Whither Kindle Yon

Hi Brian,

I got to spend 24 hours with your Kindle DX  and wanted to share the experience.

I love most, that every time I open the lid, a cool full-page black and white illustration grabs your attention – some famous author or literary inset. My instinct was to touch the picture to find out more and discover a new world. Overprinted on the picture is a message asking you to swipe the slider to power it on. Sadly the image goes away, as no further thought was given to the use of the cover page.

Pages read well. The fonts are clear and the screen size is right  Again my instinct was always to touch it and pinch open pictures and thumb through pages – natural for iApple devices. You have to learn the keys and ways of the Kindle. The menus have inconsistent layouts and terms but you can get used to it. The conceptual model was blurry and I often got lost in navigation having to think how to get to indexes, sections, pages or the library.

But here is the telling difference – as a “single source appliance”, though the design was not bad – it did not deliver the goods – for both book choices and newspaper sections, to wit:

One of my recent quests was to read a bit of JD Salinger who just died last week. The Kindle is marketed to download a first chapter for free. A quote from Franny and Zoe had me wondering about buying the physical book. So I went to the Kindle Store and searched for Salinger – nothing but theoretical reviews written by literary reviewers. OK well. But as a potential buyer for the physical book, there was WAY TO GET TO THEIR OWN PRODUCT! Just eform please.  SO HEY this is supposed to be my portal to all things literary. By comparison the iPad (poor name for many reasons) is the whole internet.

Two times I tried working through the NY Times. At night the light was dim in bed – unsatisfying to my tired eyes. And the Times articles were odd to me.  Where is my Science and Technology section? This morning when I woke, I picked it up, went to the jon expecting to read about the Academy awards just announced – NOWHERE to be found.  No internet-ready front page layout. No listing in front page table of contents. Nothing in the Arts section. THE ACADEMY AWARDS for Chrissake. I settled for some good writing of the Grammy awards that I saw last night. I put the sucker down and went over to the real Internet to read the realtime news at oscars.org. Kindle Times is Old Times. When the news is the olds, you miss the real Internet. I want to believe Amazon sees the Internet realtime portal opportunities, something delivered well on iPad.

I went to a Kindle-delivered web page I like – it was SLOWWWWWW – it took 90 seconds to paint.  I realize Amazon has not been paid by me for web access, but… perhaps they could include WiFi for the home to get a boost, if not to offload my use of the Sprint network. Kindle painted the page badly, apparently filtered by some Amazon transcoder.  If the web page you are looking at has fifty links, then you have to tap the book’s throttle button fifty times to get to the end – sheer agony.  By comparison the iPad is a quick touch away for the whole internet. Using the Kindle brings to mind this great scene in Dune where Kyle MacLachlan has to put his hand in a box as a test of courage; experiencing horrible pain but willful enough to obtain his want.

When the Kindle device is open and at rest,  it is nice to know you are not using any battery because of the eInk display.

Amazon broke new ground by having content come over the air on the cellular network for free – meaning I did not have to buy a data plan. This is a pre-activated device, unlike Apple which makes you activate. Amazon has the makings of a good strategy. They could put a radio in everything. That way a loyal Kindler might be tempted to try a temporary data plan in a moment of impulse weakness.

So bottom line – after years in the market, Amazon did not build the Kindle to channel all things books, neither the literature of the past, present, or future. The googley future is multi-mediate; not single purpose but plastic; the whole internet unfiltered taps content and connections from every source. I hope Apple ,when they look at why people experience books, does not mess up the iBookstore with DRM and EPUB as we know it today. It is arcane, ugly and hard to produce. Final digression is that the Apple device needs a camera (it has a microphone).  Stick to the knitting and give us a scrubbable book and make books sexy. Let me count the ways.

In the modern end, presentation is all. The interface is the tie that binds hardware, software, media and experiencer. There is no content is King. The goal is the unbridled access to the Internet of people in whatever media they choose to mediate their ideas, the stuff of one’s personal identity.

san diego


One thought on “Whither Kindle Yon

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