Amazon Kindle, Reinventing The Book?

November 19th, 2007 at 12:00 am

It’s all around the web and print, Amazon has unleashed its eBook reader, Kindle in hopes of reinventing the book. 

It’s been the fuss for the last couple of days and Newsweek’s latest issue has the gadget on the cover.  I personally did not feel like writing about it until now that I have all the specs and some user reviews.  As a book reader, I must say that I have some apprehensions about the device.

So the Kindle is a new device not the first of its kind but probably the most hyped so far.  For the hardware, it has a 6" 800×600 monotone LCD, a QWERTY keyboard, scroll wheel, 3.5mm headset jack, SD slot, USB connection and a long life battery.   Capabilities: EV-DO connectivity on Amazon’s Whispernet via Sprint (free to use), 256MB internal memory, reads Kindle file format (some kind of HTML variant), Word, PDF, mobi, html, and plaintext.  For images, it reads the usual JPG, GIF, PNG.

amazon kindle books

Price tag is $399 for the device and books cost, $9.99 to download free over the EV-DO, newspaper and magazine subscriptions available from $1.25 to $14.99 a month.  Blogs on the other hand will cost $0.99 per month.

Those are the specs of the device and the service.  Now, is it really that good or necessary or even worth the steep $399 price tag?   Will it, as it is, reinvent the way we read?  I don’t think so and personally, I won’t get one.  It’s simply not worth it.

What’s wrong about it?  For $399 I can get a WiFi mobile device, a handheld, a phone, a laptop.  The Asus EeePC sells for $299 and it’s definitely more than a reader.  An mobile phone like the iPhone or N95 is capable of connecting to the internet via WiFi and EDGE and could definitely read eBooks and Blogs for free. Even a PSP or a Nintendo DS can get eBooks better and cheaper than the Kindle.

Generally, the Kindle is a highly specialized device and a very expensive one.  Though Whispernet is free, buying books from Amazon books, newspapers and magazines are way too expensive when the alternatives on the web are free.  As for the blogs, that’s just plain insane.

For Amazon this probably was a good idea to make a device for eBooks they sell but for consumers, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the price is too high.  The only way I see for the Amazon Kindle to dominate the eBooks market is to drastically cut the prices of both the device and the service.  As for taking over the printed material industry, not a chance. 

However, on a lighter note, I think the Kindle is a great alternative for book junkies who really spend their money acquiring books as well as the environment.