Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Kindle App Opportunity

Do your friends and colleagues send you email messages with links to great articles and web pages they want you to go check out? I do, and when I get them I never seem to have enough time to thoroughly read them at that moment. Sometimes I print them. Quite often though I accidentally forget and miss the opportunity to read them.

What if you could do this?: Grab the url from the email message or your browser and drag it over to your Kindle, which is connected to your computer via USB? The application looks up that url, grabs all the HTML content that appears on the page, converts it to the Kindle's native format (mobi) and drops it into your home screen so you can read it later.

This is an app that you'd buy for your PC/Mac and would have no affiliation with Amazon. You'd be free to use it to easily and quickly convert and load whatever webpage content you want.

I provided more info about it in this longer post on my Publishing 2020 blog. I'm curious to see if others would benefit from an app like this. Also, if you know of a service that already fills this hole, please let me know!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When Two Out of Three Ain't Good

Remember that great Meatloaf song, "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad"? I do, and for some reason I thought of it when I read this Jeff Bezos quote from Wired's "Disruptive by Design" conference yesterday:

“[The Kindle DX] is $489, and that is an unbelievably low price for something that has inside it a sophisticated computer, a completely new kind of display of that size, and a 3G wireless radio,” Bezos said.
Bezos rightfully points out three important attributes of every Kindle: it's a full-fledged computer, has a great display and a 3G wireless radio. What irritates me though is that that Amazon, in their infinite wisdom, prevents Kindle owners from fully leveraging two out of the three (computer and wireless).

Imagine the iPhone without the App Store. It would be nothing more than a phone, like most of the other phones that preceded it. Have you heard of any third-party apps you can add to your Kindle? No, because Amazon doesn't want you to extend the device's capabilities. And even though all Kindles have wireless functionality built-in, there again, you're pretty much limited to what Amazon does and doesn't want you to do with that feature (although clever services like KindleFeeder have managed to get around it).

Jeff, can you imagine the doors that would open and the opportunities that would arise if you'd just let us fully utilize that "sophisticated computer" and "3G wireless radio"?! The DX's $489 price tag will always be deemed wickedly expensive as long as you place artificial limits on what we can and cannot do with it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

WSJ's Mossberg on the KindleDX: "Bigger, Not Better"

Walt Mossberg, the Wall Street Journal's personal technology guru and hit maker, has weighed in on the KindleDX, and the word isn't good. He indicates that after testing, he "didn’t like it nearly as much as the Kindle 2, which I own and enjoy using daily."

See the full review here.

What do you think? Are you planning to spring for a DX? Indicate your intent in our poll below:

E-Books get Olfactory

Do you enjoy e-books on your Kindle, but feel like you are a few sniffs shy of the full reading experience? Worry no more, Smell of Books has you covered.

With tongue firmly in cheek, Smell of Books promises to delivery the "smell of your favorite paper book" in a handy aerosol delivery format.

Not convinced it's a joke? Jump to site for DuroSport, the parent company of Smell of Books and browse the archive of truly funny product announcements and press releases. My favorite: the company's response to the Author's Guild, who criticizes Smell of Books for "Allowing unauthorized third parties to provide the “scent” for a book substantially changes the underlying work to a degree that infringes upon the author’s copyright, not to mention artistic vision."

Funny stuff!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Do You Want More Magazine Options on the Kindle?

I do, and that's why I wrote this post on my Publishing 2020 blog. I don't normally cross-post like this but this particular topic is perfect for Publishing 2020 but also highly relevant for Kindle owners who read Kindleville.

Let me know what you think of the idea.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Lion That Squeaked?

Look out, Amazon! Google is getting into the e-book market! Or as the New York Times puts it, Google is "throwing down the gauntlet."

Sayeth the Times,

In discussions with publishers at the annual BookExpo convention in New York over the weekend, Google signaled its intent to introduce a program by that would enable publishers to sell digital versions of their newest books direct to consumers through Google.The move would pit Google against, which is seeking to control the e-book market with the versions it sells for its Kindle reading device.

Google boasts that unlike Amazon e-books which require the proprietary Kindle, their e-books will be accessible on multiple devices, including phones and PCs.

And publishers are giddy because Google plans to let them have more of a say about e-book prices, giving them more control over their commodities than Amazon does.

Anyone would be foolish to underestimate Google's impact on a market once they set their sights on it, but am I the only one who sees the flaws in their plan?

First, attacking the Kindle by making e-books available on multiple devices is a nice concept, but has Google considered that one of the keys to the Kindle's success is that people don't want to read to books on computer or cell phone screens? To paraphrase an old political attack, "It's the e-ink, stupid."

It bothers me not one bit that I can't read my Kindle e-books on other devices because I have no desire to.

Second, giving publishers more control over pricing will certainly bring plenty of them running to the table to do business with Google, but have they been paying attention to the virtual revolution that Kindle users have initiated over pricing? One of the biggest and most active threads in the official Kindle discussion forum is titled "Boycott anything over $9.99."

Publishers: "Hurray! We can raise the price of our e-books and increase our profits!"

Consumers: "Uh, yeah. About that..."

E-book adoption has been slow enough. Do the publishers think raising prices will help? Perhaps they think that multi-device access will make readers more willing to loosen their purse strings? Or are they just so scared of what Amazon means to the future of publishing that they're anxious to back any other contender?

Again, I wouldn't dare dismiss Google's venture into e-books -- or any market -- as folly. They'll undoubtedly make an impact. I'm just not sure they quite have their finger on the pulse of the consumer in this case.


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What I'm reading now on my Kindle: Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Juilan Barnes