What Will the Kindle Do for the E-Publishing Industry?

If you pay any attention at to what’s happening in the world of books and publishing, you’ve heard about Kindle: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device.

I’ve read a number of articles, watched the videos, and read reviews; however, I haven’t actually tried the Kindle. Several e-authors I know have ordered the device, and I’m waiting to hear their experiences.

 Based on what I’ve seen, there are many things to like:

  • the convenient size and light weight
  • the keyboard that makes searching easier than other e-book readers
  • the ability to download books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs directly to the device by wireless connection
  • the apparently easy-to-read screen (I say apparently because I’ve only seen the online demo and not the actual device)
  • the advertised long battery life (though I have heard reports that the battery life isn’t always as advertised)
  • the ability to change the font size in a wide range (very important to me as I need a large font to read)
  • the ability to read personal documents (such as Word files)

There are also some things not to like:

  • the cost of the device ($399 – some reading devices are available for less than $150)
  • the relatively high cost of many of the available e-books ($9.99 for bestsellers, less expensive than some other e-books from major publishers but more expensive than the $5-$6 usually charged by e-publishers)
  • the cost to download content other than e-books
  • the inability to transfer personal documents directly from a computer to the device and (Updated 11/26/07: I have been informed you can transfer documents directly by USB) the cost involved in e-mailing the documents to the device if they have to be converted to the right format

And there is at least one thing that I can’t decide whether to like or not:

  • the lack of a backlight (this makes the screen easier to read in bright light but doesn’t allow for reading in the dark, as other e-book reading devices)

My eBookwise reader still works great though I wish it had a larger font option – the largest font is barely readable for me. I’m not in the market now, but when I’m ready for a new e-book reader, I’ll look seriously at the Kindle.

For the immediate future, I’m encouraging my clients (and my publisher) to make books available in the Kindle format.

All of my likes and dislikes are subject to change when I actually try the device, but what I really like about the Kindle is the attention it is bringing to e-books. I believe that Amazon.com getting involved in the industry and Jeff Bezos personally promoting the product will have a positive impact on the future of e-publishing. No, I don’t expect e-books to replace print books soon (or ever, for that matter), but I do think many people who haven’t considered e-books will take a closer look because of all the attention the Kindle is getting.

More information and opinions on the Kindle:
Amazon Affiliates Burned at the Stake by Kindle? by Andy Beard
Amazon Kindle by Mark Shead at Productivity 501
Amazon Kindle is finally here by Raz at Eco-Libris
Amazon’s Next of Kindle: new eBook device debuts by Jeff Gomez at Print Is Dead
Amazon-sized egos? Kindle reader to shun IDPF e-book standard? And, yes, the ugly box is the FINAL design by David Rothman at Publishers Weekly
Ding, Dong the Book is Dead? by Gina Conroy at Writer Interrupted
First Look: Amazon’s Kindle Reader: The Gap Between Description and The Device by Joseph Weisenthal at PaidContent.org
The Future of Reading by Steven Levy at Newsweek (November 26th edition)
Huh? The Kindle e-reader ISN’T ugly? So says Steve Levy, author of Newsweek puff piece—in response to my Publishers Weekly blog by David Rothman at Teleread
Kindle eBook Pricing by Joe Wikert at Publishing 2020 Blog
Kindle owner’s report by David Rothman at Teleread
Ugly Is the New Cute by Ellen Hage at Tech from an E-Booker’s Viewpoint

Added 11/25/07:
Video: Benjamin Higginbotham of Technology Evangelist compares Kindle with Sony and Iliad readers

Added 11/26/07:
Video: Robert Scoble critiques the flaws of the Kindle

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