Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do You Know Anyone Actually Using a Kindle?

It finally happened last week. I spotted someone using the Sony version of an electronic book reader. I average two or three days a month in airports, but this is the first time I've ever seen an e-book reader in someone's hand instead of a real book or magazine. And I've been looking hard for that every time I travel.

Twice some PR person has sent me a pitch e-mail about the Sony Reader then has balked when I asked to see one and use it. Three times different PR people have approached me to write about the Amazon Kindle, then have found some excuse when I said, "Send one and I'll check it out." In both cases I offered to return it in a few weeks after putting it through its paces, but I got the e-mail equivalent of inaudible mumbling.

So I've never used a Kindle or a Sony Reader. But then again, I don't know anyone else who has either.

I find this story from Yahoo News (via Reuters) to be quite odd: a Citigroup investment analyst says he thinks Amazon will sell double the predicted number of expected units this year, as in 380,000 Kindles. Really?

He says the Kindle is turning out to be "the iPod of the book world." Really?! Even in the first few months it was out, when the inferior first generation was thicker and had extra buttons, I randomly saw people using an iPod and personally knew people who owned one. This thing's hype-launch lasted as long as the Democratic primaries yet even avid readers go "huh?" when I ask if they've heard of it. The only people who seem to know what it is are publishers, tech geeks, and authors, but even the people who would benefit are not sold on it. It's way too expensive, the books aren't cheap enough, it's still harder on your eyes than real paper, it's no fun to read in bed, and on and on.

Here's the quote at the top of Amazon's Kindle page: "'This is the future of book reading. It will be everywhere.' Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and Liar's Poker."

Everywhere? I'd just like to see it somewhere. So I ask you dear readers, have you used one? Has anyone you know used one? What did you/they think?

[UPDATE 8/25/08 - Amazon is giving $100 off if you sign up for their Chase credit card. That looks like a sly way to give a rebate without calling it a rebate, but now we're talking! Sign up here.]

7 comments:

Jeremy said...

I seriously thought about buying one, thinking it would be cool to take 10 or 15 books with me on a long trip. But it's hard to justify that price. More than a new iPhone and I think now I'd rather have that cooler gadget instead.

Alex P. said...

I would put it on my wish list if the price dropped in half. Otherwise, I can buy two years' worth of reading material for the same price---and I don't have to recharge any of it.

Julia said...

I agree--I'll wait until the price comes down. I think I probably spent an average of $15 each on books over the past year, not counting used ones. At $359 that equals 24 books. Just for the device itself, before you buy reading material! I think 24 books would last me at least a year, probably 2.

Anonymous said...

I bought a Sony ebook reader and love it. Battery life is excellent and it's small and light. Fits into my carry on much easier than the large paperback I used to bring. Plenty of free book downloads available on the internet or you can buy the downloadable books from the Sony site. Well worth the money in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I got a kindle for traveling purposes, and not to be dramatic, it has changed my life. I get books I would not otherwise get, try every one from amazon for free before I buy it, and have only 10.3 oz to carry when traveling. It has already paid for itself. And I can't even calculate the pounds and cubic inches I have saved while traveling for a month in France, a month in Italy, and week here and there. I already think of those things I used to read as "dead tree" books. So -- go for it!

Anonymous said...

Strange that the only positive comments are anonymous and sound like hype. Be skeptical - anyone can post anything. I read all the time, travel - know readers - haven't seen one yet. Overpriced "books" and device.

Tim said...

Well, now it's 2010 and they've dropped the price to $259 and added international wireless access to the mix. So it's a much better value, though still not at a price that will inspire mass acceptance, in my opinion. For about the same price you can get an iPod Touch, which does a zillion things well. We'll see...