Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazon e-book reader

Interesting development: the Amazon Kindle.

Here's video and a report and discussion.
Notice: there are more interesting videos lower on the page. (I had not even noticed the one at the top of the page until now, because for some reason that page does not display well in Safari 3.)
Update: Newsweek article. Quote:
The awesome technology of original books—and our love for them—will keep them vital for many years to come. But nothing is forever. Microsoft's Bill Hill has a riff where he runs through the energy-wasting, resource-draining process of how we make books now. We chop down trees, transport them to plants, mash them into pulp, move the pulp to another factory to press into sheets, ship the sheets to a plant to put dirty marks on them, then cut the sheets and bind them and ship the thing around the world. "Do you really believe that we'll be doing that in 50 years?" he asks.

Looks very promising. But typically, there's no word when it may be available outside that big country in the middle of North America.

I can see that they did not suceed in getting Jonathan Ive to design this gadget. It looks like it was made by the Empire in the first Star Wars movie.
OK, maybe the Kindle's design is not that bad. Though I think white was a poor color choice for it, it makes the e-paper look dirty-white. At least in pictures.

A good e-book reader would solve a problem I often have: I like to read in bed, but many of the books I like to read are just too big and heavy to do this comfortably. I shock my friends by cutting books into two or three slices for easier reading.
(OK: breathe. It's just a book. :) And if it's an important one, I buy two copies.)

TTL commented, re Europe:
There may be issues with the wireless connection protocol it's using, EV-DO. I don't think this is very widely deployed here in Europa. In fact, this is the first time I even hear this acronym.
Not that it means anything. I hate wireless communications and pride myself in not knowing anything about it.

Eolake said...
That's how I feel about sports. Beckham who? Oh, Posh's husband.

Anyway, it uses normal cell phone technology it seems, so it should be able to made work here.
Of course they have to make deals with the phone carriers first.

Viewing the videos, I'm getting quite interested in this device. And if I got out more and travelled more, I'd be really interested, because I never go anywhere without reading material, but many books and magazines are quite heavy, so you can only have a couple, this thing can have hundreds or thousands, and can get new stuff on the road, near-instantly.

It will be nice when you can get almost all new books for this kind of device. Another advantage I just though of is that some books just have too tiny type. There is one book I have which I really want to read, but the type is so damn tiny that it's almost painful to read. E-book readers will solve this. We are not all as young as we were. (My middle age hit last year at 43, when I suddenly got long-sighted. I bought some expensive varifocals, but they are not all that great, sharpness is not good when you look to the left or right. This is so for all varifocals.)

Man, with these videos, Amazon has really taken a page from Apple's (e)book, they are totally similar to the promotional videos Apple has been making for the last couple of years. And no surprise, really, those are well worth emulating, a wonderful promotional tool, with the celebrity testimonials and all.

I wonder how Amazon and Apple produce those testimonials. They sound just too perfect, they sound like actors have been paid to say just what the company would love to hear them say. But these are always big names, and I'm sure that they are not bribed and that most of them wouldn't take bribes anyway. It's not that I can't believe that they like the products so much, it's just that the way they say it is too perfect.

... Oh no: Neil Gaiman calls the device "an e-book". That's what these things are going to be called when they get popular, isn't it? And the files are called "e-books" too, so there will be no end to that confusion.

I just found out from Neil Gaiman that he lives in a part of the US where they can't get same-day delivery of any of the major national newspapers. Coming like I do from a small, well-connected country like Denmark, this is totally astonishing to me.

... Holy frick, Jeff Bezos is a year younger than me.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, November 20, 2007   16 comments links to this post

16 Comments:

At 20 Nov 2007, 14:40:00, Anonymous Monsieur Beep said...

And I'm presently very happy with my new HP Ipaq, so I can now enjoy the world wide web whilst lying on the sofa! Amazing what this little gadget offers! I couldn't do without any more, it even shows all the Domai ladies in their best shape.
A flaw of this blogger here is that I can't post any comments with it: the "publish"-button doesn't function, (but it works with other java scipt applications).
For real reading I prefer a good old hard copy book, though. I like the smell etc...

 
At 20 Nov 2007, 15:25:00, Blogger Hannah said...

Ok, you've just shocked me, too. :)

I've actually switched to ebooks which I read on my Palm. Much better than having something so decided as an ebook reader and much cheaper, too. :)

I don't know how much nonfiction is available in this format, though, and if Amazon will allow other formats in time. I hope so... would be wonderful.

Tip: Gutenberg Project

 
At 20 Nov 2007, 15:32:00, Anonymous ttl said...

Eolake revealed: "I shock my friends by cutting books into two or three slices for easier reading."

Note to self: Never let Eolake come anywhere near my books.

 
At 20 Nov 2007, 16:41:00, Anonymous ttl said...

Eolake said: "But typically, there's no word when it may be available outside that big country in the middle of North America."

There may be issues with the wireless connection protocol it's using, EV-DO. I don't think this is very widely deployed here in Europa. In fact, this is the first time I even hear this acronym.

Not that it means anything. I hate wireless communications and pride myself in not knowing anything about it.

 
At 20 Nov 2007, 16:46:00, Blogger eolake said...

That's how I feel about sports. Beckham who? Oh, Posh's husband.

Anyway, it uses normal cell phone technology it seems, so it should be able to made work here.
Of course they have to make deals with the phone carriers first.

 
At 20 Nov 2007, 17:38:00, Anonymous Nicola said...

I can highly recommend the Sony reader. My partner has been using it for over a year now and it's got a good weight, very easy on the eyes while reading and stores masses of books.

Only downside is firing up windows to update it.

I cut books up too to read in bed after I nearly concussed myself several years ago!

:)

 
At 20 Nov 2007, 21:30:00, Blogger Alex said...

I had trouble with Goblet of Fire and a few other weighty tomes. I am dreading "Deathly Hallows" as we have that in hard back, though paper backs spring closed and hard backs, nicely bound ones, tend to stay open more.

ebooks of any type

1) Need batteries (or charging)
2) use LCD so are not always good in light. (why won't Borders let you take the Sony reader near a window?)
3) need uploads
4) can't get everything my weird tastes require
5) cost $200+ to replace when you lose them
6) don't bounce as well as a paper back
7) can't be fixed with Sellotape (Scotch tape)


I think I might try using my XO as a e-Book when it gets here.

Why is it I saw great merits to the Psion 20 years ago, but now am not interested in a palm top PC?

 
At 20 Nov 2007, 21:37:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that it means anything. I hate wireless communications and pride myself in not knowing anything about it.

You pride yourself on being ignorant? That's funny. And sad. But still funny.

Another piece falls into place, ttl you fuctard.

 
At 21 Nov 2007, 06:58:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm as keen for new gadgets as any. However, two low-tech, low-priced inventions from the Maple Leaf flag country in combo work great, for bed and/or couch reading. The 'BookHug' and (AsSeenOnTV!) the TableMate II (latter is cheesy looking, but easy to fold and store)
-erkle

 
At 21 Nov 2007, 07:07:00, Blogger Alex said...

Sorry, but book hug and table mate do not fit the bill. They require sitting upright at a table. This is not possible on buses and trains.

With a cracked tail-bone sitting up in bed is not a good option for me.

 
At 21 Nov 2007, 07:32:00, Blogger eolake said...

Thanks for the tip, Anon, for some uses these look interesting.

 
At 21 Nov 2007, 15:10:00, Anonymous ttl said...

BoingBoing criticises Amazon Kindle for its use of DRM and EV-DO.

 
At 21 Nov 2007, 15:21:00, Anonymous ttl said...

"We chop down trees, transport them to plants, mash them into pulp, move the pulp to another factory to press into sheets, ship the sheets to a plant to put dirty marks on them, then cut the sheets and bind them and ship the thing around the world. "Do you really believe that we'll be doing that in 50 years?" he asks.

Yes, I believe we will be doing that in 50 years. But less than we do know.

But already now it would be high time to stop printing newspapers. What they print on those is not worth cutting trees down for. The web is a superior medium for that.

 
At 21 Nov 2007, 17:28:00, Blogger Joe Dick said...

They will probably have to wait for all those people to die who were born before computers and before TV. There are still a lot of people who don't have the internet or even a computer, and I would bet that if they simply stopped printing newspapers that a lot of people would simply not get their news that way. They would just watch TV. In the old days there were many more newspapers being printed even in small cities, usually with two editions a day. They've been slowly dying for decades now.

As for books, I doubt I'm ever going to want to read a book on a computer screen. Some, like the next full-length edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, will not be published in paper form because of the size - it would require too many trees for the paper. They plan it to be only in electronic form. That doesn't mean they won't still print the smaller dictionaries, like the Concise Oxford.

You'll probably find that they will always print books (or at least I hope so) but that it will depend on the book whether it is printed or just in electronic form. For example, many professional journals and other magazines now publish online editions which come out before the printed ones, and there will surely come a day when they are available only online. You don't need that kind of thing to be printed because it's not going to be kept anyway, and is easier to refer to in a huge, online database.

 
At 21 Nov 2007, 19:42:00, Blogger Alex said...

I typically use the PDF for datasheets, but there are times when I still like a hard copy.

I find when I have only one monitor on my PC a hard copy of at least the relevant pages is worth having.

For a processor I am working with I will order the print on demand full datasheet (500-1,000 pages of it). For processors I am evaluating, I just use the electronic docs.

I can see why they hand around "readers" in Star Trek TNG. They have the document buffered on them with appropriate markups.

I am looking forward to e-paper though. I hear they are working on it seriously. The only place I saw it in SF was Firefly.

 
At 21 Nov 2007, 20:46:00, Blogger eolake said...

"As for books, I doubt I'm ever going to want to read a book on a computer screen."

I'm looking forward to seeing the E-Ink "screens" on the Kindle or the Sony Reader. By all reports it looks like print on paper, not a computer screen.

 

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