The Kindle is coming to Europe! Hurray, so what..?
Since I do a lot of reading I was actually seriously considering the option of purchasing one, but decided to wait. An important reason for me was a missing option of using a backlight. Instead of clipping on additional accessories that light up half the room, a built in solution that offers soft lighting in the dark would be a great option. Anyone who ever worked with a back-lit keyboard on a MacBook will know what I'm talking about.
Today Robert Scoble replied to me in a tweet and wrote about a new e-reader that Steve Jobs is supposedly working on. He also responded that the new device will do a lot more than black and white books with crappy typography.
Now, first of all I'm sure it will do a lot more. Apple or if you will, Steve Jobs are not the kind of players in this market to just copy someone else's product and features and then introduce it on the market. Independent of the fact if you like Mr. Jobs or not, usually they take several good ideas and try to build a product around that. E-Ink (the company) already introduced color E-Ink displays and I think this will be a big change for those media.
Instead of reading a 16 gradient monochrome screen, you can now actually read something on true black and white. Think of things like school or college where you would be able to just have your study books with you in one device, with the option of marking things, making notes and so much more.
You could add the 3G-service we already know from the Kindle so that we can purchase new books wherever we are. And perhaps, what the heck, even throw in wireless so that we can use it to browse blogs or websites without the need of a subscription. Or perhaps introduce the subscription, but just for the situations where we don't have a wifi connection.
If we get "the next generation of e-book reader" as Robert Scoble says, I just hope it won't make coffee. I don't want a halfway decent e-book reader that does other things good. I want an e-book reader that is truly great, and perhaps does other things but not at the cost of being a lesser e-book reader.
So, let's hope @Scobleizer is right and we get a great new device and not a mediocre one as we've seen it way too many times before.
My bad, Robert talked about Steve Jobs, and yesterday I was probably short on caffeine so that somehow got changed to Steve Ballmer. Woops. Be it that this does not change my idea that even Microsoft is more of an idea combiner. Anyway, the post above got changed just slightly so that I am now actually naming the correct Steve.
thanks for making me laughMicrosoft or Steve Ballmer are not the kind of players in this market to just copy someone else's product and features and then introduce it on the market.
Real innovation is something that is quite rare, but adaptation and introducing new features is something that is seen every day.
[Comment edited on Sunday 18 October 2009 20:38]
First, you have the look and feel of it. I would be really nice if they really looked like a book: a double screen to be able to read 2 pages, and a book you can really close when you are finished. You could get different covers, make your own, or, in the future, have digital covers that can show which book was last read. But that last one would be just a nice gimmick, which would just eat unnecessary battery time anyway. For me it the looks just don't appeal at the moment.
Second, the pricing of the books in combination with DRM. You can get cheap books in second hand stores and internet, but you can't (yet) get cheap e-books. For example: the Dutch book Herman Koch - Het Diner costs 20 euro new as a book, 16 euro in digital format, but only 10 euro second hand. You can also sell it again for probably that amount if you are finished with it, which is, as far as I know, not possible with the digital version.
While the DRM in the music business is slowly being seen as a no-go, the e-books are again protected with it. For a good reason, because copying is much easier than copying normal books. But still, you sometimes lend a book from a friend, or buy it for a few euro on the internet, which, at the moment, seems strictly prohibited or impossible. E-books are cheaper than normal books, luckily they are, but that price can be held up at that point artificially and never or slower drop.
This has to show itself though, it is all too new to really see where it's going with price/DRM, but it looks a bit dark.
Third: the pricing of the e-readers is still too high. But as technology progresses, it surely will drop below ¤100,- in the near future, with better specs and nifty features.
And the last, but for me not the least point of attention: renting. I don't have that many books, for I am a regular visitor of the library. Only if I find myself walking to the library for the same book over and over again, I will buy it, otherwise I'm not interested to waste valuable space with books only for the looks or to show visitors what great books I read. But how would you organise that. In principle it could mean paying a montly or annual fee to get all the books you want, on demand via 3G or something. Which would make the principle of 'buying an e-book' virtually unnecessary. You can't make it too cheap, or else the income of the writers/companies would go down, but you can't make it expensive either, for that does not align with the idea of the present libraries: books for everyone, even the poorest. Also a bit early to think about it, but I'm really interested how it will develop in this (logical) way of having access to all the books, always, just like tv and music is now developing to.
All in all the future can look great, and hopefully the worldwide introduction of the Kindle will speed up the development of the whole system, and get out the kinks and really advance the whole system of information for everybody, everywhere. That would be a real big step forward.
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