Amazon Kindle

Inspired by Matt’s post about his new Amazon Kindle, I felt the need to talk about this device.


I think the Amazon Kindle is an incredibly innovative device… that has an excruciatingly limited appeal.

If you don’t know what the Kindle is, basically it’s an electronic book reader.  You can download books, blogs, and newspapers to it, and it will allow you to read them just as you would a book.  (If you still don’t get it, go here.)

Two Innovations

The device uses never-before-commercialized ‘electronic paper’.  This stuff is really cool.  It’s not a LCD screen, which are the power-sucking type of screens used in mobile devices, computers, etc.  This e-paper reduces eyestrain (no backlight), can be read in direct sunlight (unlike LCD), and works just like paper.  Your eye is perceiving pigment on a surface, rather than perceiving light.

While this is a cool technolgical enhancement (the next will be color e-paper), the biggest innovation Amazon achieved with this device was a breakthrough agreement with Sprint.

What does an ebook reader have to do with a cell phone company?  No, the kindle doesn’t make phone calls…

When you buy a Kindle, you receive a free wireless internet connection through Sprint’s 3G cell phone data network for the life of the device.  No subscription to manage.  No recurring payments.  No options for screwing it up.  Your device connects, when necessary, to Sprint’s network and downloads everything it needs.

It just works.

I like the simplicity of it.  Even the iPhone, in an effort to offload traffic from the slower cell data grid, offers a power draining additional chip for Wi-fi.  People don’t care what network their on, they just want the network to be there.  The network of the future is a ubiquitous, transparent network not tied to a service provider’s brand and technical details.

Limited Appeal

Music is cool.  Videos are cool.  Sharing music and videos are cool. Books are boring.

We have two iron-clad stereotypes in this country: rockstars vs. bookworms.

Exhibit A: Bookworm
Exhibit A: Bookworm
Exhibit B: Rock Star
Exhibit B: Rock Star

Will the Kindle make reading cool based on the coolness of the device?  Probably not.  Will writers and readers ever be cool?  Probably not.  Even Apple couldn’t pull that one off, even if it were a super-thin black plastic, aluminum and glass device with a premium feel and an ‘i’ in front of whatever they called it… it still wouldn’t fly.  Reading is for old people and college students.


  • I love the industrial design.  Thin, light, and portable.  Not sure how it feels in the hand (based on the older one with more substance to it), but I’m guessing it’s not too bad.
  • I love the fact that I can get a new book or blog wherever I go (in Sprint’s network)
  • I love the e-paper.  Needs to work in color too.
  • I love that it might alieviate backstrain and shoulder pain all over the world from students who carry backpacks that are 3x their body mass.
  • I only hate that I might not use it enough to justify owning it.

Maybe I should just take up a new hobby: reading.

3 thoughts on “Amazon Kindle”

  1. What I think is cool is that they are testing it as a tool for college students at a couple of universities across the country for replacing textbooks. Arizona State University is one of the schools that will be giving it a go this upcoming year. I don’t know if it will be any less expensive than the books themselves, but it certainly won’t be as heavy or cumbersome. I agree that this product isn’t for everyone, but I think it is cool… even if that means I am an uncool bookworm.

    On a side note, I heard a news story the other day on NPR about a computer/book binding machine found in a few book stores where you can get your book printed and bound while you wait. Books are kept electronically in the system (or brought in by an aspiring author on something like a flash drive) and you can leave with book in hand. I love that instant gratification that this machine and machines like the Kindle provide. But we are the instant gratification generation.

  2. My iPhone has a FREE Kindle App and I LOVE IT!! I can get a book from Amazon at a cheap cost and read it anytime, anywhere. I recently read an entire Stephen King book that way. They also have a lot of free books to test it out. A Kindle is definitely next on my list of electronic toys to purchase. But, I guess I’m mostly Exhibit A, even though I like to think I’m more than a little Exhibit B.

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