Why Would Anyone Kindle?

June 29, 2010 Update: Looks like the e-reader wars are on. This week Barnes & Noble cut prices for its Nook e-reader from $259 to $199 and introduced a $149 WiFi version in a move to put pressure on Amazon’s Kindle and grab more market share. To counter the move Amazon cut the Kindle price to $189.

Anybody lured in by the price drop? Or just annoyed that you bought early and paid full price? Or did you decide that an iPad is a better option? Or are you happy with paper?


October 29, 2009: Many of us who are a bit geeky have thought for a long time that one day paper would be replaced with digitized versions of those things that are on paper. We have already seem much of the "news" captured in RSS feeds and websites. We have also seen postal letters and cards replaced by email and e-cards. I love the advantages that we get from electronic media.. I like the speed of delivery and the cost.. we get the news 24/7 and don't have to wait days to get a note from a friend.. and it is mostly free.

So this morning I get a tweet from Scot McKnight telling me his book Jesus Creed is now selling at Amazon in Kindle form. So I check it out and find the Kindle version is selling for $9.99. That seemed a bit high to me (after all I am used to "free") so I checked out the paper version and found it on Amazon on sale for $11.55. Hmmm.. that just didn't seem to make sense to me. It seems that the cost of the paper, printing and distribution would be more than $1.56?

Of course Amazon also sells the Kindle device.. you can get one for a mere $259. So I think that I am missing something. Can someone tell me why anyone would buy a Kindle?  Is it just not waiting a couple of days to get the paper version? It seems one could get the book from a local store if they need it right away.

So why would anyone Kindle?

32 comments:

  1. The publisher is definitely charging more because the customer is willing to pay for the convenience. Buying books online is better than hunting through a store and I get to read reviews. I assume the Kindle has the same search and review features.

    I used to carry a handheld computer and I read a few books on it but quit when the added security imposed by the publisher started conflicting with my hardware and/or software version.

    I'm back to paper and staying with it.

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  2. As a gadget guy the Kindle appeals to me, the Kindle DX even more due to it's native PDF support. I'm more interested in public domain books, which are usually free, rather than new books. If I could send them all my print books and get a Kindle version of each free I would do it in a second.

    One of the down sides of the Kindle model is if you buy a book that wasn't properly licensed Amazon can just delete it, with the physical book you paid for it, it's yours until you decide to get rid of it.

    Kindle users get Amazon offer for returned deleted books, gift certificates

    Back when Apple opened the iTunes store I bought some DRM encoded audio files from them. At some point the membership used to buy them disappeared, they have no record of it and I can no longer play the files I paid for. Fortunately I always burned albums I bought to CD at the time so I can listen to them that way, but that is not what I paid for.

    I love the Kindle DX's look and functionality as I understand it, but I want no one dictating whether I can keep something I already paid for.

    One great appeal of the Kindle is the built in internet, no need for wi-fi hot spots, just log on anywhere and download new books or other content, with no monthly fee.

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  3. I wish I had a Kindle (or Sony’s version of it, the “Sony Reader”, which is far better right now). Sony has teamed up with Google to provide over 1,000,000 (not a typo) free e-books. And you can down load e-books free from your local library now (Kindle can’t do library e-books and doesn’t have access to the free public domain books). With a Reader, you can carry hundreds of pounds of books in the palm of your hand (more than 16 GBs worth – and consider that the built in 512MB memory alone holds 350 books!). If you need a new book, downloading it is almost as fast as wishing for it. Is the library open? Dosn't matter anymore. If you need a larger or smaller font size just select from the 7 available. Like to make notes in your books? No problem – just scribble away. Can’t to that in library books. I often carried two books when reading – one being a dictionary. Now the dictionary is built in. The Reader works with your PC and you can purchase/download from multiple sources. With Kindle, you must “wireless” only through Amazon. Do you have a favorite passage from a good book? You can share it with Reader on a site called, “Words Move Me”. The technology is expanding at lightning speed and the prices are dropping. Like far too many older people, I will most likely die with lots of money for my kids to fight over. But I am just to cheep to buy a Reader - well OK, you’ve talked me into it - I'll buy one! Don't want a Reader? That reminds me of old Mr. Brown who took over my Brooklyn apartment when I moved to Texas. He said he PREFERED black and white TV. Some people have a hard time changing.

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  4. Thanks Mike for the great Kindle write-up. I did not know about the internet access.. do they use a telecom's wireless network to access to the net or do they have a network of their own?

    I also have wondered about the transferability of these kinds of products bought from iTunes and Amazon. Seems that would be a big issue for them to resolve and insure future transferability.

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  5. More great stuff Roger (leahey).. you have always amazed me.. even 30+ years ago you were throwing words at me that I did not understand.

    I am okay with these kinds of devices as long as they do more than just display text. What would you think of using a 9 or 10 inch netbook as a reader? Seem like the two could integrate nicely. Or how about using a Blackberry?

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  6. Looks like Barnes and Noble has a free eReader for your iPhone, Blackberry, PC or Mac.. check it here

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  7. And it looks like AT&T is supporting Nook (the B&N eReader) which also costs $259. So I guess it is Nook vs Kindle in the battle for expensive Christmas toys.

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  8. That's nice that they have that, but I really don't have any desire to read for any length of time on any of those devices. The screens on current dedicated eBook readers are much, much easier on the eyes.

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  9. Why would anyone buy a Kindle? Cause they are so stinkin cool!!! Have you seen one? Held one? Played around with one? The techie geek in me drools over them.

    Although...I would never buy one because of the cost and my love of books (the real kind with binding and paper).

    BUT - I can see why someone that travels a lot would use one and if money were no object I'd be all over it. :) (they are so easy to read too! any angle you turn it, you can still read it!)

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  10. Bob,

    I've been waiting for an affordable, functional ereader for several years now. I'm probably going to go with the Barnes & Noble Nook as opposed to the Kindle. The reasons, most of the books I read are non-fiction and I want the ability to highlight passages and to bookmark them for future reference. Also, the convenience of being able to have multiples books in such a small form factor (the bookshelves in my bedroom are filling up). The price of ebooks will probably fall below the cost of hard copies and already have in the case of say Dan Brown's latest book which is almost $20 at B&N hardback but $9.99 in the electronic version.

    One thing that Mike said about access anywhere, AFAIK, you don't get true "internet" access as these devices don't have browsers nor do they do email. You get access to a 3G network where you can download books or get newspapers, blogs, magazines (all of which you have to pay for). You don't pay for the access. But, you pay for the content, including blogs.

    BTW, I have three free readers on my iPhone. Kindle, B&N's reader and Stanza. They're pretty good for reading short passages while you're waiting in line somewhere. But, for long term reading you need the e-ink of the dedicated readers. The price is getting low enough now (less than $300) that I can just about justifying getting one.

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  11. I've been pretty skeptical about this technology, but find myself getting enthused reading about the Barnes & Noble technology. I have one question: Can I use the same account both from a mobile device and from my PC? For example, perhaps I'm using my PC for the most part but am away from the desk and want to check in on something I've purchased from my mobile device. Must I have a second account? Does anyone know?

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  12. Sue,

    Not only can you use the same account. But, I'm pretty sure you have to. The device is supposed to sync where you left off reading from one platform to the other. So, if you were reading a book on your Nook and you were out with your mobile phone, when you open the book on your mobile, it'll keep your place from where you were on the Nook.

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  13. Sounds like the text might not be downloaded Brian. Does that mean that you have to always be in range of a network for it to work? Or maybe I am confused?

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  14. Bob,

    I've never had my hands on a Kindle or a Nook. So, I can only suppose. But, I think the text download is a one time thing. The devices can hold several hundred books at a time. So, the first time you read a book on your PC or your mobile or your Nook, you would have to download. But, from then, they would only have to send the status information.

    As for being in range of a network, they work on a cellular network. So, you're probably always within range. Presumably 3G. But, if you're out of 3G range, I would guess they'd still work to download as long as you can connect to a cellular network. You would not have to be on a network to read a book you've already downloaded. The Nook reader does have a WiFi connection. But, for right now, that's only for use in the B&N brick and mortar stores.

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  15. Interesting. Makes me wonder if there's really something to their lawsuit or if they're just trying to generate some publicity for their device which I had never heard of. B&N made a big splash with the Nook announcement. This is a great way to try to piggyback on that.

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  16. This CNet article says the Marvell reader will shoot for a $150 price tag.

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  17. Interesting. But, from the article it looks like Marvell is a chip maker. I don't know how much influence they'll have over the retail price of the reader.

    Someone like an Amazon or a B&N has incentive to sell the reader at a loss to get the electronic book business. The margin on ebooks has to be huge. I expect they'll battle it out to get the prices down on the ereaders. So, unless someone's in the content game, I don't know how they'll be able to compete.

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  18. Great point about content providers Brian. I imagine these readers will go the way of other gadgets that start high ($600 for the iPhone) and incrementally go down in price.

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  19. They've got to get the price down. I've been reading about the Alex Spring thingy. Not what I'm interested in. I already have a smart phone as does everybody else on the planet who's interested in an ereader.

    I think the suit by Spring Design is just to horn in on Nook's publicity. The devices are different. A color touch screen is nothing new. If anyone should sue nook over that it's Apple because their browsing looks a lot like CoverFlow. The screen on the Nook serves a completely (and unnecessary IMO) purpose.

    I think the key to the ereader market will not be to add functionality to them but to make them as easy to carry around as a book and not something that has to be charged every day like a phone or like these will have to be if you start doing internet browsing. While the nook and the Alex are really cool, I think they're actually moving in the wrong direction.

    BTW,I've been doing research on the Kindle and the Nook because the $260 price point has me interested finally. You can get PDFs and other formatted files onto a Kindle in several ways- some low cost ($0.10 per document) some free. So, the Kindle is not as restricted as some people think. I'm probably going to go Kindle.

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  20. Looks like the e-reader wars are one. This week Barnes & Noble cut prices for its Nook e-reader from $259 to $199 and introduced a $149 WiFi version in a move to put pressure on Amazon’s Kindle and grab more market share. To counter the move Amazon cut the Kindle price to $189. Anybody lured in by the price drop? Or just annoyed that you bought early and paid full price? Or did you decide that an iPad is a better option? Or are you happy with paper?

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  21. Having been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by Tossing It Out, I now would like to pass this award on to you! I think your site is a top site and deserves this award. Stop by my site and pick up the award linking it to my site, list seven things about your self and pass it on to 15 others! Congrats!

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  22. I've got a Kindle and an iPad. I'm very happy with both. Two completely different devices. I prefer my Kindle to read on. I have not downloaded iBooks and don't intend to because I like Kindle's delivery model better. I don't have to carry all my books on my device or even back them up because I can always archive them at Amazon and get them when I need them.

    I bought the Kindle at $259, way lower than its initial price point. That was in December. I don't regret it at all. I fully expected the price to drop again. I hope that Amazon comes out with a WiFi only version later this year and lops off at least another $50. eReaders need to get close to $150 or lower (preferably $100). When I got the Kindle (actually my wife bought it for me for Xmas), she had no idea why anyone would want one. Now that she's read a couple of books on it and now that she can read those same books on her phone while she's out running around she loves the Kindle and prefers reading on it over paper.

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  23. @Gregg - Thanks so much for the Award! I do try to be a bit versatile in my bloggings :)

    @Brian - Thanks for the feedback! When you vacation will you take both or just the iPad because it can do more?

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  24. Since my wife is using the Kindle now we took both on vacation. The Kindle is so small and light it's easy to toss in a bag. I took the iPad instead of the laptop.

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  25. @Brian - Were you happy using the iPad instead of your Macbook?

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  26. Yes, I was happy with the iPad instead of the iMac. Just a couple of small things with the iPad. Of course, #1 is it doesn't have a real keyboard. So, I wouldn't want to type a novel on it. But, for emails it was fine. The other thing is it doesn't have a USB slot. So, I couldn't download my pictures from my camera onto it. And, since Apple has sold out of the camera connection kit for it (you literally cannot find one anywhere), I could not upload my pictures while I was on vacation. But, it's a very capable device and the instant on aspect of it and the fact that is so light compared to a laptop makes it great for traveling. I pulled it out of my backpack the first time through security, out of habit, like I would with a laptop. The second time, I just left it in my backpack (along with my Kindle) and got no hassle.

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  27. @Brian - Even lighter than an Airbook?

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  28. For all of you Kindle folks: You can get Adam Hamilton's latest book, When Christians Get it Wrong, for 99¢ as a Kindle download this week at Amazon

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  29. Thanks Bob. For $0.99, I picked it up.

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  30. I downloaded it to my free PC Kindle Reader.

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