The last week or so has been filled with a flurry of announcements and news about all the various new contenders for the e-reader market. The Amazon Kindle was the first to really set the ebook market into motion, but it will soon have lots of competition to deal with. Currently, there are four serious players: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, and Samsung.
I’m really excited to see so many other companies jump into the fray. Amazon has had a good run, but has been plagued with complaints of “premium pricing.” I agree that Amazon could probably back down on the price of their Kindle products, but they’ve had no reason to. Before long, competition from rivaling companies will likely bring the price down to a level more comfortable for average consumers.
Since there’s so much information about the Kindle on this site, I’m going to jump straight to the others.
Barnes and Noble eBook Reader
I’m most excited about the reader Barnes & Noble is rumored to release late this year or early next year. As an establish brick and mortar book seller, B&N should have plenty of experience working with publishers. Also, Barnes and Noble is touting an impressive 700,000 titles for their e-Reader.
To make up for the lack of technical experience, they’re bringing in Plastic Logic to develop a very promising e-Reader. The specs I’ve read include a large 8.5 x 11 screen, a thin 1/4 inch construction, touchscreen, and both wired and wireless connectivity.
If Barnes and Noble plays the game right, they should be able to give Amazon some solid competition. You can be sure I’ll post more here as information becomes available.
Apple Tablet e-Reader
The next heavy hitter in line is Apple. Given their experience with creating popular gadgets and that little thing called iTunes, I would put Apple at the top of the list… if I new what angle they were playing.
There’s talk that Apple may simply be interested in getting in on the hardware side of things and leaving Amazon and B&N to fight over eBook sales. Considering the fact that Amazon offers a “kindle reader” for the iPhone makes this a real possibility. However, if Apple doesn’t want to play nice and takes the iTunes route for eBook sales, I believe they will be very difficult to overcome.
The Sony e-Reader
Even though Sony was the first to market a true e-Reader, they’ve been playing catch-up ever since Amazon released the Kindle. Recently, though, they’ve been in the spotlight in regards to their digital library. With contributions from Google’s public domain library, Sony now claims to have one million eBooks available.
I wouldn’t count Sony out of the race just yet, but they’ve yet to bounce back from the heavy blow Amazon delivered a few years ago. Maybe their recent increase in available eBooks will get them back into the fight.
Lastly, there’s Samsung’s entry into the e-Reader market. Samsung recently released their first e-Reader in South Korea with luke-warm reviews. The specs I’ve read include a 5-inch screen, only 512MB of memory (compared the 4GB in the Kindle DX), and currently provides a library of only 2,500 books with more to be added in the coming months.
Samsung is a huge manufacturer and shouldn’t be discounted for their seemingly failed first attempt. They may get things right on the next release (assuming there is one). e-Reader enthusiasts should probably skip the current offerings and keep their eyes open for the next generation.
The leather cover sold by Amazon has the potential to cause a crack in the Kindle if it is opened from the wrong side. In the words of one particular reviewer:
The leather cover locks onto the Kindle with two metal posts. The cover is only intended to be opened from the front. If you inadvertently open the cover from the back, the metal post of the cover will crack the case of the Kindle. Very poor design when a protective device actually causes damage.
It’s nice to see a large company do the right thing, but a bit unfortunate that it took a class action suit to get their attention. Matthew Geise, who is seeking class action status with the lawsuit stated:
Because of the relatively small size of the typical damages, and the modest resources of most consumers, it is unlikely that most Class Members could afford to seek recovery against Amazon on their own. A class action is therefore the only viable, economical and rational means for members of the Class to recover from Amazon for the damages it has caused.
If you’re one of the unfortunate people who have cracked their Kindles by the use of this leather cover, you should contact Amazon. After that, I’d love to hear about your experience by reading your comments.
If you’re looking for an alternative, a couple of really nice covers for the Kindle 2 I’ve seen recently are the M-Edge Prodigy and the OCTO Leather Slip Cover. We’ve also posted more information about protective your Kindle.
Amazon has reduced the price on its second generation Kindle (called Kindle 2 by most folks) to $299. That’s $60 less than the initial price point.
Amazon has applied for patents for On-Demand Generating E-Book Content with Advertising, apparently in an attempt to display ads that are relevant to your book’s content. As you can see from the diagram, Amazon’s proposal favors somewhat the layout that is present on many websites we use everyday.
Now, don’t roll your eyes right away. Here’s an excerpt from the patent:
Including advertising and/or related content with on-demand printed content may prove advantageous to a consumer. For example, a lower price may be offered to a consumer regarding a request for on-demand printed content if the consumer is willing to accept advertising in the printed content.
According to this, a discounted version of your book may be available if you’re willing to read around a few related and well-placed ads.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’ve trained my mind and eyes to avert the majority of adverts that are presented to me on my favorite websites. On the other, I’m concerned that these ads might take me out of the story that I happen to be reading at the time.
Is this the equivalent of inserting audio ads into your favorite CDs? Would you want to be listening to Dark Side Of The Moon only to be interrupted by an audio ad for Prozac? Would you feel the same way if you were reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and then a Fandango ad appears showing you the upcoming showtimes for the latest Harry Potter movie?
Until recently, I’ve always been one of those guys who wasn’t concerned with buying extra gadgets or warranties to protect a purchase. Usually, I would rely on good QA standards by the manufacturer and my own careful methods. Up until the last year or so, this approach has served me well.
Maybe QA standards have fallen, because my meticulousness just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. In the last year I’ve had to replace a practically new central air unit (leaky coils), a string trimmer, Xbox 360, and two Comcast DVR units. Service plans and extended warranties are beginning to look more and more attractive to me.
In regards to my Kindle, my “plan for protection” relies once again on my careful methods in addition to a leather Kindle cover. I hope it’s enough to provide me many years of enjoyment, but there are some neat products and services I’ve come across that I’m beginning to consider.
For example, new Kindle owners should think about getting an extended warranty for the Kindle 2 or Kindle DX. I know, you’re probably thinking, “If I’m going to drop this much money on something, it had better work!” I agree. But, the fact is mistakes happen and it isn’t always the manufacture’s fault. Drops, scratches, and spills are three major incidents that could make you wish you had that extended warranty. Here are the details of the warranties provided by Service Net, Amazon’s choice for extended warranties:
- Adds an additional year and more comprehensive protection than the one-year manufacturer’s warranty, including coverage for accidental drops and damage (limited to one incident).
- Replacement of your Kindle DX for any device failures during normal operation. Includes free shipping both ways, for your damaged and replacement Kindle DX.
- Support available 6 am to 10 pm PT, 365 days a year
- 2-Year Extended Warranty available for any Kindle 2 or Kindle DX shipped within the past 30 days. (Only available to U.S.-based customers).
If you have been reading about the Kindle for any stretch of time, I’m sure you’ve come across the many different covers you can buy. I’m willing to argue that most people purchase a Kindle cover along with their Kindle, but the style one chooses should be considered with the environment their Kindle will be used in. A’hem… sorry, I’ll take my nerd glasses off now.
There is something to be said about what kind of Kindle cover to use. If you’re going to the beach or pool, you might want to use one of the splash proof covers by OCTO. If dust and pet hair is your top concern, an enclosure-type cover may work best. Of these, the Belkin Neoprene Sleeve Case (available for the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX) or Patagonia Book Case (currently available only for the Kindle 2) are among the best choices.
One last cover for the DX that really caught my eye is the OCTO Faux Leather Slip Cover for the Kindle DX. It has a really nice “executive” look to it and is made of a stiff material that will protect your Kindle DX in transport. From what I’ve read, the DX fits snugly enough that it doesn’t fall out, but can be slipped free easily enough. The full enclosure seems like it will protect against dust well enough and I’d be willing to bet your Kindle DX would be protected against the occasional dropped keys or cell phones too.
I’ve covered a lot of stuff on this post, so here’s a more organized list of links to everything I’ve mentioned. As always, if you have any of these items, please leave a comment!
Your legs are tired and you can’t help but think of the camping chair that lays forgotten beside the garage door. It’s been three hours since you stepped in line, but the store doesn’t open for another five. To make things worse, you never actually saw the beginning of this stationary parade. How many people could there be in front you? Fifty? Two hundred?
All imagery (and tired legs) aside, this is quite similar to the situation prospective Kindle DX owners are experiencing. Once again, the Kindle DX has been sold out and will resume shipping in about four weeks.
While anxious buyers may be a little disappointed by the limited availability and extended waiting period, this is sure sign that the Kindle continues to grow in popularity. While we’re thinking positively, we should also consider this as another demonstration of how the Amazon Kindle is a solid purchase. The more Kindles sold, the greater the user base, which means Amazon is going to continue to pump time and energy into the product.
If you’d like to grab a Kindle DX yourself, I recommend that you go ahead and place your order. Amazon fills their orders on a “first come, first served” basis. So when you place your order, you’re actually grabbing a place in line… thus, my line metaphor.
If you’re looking to spend less and want to receive your Kindle in a more timely fashion, you can always pickup the second generation Kindle (referred to as “the Kindle” on Amazon.com, but as “K2″ by affectionate users). If your budget is a little tighter than usual and you don’t mind using second-hand items, maybe a used kindle is right for you.
If you’re set on getting a DX, then the question is, do you jump in line or wait a few months until you can “walk in” and pull one off the shelf? If you’re already placed your order, would you mind leaving a comment? I’m curious to know how long people are actually waiting for their shipment.