The $400.00USD Amazon Kindle eReader sold out in less than five hours on its debut day November 20th. The next batch sold out even quicker — I was lucky to get one delivered Friday — and the third batch of Kindles will not be available for purchase until after December 25th.


I know about the post-December 25th waiting period because only hours after having my Kindle in hand, my beloved Janna
borrowed it from me — grabbed it out of my hands, actually — and sat
down and started reading and then demanded her own Kindle if I ever
wanted mine back.

We went right on Amazon and ordered Janna her own Kindle because I
wanted mine back. Here is evidence of the “Christmas is Ruined”
backorder heartbreak with no sign or time of future happiness
indicated:

I’ve
read at least three other blog stories written by men telling how the
women in their lives had thefted their Kindles from them and we were
all shocked as men to learn this merely because our beloveds never
really took an active interest — other than the required disinterested
nod our way — in our gadget fun and our required dreaming of
electronic sheep.

Why now?
Why are the better gender now bending down in front of the Web 2.0
altar to demand a Kindle? What is it about the form and the
lusciousness of the Kindle that drives them to pry them from our sweaty
paws?

The reason, I have discovered, is simple: The Kindle — unlike most
gadgety-techie things we covet — is smaller than it looks in print,
it’s prettier than it looks online and it works on an intuitive level
that few devices — not even the iPhone — can begin to match.
If you know how to operate a book, you know how to operate a Kindle.
That is a tremendous design success. You no longer have to worry about
illegible text or font size.

You can read the crisp screen at will and
you can change the font to suit your reading wants.
There are no pages in a Kindle. You have “locations” instead. Pages are
tied to hardcopy. “Locations” allow you to change the font size and
make your books “smaller” or “larger” in size and in the number of
locations. How long is a book?

As long as it needs to be.
The first thing Janna did when she borrowed my Kindle — stole, really
— was to touch the screen. She’s an iPhone-er so that was a natural
assumption that you would touch to act, but you don’t really want
fingerprints all over everything you’re trying to read so I hope no
eReader will ever have a touch screen.

Look at the filthy mess the
iPhones make with all their finger-touching greasy residue! Who wants
to read through that ick?
When Janna learned Kindle works on a menu system with a mercury-looking
roller-scoller, she nodded, and started scrolling and clicking and
buying books from Amazon before I could show her how to buy a book on
Amazon.

One great thing Amazon did with Kindle — but that few people sadly
realize — is you can share non-subscription content with up to six
other Kindles that you register with a single Amazon.com account.
Here’s how Amazon support explains it:

The licenses associated with books and other
non-subscription content purchased from the Kindle Store allow you to
download and view (at the same time) each item from up to 6 different
Kindles registered to the Amazon.com account from which the original
purchase was made. Subscription items can only be downloaded to one
Kindle.

If you register a new Kindle to your Amazon.com account, you’ll be able
to use the Content Manager or Your Media Library on Amazon.com to
download content you’ve purchased from that account. You will not be
able to view content on a Kindle that is not registered to the
Amazon.com account from which the original purchase was made. You
cannot share books you purchase with other Kindles that are not
associated with your account.

That is really tremendous news because — other than your magazine,
blog and newspaper subscriptions — your entire family can share your
“Kindle Library” and I can show you how that management works on Amazon
even though Janna’s Kindle hasn’t been delivered yet.
See Janna’s Kindle next to mine?

We can start packing it with content
even though it hasn’t been made. You can create an email address for
your Kindle so you can send documents and PDF files from your computer
for reading:

Don’t
worry about having the wrong people pack your Kindle with documents you
don’t want. You have to set up a Whitelist of email addresses you will
allow to send things to your Kindle:

Your
subscription to magazines, newspapers and blogs are located in a
separate area. You can put each subscription on a different credit
card. You can have subscriptions sent to specific Kindles you manage.

Each magazine and newspaper comes with a free two week preview so you
can decide if you want to buy a monthly subscription or not. I can read
all my blogs — with comments — just fine via the Kindle web browser
for free so I’m not sure why one would purchase access to read a blog
on a Kindle and lose comments.

This Urban Semiotic blog renders flawlessly on the Kindle, my TypePad WordPunk blog less so, my Blogger Boles University blog looks pretty good while my Celebrity Semiotic blog looks downright clunky.

Every book you buy is listed in your Kindle management interface:

You can also see if your purchases have been delivered or are delayed:

All of your Kindle content is “stored” in your Media Library:

Here, in your Media Library, you can resend your texts to new or
additional Kindles and you can also back up your library to your
personal computer.

Your library becomes virtualized and it now forever resides on the
Amazon.com servers unless and until you want to download them. Once you
buy a text — it is yours forever. You do not have to repurchase your
books to resend them later.

If
you are an author and you would like to have your books available on
Kindle for purchase, you login to the Digital Text Platform located at http://dtp.amazon.com
and start the process of uploading and identifying your books for
purchase.
Amazon.com takes 65 percent of your price and you get 35 percent.

There
are a lot of “authors” out there screaming at the 65 percent cut Amazon
takes on your book and for those of us who know, we laugh, because we
know those who complain are not published authors.
Many professional authors are accustomed to getting a 10 percent
royalty while the hardcopy publisher takes 90 percent.

Getting a 35
percent author cut is a gift, not a robbery.
Here are some of the “books” I’ve uploaded for Kindle purchase — just
do a search for “David W Boles” in the Kindle store and you will see
them available for download.
You can also buy these directly online in PDF format at Boles Books Writing and Publishing for a bit more if you are so inclined.

Getting a book “Kindle-ized” for sale is easy. You enter the product details:

Then you upload the book file in DOC or PDF or HTML format:

Finally, you enter your price point and save it all and you’re done!
In 12 hours your book goes live and in three days or so your books is
fully indexed in the Amazon system.

You do not need an ISBN number to upload your book. Amazon will
auto-create an ASIN code for your books and that’s enough to get sold.

Can
you imagine how great the Kindle would be in the classroom? One could
wirelessly direct papers, books and assignments directly to the Kindle
during a lecture.
The future of the Kindle is hot and bright.

The fact Amazon can’t keep a Kindle in stock for longer than a few
hours is telling — there’s a great pent up consumer frustration and
demand to move beyond a held book and a computer for the want to move
into the realm of an easy-to-handle and manage device that makes
reading a quick and invisible experience.

The killer feature of the Kindle is Whispernet — the wireless delivery
system from Sprint built into the Kindle. The service is free — that’s
why the $400.00USD price tag is so high — but its benefits are your
Kindle is “connected” in a two-way communicative fashion 24/7 and the
promise of what you can do with that kind of connectivity is
astonishing. You buy a book and in under a minute it is “delivered”
live and seamlessly to your Kindle.

Kindle is the future of publishing because it makes reading fun again.
If you are a voracious reader like I am, you can juggle between eight
books or more with a few finger flicks without needing to manage those
eight books lined up in different spaces all across your desktop. If
you are a speed reader like I am, you can scan through a virtual “page”
of text faster than you can turn a real page.

Every new book we buy from this moment forward is in Kindle format only
and the time to make the sea change in your reading habits is right now
while you can rebuild your current library on the cheap.

When hardcopy books die, do you think the price of a book will die down
as well? No way! Instead of the 50-60 percent discount you now get on a
Kindle book over a traditional hardcopy book you will soon discover the
new eBook price becomes the old bound price.
You may swear off electronic books now — but soon you won’t have a
chance to buy paper because publishers are only going to give you an
eBook.

Why waste time and trees when you can instant-publish a book and
have it delivered in less than 60 seconds via Whispernet?
There is no nobility in publishing. Books are about making money and if
you can increase your profit margin by forsaking paper and binding for
bits and bytes, you’re going to do it as soon as you can press people
into the virtual realm and then cutting off their backward access to
the traditional ink over eInk.

I want to leave you with a final thought on the veracity and usability
indexes of product reviewers. As an active consumer in the marketplace,
please beware of what you read and you should always question who is
writing a review and why they are doing it and you should always sniff
out what vested interested they have or do not have in the publication
of the review.

I bought my Kindle with my own money and we will do the same with
Janna’s Kindle. That’s $800.00USD spent just for the reading devices
and there’s no link in this review to Amazon to buy a Kindle. I won’t
tell you how much money we’ve spent over the past few days in a buying
frenzy of 40 books… so far… but the point I want to make is this:
We are not major reviewers who get free or borrowed Kindles for review
and then sell Kindle advertising or Amazon Wish Lists in the sidebar of
this blog.

We are real people spending our own money and here’s why
that should matter to you…
I am reminded
of a former graduate school professor of mine at Columbia University
who was a publisher in the theatre book business and he just hated the
fact all the major Broadway shows in New York City provided free
tickets to all students in the program.

As a publisher, he was offended that a $200.00USD ticket was being
given away for free and these “student reviewers” would sit there in
the audience and make haughty judgments and pronouncements about what
was and was not good theatre while never wondering about how the paying
audience felt about the same experience.

My professor felt that was not a realistic experience in that if
nothing was wagered — the price of the ticket — nothing was earned:
An honest experience in the theatre where you were vested as an
interested party in the outcome of the performance.
If you spent your hard-earned money on a theatre ticket — even
$3.00USD instead of $200.00USD — you had a stake in making the show
work.

It was important to you if the show was pleasing or not. You
started out as a member of the audience hoping for the best, praying
for a winner and wanting your evening to turn out right and to not be
wasted.
That, to me, is the secret of the validity of a review online you can
trust and believe: Are these tech reviewers personally interested in
the product or not? Are they disinvested in the process or not?

Do they
feel free to slam a product because they did not make a personal choice
to spend their private money or not?
The difference in reviewing honesty is clear: Indifference vs. Hope. “I
want it to work, here’s my money” is much more powerful for you as a
discerning reader than, “Maybe I’ll like it or not — impress me for
free.”

We buy our Kindles. We own this review. We stand by our well-spent
money.

37 Comments

  1. Hi Katha!
    I hope you are doing well. We have missed your spirit here a lot!
    I thank you for your fine comment. I know in the past we have both been hardcopy book fiends with you clutching to them perhaps more than I — 😀 — and so I appreciate your open-mindedness when it comes to wondering about taking the next logical step in reading.

  2. Hi David,
    I do miss you all a lot too!
    At the same time, it’s really good to know that there are some people on the other side of the globe who still think about me.
    You are right, I am hardcopy – fiend – I think it’s better to say – I was.
    The one think I miss about a kindle is you can’t dogear it! 🙁
    Really, it’s a great way to keep the world green along with its other facilities.

  3. Katha!
    We are all thinking of you, Katha, and always sending you good thoughts!
    I know with your mind and your want to know and read you will be an incredible eBook fan sooner than later. It’s only a matter of time against tide. 😀
    You can dogear with a Kindle! You can also highlight passages and look up words. Everything you do on the Kindle is stored on the Amazon servers so all your Bookmarks and dogears are saved for future use. The corner of the Kindle “page” even “folds down” when you save a Boomark/dogear.
    If you look at the first image of the Kindle in my review, you can see the upper right corner of the page ready to be “dogeared” by you if you wish.

  4. If you caught the last MacBreak Weekly Andy I. talked about how you could browse the web for free witht he Kindle. He had a very convincing arguement regarding how that feature alone is worth the entire cost of the device.

  5. curtis —
    You do have to have a lot of patience, though, to read a blog on a Kindle via the browser. You have to reset a lot and as I said some blogs just won’t render at all like my WordPunk blog.
    The appeal of paying to view a blog is that Amazon will pull your RSS feed and format it precisely for Kindle so it looks good and gets delivered every day. I can see the advantage in that for newbie Kindle users, I guess.

  6. Hey Gordon!
    Thanks for the good news on the Blackberry! I didn’t know that and that review here is still pretty popular based on our MOST READ section in the sidebar.
    The Kindle is a very interesting device. Sure, there are some things that could be done better, but it is still magic in your hands. 😀

  7. Hi Nicola!
    The great appeal of a Kindle is the idea that your library is forever safe. You don’t have to worry about an Alexandria-like fire destroying all your collected words.
    Heat, moving, rain, flood — none of it will matter. You can even lose your Kindle or blow it up — and all your books are safely stored for retrieval any time on the secure, replicated, Amazon servers.
    Digital is where we’re going and if you have to jump in with a cohort to do it — Amazon isn’t a bad choice.

  8. On a further note, my friend Marshall Jamison —
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2007/11/06/the-definition-of-a-bastard/
    — was devastated in his older age when he had to “give up” his books because he had to move into a structured care home. There was no room for his library in his new “apartment” and he was forced to give away his books.
    I think he was allowed to keep three: The Poetics, The Bible and a compilation of all the Shakespeare plays. He was heartbroken and never really recovered from that devastation over losing his hardcopy friends.
    Imagine if his library were on a Kindle instead of in a mass of books. He could’ve taken all his friends with him!
    University libraries around the world are getting rid of their traditional books stacks and “going virtual” so they can provide even more books and more access to their students.
    Few folks want to tend a warehouse of books that are getting harder and harder to manage and identify in an ever-squeezing world.

  9. That’s right, Gordon. The Kindle can store 200 “thing” like books or magzines, etc. on its own and it will accept up to a 2gig “regular” SD card for even more secondary storage — so you know there’s lots of room for thousands of things in just the basic configuration without having to swap cards in and out.

  10. Yes, There are 6 different font sizes you can use. Standard is 3. We like 4 because it is just a bit bigger. Choosing a new font size is immediate.
    They could do a talking version! Kindle already comes with the ability to randomly play .MP3 files so it has a storage card slot and speakers and a place to plug in a headset. It likely would need a better processor for voicing, though.
    I downloaded a new book on evolutionary psychology yesterday: “Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters” and then I wanted to do a search for a term.
    When I did the search, I saw Wikipedia entires, dictionary entries and returns from my newspapers and magazines but I was surprised to see a notification from Kindle that it had yet to index my new “Daughters” book and that I should come back in a bit to re-search if I wanted Kindle to include returns from that most recent purchase. Now that, to me, was amazing evidence of a live, thinking, “brain” in action!
    Having three newspapers delivered every morning is such a delight. I don’t have to carry them around or recycle the newspaper. I just read and enjoy and the Kindle keeps the last 7 days/issues for all subscription material so I can page back through the days if I like. As well, hotlinked items in the articles take me straight to the Kindle web browser for deeper investigation.

  11. Nicola –
    Kindle is both. Mains when you need it, battery all else. You can use it while it’s charging and charging takes 2 hours.
    With wireless on 24/7 and doing heavy reading, the battery lasts me around 3 days.
    If I turn off the wireless — though I never will — I’m told you can go over a week without needing a recharge.
    The neat think about eInk is once the page is rendered it stays rendered on the screen because it pulls now power. So when you’re Kindle goes into locked sleep mode, you get a beautiful variety of “book cover” screen savers you can enjoy without worrying about running down your battery.