At long last, Amazon has announced a Kindle app for the webOS platform, one that's specifically geared towards the HP TouchPad and its 9.7-inch screen (lots of info and pictures of this potentially awesome tablet here). Just as with other platforms, Kindle for webOS allows customers to "Buy Once, Read Everywhere" when making purchases from Amazon's Kindle Store. And of course there's Whispersync, so you can pick up reading on your TouchPad right where you left off from your smartphone or other Kindle-enabled device.
A couple of years ago, Robert J. Sawyer, Erin Brockovich, and I were all invited to fly to Istanbul and address a conference of several thousand business leaders on the topic of “thinking outside the box.” We weren’t the only ones invited, there were a number of other “out-of-the-box” speakers from all over Europe as well. While there, Sawyer and I were also invited to speak to a group of several hundred bankers. There was a lot of brain-power gathered in those conference halls and auditoriums.
Whenever I’m invited to give a speech, I always ask three questions. “Who am I speaking to and why did they invite me? What can I say to them that will be useful? What can I say that will make a difference?” (In this particular case, I was pretty sure that they did not want to hear about tribbles.)
After a few weeks of cogitation on the matter, I had an insight that struck me as profound. The reason why businesses fail is because the operators of those businesses fail to understand what business they’re really in. Because ultimately every business is a service business.
Amazon isn't ready to say exactly when it will push out its 3.1 update for the Kindle, but the company couldn't hold back revealing what's in store. Among the upcoming feature enhancements are real page numbers that match the page numbers in printed books. This will make it easier to reference and cite passages, as well as read alongside others, whether you're part of a book club or it's required reading for a class. It's a neat addition, but far from the only one.
Amazon's "Kindle Singles" sounds like an online meeting place for like-minded romantics to hook up and talk about their favorite books, but it's not a Match.com clone. So what is it? Amazon describes it as a new kind of "well researched, well argued, and well illustrated" content that's typically anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 words.
"The response to our announcement of Singles has been great," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. "This first set of Singles was selected by our team of editors, and includes works by Rich Cohen, Darin Strauss, Ian Ayres, and the first-ever books published by TED."
The new Kindle Singles, which have now gone live, are available to both Kindle owners and app users. Each one is priced anywhere from $0.99 to $4.99. You'll find original reporting, essays, memoirs, and fiction in the first set of Kindle Singles, with Amazon planning to launch several more over time.
With a complete lack of fanfare, Amazon has thrown the switch allowing users to loan Kindle books as promised. The feature works much the same as the loaning implementation on the Nook. Users can loan a book to one user for two weeks. Loans are apparently limited to a single session, and the original user cannot access the title in that time.
These are certainly onerous rules, but many publishers aren't even allowing loans. Early reports indicate that several big publishing houses have loans turned off. These include Avon, Hachette, Harlequin and Penguin. More titles could become available over time as publishers wise up, or authors grant the necessary rights.
Users can loan a book by logging into their Amazon account and checking their purchased books. Loaned books will be readable in any of the Kindle apps or the web client. Loans cannot be initiated from the apps as of yet, but we expect Amazon to add that ability soon. Despite the restrictions, will you take advantage of this feature?
It had to happen eventually, the irony is just too delicious. The intrepid Android hacking community had managed to get the Amazon Kindle app running on a rooted Nook Color. Now user that don't mind a bit of legwork can get books from Amazon's expansive store on this device intended only for Barnes and Noble content.
Interested users will need to grab one of the Nook Autorooter images, and an image writer program to get the necessary file onto the SD card. This process loads Google apps on the device including Gmail, YouTube, and the Market. The Kindle app can be pulled right from the Market and used on the Nook. Modders are reporting the Nook Color is proving to be an excellent Android hacking environment.
We're excited to see what the community comes up with for the Nook Color next. Maybe some Gingerbread? Given the progress being made turning the Nook Color into a real tablet, are you more likely to buy one?
Amazon hates to get into specific numbers for Kindle sales, but isn't shy of getting all braggadocios when new records are reached. And according to Amazon, the third-generation Kindle is now the best selling product in the company's history, a distinction previously held by the seventh book in the Harry Potter series.
"We're grateful to the millions of customers who have made the all-new Kindle the bestselling product in the history of Amazon -- surpassing Harry Potter 7," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO. "We're seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions. They report preferring Kindle for reading because it weighs less, eliminates battery anxiety with its month-long battery life, and has the advanced paper-like Pearl e-ink display that reduces eye-strain, doesn't interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime, and works outside in direct sunlight, an important consideration especially for vacation reading."
Bezos also pointed out the obvious in acknowledging that the Kindle's $139 cost of entry was a "key factor," and we agree. While tablets might ultimately pose a threat in the eReader space, up until recently, the Kindle''s only competition in the tablet space has been Apple's $500+ iPad.
Even though Amazon didn't disclose numbers specific to its third-gen Kindle, the e-tailer did said that on its peak day -- November 29, 2010 -- the company sold more than 13.7 million items worldwide, or 158 items each second. That figure includes the Kindle and everything else Amazon sells.
The Kindle 3 appears to be a modest upgrade over the previous generation e-reader. But that hasn't stopped people from throwing their money at Amazon. Analysts had predicted that Amazon would sell around 5 million Kindles in 2010. Riding high on the Kindle 3 wave, Bloomberg reports the retailer is likely to sell over 8 million instead.
To really put this in perspective, in 2009 Amazon moved only 2.4 million of the e-reader devices. Clearly, this last year has been big for electronic books. Users of mobile phones and the iPad are also able to buy into the Amazon book ecosystem with Kindle apps. But contrary to some predictions in the wake of the iPad announcement, demand for the dedicated e-reader is not abating.
The Kindle 3 offers the same size eInk display in an overall smaller and lighter form factor. The new screen also has higher contrast than earlier models. Have you noticed more people buying Kindles this year?
Amazon isn't turning a blind eye to complaints that some of its Kindle eBook covers have a nasty habit of causing the devices to freeze or reboot, and instead is offering replacements or full refunds, PCMag.com reports.
Kindle covers with built-in lights don't seem to be affected, while some of the leather covers without lights have been receiving one-star ratings due to intermittent problems once installed.
"After I put the K3 into this cover yesterday, my Kindle started doing random reboots about every 10 or 15 minutes," reads a user review. "It wasn't doing that before I got the cover."
Amazon acknowledged that "there have been some forum discussions regarding the non-lighted Kindle cover" and said its team of engineers is looking into it. In the meantime, Amazon says "if anyone is having any problem with an Amazon-manufactured Kindle cover, please contact us at kindle-response at amazon dot com" for a free replacement or full refund.
Amazon doesn't usually like to reveal sales figures on its Kindle platforms, but that didn't stop the e-tailer from sending out a 'Thank You' letter to customers for the success of its third-generation eBook reader.
"Thanks to you, in just the first 73 days of this holiday quarter, we've already sold millions of our all-new Kindles with the latest E Ink Pearl display," Amazon wrote in the letter. "In fact, in the last 73 days, readers have purchased more Kindles than we sold during all of 2009. We're grateful for and energized by the overwhelming customer response."
Reading between the lines, we can figure Amazon has sold at least two million latest generation Kindles. Could it be much higher than that? Only Amazon knows for sure.