OK, we know Amazon now sells more e-books than paper ones. We like the environment, green is nice, all that, so let's save some trees and transportation costs and offset our carbon footprint. So we're happy to see Santa brought us a Kindle Touch 3G. And then we used it, or tried to…
Out of the box there are no instructions. We assume it needs to be plugged in, but for how long? Turns out about two hours and a light turns green. OK, fine, let's use it. Ooh, clunky! Push a button on the screen and hmm, did it click or not? Push it again, oh wait there it goes, but did we miss a screen from my fist push? Dammit. OK, maybe coming from an iPhone I expect too much, but this feels like a manual typewriter from a bad dream.
OK, we're buying a book. $16.87 for hardcover or $12.99 for Kindle edition. Really? You don't have to print or mail the book and all I save is a lousy $3.87? And now I can't loan the book to my asshole brother or better yet, turn it in at my local second-hand book store for credit. Fine, whatever. Oh wait, we clicked the buy button but it says we didn't register, even though we did. WTF? Try to buy half a dozen times, having to go through the entire search process each time because evidently Kindle doesn't remember what you just searched for. No dice. Over to a real computer to Google the problem, mm-hmm, looks like Amazon sold a few too many and there are registration delays. A few hours later it works and we have a book.
The book looks great. At least the print does – pictures look like crap and are hard to navigate to – and even the tap to turn the page – stop swiping! – gets familiar after a chapter. No backlit screen, so we can read before bed without the backlight waking up our brain. OK, power it off. WTF? An advertisement? Seriously? Oh well, at least I can put it out of sight.
Bottom line: we really wanted to like the Kindle, and maybe we will after we get used to reading on it, but the price of e-books is bullshit and the user interface is way clunky slow. Oh yeah, and I could have gotten ten paper books for the price and not had to look at ads. If you read a lot and don't like to tote your books around, check it out, otherwise don't feel you're missing anything.
4 responses to “Amazon Kindle Touch 3G”
While I agree that your $80 Kindle doesn’t have the same build quality as your $600 iPhone, I have to take issue with your comment about book pricing.
Book pricing is not set by Amazon, it is set by the publishers, who tell Amazon o sell the book at that price or they won’t sell to Amazon. There’s an FTC price-fixing investigation going on right now about this.
Even if the price was set by Amazon, the cost of manufacture is a small part of the total cost. The author (who has to pay their accountant and agent, as well as buy food and clothing) wants their share. The publisher (who pays the editors, advertisers and sales dept.) wants their share. And Amazon (who pays for those big always-available server farms, hardware R&D and software R&D) wants their share. Each one of these entities gets a piece of the pie. Taking manufacture out of the equation modes not lower the cost to zero.
In fact, one of the issues that publishers have with the ebook model is that readers EXPECT the cost to be much lower since they’re losing utility — as you pointed out, you can no longer loan the book to a friend (unless that friend has a Kindle). Don’t confuse the “marginal cost” of the book (which approaches but does not equal zero) with the actual cost based on the expected sales.
Of course, this all changes once you stop reading what the publishers want you to read, and go out on your own, finding those self-published gems that are in the $1-$5 range on Amazon. You cut out the publisher and costs go way down. Of course, quality is variable and you’re not getting the big-name authors who became big because a publisher helped them along. But you will save money.
I am not an author, but I am a Kindle fan — every member of my family has o NE and we regularly loan books to each other. And I’m not killing trees to feed my reading habit.
Good comments and thank you. Note on price: Kindles start at $79 and go to $379. A perfectly servicable iPhone 3GS is 99 cents at AT&T, iPhone 4 is $99.99 and 4S is $399.99, although there are monthly service contracts. They are two different devices, my point is simply that the user interface is clunky on the Kindle – e.g. buttons could flash immediately to let you know your touch was registered – and could be improved. That’s mostly a software problem, subject to hardware limitations. Two new gripes: no landscape mode (I think the color Kindle Fire has it) and the bothersome flashing black background when turning pages. I know the latter is the way e-ink refreshes the page but it’s still annoying.
I haven’t experienced any problem with my Kindle (a Kindle Keyboard model with free lifetime 3G internet access), and I found the execution of the Amazon market nearly flawless. I’m more than a little disappointed to see the ubiquitous comparison to an iphone when it’s not even close to being a similar device in a similar price range. It’s like, from now on, we’ll judge all outdoor products from tarps to backpacks based on its likeness or difference from a Petzl Reverso. A kindle and its ‘annoying’ e-ink screen allow weeks to go by without having to recharge the battery. It uses no power between screen flashes. Is that useful to a hiker? How long between charges on that $600 iphone? For the price of an iphone and your monthly service plan you could afford to buy enough paperbacks to reopen your local public library.
Again, not sure where the $600 figure comes from (see my previous reply), but I’ll concede both the fact that the Kindle is cheaper and that it is an orange to the iPhone’s apple (ha!). The Kindle interface is still clunky even for the price; if they just fixed the button lag… I still don’t see how it makes sense for someone like me who mostly reads new paperbacks, trades them in at a second-hand store for credit, and doesn’t need to carry a lot of books at once. When in the backcountry I don’t have any time for reading unless stormbound, and on bigger expeditions there are people to trade books with. For others it might make sense.