Everybody by now has heard of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, and if a nonprofit organization called Worldleader is successful in its latest efforts, the One Kindle Per Child initiative will become equally well known.
A series of trials have already begun in Ghana, which involves giving students Amazon.com Kindles to read in school and at home. Worldreader, which is spearheading the project, was co-founded by David Risher, Amazon's former Senior VP who played a huge role in growing Amazon's operations beyond just books. Risher left Amazon before the Kindle came out, but sees huge potential in the device's ability to bring eBooks to students in parts of the world where getting them regular books can take months and months.
"There's a huge difference between able to read from a selection of the 10 books that you happen to have -- or that somebody donated -- versus being able to get your hands on a book that you are really interested in," says Risher. "When you combine that with very, very low distribution costs for additional books and falling technology prices, these are ingredients for doing something really special."
According to Risher, eReaders are particularly well suited to developing nations because of their low power consumption and use of the GSM network.
"Computers play a great role, but eReaders really sole the reading problem in a much more direct and simple way," Risher added.
Users can no longer accuse Amazon's Kindle of being nothing more than a stuffy eBook reader too good for gaming. The Kindle Development Kit (KDK) launched earlier this year ensured it was only a matter of time before we saw some other apps for the Kindle. like the two games that have just been released.
Both titles are simple word puzzles (you weren't really expecting Quake, were you?), starting with Every Word, a world scramble game. Users are shown six or seven scrambled letters and are challenged to come up with as many words as possible. Think of it as Scrabble Lite.
The other game is Shuffled Row, which tasks users will seeing how many words they can make from 60 lettered tiles. Tiles are added to your row one at a time, giving you a constant pool of fresh letters to work with. You can think of this one as, um, Scrabble Lite as well.
Simple? Sure, and they're also both free. It's also the just the beginning of more to come, and we suspect at some point we'll see some paid games show up, as developers get a 70 percent cut of the revenue.
Hopefully all of you who were enticed by Amazon's new, smaller Kindle didn't sit on the fence before hitting the 'submit order' button. If you did, you may have to wait until September to get your paws on the new eBook reader.
"Due to strong customer demand, Kindle is temporarily sold out. Order now to reserve your place in line. Orders are prioritized on a first come, first served basis. Orders placed today are expected to ship on or before September 4th.," Amazon wrote on the Kindle's product page.
That's a delay of just over a week from the original August 27 launch date, but if the new prices prove popular enough, that date could get pushed back even further. Amazon released two new models, a Wi-Fi only version for $139, and a Wi-Fi + 3G unit for $189. Both devices are 21 percent smaller than the last-gen Kindle, but sport the same 6-inch reading area.
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.
Many expect the new wave of devices with digital reading capabilities to precipitate the demise of physical books, limiting them to atavists. That said, there is no dearth of people who fervidly repel these antemortem requiems for books as we know and love them. With a great deal of its business centered around the popularity of e-books, Amazon is undoubtedly of the former type.
Amazon is now selling more Kindle books than hardcover books, according to a press release. Kindle books have outsold the latter variety by 43% during the past three months, with that margin shooting up to 80% during the past month. But numbers don’t tell the entire story, especially when they are not meant to. Amazon intentionally left out paperback sales numbers from the equation.
“We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle-the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189," said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books-astonishing when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months."
Amazon let it be known a few months ago that they planned to rollout an improved royalty model for Kindle sales. Well, now that new option is available to publishers and authors. The new system has authors and publishers receiving 70% of the revenue from a sale. But Amazon isn't giving away money for no reason. Nope, they want something in return.
Amazon stipulates that to qualify for the program, a book must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99, and that that price must be at least 20% lower than the list price for the dead tree edition. The price must also be at or below the cost of the same work on other platforms. Outside of the pricing, publishers will have to make the book available for purchase in all geographical regions the publisher has rights to do so. Lastly, the book cannot have features, like text to speech, disabled.
We hope that publishers are willing to go along with this program. Amazon is looking to encourage them to keep ebook prices reasonable, and make an overall more appealing product. No one wants to spend more on a digital book than they would on a physical version. Do you think publishers will follow Amazon's lead?
Good news, Android users, Amazon doesn't hate you after all. No longer the forgotten platform, Amazon on Monday announced the release of its Kindle for Android App, freely available in the Android Market.
"Our customers tell us they love the convenience of having their Kindle library with them everywhere and their reading synchronized across multiple devices," said Dorothy Nicholls, director, Amazon Kindle. "With Kindle for Android, customers can choose from a vast selection of over 620,000 books to read on their Android-powered phone, no matter where they are - on the bus, waiting for a cab, or in between meetings. Kindle for Android and the rest of the free Kindle apps are the perfect companions for readers who don't have their Kindle with them or don't yet own a Kindle."
It's essentially the same app that's available on other platforms, meaning you can read the first chapter of books for free, access your library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon's servers, customize the background color, font color, and font size, read in portrait or landscape mode, and adjust the screen brightness from within the app. You're also able to sync last page reads from other Kindle-enabled devices, including the Kindle and Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, PC, Mac, and BlackBerry.
Amazon's Kindle reader apps for Apple's iOS devices – the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch – now support books with audio/video elements. The ability to play embedded video/audio, however, does not extend to its flagship eReader. There are currently 13 e-books that leverage this new feature, including five travel guides, a cookbook promising “heavenly cakes”, and a knitting guide for beginners.
"In the new Kindle Edition with audio/video of 'Rick Steves' London,' the embedded walking tours allow customers to listen to Rick as they explore the sites of London," said Bill Newlin, publisher of Avalon Travel. "Rick's narration adds depth to the reader's experience, while listeners can follow the routes more easily with the text."
Apple is trying to present the iPad as an alternative to dedicated eReaders like Amazon's Kindle. Factor in the growing number of mobile devices capable of doubling up as eReaders and dedicated eReaders begin to appear vulnerable.
But Amazon harbors no intentions of going down with the ship it commands, if it does drown. The company is hedging its bet by porting the Kindle experience to disparate consumer devices. It currently provides free reading apps for the PC, Mac, iOS devices and Blackberry, and plans to support Android soon. Its software presence across a wide range of devices is like an insurance policy against the threat these very devices pose to its eReader.
The Kindle, like the Nook, has free 3G wireless data and an eInk screen. Barnes and Noble also announced a cheaper Wi-Fi only model, but it sells for $150. That's only $40 less than the new Kindle price point. The Nook's new pricing tiers are clearly predicated on the Kindle being stuck at $260.
Overall, this is great for consumers. The eReader price war has finally begun, and not a moment too soon. We've always felt that these devices were far too expensive for what they do. Does the new Kindle price change the equation for you?