Amazon Launches Kindle e-Book Reader

Online merchant Amazon.com Inc. is hoping to "kindle" interest in the still nascent market of e-books by introducing its own reader with free wireless connectivity, the aptly named Kindle. Monday's long-anticipated announcement comes as e-books remain a sliver of overall book sales, partly because they lack the comfort and intimacy of bound paper. Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said the online retailer spent three years developing the Kindle reader, which the company is selling online for $399. Pricing for the actual e-books will vary, but best sellers and new released are expected to go for $9.99 each.

According to Bezos, Amazon designed Kindle with the e-book's strengths in mind: it is thinner than most paperbacks and weighs 10.3 ounces, yet it can hold some 200 books, along with newspapers, magazines and an entire dictionary. Readers can buy and download books directly to the Kindle - without a PC - through Sprint Nextel Corp.'s high-speed EV-DO cellular network without fees or contract commitments. Kindle users can turn off wireless connectivity when they are on airplanes - though they also must shut off the device during takeoff and landing, prime reading time for some. Taking a page from Sony's playbook, the Kindle screen attempts to imitate the look of paper and has no backlight to reduce battery use and eyestrain, just like Sony's own e-book reader.

News source: SiliconValley.com

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21 Comments

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Why no subscription service?!?!? I'd buy one of these instantly if I could get a subscription. Something like $10/mo for all-you-can-read. Otherwise I refuse to buy downloadable content I don't tangibly own. Likewise, any paper book purchased through Amazon should automatically be added to a Kindle account. And finally, any Kindle books should be capable of being upgraded to paper for a small fee (just in case the service fails and they feel the need to unplug their servers).

Its good that the e-paper will be more readable during the day, but with no internal light source, you'll have to use a lamp in the evening. Its a little silly to use a lamp to light up an electronic reader. They should figure out how to put either a frontlight or backlight, or how to make the e-paper luminescent.

I do have some questions, does it have a back light so you can read it at night? What other formats does it support? I currently use my pocket pc for my ebooks and I can read any format I come across which is nice. A bigger screen would be a plus for me.

But at $400 I can see no reason at all to buy the kindle. If it were $100 then sure.

It doesn't need a backlight. It has a reflectivity equal to paper, meaning you can sit on a beach in direct sunlight and it will be perfectly legible. Likewise if you want to read at night, you'll need a book light. Maybe version 2 would include some sort of lighting (but it would be in-front, not behind) since the screen is reflective, I don't think you could backlight it effectively.

I didn't notice any color on the screen. Hopefully a new version will support color and perhaps a touch screen keypad rather than traditional keys - oh and a cheap price. I love the idea of a low-end version being pitched toward schools to replace paper books. Think of how many resources can be perserved if all books went digital. This is a good step forward, but Kindle needs the aforementioned improvements.

seebaran said,
I didn't notice any color on the screen. Hopefully a new version will support color and perhaps a touch screen keypad rather than traditional keys - oh and a cheap price. .

Color paper displays are a ways out. Maybe three years

-d

meh, give me a real paper book over this anytime. I love the feeling of the paper, the weight of a good hardcover book, the smell,... aaaah books, gotta love them

E-book readers are a solution looking for a problem.

Traditional books require no power, are extremely durable, portable, and cheap.

The reason one has a reader is to be able to access thousands of books under 1 unit.

You want to carry a 1,000 books then go ahead, this device is neat.

I want one, I will phone amazon uk later and find out when I will be able to buy it.

Perhaps, but on my pocket pc I have hundreds of books. When one is done I can go right to another. I do have a large library of real books book they take up so much space that i'm now going exclusively to ebooks. Took some getting used to but I like it now.

True, but I still want one. And considering the wireless access and you don't need a PC to purchase the books, it might do better than you'd expect.

phantasmorph said,
True, but I still want one. And considering the wireless access and you don't need a PC to purchase the books, it might do better than you'd expect.

And if you don't want to use the pc you need to consider the price spint is going to charge to do so.

Lare2 said,

And if you don't want to use the pc you need to consider the price spint is going to charge to do so.

SPRINT cost:
$0.00

-d

Slimy said,
This won't go anywhere with a $400 price tag.

I just can't see myself paying the same price for an ebook as for a real book. Just doesn't make sense. I did buy one ebook from amazon last year. $25. But it was from my favorite author and I wanted to support him. However the DRM on the ebook made it a nightmare to get it to work on my pocketpc. So until the price of ebooks come down and they sell them without DRM i'm not buying anymore.