How to create a burning desire for a Kindle, maybe

Internet rumor has it that Amazon will release an updated version of the Kindle, its e-book device. I am all for innovation and I love gadgets, but I don’t think the market is ready.

Things to be addressed:

  • A lot of books aren’t available digitally. The bestsellers get digital equivalents, but I don’t want a $300 device that doesn’t have everything readily available.  That really limits it usefulness. I usually get a gadget for the convenience it provides. Also, the digitization of a lot of books is mired in copyright litigation hell. Some publishing houses aren’t even sure who holds the rights to a lot of material. We need to push new precedents through to address nebulous ownership of intellectual property (Lawrence Lessig occasionally talks about this in his blog).
  • An e-book runs about $8.99. Many times I can purchase a used physical copy for $0.01 and I don’t need a $300 device to read it.
  • What about books I already own?  I think we should get digital copies for free with hardcopies. Amazon has a list of things I’ve purchased, they know what I should have access to based on my buying history.
  • What about other formats? Amazon wants to cater to college students, saying text books are expensive.  That may be the case, but a lot of my grad work dealt in PDFs. I don’t want to pay Amazon to convert these files to Kindle friendly formats because I am a broke college student and I need things immediately, especially if I have a paper due. The Kindle needs to support several formats.
  • What happens when book publishers splinter the market like the music and television industries? Not all artists sell their music on iTunes, and I’m sure not all book publishers will agree to sign on to Amazon’s service.  What if Random House joins up with Sony’s e-reader service?  In addition to e-readers supporting several formats of files, we need a universal, DRM free e-book filetype supported across all devices.  This isn’t ideal for Amazon, but they would sell more e-books for people that already invested in other e-reader devices.
  • Color e-ink has already been developed, three years ago. I want a color Kindle.

I think there are a lot of benefits to owning a Kindle, but the investment at this time isn’t worth it.

What do you think would help get e-readers into the hands of the people?

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One Response to How to create a burning desire for a Kindle, maybe

  1. Jon says:

    The #1 thing for me by far is pdf compatibility. All of my course readings are in pdf or ppt format. As a student, the kindle is useless to me unless those formats are accepted.

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