Amazon made the internet vomit a little with the announcement of Kindle an e-book reader (seriously are we calling these things e-book readers still? It is more like an ugly little laptop that doesnt have programs). Oh wait, my biases snuck out there in the parenthesis. To be forthcoming: I really like books and am immediately worried that technology is going to usurp some sixteen hundred years of papers and ink.
However, as much as in my heart I will want a massive library in each of my future residences, I am drawn to technologies that make things easier. For instance, it would be very convenient if I could have a device, with a nice, high contrast screen, that worked in sunlight, and I could comfortably read books and academic papers on.
(image: Sarah Tew/CNET Networks)
The Kindle, is not that device. Sure some of the details are unclear (I have no idea if it works in direct sunlight), but it is ugly, expensive, far too integrated with Amazon, and it can’t read PDFs.
Let’s read a line from the Kindle User Guide (chapter 8):
In addition to purchased content, you can read your personal documents on Kindle as well. If you have files formatted as Kindle, text, Microsoft Word, HTML, or image files like GIF or JPEG, you can e-mail the files as attachments to your Kindle e-mail address. Amazon will convert the files if necessary and send them back to your computer for free or wirelessly to your Kindle for a small fee, whichever you prefer. For more information on transferring, converting, and e-mailing your personal documents, see Chapter 8.
So this means Amazon is going to take text and JPG files and convert them into magic Kindle files (because these files supported by every computer for at least ten years aren’t good enough?) over e-mail and will send them directly ot my Kindle if I pay them. Convenient. And they won’t even translate PDFs.
So basically this “service” (that is what Amazon is calling it because of the subscription costs), is likely to soon be replaced by a new better versionâ€“this thing reeks prototype to meâ€“ with PDFs?, a color screen?, more than one font?, and maybe a real RSS reader, not just allowing me to choose from the blogs Amazon has approved for me, or worse some far better competitor that can then not read any of my Kindle books (DRMed up to heaven), and then I have a four hundred dollar brick.
And really, is a small tablet laptop not going to take the place of all these e-readers. The concept was good when laptops were big and bulky but they are getting smaller and lighter and the screens are improving. My current laptop does most of the things I would want this reader to do, if the screen was good enough to see in daylight, and flipped all the way around, I think this contest would be over. Or maybe this contest is over, and Amazon is just hoping to make some cash until everyone else notices.
Either way, my precious books are still safe.