More Details on the Amazon Kindle

Since I wrote my initial post last night, Amazon’s Kindle page has gone live. If you don’t do anything else, go to the page and watch the basic intro video. (If you scroll down, you’ll see a larger version of the intro video.) It looks even more interesting than I thought. It has certainly come a long way since I first saw the device 18 months ago.

the amazon kindle sitting on top of a traditional book

As of today, Thomas Nelson has 668 titles available for Kindle download. Bob Edington, our VP of Internet Sales, tells me that many, many more are on their way. (Evidently, Amazon is trying to catch up with the backlog.) Just to put this into perspective, Zondervan, the second largest publisher in our space, has 53 titles. Tyndale, the third largest publisher in our space, has 57.Here are some details from the Kindle page that I didn’t include in yesterday’s post:

  • Free Book Samples. Download and read first chapters for free before you decide to buy.
  • Adjustable Text Size. You can increase the text size of your favorite book or periodical with the push of a button. If your eyes tire, simply increase the font size and continue reading comfortably. Kindle has six adjustable font sizes to suit your reading preference.
  • Free Wireless Access. No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments—Amazon takes care of the wireless delivery so you can simply click, buy, and read. Includes free wireless access to Wikipedia.
  • Built-in Dictionary. Kindle includes The New Oxford American Dictionary with over 250,000 entries and definitions, so you can seamlessly look up the meanings of words without interrupting your reading.
  • Access to Other Documents. Email your Word documents and pictures (.JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG) to Kindle for easy on-the-go viewing. (I assume that the Kindle can also handle PDFs, but I couldn’t find anything that confirms this.) Paper in my briefcase may be a thing of the pass.
  • Highlights, Bookmarks, and Annotations. By using the keyboard, you can add annotations to text, just like you might write in the margins of a book. And because it is digital, you can edit, delete, and export your notes, highlight and clip key passages, and bookmark pages for future use. You’ll never need to bookmark your last place in the book, because Kindle remembers for you and always opens to the last page you read.
  • Search Across Your Library. Kindle makes it easy to search across your entire library. To use the Search feature, type in a word or phrase you’re looking for, and Kindle will find every instance across your Kindle library. Looking for an article you read a couple of days ago about hybrid cars but can’t remember where? Simply type in hybrid and Kindle will search your library for each reference, making it easy to jump directly to what you’re looking for. You can extend your search to the Kindle Store to find related titles you may be interested in. Explore even further by searching Wikipedia.
  • Ergonomically Designed. The Kindle never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both “lefties” and “righties” can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

The Kindle page also provides some interesting detail on the wireless feature. It says,

Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills—we take care of the hassles so you can just read.

With Whispernet, you can be anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute. Similarly, your content automatically comes to you, wherever you are. Newspaper subscriptions are delivered wirelessly each morning. Most magazines arrive before they hit newsstands. Haven’t read the book for tomorrow night’s book club? Get it in a minute. Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane. Whether you’re in the mood for something serious or hilarious, lighthearted or studious, Kindle delivers your spontaneous reading choices on demand.”

Supposedly, one of these machines is on its way to me. I am looking forward to trying it for myself. I will post a detailed review once I have done so.

Update: Evidently, Amazon underestimated the demand. When I ordered mine this morning the “Availability” was “In Stock.” However, now the availability is “In stock on November 21, 2007.”

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  • Kyle Chowning

    All I want to know is, did you order one yet?

  • Michael DiMarco

    PDF use is a little hinky:

    You have to email PDFs you want to access on your Kindle to Amazon, who converts and then delivers them to your Kindle.

    Oh, and they charge you ten cents per PDF.

  • Michael Hyatt

    Yes, I am supposed to have one by tomorrow.

  • Mrs S

    Oh wow this looks great! Although perhaps a little pricey as I can buy a paperback book in the UK for £3.73 ($7) – I’d need to be able to get books cheaper to cover the cost of the device – plus you can’t actually buy the thing over here yet! Can’t seem to find any info on a release date either.

    Can’t wait to read your review.

  • Michael Hyatt

    Keep in mind that the price includes broadband connectivity. There is no monthly subscription fee. You can do the math, but at $20 per month, that would be $240 per year.

  • JC

    But it’s not generic broadband connectivity. You can’t use the EVDO for whatever you like. If I read Amazon’s web page correctly, you can only use it, for free, to go to the Kindle store and to Wikipedia. (i.e., it costs money to email your Kindle. I didn’t read anything that makes me think you can go to any websites besides those two.) When you pay $20/month, you get to use it for whatever you like. So, I don’t think you can value Kindle’s Whispernet at $20/month.

    This underlines one of my criticisms about the Kindle. The only officially sanctioned way of putting anything on a Kindle requires you to pay Amazon money. My other major criticism is there isn’t any officially sanctioned way of getting text off the Kindle usefully. I understand that publishers want to lock ebooks to a specific device, even though it makes it less convenient and less useful for the reader. However, what about the annotations that I have written with the Kindle. Why should they be stuck on there too?

  • Michael Hyatt

    Actually, Sprint charges $60 per month for EVDO connectivity. And, the Kindle has an “experimental” browser. You can indeed navigate to any Web page. However, from what I have read at and other places, it doesn’t do Javascript. As a result, you can’t use the Google Reader to view RSS feeds. However, you can use Bloglines. I will post on this when I get my actual device, hopefully, later today.

  • Matt Bronleewe

    I’m certainly interested in the cool types of content that could be created for the Kindle. I’ve already been dreaming up a special edition of Illuminated with embedded hyperlinks! And I dig the idea of “subscribing to an author”. The iPod of books? Time will tell… Can’t wait until you get one in your hands!

  • Max Elliot Anderson

    I wonder if you might devote a future post to the potential, negative impact on bookstore distribution & relationships with Thomas Nelson? Also, do you perceive, down the road, a correlation to what happened to music distribution, and what is likely to happen similarly with books? As it is today, people can pass along a used copy of a book, but what about the potential to share a file, much like software and music files are passed around today?

    Max Elliot Anderson

  • PAC

    I ordered one last night and the shipping date to me is not until December 4. While I initially understood it would be shipped on November 29, I only hope it arrives before Christmas. I look forward to using this device and think it’s a giant step for ease of having books at a person’s fingertips without carrying around numerous items.

  • JC

    I skimmed the user manual and saw that it does, in fact, come with an “experimental” web browser. So that’s more functionality, but it’s still not generic broadband connectivity. It isn’t worth as much as Sprint’s EVDO service. Since you’re not paying anything for it at all, it may still be a good deal. However, it seems unfair to value it at the same price as Sprint’s EVDO service be that $20/month or $60/month. Also, will Amazon turn the web browsing into a non-free service once it stops being “experimental”?

    I don’t know if it will be the iPod of books though. For one thing, it’s always been really easy to put free, legally unencumbered content on the iPod. (I have 80+Gb of totally legal, DRM free audio on my iPod classic.) Right now, it doesn’t look like putting free, legally unencumbered content will be so easy for the Kindle. It has a USB port, which helps. But it doesn’t support very many file formats, which doesn’t.

    (Also, has anyone read the Kindle Terms of Service?)

  • Dino

    I just dont think it’s worth the price when I can do all of that and more on the iPhone! at the same price point.

  • Timothy Fish

    I’m a computer science guy, so when someone hands me a computing device, the first thing I think about is how I can program it to do what I want. The first thing I did when I got my cell phone was to try to figure out how to program it. I wanted to put a scientific calculator on it, but I haven’t had time. So, when someone points me to a $400 computer and tells me that I can’t write my own software for the thing, it turns me off right away, but I will say that after having looked at it I will probably be making my own books available on the device. Searching For Mom is text only, so it should be straight forward to put on there, but Church Website Design has many pictures, tables and code samples. It should be interesting to see what their conversion algorithms do with it. Several pages were printed sideways so that the code examples could be printed without line breaks. One chapter includes an example of how to get text to follow the curve on a webpage, and the text of the book is used as part of the example. My understanding is that Kindle does not support PDF, so Amazon converts PDF files to another format before sending it to the Kindle. Since, they allow the user to set the size of the text on the screen; it is very likely that the images will end up in the wrong place. A reference to something that is “on this page” may suddenly refer to something two pages back or two pages forward. I’m not sure that it is worth converting the whole book to HTML and even then I expect that it will ruin some things or make them hard to read. It is worth 35% of the retail price, though I don’t know enough yet to have a good idea what would be a good retail price for the Kindle version of the book.

  • Dave

    I thought I read somewhere that anyone can post a book and have it sold on Amazon Kindle for as low as $.25 or as much as $200, do you see this as a possible way to attract new authors by sampling some of their work ahead of time?

    Just curious.