Kindle e-Book Reader 2.0
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Sorry I've been lax on my posting. I got called away for work last week unexpectedly. My boss pretty much walked up to me Thursday morning and told me to get on a plane to Mississippi that same day. From then through the end of last Friday I ended up billing 34 hours of work. So, yeah... pretty tired and busy. To add to my pain, I dropped my laptop while packing in a hurry, and when I got to Mississippi, I found out that it was completely dead. As in, messed-up-the-motherboard dead. So, couldn't check email or blog at all.

Anyway, saw this article on Engadget about the Kindle 2.0 and its possible redesign. First, the great news, the Kindle may be available for as low as $249. The second good news, a designer from Frog Design appears to be leading the redesign (see the Engadget article for more on Frog Design's history re: the Kindle). That's good, because my first thought when I saw the Kindle 1.o was "My God, that is one UGLY device."

However, even the incredibly tantalizing price of $249 may not be enough to sway me into investing in an e-book reader. I've been thinking a lot about what I'd like in an e-book reader. I've been eye-balling the Amazon Kindle for some time now, but remain on the fence. While I love many of the features (the ability to connect wirelessly with the built-in PC card is excellent), ultimately it still falls short in too many areas for me to invest just yet.

One of the main draws for an e-book reader for me is the ability to carry around books that are normally inconvinient. A few examples:
  1. My software development library is currently 2 dozen books that are each 500-900 pages long. During the course of a work day, I may need up to 3-4 of those books. Obviously, it's a pain to have to carry those around.
  2. Travel on airplanes, which is a big no-brainer. In fact, the only time I've seen a Kindle out in the wild has been in airports. The latest hardcover is heavy and bulky, so obviously the ability to carry that content (or 4 or 5 hard covers for that matter) is great. Tossing in the ablity to have magazines, newspapers and blogs in a bonus, so kudos to them for that.
Here's what I'd like to have, if I could magically invent the next generation of e-book (and the related services that would go along with it):

Full color screen - This would enable two things: new kinds of e-books, and the ability to view photos. The current black and white format means that fully illustrated books (particularly art books or reference manuals) don't look that great. Also, having magazines is great, but trying to read a magazine in black and white is sort of brutal. I've been using a site lately called wowio.com and they've begun providing comic books in PDF format. Obviously, the ability to view a full color comic as the publisher intended would be ideal. Also, imagine being able to take your photo albums with you on the road. How great would that be?

Subscription-based all-you-can-eat libraries - There are several reasons why this is an attractive model for me. First, buying individual e-books seems a bit pricey. To build a virtual library equivalent to what I already have on my bookshelf would be cost-prohibitive. I can't justify buying an expensive e-book reader for the 1 or 2 books I may buy in a month. A lot of Americans don't buy more than 3-4 books all year, so if the Kindle wants market penetration, this model will help with that. This would also help me if I want to see a book I already own (because there's NO WAY I'm paying twice for the same content). All-you-can-eat models are great because it also allows you to take a chance on books you might not pick up otherwise.

Ability to "trade" books to other Kindle devices - without this feature, it's almost a deal-breaker for me. One of the greatest joys about reading a great book for me is the ability to turn around and lend it to my friends and family. And I also love getting books handed to me from friends who know my reading tastes as well. If I can't easily take the e-books I purchase and transfer them to my friends' computers and/or Kindles, what is the point? I envision some kind of model where an e-book has a "license" that can be transferred from device to device. That will prevent piracy, since only one Kindle or computer at a time could use the unlocked content.

So, that's what I want. Now I just have to wait and see if one or more of these desired features comes to pass in the new version of the Kindle. If any readers out there happen to own a Kindle, I'd love to hear from you about what you like/dislike about it.
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