Attention, fellow muggles; you'll soon be able to get your fill of Harry Potter and his high-flying, Quidditch-playing Hogwarts buddies absolutely free -- at least if you own a Kindle and an Amazon Prime subscription. Today, Amazon announced that all seven of J.K. Rowling's blockbuster books are being added to the company's Kindle Owners' Lending Library as of June 19th.
Before it shipped, a friend of mine expressed a great deal of skepticism—even hostility—about the Kindle Fire. This was right after HP had dropped their remaining stock of Touchpads onto the market for $200 each.
My buddy failed to understand two things—first, HP was abandoning the Touchpad and cleaning out their warehouses. And second, the Kindle Fire is not a tablet—it’s a low-cost content-delivery system. This is critical to understanding what the Kindle can and can’t do.
If it felt like Apple as lightening up on their App Store approval guidelines, think again. According to The New York Times, a recent scuffle with Sony has spurred Apple to clarify that their App Store rules on in0app purchases are going to be more strictly followed. The whole issue came up when Sony's Reader app was rejected from the App Store a few days ago. Apple objected to the Reader having its own eBook store, and no option for Apple's own in-app purchases. This, says Apple, is a violation of their terms of service.
This brings up an uncomfortable dilemma for other apps, like Amazon's Kindle for instance. Both the Kindle app and the Sony app bring up an imbedded web browser to make content purchases, but Apple is now saying that developers must provide that same content for in-app purchases using Apple's system. Not coincidentally, that means Apple would get their 30% cut. "It’s the opposite of what we wanted to bring to the market,” Sony's Steve Haber said. “We always wanted to bring the content to as many devices as possible, not one device to one store."
This does not mean that any content purchased the old way won't be available. Indeed, you can keep doing that. Apple is just asserting their authority to require that users are presented with in-app purchases too. A cunning way to get people more invested in the Apple ecosystem. How does this sit with you?
Remember yesterday when everyone noticed the Kindle was out of stock? Well now we know why. Amazon has announced new Kindle, but we kind of expected this one. The new model is just being called the Kindle, and brings a few improvements over the older model. The new eInk screen will have a 20 percent faster refresh rate, as well as better contrast. Internal storage has been bumped up to 4GB from the previous 2GB. Even with the new eInk screen, Amazon is claiming this unit will get a month of battery life with wireless off.
There will be two distinct models of the new Kindle. A Wi-Fi only version that will go for $139, and a 3G version for $189. The higher price is the same as the previous generation model. The keyboard has been altered with a different 5-way control, and slightly larger keys. The device is 21 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than the Kindle 2 as well. Customers will have the choice of color, either graphite, or classic white.
So, are you going to take the plunge on this new reading device? If so, will you be selling off a Kindle 2 to do so? Tell us if you find anything in this new package compelling.
If you were planning on getting a Kindle from Amazon today, think again. The popular eReader is showing as "out of stock" on Amazon's website, and no estimated ship date is available. There are three competing theories about just what is going on here. First, Amazon just wasn't able to keep up with demand, and there's a temporary supply problem. Second, this is just a system glitch and nothing more. The final, and most interesting possibility, there is a new Kindle about to stealth launch.
The last time the Kindle was "sold out" was back when the Kindle 2 debuted. Amazon was very straight forward with customers about when the new version would ship, but no word this time around. There have been rumors that a new "Kindle 3" was on the way with the sharper Pearl eInk display that the new Kindle DX is using.
There's no telling what's up just yet, but stay tuned for more. Feel free to offer up your best guess of what's going on.
Any hope for the release of a magical new version of the Amazon Kindle with a color screen was effectively destroyed today by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos. At a shareholder meeting in Seattle Bezos said that adding color to the Kindle's eInk screen was a difficult technical challenge. While he claimed to have seen some things in the lab, he was quick to point out they were not ready for wide scale use. According to Bezos, a color Kindle isn't coming anytime soon.
This is interesting for a number of reasons. First, Amazon doesn't seem to be showing any signs of worry in the wake of the iPad launch. Bezos often talks about selling millions of Kindles. Another thing the CEO's statements tell us is that Amazon is committed to sticking to eInk technology. If they intended to make an LCD eReader, it wouldn't matter how far along eInk technology was. Clearly, they feel the amazing battery life offered by the Kindle is their edge.
Amazon has taken steps to get their ebook platform on multiple devices, including the iPad. It could be they're just not that concerned with selling the Kindle hardware. Come to think of it, how long has it been since they tried to push a new version of the hardware on us? Would you be tempted by a color Kindle? Or is color best kept on tablets and computers?
We’ve all experienced that feeling of dread when a gadget is dropped. The more unlucky among us are also familiar with the horror felt after realizing that our once beloved thingamajig is now junk. Paul Gowder must have felt that after dropping his Kindle 2 recently, leading to a damaged screen. He, however, moved past that and decided to get Amazon to replace his Kindle.
Paul felt that it was pretty unreasonable for the Kindle’s screen to break, seeing as it was in a messenger bag at the time. His story fell on deaf ears at Amazon, where he was offered a replacement unit for $200, provided he returned the broken one. He agreed, but Paul wasn’t through with these Amazon folk.
It turns out that Paul went to law school, and he set about crafting a seriously frightening letter to Amazon. Among other things, he cited Amazon’s drop test video for the Kindle 2. Since his Kindle broke after a much less severe drop, Paul claimed that Amazon was misrepresenting the product. All he asked was that Amazon pay him $400. Shockingly, they did. Net gain to Paul: $200 and a new Kindle. Well played, sir… well played.
You can check out Paul’s letter, as well as Amazon’s response at the read link.
When Amazon deleted digital copies of Orwell’s 1984 from Kindles, there was a public outcry. Two customers went further and filed a lawsuit against Amazon on September 25th. Now, there is already a settlement in the case. Amazon has agreed to pay the pair $150,000. The settlement may have come quickly in order to prevent a judge from certifying the case for class-action status.
Amazon admitted this summer that it remotely removed two Orwell novels from Kindles after finding out that the books were posted illegally. Affected customers were eventually compensated with a new digital copy of the book, and $30.
The terms of the settlement also stipulate that Amazon can only delete works from Kindles under certain circumstances. A book can only be deleted if a customer agrees to its removal, if a customer requests a refund, or the digital files are found to contain malicious code. So, is this a reasonable policy?
The print media is under constant pressure from its more dynamic electronic counterpart. As if the idiot box and online news outlets weren't enough, it has now got blogs and podcasts to contend with. It will have to evolve quickly, so as to to keep its rivals at bay. Some companies see an opportunity in that imminent need for reinvention.
Plastic Logic happens to be on of those companies. It has developed an electronic newspaper reader that uses a plastic display. The company will be showcasing the device at an emerging devices show in San Diego. It hasn't still named its electronic newspaper reader, which has a screen size twice that of Amazon's Kindle. Pocket Logic’s reader didn’t have to pay a hefty price for the increased screen size: it weighs only two ounces more than Amazon’s reader and is thrice as slim.
It replicates the look of a newspaper, but is also meant to display business documents. The company will make key announcements regarding its reader, including its price and details of content providers, during the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Amazon’s proprietary wireless reading device Kindle has been rather successful. It remained out of stock for months after being launched in November, 2007, despite being criticized heavily for its lack of WiFi, ugly design and limited PDF support. Now it is fast emerging as a popular electronic book reader, if a Time magazine report is to be believed.
A source inside Amazon told Time that Kindle accounts for 12% of sales of the roughly 130k titles that are both available physically and as Kindle downloads. Kindle’s share has doubled from May, when Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos had claimed it to be 6%. It is good to hear that digital distribution threatens to change the landscape of the books publishing industry as well. However, Kindle is far from perfect and its design and features need nothing less than an overhaul.