back to article Kindle fails to set light to unsold e-book pile

The humble paper-based book isn't burnt just yet. Amazon is keeping schtum as to how many e-books it has sold, but evidence is mounting that predictions of iPod-grade sales and billion-dollar revenues were a smidge optimistic. Earlier this month CitiGroup predicted that Amazon would shift 380,000 electronic books during 2008, …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    another device

    to carry, with your phone (and maybe your work phone too), and your ipod.

    Also fairly proprietary, so another lock-in. Just what punters are crying out for eh?

    Perhaps if they started out by looking to sell eboks to all the existing devices out there like PDAs, iphones etc then they might have had something, but the fact is most people do not like reading from a screen... .simple as that.

    A solution looking for a problem maybe, a way to make the (rather traditional focused) publishing world THINK they are part of the internet/tech world definitely.

  2. James Pickett
    Happy

    Hooray!

    I'm not normally a Luddite, but I find this news strangely comforting. I could have predicted it, too, but it's nice to have one's prejudices confirmed...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Painfully obvious

    Even though electronic copies of every book ever exist, the threat of piracy has any publisher shit-scared to let them out into the wild.

    And i don't blame them, you know that whatever DRM they put in, everything available will be on bittorrent within minutes of release.

    Electronic books are a dead end for this reason alone. Audiobooks on the other hand, now those i like.

  4. Mike Flugennock

    D'ahh, screw this thing...

    ...it's limited in what it does, and it's butt ugly on top of it.

    Where's my full 9x12-inch "live" area multi-use "reading" device in a thin, sleek, simple, elegant case?

    Never mind the flying cars; where the hell's my friggin' _Newspad_?

  5. Edwin
    Thumb Down

    Re: Painfully obvious

    ...they're out there already - whether the publishers want to release them or not (just like with music).

    the problem lies in:

    - Authors not wanting to publish their books electronically (e.g. Ms. Rowling)

    - Proprietary standards

    - Stupid bookshop rules

    That last one really gets me - I've asked people to stop giving me dead tree editions, but 9 out of 10 e-bookshops won't let you give a book electronically. *DOH*

  6. Trevor

    Ebook prices

    I don't have a kindle, but I do have a Bookean Cybook, it's much easier to read on than a screen, either Desktop or a PDA/Phone screen.

    The amount of reading I'm doing has gone up dramatically since buying it but...

    I've looked at buying more modern books but balk at the price of the ebook versions which are exactly the same price as the paperback versions. That combined with not being able to find most of the titles I would actually be interested in reading means I'm never likely to be converted into a content buying customer.

    Gutenberg has so far provided me with enough content to keep me happy, and although as mentioned in the article the text is very old (and it feels old, both in terms of the syntax and the ideas being expressed) I've found myself reading a wider range of genres to compensate.

    ebook sales are being hurt by the publishers thinking that it's has always been selling content while the customer thinks it's been buying a physical item. Take away the physical item and the content is not worth as much to the customer (rightly or wrongly).

    Dedicated ebook readers are also far to expensive for what people actually want to use them for.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Comment

    We've already commented on the pros n' cons of the electronic format vs. paper, so I won't rehash them.

    If Amazon actually wants to sell some ebooks, they HAVE to make the Kindle reader cheaper, or at least do some kind of 'bundle' where you get the reader free with say, 10 books, or vice-versa. Amazon needs to take note of what printer manufacturers and game console purveyors have known for years--you practically give people the hardware, and when they're 'hooked', you have a lifetime customer for software/expendables. If enough people get these, many more will 'jump on the bandwagon' It may not be the next ipod, but has potential. Add audiobooks/music playback ability to Kindle, and it would be even more desirable.

  8. Gordon Pryra
    Thumb Down

    A book is more than just the words

    Even though the e-book "thingys" read ok, they don't give you that feeling of imersion you get when reading a good book. Books give you the "Werthers Original" feeling, they smell good and they are good in a fight (at least hardbacked ones are anyway)

    I go through paperbacks by the hundreds on the way to and from work, when I find a good one, I stop reading it and save it till I can enjoy it. It's an almost religious feeling. You can't fall asleep to a good e-book, not when its going to make a big noise as it smashes to bits on the floor.

    The other MASSIVE advantage, is that at the end of the book, you still have the book, to go with your other books.

    You don't get any of this with the e-books. Just the cold clinical type#

    I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    E Books - why bother

    Copyright/piracy issues mentioned already - but I won't buy an ebook, much rather have the touch, feel and smell of paper. AND the long life.... Perhaps it's a thing of the future, but I'm not so sure. It's the same reason that real newspapers continue to sell well - crappy little readers/screens are not good to use - and decent sized ones are tooo bulkz to carry around or use while you're lying on the couch. This is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Trees and paper are a renewable, recyclable resource that help the CO2 pollution, so no environmental bonuses for going either - in fact considerable negatives...

  10. Steve

    Not disposable

    I can buy a book in an airport shop, and drop it in the recycling before I leave my hotel to go home. Or I can have my Kindle fondled by security gorillas looking for the latest Al Quaeda manifesto, dropped in the bath, nicked from the hotel room, and I'll guarantee the batteries'll go flat 3 pages from the end of a thriller while I'm still waiting for my connection in Heathrow T5.

    Another technology-led 'innovation' like mobile-phone TV...

  11. Mr C
    Thumb Up

    future

    i think these little books will be huge in the future.

    granted, the amazon one is immensely ugly, i wouldnt wanted to be seen dead with it.

    I have the Sony one and am very very pleased with it.

    i honestly tried reading ebooks (or articles) on big laptops, small laptops, even my mobile phone but for me its just not working. My eyes hurt from LCD screens, and if there's too much daylight i squint, or batteries run out too fast.

    Cant read from a screen at my desk because my neck hurts from looking forward, the list goes on.

    I like paper books, but i feel bad for the trees which need to be killed for it.

    Also, they're bulky and heavy.

    I think if these books were given more attention in mainstream media that they would catch on faster. The technology is amazing. You wouldnt believe the surprised looks i get on the subway from people who've never seen an eBook reader never mind could image something like that existed. Most people get enthusiastic and ask me where to get one.

    I think its a missed opportunity sofar.

    As for the DRM issue - if you dont like it, dont buy it. Or go get free books as they're plentiful. There's no way you can get me to believe that DRM is the cause of the bad selling, most ppl simply dont give a hoot.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    The issue as I see it.

    I keep reading all these supposed bad things about the Kindle. Fact is it will read plain text, It will read pdf files and a host of other goodies. Everything I have read about it tells me it's a good book replacement for those who like books. I'm ok with paperback sized screen. This is not a typical LCD it's way different. Now I'm one who hopes they don't sell a lot right now so they have to lower price to move them. Because there's no F'in way I'll pay 400.00 for a book reader. "I can get a cheap old laptop and read off it"

    My whole rant with e-books revolves around charging 9.00 for a book I can infringe from a torrent site. Who in the hell will spend 9.00 for an E-BOOK? It isn't like distribution is expensive. I read 100+ books a year I simply cannot afford to buy Real books at that price I sure as scheiss won't pay that for a digital representation that I can't even share. My Mother and Father and me and an Aunt all share books. We have similar enough tastes that we can swap quite a bit. If I can't share it it's worthless to me and not a true book.

    E-books haven't taken off because Publishers think they can charge the same price for something that can be duplicated for less than a half cent. I am a fan of e-books and there are some good free sites and even some authors giving a few away. DRM effectively prevents sharing between the non-technical. This too denies me the pleasure of giving a book I really enjoy to someone and then discussing the story with them. Frak the idiots who publish them. I'd gladly pay 2.00 a copy for a proof-read book with no drm.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe I'm in the minority

    But I've had my Kindle since Christmas and have purchased and read about 60 books so far. I love my Kindle. I hope it gains more widespread adoption because I'd hate to see the offerings go away.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An issue of sharing

    As someone briefly touched on in a comment here, how on earth do you share an e-book?

    With a standard book, there's absolutely no DRM. It's yours to do with as you wish (aside from plagarise it that is) - you can resell it or lend it to anyone you like.

    You can swap books, buy second hand books for ridiculously cheap prices - none of this is possible with an e-book.

    The more I think about it, the more it seems obvious that the market e-book readers will end up covering is mass media - magazines and newspapers.

  15. Ishkandar

    An unreconstructed biblophile

    I buy around 200+ books per year for the last 40+ years and I have NEVER EVER been tempted to buy a single e-book. I have been given a few (no names or methods mentioned) and if I like them, I went and bought the paper version for further enjoyment !!

    E-books are like virtual sex !! When all is said and done, it's still not the real thing !! And it's a sad geek who thinks otherwise.

  16. Wanda
    Thumb Up

    I for one love my Kindle

    I've been reading a lot more since I got my Kindle, because I can carry multiple books in one slim package, and because I can change the font size if my eyes are feeling a little tired or the light isn't as good wherever I happen to be. I bought a lovely red leather cover for it, and as a result, it looks classy and elegant. I get comments on it everywhere I go. My ear doctor spent ten minutes examining it and asking me questions about it. He said he was going to buy 3 of them, for himself, his wife, and his mother.

    As for prices for e-books, they aren't ALL that expensive. I've bought some very good books ranging in price from $0.49 to $9.99. And there are tons of top quality books available for free. All the great classics like Mark Twain, H. G. Wells, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Charles Dickens, Gaston Leroux, and so forth, are there for free. Some of those books I hadn't read since high school, and wondered if I would feel the same way about them if I read them now. I was surprised to learn that I appreciated them even more, now that I have enough life experience to understand more of the actions of the characters.

    They were working on the interstate a couple of weeks ago, and traffic came to a dead stop. I rolled down the windows and picked up my Kindle to read some more. I'd been reading about five minutes when the trucker next to me hopped down out of his cab and came over to my window, asking me what I was reading on. He'd finished his last paperback and was desperate to get to another stop with a bookstore so he could buy some more books. He could see me reading, but couldn't see details other than the fact that I wasn't turning physical pages. I showed him how easy it was to hook to amazon and buy a book in seconds, from anywhere, via Whispernet. He was hooked, and said he was going to order one for himself as soon as he could get to a computer. And he was going to recommend it to some other truckers who also love to read. He figured it would pay for itself in no time, and save him from committing road rage when he was stuck in traffic. We shared a good laugh and he went back to his truck, while I went back to my book.

    I hear stories like that all the time from other Kindle users. Those of us who own them are the best sales tools amazon could ever have. And we network, sharing news about free or low-cost books and other such information. There are far more of us booklovers out here than you realize, and we love our Kindles.

  17. jai

    timing

    the thing about the sales declining over the past few weeks is that it is august and world+dog are going on holiday to sit on a beach in the sun by the sea

    i'm sure everyone would rather risk a cheap paperback to the terrors of sand and salt water than an expensive brick of electronics

    PLUS in bright sunny conditions, paperbacks are much easier to read through sunglasses than the Kindle screen

    but the main problem is the cost i think - the Kindle is expensive and the cost of the books to load on it are not a great deal less than that of a paperback. for it to be a success then it'll be necessary to very heavily tax paperbacks to make e-books the obviously cheaper alternative

  18. spam

    Nonsense

    " Project Gutenberg is good, but eventually one is going to want something a little more contemporary. "

    Hardly. Who would pay money to read any of the crap written in the last hundred years?

  19. Dan White
    Thumb Up

    Give it a few weeks...

    ... and the new Sony reader will be available on this side of the pond.

    In a frankly staggering move for Sony (Anyone remember OpenMG?), they have enabled it to read the ePub format which is NOT a DRM locked mess. Also they have got a deal with Waterstones to sell content that WILL be discounted on the print price (not *enough* of a discount, but it's a start).

    Of course they still have their own proprietary format as well, but it's what I would call "reasonable", in that you can register the device with 6 machines. Throw in the fact that it's an MP3 player, it has SD and Memory Stick slots and it doesn't look like a Fisher Price toy, and I think the Kindle could have some decent competition at last.

    Disclaimer: Despite my apparent fanboi'ism, I don't work for Sony or Waterstones. I *do* however like the idea of saving 3 kilos on my holiday luggage by having all my books in one reader!

  20. David

    Love my Sony eReader...

    Well, I've seen the Kendle, and I think that's at least half of Amazon's problem. The unit is too large, heavy, and complicated to be a convenient "reader", but it doesn't do enough to be a small PC. It's stuck somewhere in-between a "book reader" and "PC", and does neither job adequately.

    I've owned a Sony eReader for several years now, and LOVE it. Before getting it. I said I'd *never* get one of these because I simply like the look and feel of paper too much. However, my wife (a lit major, can you believe) purchased one, and I started "borrowing" it to take on business trips. It was heaven on airplanes because it's so small and light, and the screen is extremely nice and easy to read. I've had no problem getting "lost" in the material I'm reading - forgetting entirely that it's an electronic screen. The books are typically half the regular bookstore prices (although I wish the price was lower still). Plus, I tend to read longer works, which would be a very large heavy book (hard to carry, hold up to read, etc). On the eReader, I can have literally *hundreds* of books - even huge ones - all in a small light form factor. I can be reading several different books depending on my mood, and can have them all at my fingertips.

    It even has a very nice leather cover - making it feel like a real book to your hands, and pleasant to carry around. Plus the battery seems to last forever (although it does seem to drain itself regardless of whether it's on or off, so it does need to be periodically charged - but certainly not daily like a cell phone)

    As with all things, it isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn nice. And, keep in mind that even a paper-based book isn't perfect. (If it falls to the floor, you loose your place, they can be bulky and heavy, etc.) So, nothing is perfect.

    So - as a former hater of even the *idea* of an "electronic reader", I can now say that there is one out there that's solid competition to old fashioned books. I don't think there's a real risk they will ever replace paper books, but for at least half of my reading, I now prefer the eReader.

    The key question: how long will it take for enough people to shell out the $$$ for one of these to really spark the market. In my mind, the Kindle did more harm than good, and likely poisoned the thinking of a bit part of the potential market who are now likely turned off the idea.

    Dave L.

  21. DrXym Silver badge

    Kindle is just expensive and proprietary

    Kindle costs a ridiculous $349 which is overpriced even if you're looking at the hardware in it. It is also tethered to Amazon's own service, has extremely poor support for open file formats, and it is boot ugly.

    Who the hell is buying the thing?

    Even if ebooks are 5 cheaper, that means you must have bought 70 books through Amazon to pay for the reader. And of course you can't sell your books afterwards and might not even be able to access them if Amazon decides to can the service, or your machine goes kaput. The Sony Reader is a little better since it doesn't look ugly and has wider format support but its still expensive and tethered to a single store.

    The ebook industry should serve as a warning to other forms of digital downloads. It demonstrates what happens when downloads devolve into dozens of competing, incompatible formats, proprietary devices and publishers, all randomly gathered into warring factions with a few 500Lb gorillas smashing the little guys from time to time. The entire ebook market is a wasteland which has resulted in disinterest and confusion from the consumer. The funny part is that you are far more likely to find the book you are after from a pirate site and it will be scanned and formatted in a nice open format too.

    If ebooks are ever to take off it will require the adoption of a single common format, that all publishers and device manufacturers can implement. It shouldn't even use DRM, but rather passive watermarking. Sales will surge and competition will mean lower prices. Yes there will be piracy but so what? There is already but at least legitimate sales will go through the roof to offset the losses. Right now, everyone is getting the shaft because everyone is too greedy to compromise. The same thing will happen to downloadable videos in time if they don't get a clue.

  22. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Boffin

    Proprietary and Expensive

    It's really sad, for years I read the items in New Scientist promising devices just like this, low power, steady not refreshed screen so easy on the eyes, many books in one place.

    What did we get? devices usable only for some vendor's products, limited unexpandable storage, high prices and limited material. If I were still a working scientist I would want one just to be able to stop printing out endless .pdfs of papers. I have CDs filled with .pdfs of journal articles. Oh and colour please, for the data pictures.

    I would be sad at the demise of the traditional book, more for the feel than anything else but the advantages would outweigh that. I'm sure people thought that velum scrolls felt nicer than paper books when Gutenberg got going too.

  23. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Pirate

    Books as weapons

    Oh yes, books as weapons. I once threw the Second World War at a rat. I was 17ish and home alone as everyone else had gone on holiday while I was working. I was lying in bed and saw this enormous rat at the end of my bed. So I reached up to the bookshelf above my bed and tossed volumes of Churchill's History of the Second World War at it until it fled out the door. At which point I jumped out of bed and shut the door before getting a good night's sleep.

    Don't fancy that with sundry electronic items somehow....

  24. Boring Bob

    Swindle

    You need to fork out $400 and then you save about $1 a book!

    As far as book clubs go Amazon-Kindle sounds like a bit of a swindle

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of 'free' ebooks out there, just not 'legal'.

    Me, I've been fine with using my old Tungsten E2 as a eBook reader. The only bother is converting things into a Palm-readable format, but that takes, what, 5 seconds? It helps that I have no qualms about downloading a book of questionable legality if I already OWN the bloody book in meatspace.

    Arguments could also be made for downloading/sharing free eBooks much like you would get free books from a library, but there's the issue of how Late fees would be handled...

  26. Nomen Publicus

    Don't expect the old book industry to promote ebooks

    While there is only a 10 to 20 percent price reduction for an ebook version nobody is going to be buying them. Currently ebooks have zero resale value and you can't even give them away because of DRM.

    When ebooks are only 10 to 20% of the cost of physical books, the market will take off.

    BTW, don't expect the old book industry to promote ebooks. Amazon was forced to develop its own hardware and market place for ebooks.

  27. Martin Usher

    Not a nice product

    Its the wrong device at the wrong cost that does the wrong things. Its too focussed on DRM and not focussed enough on the user.

    When you buy a physical book you have something you can read anywhere ("batteries not needed") and you can lend to someone else.

    The price is silly as well. Readers should be cheap like the audiobook players that we have at our library -- the player is now so cheap that the book is the player, its a single unit like a small book with buttons on it (you provide your own headphones).

  28. Stephen Roberts

    Mixed Review of the Kindle

    My Kindle came as a gift as I was not disposed to plunk down $370 USD for the privilege of buying books exclusively from Amazon. But I have one now and it is largely filled with free or low cost ebooks. Best Sellers are a bargain at about $10.00 and I have two of those. I do not regard the Kindle as a replacement for books but as a way to extend reading content into other parts of my life. When I travel I dine alone and the Kindle is great. As I decamp from Wyoming to Florida for the cold season, I will have many references and old friends at hand. Some older out of print books are only available as ebooks and I am glad to have them at hand..

    The device in this first issue has some shortcomings. Amazon could take a lesson from iTunes. In Wyoming there is no Sprint network-thus no connectivity nor web surfing. That will change in Florida. Meantime, my laptop is a more cumbersome way to add ebooks to the Kindle.There are some tricks to it. There are a number of aspects of the Kindle that are not intuitive.Mostly I'm really annoyed that the books I purchased from Mobipocket- an Amazon company, can NOT be read on the Kindle. That investment must rely on my computer and Motorola Q telephone. Mobi ebooks also has a free reader that can read ebook purchases on one's laptop. Not so for the Kindle. If you buy a Kindle book it is a Kindle forever.

    They attempted to emulate the simplicity of the iPod with a rather convoluted menu system. The optional memory card must be accessed separately to appear in the table of contents. The standard 256 MB memory seems paltry in view of the the low cost of memory, though it must be noted that ebook files are fairly small files.

    Battery life is problematic in any portable e-reader. I left the Internet switched on overnight and went to proudly demo the Kindle the next day only to find it dead. The Motorola Q similarly is limited in time. I don't take kindly to tethering. A common complaint on Amazon is that the supplied rechargeable proprietary battery dies in about three months. A user replaceable spare, nonethelss prorietary, costs $20.00. A definite weakness.

    The screen is not an issue for me. It is fine and ingenious. I note they are selling booklights for the Kindle now so the screen may an issuue for some.

    I would buy one at a price point of about $200.00.Given the lock Amazon has on the content and the lower cost of content, that would be about right. I believe the lack of interoperabilty among various ebook formats is going to be an extreme hurdle for the ebook industry. All content producers are going to suffer unless they adopt a single standard.

  29. John Robson Silver badge

    Physical Ebooks

    The game boy et al model seems to be hopeful for me.

    Simply have a pair of "sockets" on the device and use microsd sized cards, you could do a complete works card, or a single book.

    Then you can share the cards.

    Of course you need a drawer in the device then as well...

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @spam

    Oh, I don't know. If all you ever read are the 'classics', maybe, but what about Arthur C. Clarke, Greg Bear, and all the other great SF writers? Or Lawrence Block, if you like crime fiction/mystery? And there are many contemporary authors writing 'traditional' novels as well. Bonnie Jo Campbell? --you'd be a fool to call all of them 'crap', unless you really have tunnel vision. I'm sure there were a lot of lousy authors 100 years ago as well---they just had a harder time getting published, and only the best has survived the test of time. Maybe it's mostly the publishers that have gotten worse.

    I'll be buying a Kindle when the price dips to around $100 I think. Look how much cell phones cost when they first came out.

  32. Henry Wilson

    No Kindle for me

    I, for one, have no interest in Kindle. It sounds like a sillly cliche but there is no substitute that even comes close to curling up in a chair and turning the pages of a book, or a magazine, or even the newspaper...compared to reading any or all of the above online.

    90% of new technology is interesting and useful but, again speaking for me anyway, this is a part of the 10% that is not.

  33. Stephen Roberts

    P.S.

    Regarding th4e Kindle. I haven't figured out a good place to put the boogers.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so what about the content?

    I'm getting a bit confused here. Maybe it's just me, but the quality of the writing is kind of important to my own personal reading experience. Are some of your correspondents really saying that they'd rather read complete trash from a printed hardback than a brilliant novel on an Ebook? Does the magical feeling that you get when you prise open the beautiful velum of your latest Jeffrey Archer truly compensate for the fact that you're reading badly written drivel?

    I've just read my first eBook in years, and despite the small screen, I've throughly enjoyed it, for the simple reason that it contains terrific prose and wonderfully inventive ideas. I'd have enjoyed this book on any format that I read it on, because it was written by one of my favourite writers.

    The reasons that eBooks haven't taken off are that the devices are too expensive and the books cost the same as the equivalent paperbacks or even hardbacks. Why pay fifteen or twenty quid for the electronic version of a book that you can get in hardback for less than a tenner from Amazon? It's clearly nuts.

    Fortunately there's plenty of free and completely legal content out there from places like Project Gutenburg and Feedbooks. If you just wanted to read out of copyright classics, you could easily save money by buying a Sony ebook and downloading your books from Gutenburg.

  35. RW
    Thumb Down

    Pedanticism? Or stupidity at the NYT? Take your pick.

    Quoting an NYT honcho: " . . . a "small amount" of subscriptions . . . "

    I'm speechless.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, using "amount" instead of "number" for countable plurals is accepted these days, but it destroys a useful distinction. [I trust that the staff of El Reg is alert for such violations of good English syntax.]

    The NYT: "All the news that fits, we print." A bloated, self-important newspaper in a bloated, self-important city whose time has passed.

  36. Steve Anderson
    Happy

    Baen publish electronicly, with no DRM

    http://www.webscription.net/

    Average price is about $6, which is well into impulse buying. Read online, or download in 5 different formats.

    No only that, but they have a good 30-40 books available for free.

    I'm reading them on my phone or laptop right now, but get the price of an e-book reader down to about £100 and I'm there. Sure, I like paper, but I'm not a snob about it. I'd be reading nothing but hardbacks, if I was.

  37. Josh

    Amazon Kindle vs Sony eReaders

    I've looked at the Kindle, but as others said, I can't stomach the price, only to be locked to one DRM locked standard.

    I ended up buying a Sony PRS-500, and then later on a PRS-505.

    The only gripes I had with the 500 were how slow it could be when accessing a large memory stick or SD card, and that the battery life seemed to be getting short.

    That being said, mine had been a display model before I bought it, so I suspect that the Lithium Ion pack had a shortened life due to the constant charging at 99% capacity.

    The PRS-505 that I currently use is a bit faster, charges off of USB (unlike the 500, which uses a PSP power cord), and as also noted, reads a great number of book formats. I don't think I've loaded any DRM'd books on mine, and only recently started to use the BBeB formatted books on it, just due to having found that Baen now offers them along with the other 5 or 6 formats that they offer their books in.

    For me, I love the idea. Having dead time at work, waiting for things to break, it's a life saver to have something to read. Someone above already mentioned the ability to have multiple books, so that when your mood changes, or you just get fed up with one style of writing, you can change what you are reading. Having it all in a small enough package to slip it into a pocket and get on with your life when you need to is nice as well.

    As much as I like my hard copy books, I hate moving the boxes of them when I move, so this is another consideration I've been looking at. Add to that that I read Sci-Fi, and Baen publishes from free to ~$7 ($15 if you want the book as it's going back and forth between the author and the editor, before publishing), and the pricing works out for me.

  38. Nick Hansen
    Thumb Up

    I like Kindle, but...

    There are some serious deficiencies that would make me hesitate in buying a Kindle.

    I like Kindle because:

    1. It's super easy to download new ebooks from Amazon. You can be reading a new book in seconds. Other sources of ebooks are also available, like Fictionwise, but they're not as easy to use, and you have to be sure that what you buy is unlocked for Kindle;

    2. The paper-like screen is great;

    3. You have multiple books available at all times;

    4. You can easily listen to music on Kindle, but you have to transfer it from a computer. (Just use alt+p);

    5. The built-in dictionary is good; or you can search the web;

    I don't like Kindle because:

    1. It's not conveniently with me like my Blackberry;

    2. The battery life could be better; I expected a week of daily reading, but only get a few days WITH WIRELESS TURNED OFF;

    3. I inadvertently change pages because there's nothing to hold on to but the screen;

    4. The cover is clumsy; Kindle doesn't stay in it, and is more in the way as a way to hold on;

    5. To Pricey.

  39. Greg

    There are better devices

    I had a shop around for an eBook reader a while back and found the Kindle to be much like the iPod - popularised to the fore by a big company, but actually one of the poorer devices out there.

    But, as has been mentioned, the problem is the greed of the publishers, who think it's acceptable to price an eBook at the same or nearly the same price as a physical copy. (By the way, the same goes for online music distributors - there's a reason I buy all my CDs second hand and then rip from there.) No-one is going to buy an eBook when the real deal is the same price or even cheaper. To hell with that.

  40. Wayne

    E-books sell well

    They just aren't big with the mainstream publishers as yet. My wife is an author and many of the little publishing outfits publish in e-book format as an option. Oftentimes the author refuses this publishing method as well as they are afraid it cheapens the work or diminishes their copyright.

    Oh well. They can't all be married to handsome geniuses can they?

  41. Rodrigo Andrade
    Dead Vulture

    @Muscleguy - RE: books as weapons

    Presumably screaming like a girl during the whole ordeal?

    Hell, what happened to the days when men were men and squashed vermiin under their boots with a grin of satisfaction and a crazed look around (as if the room were filled of enemies) while shouting "WHO THE FUCK´S NEXT?! CMON BITCHES! I´LL KILLYALL!!!"

    I expected more from someone with that alias. For shame.

    AC: because spiders make me cry.

  42. Robert Wheeldon

    Used Tablet PC

    I read ebooks on a used tablet PC that I got for $100. And it does a whole lot more that ebooks.

    But I have yet to hear the environmental extremists jump on the ebook bandwagon. Think of all the trees that would be saved if we only transferred content rather than paper.

    I am still looking for the ebook retailer who guarantees their price will be lower that any paper book seller. Certainly the costs are lower so why do the ebook retailers demand a premium price.

    As for Kindle, no thanks. I do my best to avoid proprietary solutions like everything Apple

  43. Leo Maxwell
    Thumb Up

    Manuals.

    I tested out an iRex iLiad for my company, and found it excellent as a book replacement, especially for workshop manuals, parts lists etc. Light and easy to use.

    I also read a couple of books on it,

    Reads PDF, .txt, .doc, mobipocket, etc.

    All of our engineers use pdf manuals, and a laptop is just rubbish at displaying them compared to the iLiad, the screen is perfect for monochrome text and diagrams, includes annotation capabilities etc.

    But the price is a problem.

  44. Mark

    The problem with DRM

    is that if you want to tell me what I can do with what I bought, don't sell it to me.

    Worse, with a DRM'd book reader, don't get me to pay through the nose and then tell me I cand do with it as I can with a book (or hell, even a bookshelf).

    Don't sell your stuff if you don't like the conditions. After all, if your work is so valuable, keep that value for yourself.

    Deal?

  45. Sam

    I've Got a Sony Ebook reader

    It isn't a kindle, but I've got an idea why even the Kindle isn't causing the mass e-book sales that were expected. The prices for ebooks are HIGH. Usually only a small amount less than a physical copy of the book. It's plenty easy around here to get a bunch of books at far cheaper prices by going to "Half-Price Books" or something similar. If they would charge a reasonable rate for books (like they do at Baen Books) they would sell a LOT more books. I've bought a bunch from Baen, simply because they are cheap enough that I can buy 6 or 7 for each one I end up really liking. Try that with books that are $7us each and you'll end up in the poor house!

  46. Martin Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    Textbooks

    Simple solution, do a deal with universities to make the required text books only available on kindle.

    Everybody has to buy the device and the $200 textbook. And because of the DRM you don't have the problem of people selling used copies at the end of the year or using the library.

    Plus you don't have to think up a way to change an algebra textbook every year to justify a new edition.

  47. yeah, right.

    snap one up

    I'd snap an e-paper device up in a nanosecond if they provided one that could do what I wanted it to do.

    Namely: allow me to write and organize notes (see Newton writing recognition - surely the tech has improved since?), allow me to get electronic copies of books that I OWN (not with DRM that is dependent on servers that may or may not shut down at any time), allow me to exchange publications in formats of my choosing, not charge me to convert documents, and generally not try to treat me as a walking wallet that I'm supposed to allow them to syphon whenever they want.

    So far the iRex illiad is leading the pack for me, but it still has certain limitations that I find troublesome. Still, it seems to be the best of the bunch.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Mind Police

    I like the concept of ebooks (well, neobooks (r), not the current crop of crippled ebooks) but insist on a secure way to maintain a backup copy of my ebooks.

    One problem not mentioned is that Bezos has oohed and aahed about nice things like being able to update ebooks in the future-- but to my mind that sounds too much like a path for lawyer weasels and nanny staters to damage my library. Amazon caved to NY collecting use taxes, what if some plod judge in NY said a book was illegal to own by NY state residents? Amazon could just modify the book into a single null character for any past purchaser listed as being a NY state resident! Heck, for those poor sods in the states the TSA could rule all sorts of things illegal, and Amazon could just convert them to sanitized pap! Criminy, where will it end?

    Any format has to have the ability for storage into an external medium that can be write protected, in a format that is likely to be useable for at least several decades. Revocation/modification is not an option by anyone but the purchaser.

  49. Laurence Penney
    Flame

    Kindling

    It's insensitive of Amazon to name a device whose aim is to replace books after a means to set them on fire. (Conversely, burning all Amazon Kindles would do absolutely no damage to literature.)

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Cost is to high

    I would buy an ebook, if the price was right for the books, as well as had the ability for resell/trade.

    But, why spend $200+ on an ebook reader, then another $9 or so for the book itself ? Considering I read 2-3 books a week ( if i didnt have a full time job, just imagine how much I would read) I would be spending about $1500 a year in books alone.

    Much to expensive, especially as my g/f went to a yard sale last weekend, and bought 900 paperback (give or take 100) for $5, and already the first 5 ive read have been worth the $5, lots of sci-fi ( about 1/5th are romance, not my liking, so up soon for sale).

    Paperback books $1 plus shipping, coming soon to a webpage near you.

    (yes, I AM part Ferengi so AC)

  51. Tagbert
    Thumb Up

    Kindle a passion

    Most negative comments are from people who have never used a Kindle. For owners, it is an indispensible tool and a litterary companion. I read a lot more now because I carry my Kindle around and can read in short down-times. I carry a number of different books around on my Kindle. Sometimes I want to read literature, sometimes fluff, and sometimes I need to look something up in a reference books. They're all there in a compact, lightweight device that comes in a book-like binder. The screen is incomparably better for reading than an backlit LCD on any phone or laptop. I have an iPhone and it cannot come close to being as good for reading.

    A lot of people are saying things that are not really true. You can read and documents that are not from Amazon, including your own documents. The battery's charge lasts for day and as much as a week with the wireless turned off. Very few people have had trouble with the battery failing (its basically the same as a large cell phone battery). You can read PDF documents on it, though they must be converted to a format that can be reflowed to fit the screen. There are currently about 160K kindle books available on Amazon and they add about 10K per month.

    The Kindle is an "early adoptor" device at this point and the price reflects that. As manufacturing improves they wil be able to reduce the price. As it is, it is no more expensive than a video game console and much more useful to me. The book prices start around 99 cents and many are in the 5 - 10 dollar range. The publishers control most of the prices and what gets published. Price savings are not the main reason for ebooks, though. The convenience of carrying multiple books at lunch or on a trip is a better reason. So is being able to buy another book wirelessly when you need one (stuck in an airport terminal!). Finally, it has freed up a lot of space in my apartment that was threatening to be overrun by wood pulp books.

    I'm not suprised if newspapers have not been a rousing success on the Kindle. The subscription prices are high and the screen size is not expansive enough to capture the newspaper experience. I get most of my news from radio and the web.

    As a true book reader, I love reading on the kindle. It can be just as engrossing and enjoyable as reading a paper book.

  52. Alex

    iPod all the way

    I have my iPod touch loaded with the freeware program "Stanza" on it. Stanza has 32 full length (copyright free classics) on it. I read them. When I want more, I'll open Stanza and download them. The whole "Kindle" thing makes me laugh.

  53. John Parker
    Happy

    Sony Reader PRS 505

    I've got one of these and they are brilliant. Until you've seen a good (the PRS-505 features a much improved screen over the previous years PRS-500 screen) eInk screen, it's hard to imagine. It just looks like actual ink on paper... not backlit LCD/TFT or CRT! Perfectly visible in sunlight, unlike laptop/mobile screens. And the Sony Readers actually look slender and cool too :)

    I thought the Kindle looked rather crap to be honest.

  54. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    No DRM

    “With a standard book, there's absolutely no DRM. It's yours to do with as you wish (aside from plagarise it that is) - you can resell it or lend it to anyone you like.”

    Yes, but crucially it would cost you more to replicate a paper book than to buy another copy. If e-books were sold on the same principle they might make sense.

    The other thing is why do you have to turn pages on e-books? This is just imposing the disadvantage of one medium on another. I just want the text to scroll up as I read it. Newsreaders don't have to turn pages on their autocues.

  55. Bruce Hoult
    Happy

    try the iPhone

    I can't believe how many books I've read on my iPhone -- more in the last six months than I'd probably read in the previous five years. It's smaller and lighter than a paperback (and zero *extra* weight given that I already have it), but the screen is still quite large and works in any lighting condition.

    I find myself pulling it out of my pocket and reading any time I have two minutes to kill in a line in a shop and it really adds up.

    As for scrolling ... the program I'm using gives a choice between continuous scrolling at a user-settable speed, smooth scrolling by dragging on the screen (as with anything else iPhone), or tapping on the screen for the next screenful.

  56. Anonymous John

    Re No DRM

    "The other thing is why do you have to turn pages on e-books"

    The Mobipocket reader on my Pocket PC has an autoscroll option. Electronic Paper Display are too slow for for scrolling though. No real problem when "turning oages", but they are too slow for scrolling. And it would drastically increase the power consumption, as the displays only consume power when the screen contents change.

    I've recently bought an iLiad, but what I would really like is a pocket size ebook reader with an Electronic Paper Display. Hopefully cheaper. The displays are relatively new and possibly the reason the readers cost so much.

  57. John Dougald McCallum

    Kindle That Fire

    So if they're not buying books, or reading newspapers, what are all those Kindle owners doing?

    If you go to any eBook site(fictionwise.com for instance) you will see that if you own one of these devices you can purchase eBooks for it there you donot have to use Amazon .OH and by the way they are to fucking expensive

  58. John Dougald McCallum

    eBook(s) and Kindle bundle

    "If Amazon actually wants to sell some ebooks, they HAVE to make the Kindle reader cheaper, or at least do some kind of 'bundle' where you get the reader free with say, 10 books" At the price that Amazon is selling this gadget it would have to be more like 50 unless they were realy recent like brandnew titles

  59. John Dougald McCallum
    Thumb Up

    Alternative to Sony/Kindle

    http://mybebook.com/This site also sells an eBook reader.claims to also have 20,000 free eBooks and it is open software probibly some sort of linux.

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