Previous thought on etext

From a post on another blog originally made November 27, 2007.

Here is my geek punditry for the day. The Amazon Kindle etext reader is going to sell well. It will succeed for the same reason the iPod did. The iPod did not dominate the mp3 player market by creating a better mp3 player, they did it by greatly expanding the market through its iTunes service. People who had no idea of what an mp3 was or how to create/find them now had a way to purchase digital music easily and for less money than they paid for to get the music on CD.

The Kindle has Amazon shopping built in and thus a way to purchase etext at a reasonable cost. Amazon is attempting to follow the highly successful model Apple used, and it will probably work.

I’ve been doing the etext thing for years on my Palm based PDAs. There is an amazing amount of material available, including Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Beam Piper, and a good chunk of the Baen Books catalog. I am, however, a lot more geeky than the general public. I was not part of the Apple model because I knew about mp3s and the problems with overly restrictive copy protection.

Apple’s “Kindle format” is an encrypted version of the Mobipocket format common on PDAs such a Palm OS based devices. It does support non-encrypted Mobipocket, as well as text files and a few other open formats.

The Kindle’s biggest competitor will be the iPhone, once decent reader format is available (and either iTunes supports loading it or there is some third party software you could use without having Apple brick your phone), but I think the Kindle will hold its own, for the reasons stated.

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6 Responses

  1. The Kindle is a good piece of kit, from everything I’ve heard, but what’s holding it back is the price(which has basically killed every other ebook reader as well) – lets face it, at that price, one can buy an Asus Eee and have a nanonotebook, instead of a mere ebook. If they could get it below say, $150, I think they’d fly off the shelf.

    Yeah, the Iphone will be a very good platform for a ebook, but the problem is right now, all the PDF readers available for it are terrible, and Apple doesn’t seem to be in any great rush to fix it. The other thing that’s not great for that Apple(but far less important than the software issue), is the lack of expandble storage. Why they still haven’t added a flashcard port, is mystifying.

  2. An Eee PC works for even the mildly technical. The nice thing about the Kindle is no technical overhead needed.

    The thing can even automatically receive publications (like the NY Times). The cost difference between the dead tree subscription price and the Kindle subscription price of the NY Times will cover the cost of the Kindle.

    It’s not the hardware that is causing the thing to move. It’s the Amazon always on connection that is driving sales.

    The etext readers for the iPhone have been disappointing. The only one I’ve seen so far is the ereader software from ereader.com. Their problem is they are selling etext at paperback prices. Shave a buck or so off those prices and volume will pick up. See baen.com for a model.

    There are two reasons, IMO, why Apple hasn’t and won’t put a SD slot in the iPhone. The first is that they will loose control. Right now, all content goes on that phone via iTunes, which gives them control (and most importantly, control over the revenue stream. Ok, maybe a little bit of white Persian cat stroking evil, but mostly it’s about the money).

    The second reason also comes down to money. The price difference between and 8 Gig and a 16 Gig iPhone is $100.
    I’ve seen 8 Gig SD cards on Amazon for $25. Why should the consumer give that extra $75 to Apple if they don’t have to?

  3. Yah, I figured it had to due with the price difference between them, but only Apple would decide to not add a feature that every other manufacturer considers a default standard. Cult of Jobs strikes again! 🙂

    The constant connection to Amazon I don’t think is as big a deal as you say, although it’s admittedly a plus. Yes people are buying them, but how many are actually buying them because of the instant access to Amazon? I don’t, but I have a huge collection of E-books(gleamed from all over the net – fifth imperium, baen free library, Gutenberg, and others), Like I said, if they could get it to the $150 price point, it would become a monster in terms of sales.

  4. No question about it. The Kindle would sell better if the price was lower. Given its brisk sales, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    You are not the target audience of the Kindle. Neither am I. I’ve been reading etext for about a decade. People like us already have etext solutions (I primarily use use my Palm LifeDrive).

    The Kindle provides an easy to use etext reader platform that delivers content. It even supports PDF, ASCII text, and non-encrypted Mobipocket. It even has a SD slot. 🙂
    They don’t mind if you load someone elses content on it.

    Out of the various dedicated ebook readers, my pick would be a Kindle.

    One point against it is its size. Ya, if fits in a laptop case nicely, but it doesn’t fit into a pocket like my Palm LifeDrive does.

  5. I have both an ASUS EEEPC and a Sony PRS-500. I do not have a Kindle because while its functionality is better than the Sony, it’s not worth the upgrade.

    I wouldn’t consider the ASUS as an ebook platform. It’s too large, and the battery won’t last long enough.

  6. This morning I got an email from Baen Books about an etext reader app for the iphone. I spent the $9.99 and installed it.

    Very nice. I can access my Baen webscription account and download books directly as well as tapping their free etext library.

    There was also a Java app that I could load on my PC in order to load books I already have from other sources. It supports a very wide range of formats as well.

    It’s called bookshelf. More deails at http://www.iphonebookshelf.com/

    I make a more detailed post about it later today.

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