Has he gone commercial?

If you’re one of those odd people that visits here more than once[1], you might recall me talking about my no/maybe/yes dithering before I actually bought the Sony Reader last year. Since then, I’ve used it intermittently – not so much because I don’t still like it, or a lack of stuff to read on it, as the fact that I’ve had loads of other dead trees books and magazines to read. But that’s an aside to the main point of this little mutter. The really big name in eBooks these days has to be the Amazon Kindle, which due to, err, something or other to do with geting deals with mobile operators, isn’t available in obscure little places like Europe yet. Now I wasn’t all that bothered about that initially – the original Kindle looked bulky, awkward and just a bit naff, especially when compared to the sleek minimalism of the Sony.

OK, the Kindle does let you annotate what you’re reading, which is nice if you need to do that (I generally don’t), but its real trick is that it downloads material from Amazon over a persistent wireless connection – you pay for the books or newspapers or whatever, but you don’t pay for the wireless service. Which leads me to this xkcd item:

xkcd: Kindle

xkcd: Kindle

Click to see the whole thing. Now assuming you’ve seen it and come back here[2], what I want to know is this:

Is this true, and if so when can I have it? Have Amazon done a special deal with the publishing corporations of Ursa Minor Beta? Or has Randall[3] sold out, and agreed to do a sneaky marketing campaign to make geeks[4] want Kindles? Hmm? Hmm?? I think we should be told!

Oh, and if you’ve no idea what I’m going on about, you have some listening and reading to do. And maybe some watching, but that’s optional.


And I’m not linking to the movie version.

[1] Hi guys :wave:
[2] Which might apply to 0.000001% of the 25 people who might see this :tongue:
[3] The xkcd man
[4] Estimated as 125% of his regular readers

3 thoughts on “Has he gone commercial?

  1. Twisty

    I see no reason Amazon couldn’t partner with a GSM provider in the UK to provide mobile connectivity, similar to what they’re currently providing with Sprint here in the US for the Kindle. The Kindle 2 is getting mostly favorable reviews, but the 3 biggest complaints I’ve seen are: 1) no native PDF support (must convert), 2) not available in Canada or the UK, and 3) price (especially when compared to ROI with a netbook).

    ebook readers are still in infancy, so I expect 3-5 years down the road it’ll be a much more advanced landscape. It appears that every e-reader has bits and pieces of excellence, but no single device has it all, or enough, to make it compelling and truly worth its price. It would seem to be relatively easy for someone (Amazon, perhaps) to combine the best of all ebook reader technology (Kindle 2, Sony PRS-700, eSlick and Plastic Logic) into a more perfect and substantive device NOW, or at least in the very near future.

  2. Les Post author

    They certainly could do an exclusive (iPhone-style) deal with a UK network, but that’s not what they want to do for the European market. They (or so I read a while ago) want it to work seamlessly throughout Europe, without the user having any network issues, or indeed having to pay the quite hideous roaming data charges that make taking mobile data devices out of the country a Bad Idea.

    Last I heard (and it was a while ago), they were nearly there, apart from some technical issues in Spain (and as lots of UK people go there on holiday, it needs to work properly there). I’m expecting a general European launch at some point.

    Oh, and anyone who makes price comparisons with netbooks has probably never looked at the displays on ebook readers. I can read one of those without strain. Trying to read that much text on a netbook (or even a good proper laptop) is by comparison, painful.

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