Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Amazon Kindle has arrived

Yesterday at 9:51 EST (with much fanfare) Amazon unveiled it's own version of an e-Ink based eBook device -- the Kindle.  Obviously, I haven't seen it but my mailbox has been filled with news and opinions. 

There is wide agreement that the Kindle has some very cool features.  Particularly noted is that it is WiFi equipped.  You can download a book or the latest RSS feed on the go --  anytime, anywhere.  You are untied from your computer and free to roam.  The other popular feature is the built in thumb keyboard which makes searching easier.

Yesterday at 11:24 PST I signed on to Amazon and with "One Click" ordered my very own Kindle.

As the discussion on blogs and newsgroups heated up I saw some critical items as well.  Like, "it is ugly."kindlecapture  I have to agree. There were also complaints about using a rather clumsy scroll wheel to get around -- no touch screen.

The first criticism that really made an impression, however, was a small item about formats.

Evidently, If you have documents you own and want to read on the device, you have to email those documents to Amazon who will convert them so that you can add them to your Kindle.  Amazon is glad to do this 'for a small fee.

Huh?  That sounds to me like entering an entirely closed universe.  Been there; done that; don't want to do it again.

I knew that the Kindle uses Mobipocket eBook files.  This was the main reason that I found the device so attractive;  I have a store full of great books in Mobi format.  But that particular item about document conversion sent up a big red warning flag.  I needed to find out more.

One of the most obvious places to go is MobileRead. and once there, I found Bob Russell's excellent piece about the Kindle which I read with great interest.

Here is the paragraph that stopped me cold . . .

"You won't even be able to read your purchase of a DRM'd e-book from Mobipocket sellers. That seems to be an innocent statement at first - you can only read non-DRM'd Mobipocket format on the Kindle. But think about it. It's a power play. So like I said earlier, even though Amazon owns Mobipocket, Amazon has gone out of their way to make sure that every book you buy for the Kindle stays there, and that you can't buy anywhere else. If you buy the more common Mobipocket formatted (DRM'd) e-book, you can't read it on the Kindle."

Wait a minute!  I can't even buy Mobipocket formatted eBooks from my own store and read them on the Kindle?

OK -- Enough said. 

Yesterday at 4:43 PST I canceled the order.


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