Friday, March 20, 2009

Interview with Kindlefeeder Founder Daniel Choi

If you're not using Kindlefeeder you need to check it right now. I've basically abandoned my traditional RSS reader and read all my feeds exclusively on my Kindle via this terrific service.

I've gotten to know Kindlefeeder's founder, Daniel Choi, a bit over the past year or so and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for the following blog interview:

JW: Kindlefeeder has pretty much replaced my need for a separate RSS reader. What sort of feedback have you heard from other customers?

DC: Basically, the feedback has ranged from really appreciative to effusively grateful. Lots of Kindlefeeder users really like what the service adds to their daily Kindle use.

JW: Are there any features you're working on for a future release that you could share with us now?

DC: Since I rewrote the softwore for Kindlefeeder at the end of Februrary (the first version was launched in September), I've been putting out fires and trying to get the new version of the service into a stable, relatively bug-free state. I'm still in fireman-exterminator mode right now. I also have other projects and clients that I need to devote serious time to. So major new features for Kindlefeeder are probably at least a few weeks off in the future.

But there are a few smaller features and improvements I do have in the queue. A few people have asked for the ability to schedule more than one feed delivery per day, and I think that feature suggestion has merit.

I also really want to improve Kindlefeeder's handling of different character encodings. Right now the service does a good job with feeds encoded in UTF-8, but it's hit or miss with feed content that comes in other character encodings.

Another great suggestion a user gave me was to embed a link right inside the Kindlefeeder documents that you could click to trigger a fresh new delivery from Kindlefeeder to your Kindle. I think that's a really cool idea.

JW: How has your growth rate been for the service? Have you noticed an up-tick in subscribers now that Kindle 2 is shipping?

DC: For the first few months after I launched the first version of the site last September, growth was pretty modest. Kindlefeeder plateaued at around 350 or so users by around December.

But then, at the end of February, after the Kindle 2 started shipping, my user base more than doubled in the space of a week. Now there are over 1,200 users and the user base is currently increasing by around 25 new users a day.

JW: I've often wondered what the author of this great service does with his Kindle. I mostly read The New York Times, KindleFeeder feeds and a couple of magazines. IOW, I don't use it as much for books as I thought I would. How does your usage look?

DC: I actually like to read books on my Kindle, especially nonfiction. I think I've read around 25 books on it since I got my Kindle (1.0) last August, and I enjoyed most of them. The last books I read are Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, and The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson. I'm almost done reading So Damn Much Money by Robert Kaiser, and that's a really important book I think everyone should read.

But I also use Kindlefeeder to read feeds from my favorite blogs. I like to read feeds from The Economist, Slashdot, and BBC News.

JW: If you could wave your magic wand, what are the top 2 or 3 features you'd love to see Amazon add to the Kindle?

DC: First, I would really, really love to be able to write notes and annotations on an e-ink screen with a stylus or some sort of electronic pen. The ability to scrawl notes in margins and underline, star, and circle passages is the most important reason I still often buy printed books, even when they're available in a Kindle version. I hate using the "Add Note" and "Highlight" features on my Kindle. They're totally clunky and unnatural.

Second, I would love to have a device with a much bigger screen. I mean big enough to show at least two pages at once. Because then you could do a lot of productive cross-referencing. This is important when you're reading something like an O'Reilly programming book. You need to be able to cross-reference the table of contents, the index, and multiple chapters really easily. Until then, I'll keep buying print copies of books on software programming.


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if Amazon is going to keep this service legal or if they are going to block stuff like this.

Robert said...

The one upgrade I would like to see, not so much for the Kindle itself but for the books I download from Amazon, is for them to make sure that each book has working footnotes and that the index has links in it that take you to the page indexed. I have bought several books in which the index is totally non-functional, just an image. And the image contains only references to pages, not Kindle locations. And the image, in very small type, cannot be enlarged with the type size key. Useless.
Footnotes are also non-functional in some books. No excuse for that.