Kindling the fire.

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

28 Nov 2007

Chip Kidd on Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader (warning: Not IE friendly):

“PS: What no one seems to get through their thick skulls, even after untold millions of dollars have been wasted on the concept: PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO READ BOOKS ON A SCREEN…. books were always physical objects, and the printed book as a piece of technology has yet to be improved upon. And won’t.”

Reading the many objections, both in the article and the subsequent comments, I can’t help but feel that most are very subjective, not to mention purely a matter of habit. “I like the touch of paper”. “E-books simply don’t feel right”. It is similar to people buying vinyl albums because they like the feel of them: it’s a perfectly legitimate choice, but don’t make the assumption that your particular preference for paper books is shared by everyone, or that people won’t prefer the convenience of the electronic format to the tactile sensation of holding a book.

Many, many people are starting to purchase their music online, forsaking CDs and physical media. I still buy CDs because I like having them, and having the liner notes. But I don’t go around predicting the end of the iTunes music store just because I like CDs.

The Kindle is another in a long line of failed products. But remember that the iPod took into the mainstream what hundreds of similar devices failed to popularize before. Maybe the Kindle won’t be the breakthrough hit that the iPod was, but I think the advantages are such that eventually a good enough device will make this mainstream.

Additionally, I feel that statements like the ones that close my quote – “the printed book… has yet to be improved upon. And won’t”, as well as others like commenter Matt McVickar’s “I completely agree that paper books aren’t going anywhere. They’re perfect.” seem ridiculously reactionary. I’m not saying paper books are bad, or that e-book readers are any good right now. But to categorically deny any form of progress, ever, seems myopic and rather silly.

11 תגובות על
Kindling the fire.

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shiffer

28 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 20:08

The Kindle also had terrible, terrible DRM. That alone would have kept me away from it.

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yggdrasil

28 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 20:40

Yeah, I could have lived with DRM preventing me from copying a book I had downloaded, but not being able to copy arbitrary PDF files onto it? Preposterous.
Nevertheless, the Kindle can be a sack of donkey dung as much as it likes, but I’m still not burning my Acrobat Reader. Neo-Luddites can moan at the sheer orgasmic perfection of the hardcover, but I’ll just wait them out.

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iod

29 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 03:31

Quoth the Tromer:

“Oh, look:

“I just plug it in to the USB cable which perpetually hangs off the back
of my laptop, and it shows up as a hard drive. I drop .txt and .mobi
files into the “Book” folder and they show up. I convert a handful of
PDFs to .mobi files using Mobi Creator and they work perfect, Tables of
Contents and all.”

(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/36063)

Wow, this is one heck of a marketing fiasco for Amazon.”

So, no.
Anyway, I think one obvious problem with the Kindle is that books aren’t there just to be read, they’re there to be seen, too. What will become of us if we can’t gawp at other people’s libraries to tell if we like these people or not? Or, taken otherwise, ebooks have no resale value, so you can’t buy a book at least knowing if you don’t like it, you can always sell it to a used books store.
But I guess this is true for iTunes, so Avner’s point is still valid.

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shiffer

29 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 07:10

Be that as it may, and while I recognize the advantages of the Kindle (or something like it), I still find the DRM highly troubling.

What if I want to loan my books out, or borrow books from someone else (Ygg, still have your Snow Crash!)? If I want to switch to another company’s electronic reader down the line, why should I have to lose all the books I bought for this one?

So I can load my pirated PDF’s onto it easily enough. That’s good. I’ll take off one “terrible” from my original assessment.

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yggdrasil

29 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 09:36

I take back one of my objections, then. It IS a marketing fiasco if all the reviews I’ve read say you can’t load home-brewed content onto it.

Some things chance, and not everything makes it through the upheaval. Already I don’t find myself homing in on people’s CD collection when I’m at their place, since chances are it’s not representative of their real music collection, or taste. The alternative, rummaging in their harddrive, isn’t very socially acceptable. Will books eventually join this change? Perhaps. Will a different approach be found?
Currently you can put a “Visual Bookshelf” on Facebook. If at some point social networks will standardize and federate, you can have a “bookshelf” and a “CD rack” on your globally accessible profile that is synced with your MP3 and eBook folders.

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ygurvitz

29 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 14:52

I don’t get it

If everything works, how is it a fiasco?

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iod

29 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 15:08

Re: I don’t get it

It’s a marketing fiasco, because everyone believes that you can’t read your own PDFs with the Kindle, and this is a strong point of criticism against the reader.

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ygurvitz

29 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 16:18

Ah!

NC

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ygurvitz

29 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 14:56

I’m not sure “reactionary” is the right word

Short-sighted, certainly. One main objection is that the Kindle will be an inert piece of plastic assuming Amazon collapses, but given it can read other sorts of books aside from their chosen format, I’m don’t think this objection stands. Aside from the fact that Amazon is unlikely to fold soon.

(Yes, I’m itching for one).

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yggdrasil

30 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 08:56

Re: I’m not sure “reactionary” is the right word

Reactionary, because those responses I brought do not oppose this particular technology, they oppose any sort of change to the status quo. The present situation is perfect, they say. It will never be surpassed. This, to me, seems a reactionary attitude. Neophobic. Resisting change for the sake of itself.

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ygurvitz

30 בNovember, 2007 בשעה 09:40

Re: I’m not sure “reactionary” is the right word

Conservative, then, and narrow-minded at that. But I don’t see him pining for the good ol’ days of Gutenberg machines.

But, all things said, much as I hunker for a Kindle, I still find this machine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMFh5axDKWU) also awesome.

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