Saturday, August 02, 2008

Re-Kindle, Re: Kindle

Hate to argue with my colleague Roy Tennant (OK, I actually enjoy arguing with Roy), but I don't think Kindle is going down in flames, or as Roy would have it FLAMES.

Eric Schonfeld at TechCrunch, quoted in Engagdet, says Amazon has sold 240,000 of the e-content readers, for nearly $100,000,000 in revenue. So even if, as Roy contends, Kindle "is not it," it sure is something.

Of course, for the record, both Roy and I have a stake in all this, since our mutual employer, OCLC, owns NetLibrary, a leading provider of e-content to libraries.


Roy Tennant said...

George, I love having you take me to task on this, but until Amazon (that would be AMAZON, folks) reports sales figures you have to forgive me for some skepticism. Anyone else is using extrapolation, at best. So I stand by my statements until there is actual proof. Or maybe that should be PROOF. I'm just sayin.

Andy Havens said...

I'm in a weird place r.e. the Kindle. I've been reading books on my PDA/phone for more than 10 years now, so the idea of reading books on a "device" doesn't bug me at all. And having finally had a chance to test-drive a Kindle for a week, my one word review is: inevitable.

I don't think the current form of the device is going to last long; what piece of tech does? When did you last mobile really resemble your current one? That's not the point. And I could go on and on about the UI stuff that the Kindle gets wrong.

But the eInk thing... yup. Inevitable. When you can take your doohickey with you and have content beamed right to the thing, no waiting, and at no incremental cost to the publisher... major, major plus.

The delays in acceptance for these things will be, increasingly, social and legal as opposed to technical and personal. By that I mean that the *idea* of consuming text on a device (a personal choice) will be less of a problem, since people are reading/texting more on screens than ever before. And the technology is finally to a place where, I think, yer average book person would enjoy the experience.

The social/legal aspects, though, will be an issue. Can I share my books? If I can't, what kind of price break do I get? If I can buy a paper book for $15, but share it with my wife and friends... will I pay $10 for an eBook I can't share? Or $5? Or $1? What's the break point for stuff like that.

Socially, I think we (People of the Book) also set great store by our bound, displayed collections. We like to be surrounded by our content, nesting in a cave of words. I know I do. And even though I've read hundreds of eBooks now... I still love the feel and comfort of the "real" thing.

But... in 10 years, when I'm offered a chance to subscribe to a publisher's entire library for a $5/month fee... will that be enough to counteract the "paper feels good" effect? Heck yeah.

Andy said...

I think they'd sell even more if it was in shops so users could see (and try) it in use. (Found this site by searching for Kindle in Dublin, OH to see if I could find someone nearby who has one to demonstrate it)
I'd love one but it's still far too expensive.