Saturday, April 10, 2010

This Site Officially Under Deconstruction

That's a wrap, folks.  Kindleville is no more.  I bought an iPad last week and since I'll no longer be using a Kindle I have nothing further to say here about the platform.

Thanks for all your support over the past couple of years.  This blog will remain accessible via till the next domain renewal (10 months from now, I believe).  Even after that expires it can still be found at

If you're interested in reading about my iPad adventures be sure to check out my iPadHound blog.  Thanks!

Monday, March 22, 2010

WANTED: Kindle Fan for Debate

We're looking for a die-hard Kindle fan who would like to be part of a point/counterpoint debate we're planning with an iPad user.  Contact me at jwikert [at] if you're interested in participating.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kindle app for BlackBerry -- a first look

The new Kindle app for BlackBerry devices is here, promising the same nifty Whispersync(tm) technology that iPhone users have enjoyed for a while now.  And the best part is, it's free.

I installed the app today on my BlackBerry Bold and gave it a test drive. 

The first time you run the app it asks you to sign in to your Amazon account.  Within seconds it pulled up my Kindle archive, showing me the list of all the books I've ever purchased or downloaded from the Kindle store.

When you highlight a book and then select it by clicking the trackball it immediately starts downloading to your device.  I tested a couple of books, both relatively large (one of which was The Complete Works of Shakespeare), and the download only took a few seconds.

Once you've nabbed the books they show up in the "Home" folder in the app, and all you do is click to read.  You can turn the "pages" by clicking the spacebar or scrolling with the trackball.  So far I'm liking the spacebar method the best.  And as with the Kindle you can change the font size to suit you.

The Whispersync worked well on both the books I tested, taking me right to where I had left off reading them on my Kindle.

Amazon has labeled the app a beta for now, but at first glance it appears pretty solid. 

I certainly can't see spending a whole lot of time reading on the BlackBerry, but this app will be a lifesaver for those times when I'm stuck in line at the bank or grocery store without my Kindle. 

Kindle owners should grab this app right away.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Too Little, Too Late

The iPad isn't even available yet but I've already decided it's time to ditch my Kindle and switch to the Apple platform. Why? In short, I'm disgusted with Amazon's glacial pace of Kindle innovation. The device's functionality is pretty much the same as it was when it launched more than 2 years ago.

Anytime I've suggested Amazon open their platform up to third-party developers, just like Apple's done with the iPhone App Store, most folks questioned the idea. They asked what kind of cool apps could really be developed for an ereader. These are probably the same people who figured all a cell phone needs to do is make and answer calls.

Amazon recently announced their upcoming Kindle Development Kit "for active content." It's about time. Seriously, why did they wait this long? The timing came across as a desperate attempt to divert attention from Apple's iPad announcement.

Regarding the question of what sort of apps could be build for the Kindle, check out this post by Jared Newman entitled 8 Amazon Kindle Apps We Hope to See. (FWIW, I've been pleading for Twitter integration on the Kindle for a long, long time...)

Although Jared offers some great ideas, I've totally lost what little Kindle enthusiasm I still had. Call it iPad envy. As a result, I'm ready to wind down Kindleville. To be honest, I haven't invested much time in it for the past year anyway. Paul Higginbotham has done a nice job keeping Kindleville afloat. If you'd like to join Paul to keep Kindleville around, just let me know. Otherwise, keep an eye out for what I hope to do next on the iPad platform...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Here comes another one

How many "Kindle-killers" have been announced or released in the past two years? I've lost count. Yet despite the flood of killers on the market, the Kindle is still doing quite well, thank you. As you've no doubt heard, Amazon announced that for the first time ever, Kindle book sales surpassed physical book sales on Christmas sales.

Of course the rallying cry of Kindle scoffers has been "B-B-B-But just wait until Apple comes out with an e-book reader!"

It would appear that very day is near. January 26, to be precise. That is the date that Apple has (allegedly) reserved at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where they will (allegedly) introduce the long-anticipated iSlate(tm), the mega-super-mondo-all-in-one tablet device. The rumored feature list grows everyday, and includes everything from gesture-based page turning to video playback to mammography screening.

One thing that everyone is certain about, however, is that it spells doom for the Kindle.*

In a recent blog post -- re-published by the Huffington Post -- tech blogger J.S. McDougall gushes over the possibilities.

I'm not going to reveal any names, but I have it on very good authority, for example, that--unlike the Kindle--the new Apple tablet will, indeed, have a color screen. Might it also ... play video?! (Please pardon the sarcasm.)

It's amusing to consider the evolving criticism of the Kindle. First it was "It will never replace the physical book!" Now with Apple's digital marvel on the way, the Kindle criticism has turned into "The Kindle is too much like a real book! All it does is display text!"

"Digital books should include author interviews, instructional videos, pop-up definitions of esoteric terms, instant foreign translations, optional soundtracks, links to helpful web sites, and anything else publishers and authors can dream up to increase the value and effectiveness of their content," asserts McDougall.

Really? Do we want our books to do all that? In an age when we're constantly surrounded and bombarded by audio/video stimulus, don't we just want to sit down and relish the written word on a plain page occasionally? One of the great things about the Kindle is that it does not get between the reader and author. As Stephen King pointed out back in 2008, after a while the device simply becomes invisible, allowing the reader to become fully absorbed in the story. Also, the Kindle offers no distractions to get in the way of reading (Sure there's a web browser, but it's so bad we're never tempted to actually stop reading and use it.). I see that as a positive.

Aside from that, the Kindle's two biggest strengths are e-ink and wireless access to Amazon's vast selection of e-books -- neither of which the iSlate will have (allegedly).

So why might Apple's Kindle-killer succeed? The same reason the iPod became the number one MP3 player despite that fact that it was neither the first nor the best of its kind: it's made by Apple. Say what you want about Apple products, but the brand carries a hipness and smugness that outweigh any consideration of features and price.

There's no doubt the iSlate will sell big, regardless of what features it does or doesn't have. That's the power of Apple marketing (warning: contains some NSFW language). But after the strongest holiday season ever for the Kindle, and with Amazon's on-demand e-book selection growing every day, is the Kindle really in danger of losing its core audience of people who just like to read? After all, despite what Steve Jobs has said, there are obviously still quite of a few of us around.