Amazon is generating lots of buzz with the release of their Kindle ebook platform today. Many of the people I follow on Twitter made some sort of announcement regarding the order that they placed and mine is on the way.
I think Kindle is significant for several reasons:
1) No reliance on tethering to a computer – I am a Sony eReader owner and as a Mac user I hate the fact that the store is only available via PC. Kindle puts the store on the device, which follows on the trend Apple initiated with the iTunes store on the Apple iPhone and the iPod Touch.
2) The barrier for electronic publishing has been lowered – Tonight I put two works of mine on the Amazon Kindle marketplace. Both are available for free on this site, but I was overly enthusiastic and wanted to test the system. The process was very easy, perhaps too easy. In addition, I could set micropayments of $0.49 for my content. The implications for companies like the TRC could be very interesting if this device becomes mainstream. My next challenge is getting my RSS feeds on there.
3) Electronic delivery of newspapers – One metric I apply for success of new technologies is whether they deliver on the promise of science fiction. The Kindle does so in that I will have the NY Times on my device every morning no matter where I am or where I wake up (unless I am outside the Sprint network coverage I guess). That is stuff of science fiction. Yes, I can already do this on several devices, but the Kindle model just seems to be more “magical”.
4) Integrated Wikipedia and on-board dictionary – nice touch.
A few areas for improvement:
1) Give me the option to get content via WiFi. If I am in Amman, Jordan, why not let me browse the store over my NetGear WiFi router I travel with. The U.S. only content delivery system will need to be expanded.
2) Price point on blogs needs to go down ASAP. These should be micropayments of $.10 or less a month or offer a flat unlimited blog access charge of $10.00/month. For now, I’ll read RSS feeds on my iPhone.
3) Provide web browsing – Apparently a browser is present in the experimental folder, but I need it as an integrated part of the device if RSS feeds are going to have any value. I love Instapundit, but it is primarily a link blog and has no value if I can’t follow the link and read the original story.
4) Give Sony eReader customers amnesty and give me a free copy of all the books I’ve bought on that platform. That would drive a real nail in the coffin of the current market leader for eBooks and generate great publicity.
5) Sustain the business model. Keep things cheap, or go even cheaper. The money you save on physical delivery should be applied to keeping the books heavily discounted.
6) Sell bundles. If I want to buy a real book and it is also on Kindle, give me a copy on Kindle to get started and expire it when you get delivery confirmation that my physical copy has arrived (this is actually my friend Eric’s idea, but I like it!)
7) Make the device less ugly.
8) Integrate this with my iPhone (yeah right).
9) Get rid of the DRM.
10) Let me send it PDF files! (update: you can send it PDF files via email. Works like a charm!)