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the day amazon saved newspapers

Amazon announced their eBook reader today, The Kindle. As an Amazon Junkie, I of course must give my opinions:

– “We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless. No PC and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills—we take care of the hassles so you can just read.”

Amazon is the first company to realize integrating wireless at no cost to the user is HUGE. Sprint is brilliant working with the company to provide this (it’s something, I think, a large number of devices will start to do). It’d be ridiculous for someone to expect me to pay a service fee for my eBook reader. While I don’t expect the Kindle become widespread, I expect this concept to catch on.

– The price is way too high, and I suspect Amazon knows that to be the case. I’d expect, especially with the service tie-ins, the price will drop to their cost or lower in a year or two. Especially considering they’ve got you as far as purchases go — you have to buy your books from Amazon — they’re going to make a good amount of money off of you just on the book purchases.

– It’s ugly as Betty

– Once again, as I felt with Amazon Unbox, they’re in a position to do combination purchases. For example, with Unbox, if you buy Season 2 of “Lost” you should get a free digital copy (you don’t, but you should). With Amazon, if you buy a hardcover, you should get a free or extremely discounted eBook copy (no more than, say, 99 cents). After all – you already own the book. If Amazon did this, I’d most likely buy this hideous device and also buy all my books from Amazon.

– Prices are reasonable for lots of things: 99 cents a month for full, wireless delivery of blogs isn’t bad (again, seeing as you grab them over a cellular network adds that value), $9.99 for a hardcover release isn’t bad, $.10 to send any document wirelessly to your reader isn’t bad (free cable-based support is allegedly there; if not, it should be). Some blogs appear to cost $2; that’s getting a bit expensive.

– This is a great delivery method for newspapers, and I can see their relevance returning if devices like this catch on.

– Free access to Wikipedia on the device and an integrated dictionary are awesome. I certainly could have used the latter when reading “Name of the Rose.”

If you travel a lot, I could see the expense making sense (though if it was half the price, it’d make it a no-brainer). Clearly they need to get Apple to design them some hardware.

The huge negative, of course, is the simple fact that I own a lot of books — I even own a lot of books I want, but have yet to have the time, to read. I don’t want to re-buy those books in order to read them on the new device.

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