I got mine a few weeks ago and I have to say I am terribly pleased with it. Loved that USPS delivered it two days before the estimated date. Loved the packaging and getting started process with details like the Kindle already registered to my Amazon.com account. Love that the screen saver consists of author portraits and other literary-related imagery.
So far I have two newspapers (New York Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine), a sci-fi magazine and six books on the device. And two days ago I finished reading my first Kindle book (Alan Furst, Kingdom of Shadows).
I suspect that Amazon had a very close look at Apple and its iTunes store. Both companies have made it delightfully easy to spend money with them. In the case of Amazon.com I can buy new content directly from the Kindle, or from my computer browsing Amazon.com and have it sent from there directly to the Kindle. For its free wireless connection the Kindle uses something called Whispernet. If I am correct that works via the same technology as one’s cell phone. I am a little curious how Amazon.com manages to provide this access for free while the cell phone service providers happily charge when you access their networks.
Just like my iPhone I am starting to carry my Kindle everywhere. As in the case with the iPhone regarding music, it is just very pleasant to have all your reading material with you all the time. No need to estimate beforehand whether after leaving the house I desire to read the newspaper, a spy novel, a biography or whatever. It’s all there. Immediate and continuous gratification.
In the few weeks I have not found anything that bugs me about the device but I wonder if that changes as over time the content collection will grow. It seems that all items are listed in order. Will I be wanting an ability to create folders and categorize books? I don’t know yet about backup strategies. I trust that Amazon.com keeps track of what’s on my Kindle. So if the device fails or is stolen, lost or needs to be replaced for any reason does all my content just come down from the cloud onto the new device?
A book I am reading now on my Kindle is The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel. The author writes about his love for libraries. Having a Kindle and reading this book by means of this device has some aspect of irony to it. Like the author I am very fond of libraries and bookstores as well. To walk around without too much of a plan and just let yourself be taken and interested by what you happen to encounter is delightful. When I came to California and discovered stores like Borders and Barnes&Noble that stay open late, have a cafe inside of them, well, that was just fantastic. I remember Chris Borton taking JC and me to an Ethiopian restaurant in Berkeley. We had to wait for our table to be ready. The hostess said: “You can wait at the bookstore next door. They serve tea. We’ll come and get you when your table is ready.” And it was a secondhand bookstore as well. “Take your time with preparing that table,” I was thinking while we happily hopped next door.
Secondhand bookstores may well be my favorite. The often random order in which the books are kept, the level of chaos. A very favorite one is Know Knew Books on California Ave in Palo Alto, and also the small bookstores in the pedestrian gate near the Universiteit van Amsterdam. I can easily spend hours just browsing.
In comes the Kindle. In a few decades where will the bookstores be?
The other day I read that it now happens that during signings authors are asked to sign someone’s Kindle. Understandable development butin the current state of affairs a little naughty of the Kindle owner. Book signing are a tool for the stores to get customers in the store and to buy books, to spend money there.
But this did bring up a thought: maybe there are collaborative opportunities between Amazon.com and brick bookstores: ability to buy Kindle versions of the books while I am browsing there? Of course I can do that now: Whispernet after all. But I am wondering whether there is a way – via promotions, coupons, branding – to make both sides benefit? But perhaps not and will brick bookstores be overtaken by human-technology evolution like recordshops.
A bit back in this story I admitted to having a German newspaper on the device. Why German, why not Dutch? Those are actually two different questions with separate answers. The German newspaper because I use it to help me practise that language somewhat frequently. No Dutch newspaper because there is no Dutch newspaper, or any Dutch content for that matter, for the Kindle. Yes, very disappointing. Since living aboard I have been disappointed in how poorly our culture travels or is promoted beyond the country’s physical borders. Would love to have De Volkskrant or Vrij Nederland magazine or Elsevier on my Kindle.
Tim Bray alerted me that one can add one’s blog to the collection of Kindle blogs. That means that someone can subscribe to the blog via the Kindle and have entries show up on the device as the blog is updated. As Tim writes this gives someone a choice between reading ongoing (Tim’s blog) for free via the world wide web, or pay $.99/$1.99 for the pleasure of reading it on your Kindle. Of course, quick to recognize an opportunity to get rich I signed up this blog as well!