Monday, August 02, 2010

The new Kindle and why I'm not buying it.

Those who head through Amazon UK's front-page will find a block advertisement for the new Kindle - smaller, lighter and basically better and only £149 with the free 3G coverage. So will I, an avowed bibliophile, be picking one up? No, not unless they really get their act together.

At least they've not locked out the competition, it's possible to purchase and read ebooks purchased from other stores on the Kindle provided they're in a format that the Kindle can read. Yeah there's the catch. It can read PDF files, it can read MOBIs but only the unprotected ones; but it can't read ePUB ya know the format that every other ebook reader can understand including the iPad and therefore is likely to be the format of choice for publishers who aren't on Amazon's Kindle Store.

Mentioning that, what Kindle Store? It launches August 27th at the same time you get the reader; so um how much will a Kindle book cost compared to just buying the physical copy? Let's turn to the American version that's been out for some time. I'll pick the latest release of Artemis Fowl that comes out tomorrow. Kindle version $8.87, hardcover $9.71; a big 84¢ difference for something that you don't even own.

Oh but of course if you buy a book it's yours forever or unless Amazon find they shouldn't have sold it and remove it from the user's Kindle, okay users got a refund; but the principle remains. You're not buying the book you're taking out an extended rental for a one-off payment or to be exact

a non-exclusive right to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times [...] Unless otherwise specified, Digital Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider.
Which is great until
We may modify, suspend, or discontinue the Service, in whole or in part, at any time.
So buy licence a book and Amazon can, if they want to, stop you from accessing it for no reason and there's nothing you can do about it.

Even the hardware itself is limited. At least you can change the battery yourself, but the screen is still only B&W which is fine for the majority of fiction but try to pick up a book about the Great Painters, or heck a children's story book and that's a problem.

And the final touch in that it proves that either the retailers or the publishers still have their heads firmly wedged in the 19th Century is that you can't rent books. It's buy or nothing. I can already rent movies through my PS3, they're protected to prevent me transferring them and locked to prevent me using them after the expiry limit so why no option to rent books through a Kindle?

So no real price difference, I own nothing so they have no value if I decide to s.s.s.sell a book (wow that was just difficult to type for me ;-) ). If the service is cancelled I'm left with a paperweight , no colour for those books that use it, and all-in-all no real incentive for me to go digital.

Sorry Amazon, but other than the convenience of being able to get a book right now you're offering me nothing and I'm not that impatient.


Orphi said...

The irony is, when I get a big PDF document, usually the first thing I do is print it out so that I can read it properly. Which is why I'm willing to pay money even for books that are freely available online. It's just easier to read from paper.

(And yes, people have done scientific studies on this matter, and concluded that paper is easier to read.)

Not that electronic has no advantages. It's smaller and it won't get all dog-eared around the edges. And your dog won't eat it.

…um, scratch that last.

FlipC said...

"read it properly"

Well that comes under the heading "Why I wouldn't buy an iPad" :-)

The Kindle screen reflects rather than emits so it's more like a normal book, but that's why it's restricted to B&W.

I mean hell yeah electronic has advantages, you can carry many more books around; you don't have to worry about losing your bookmark, and it has a built-in dictionary for all those troublesome words.

Yet you also have to avoid spilling anything on it, and you have to ensure it's all charged up. A book never conks out on you halfway.

Orphi said...

Pro tip: Don't spill stuff on a dead-tree book either! ;-)

FlipC said...

Heh at least there's a chance it'll still be legible and if you want a new copy it won't cost a hundred quid.