you’ve bought for a Kindle be available on the iPhone, too, but stuff like your location within a tome will travel between Kindle and iPhone (a feature Amazon calls Whispersync).
What a win-win-win-win situation–it’ll be a boon for people who own both a Kindle and an iPhone, for people who own just an iPhone, and for Amazon and Apple. I can’t imagine that Amazon will lose a single sale of Kindle hardware because iPhones can double as Kindle readers–if you want to read dozens or hundreds of pages at a sitting, you’ll want the large screen and marathon battery life of a Kindle device. But the iPhone makes more sense when you’re out and about, sans Kindle, and want to kill a few minutes by dipping into a book.
You gotta think that Amazon may end up selling not only more Kindle books–the number of Kindle-compatible gizmos in the world will skyrocket tomorrow–but also more Kindle readers, since some iPhone owners will be more likely to spring for a reader once they’ve bought and enjoyed books on their phone.
I imagine everyone will take the fact that Apple okayed the Kindle application for the iPhone as evidence it’s not getting into the e-book biz itself. Probably. But not definitely. For one thing, I’m not sure if even Apple would nix an application in a market it hadn’t yet entered unless it clearly violated it developer agreement. For another, is it utterly unthinkable that Apple might come out with a jumbo iPod Touch for which book-reading was one significant application…and work with Amazon, who has more knowledge and contacts relating to books than Apple could ever develop, to sell the content?
[UPDATE: It’s available–if you’ve got iTunes, click here and you’ll go to the app. More soon…]
[UPDATED UPDATE: Here’s my review.]
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