Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Another Kindle Owner's Observations

Amazon's Kindle Forum is a must-read for Kindle owners as well as anyone else considering buying a Kindle. The forum helps you discover new tips, workarounds and hear other customers talk about their Kindle experience. One of the more insightful recent posts is this one by Donald Johnson. He makes some excellent points about the Kindle, even if a few fellow forum members disagree (and they do...just look at the comments!).

He starts off by pointing out that the Kindle does a great job at what it's designed to do, although he mistakenly lumps all current Kindle owners into one bucket, calling them "technologically unsophisticated Amazon customers." The problem here is that many Kindle owners are just like him: early adopters willing to pay a premium for the latest gadget. Most early adopters are as curious about the underlying technology as the product itself, a point made by more than one of the follow-up comments on the forum.

He also points out the common complaint that content for this device is (pretty much) limited to one vendor, Amazon. I'm just not so sure that will always be the case, and as I've said before, the market will dictate the outcome. If enough people are comfortable with one content provider, device and e-book sales levels will rise accordingly and Amazon will never have a reason to open it up to other content providers, period. It's far too early in the Kindle's lifecycle to know which way this will go; the situation is exacerbated by the out-of-stock/limited distribution world the Kindle currently exists in.

Perhaps the most important point made here is this one: "Don't forget that the web browser built into the Kindle is experimental and have you read the Service Agreement clause that states that Amazon reserves the option of charging for accessing non-Amazon sites?" The early adopter road is full of plenty of potential potholes like this. Pricing models can change. Accessibility options can change. The bottom line is this is an e-book reader first and foremost; if you're using it for other tasks (e.g., surfing the web from time to time), keep in mind that those secondary (and frequently undocumented) features might dry up down the road.

I almost ran into a similar problem with my XM radio online firmware update reduces the FM transmitter's capability, thereby limiting the device's use at home and in the car. My solution: I've had the device for almost two years and I've never done the online firmware upgrade. I might be missing out on a product patch or two, but the built-in FM transmitter works better than any third-party one I've tried!


Anonymous said...

Isn't content for an iPod limited basically to one company Apple? At least as much as content is limited to the Kindle from Amazon.

Joe Wikert said...

Yes, that's a great point. Then again, I don't have an iPod but I use iTunes every day as it's my primary podcast supplier, but your statement is valid when it comes to products that aren't free.

Unknown said...

I don't think one is limited to just one provider of content for the Kindle. I have downloaded content from Tor, Baen, and Gutenberg. There are also many other sources--it just so happens that Amazon has the best selection and best prices for current fiction and non-fiction.

Joe Wikert said...

Hi Diane. You're right to say that you can put non-Amazon content on a Kindle. I don't think the question is whether you can put public domain works or a PDF from work on it; rather, what are your options if you want to read a NY Times bestseller? Right now, Amazon is the only source.

Anonymous said...

Fine the kindle article by Stephen
Windwalker on amazon. It will
lead to many sites that offer
books in the mobibook (spelling)
book format. Some like Baen are
free. Also search on ebay.
The is a seller out of England that
is sell a vast array of public
domain books.