Geeking Out

Kindle and Kindle 2

Okay, so I’m excited about Monday, and the supposed announcement of the Kindle 2.  I’ve owned a Kindle since December 2007.  I have wanted something like this since, really, mid 90’s.  I remember there was this insanely overpriced crappy little screen unit that used mini-CDs for the books.  The only things you could get on it were encyclopedias, etc.

I held out on the whole e-book craze for a long time, and several times came very close to buying the Sony Reader. Then the Amazon Kindle came out and I spent about a week obsessing on it, finding every scrap of text written about it to look for real negatives. My favorite of the stupid negatives was that it looked like a set of buck teeth.

So I bought it and was hooked on day one (December 27th!).  Since then, I’ve read several books on it, and am at the point where I look for Kindle or Mobi editions of books before even thinking of print. Yes, for my reading style, it is that good.  I don’t care about the “smell” or “feel” of the paper.  I do care about the headaches I get from staring at a computer screen all day every day (for work and fun).  The e-ink technology makes it totally eye friendly.

So here we are, and everyone is speculating that Amazon’s announcement on Monday will be about the Kindle 2. Heck, for all we know, it could be the announcement that Jeff is a giant chicken!  But the safe bet is the next generation of Kindle.

If the leaked pictures of the new model are accurate, I’m not impressed.  The one thing most people seem to gripe about is my favorite feature: the button on the edge. I love it! I can hook my hand around the back of the Kindle and tap just the top corner with my index finger. I can walk and hit it in the center with my thumb.  I can be doing other stuff and hit it anywhere on the edge and turn the page of the book I’m reading.  Yeah, folks, this is a library in a can.  It should act as much like a book as possible, and it does a damn fine job of that.

So I don’t mind the color, I don’t mind the buttons. I barely use the keypad, so who cares?  Look up any article on Kindle and you will find a ton of people who don’t get computer headaches, or are occasional readers and can use the smaller iPhone screen or whatever.  I like the look and the size of the Kindle.

I like the concept of the new Sony Reader with it’s well designed touch screen.  But I won’t buy a Sony because I think Kindle is the only one who got it right: Don’t use WiFi, use cellular for the connection.  If I’m at work, I look at the computer.  I order from Amazon.  Then when I go to my car or home, I turn on the wireless on the Kindle and get the book, when I can read it.  I don’t have to play around withhooking it to the computer to copy it over (which I have done a lot with the ton of mobiedition books!). I don’t have to monkey around with setting up a WiFi connection and hoping it is a clear connection that I can connect to!  The Whispernet did it right.

Now, what I would love to see on this announcement on Monday, is not necessarily a new device (of if there is one, not the one that’s leaked). I’d want Amazon to unveil the added functionality of the website so Kindle books can be gifted, Kindle to Kindle beaming and library functionality.

Gifting Kindle Books

The big slam dunk I think for Amazon would be the ability to gift books to a Kindle.  All it would take is having the purchaser choose a date and time to have the Kindle book available and pushed to the device.  So for Christmas, we open gifts about 2pm on the 24th.  I could totally see that when I buy a Kindle book for someone off their wish list (or just because) I could have a button that says “Immediate Send” and another to “Choose Date”.  Then I could choose December 24th at 1:50pm, and then Amazon could take me to a page to make a quick card: “Check your Kindle, you have a book!” I mean, florist sites let you choose dates, why not this?

Kindle to Kindle

Kindle to Kindle transfer.  Okay, maybe not directly, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could take that intro chapter that you can read for free and from your Kindle send just that to your friend?  I figure that way, you wouldn’t be stepping on people’s toes about rights and all that.  As an aspiring author myself, I do feel kind of guilty about browsing the second hand book stores, knowing authors get squat from them.  If I think a book is the best thing ever though and want to share, I could send you that first chapter, just like you could yourself from Amazon.

Library edition

The library functionality would be tricky, but doable, I think.  A Kindle library edition of a book would have a time delete on it.  You have two weeks to read it and it will then delete itself from the list. If you want to check it out again, back to the library.  Write the flag into the DRM code of the book and the Kindle OS can do the rest. Now the library can “rent” you the book.  Add a mechanism where only the # of books the library buys of the book are available to check out and I think you’ve basically covered the rights issues.  This would probably take the most work.

Dreaming big

So the Kindle, for me, is the ultimate electronic BOOK (or Library of books really). For reading it is just so cool. The only real feature I’m looking for from a new edition is color. When color e-ink technology becomes affordable, I will be in heaven. You could probably have the true black on white, or even the off-while of a normal novel (that would be a cool thing). Pictures would pop and I would seriously consider the magazined on the Kindle then.

The one-two punch would be the Kindle for reading, and the Plastic Logic e-ink tablet for everything else: Comic books (again, when they get the color thing down), word docs, PDFs, etc.

I have a few PDF books that were printed or scanned funky, so they are full page images, not text sent to PDF. I would think, because of this lack of standards in the PDF standard is is why the Kindle doesn’t support PDF directly (though you can still do the ones with text prettywell with an email or a little work on your part and the Mobisoftware). But the Plastic Logic device is a full size page. Where the Kindle is perfect for novels, the Plastic Logic would be my business paper replacement. I wouldn’t want to read a book holding the bigger device, and I really don’t like trying to read a comic book or a formatted Word document in the Kindle. With these two devices, who needs paper.

So, I’m sure Monday will have some interesting news out of Amazon. I doubt anything on my wish list will be there.  And who knows, if they fooled all of us with fake shots of the Kindle 2 and unveil a totally different unit, I may have to fork over more for the next gen!

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