Amazon Kindle Explained

Amazon Kindle 2
Manufacturer:Amazon.com
Price:$359 (as of February 28, 2009)
Carrier: Sprint
Available:First Generation: November 19, 2007; Second Generation: February 9, 2009
Screen:6" diagonal,
3.6"(W) × 4.8"(H),
600×800 pixels or 0.48 megapixels,
167 ppi density,
16-level grayscale
Electronic paper
Operatingsystem:Linux-2.6.10 based
Input:QWERTY keyboard,
select wheel,
next/prev/back buttons.
Cpu:Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11
Memory:2 GB internal memory (1.4 GB user-accessible)
Networks:Amazon Whispernet
Connectivity:EVDO/CDMA AnyDATA wireless modem, USB 2.0 port (micro-B connector),
3.5 mm stereo headphone jack, built-in speaker,
AC power adapter jack.
Battery:3.7V, 1530mAh lithium polymer, BA1001 model.
Size:8.0" × 5.3" × 0.36" (203 x 135 x 9.14 mm)
Weight:10.2 oz (289 grams)
Music:Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible (formats 4, Audible Enhanced (AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC, PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP.

Amazon Kindle is a software and hardware platform for reading electronic books (e-books), developed by Amazon.com subsidiary Lab126, first launched in the United States November 19, 2007.[1] Two hardware devices, known as "Kindle" and "Kindle 2," support this platform, as does an iPhone application called "Kindle for iPhone."

The Kindle hardware devices use an electronic paper display and download content over Amazon Whispernet using the Sprint EVDO network. Kindle hardware devices can be used without a computer, and Whispernet is accessible without any fee.[2] These devices also provide free internet access to Wikipedia.[3]

On March 3, 2009, Amazon.com launched an application entitled Kindle for iPhone in the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch owners to read Kindle content. Through a technology termed "Whispersync," customers can keep their place across Kindle hardware devices and other mobile devices.[4] [5]

Original Kindle

Upon the initial launch of the Kindle, Amazon's Kindle Store had more than 88,000 digital titles available for download, with the number of titles steadily increasing.[6] [7] Amazon's first offering of Kindle sold out in five and a half hours[8] and the device remained out of stock until late April 2008.[9]

The Kindle device retailed for USD $399; Amazon subsequently lowered the price to USD $359. Amazon does not sell the Kindle outside the United States as Whispernet only works in the U.S. Plans for a launch in the UK and other European countries are being delayed by problems with signing up suitable Wi-Fi operators.[10] The CDMA technology in the Kindle does not allow for its use in the UK due to the lack of a CDMA network operator in the UK.

The internal memory of the Amazon Kindle can hold approximately 200 non-illustrated titles, and the memory is expandable with an SD memory card.[11]

Reviews of Kindle have been generally favorable, although a reviewer from CNET expressed concern with the presentation of the device despite its ergonomic appeal.[12]

Kindle 2

On Monday, February 9, 2009, Amazon announced the Kindle 2, which became available for purchase on February 23, 2009. Price of the unit is USD $359. The new Kindle features improved battery life, 20 percent faster page-refreshing, a text-to-speech option to read the text aloud, [13] and overall thickness reduced from 0.8 to 0.36 inches (9.1 millimetres).[14] The Kindle 2 has 2 GB of internal memory of which 1.4 GB is user-accessible. Amazon estimates that the Kindle 2 will hold about 1500 books. Unlike the original Kindle, Kindle 2 does not have a slot for SD memory cards.[15] To promote the new Kindle, author Stephen King has written a novella called UR, which is available exclusively as a Kindle download.[16]

According to an early review by website iFixIt, the new Kindle features a Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11 90 nm processor, 2GB moviNAND main memory, and 3.7 V 1530 mAh lithium polymer battery.[17]

Content

Users can download content from Amazon in the proprietary Kindle format (AZW), or load unprotected Mobipocket (PRC, MOBI) or plain text (TXT) content. Amazon offers an email-based service that will convert HTML, DOC, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP documents to AZW.[18] It also supports audio in the form of MP3s and Audible 2, 3, and 4 audiobooks, which must be transferred to the Kindle over USB, or (on the original Kindle) on an SD card. Kindle Terms of Use forbid transferring e-books to another user or a different type of device.[19]

Users can select reading material through the Kindle or through a computer at the Amazon Kindle store, and can download content through the Kindle Store. New releases and New York Times bestsellers are offered for approximately $10. Classics such as Bleak House sell for around $1.99. The first chapters of many books are offered as a free sample. Many titles, often classics now in the public domain, are offered for free. Subscriptions to newspapers cost between $5.99 and $14.99 per month, magazines between $1.25 and $3.49 per month, and blogs for $0.99-$1.99 per month.[20] Users can send documents to a conversion service which will send a Kindle-formatted file to the device directly for $0.10 or to a personal email account for free.

The device comes with electronic editions of its owner's manual and the New Oxford American Dictionary. The Kindle also contains several free experimental features, including a basic Web browser.[21] Users can also play music from MP3 files in random order in the background. Operating system updates are received over the air and installed automatically.

File formats

The first Amazon Kindle supports unprotected Mobipocket books (MOBI, PRC), plain text files (TXT), and Amazon's proprietary, DRM-restricted format (AZW). It does not fully support Portable Document Format (PDF), but Amazon provides "experimental" conversion to the native AZW format.[22] Amazon will also convert Microsoft Word files and structured HTML files through the same email based mechanism. Users may also convert PDF files to supported formats using third-party software.

Initially Kindle 1 only supported the ISO 8859-1 (Latin 1) character set for its content and unicode characters and non-western characters were not supported. The firmware update of February 2009 supports additional character sets including ISO 8859-16.

Kindle 2 supports the Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible (formats 4, Audible Enhanced (AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC, PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP (through conversion) formats. Amazon claims that not all PDF's may format correctly.[23]

Using the experimental web browser, it is possible to download books directly on the Kindle (MOBI, PRC, TXT). Hyperlinks in a Mobipocket file can be used to download e-books[24] but cannot be used to reference books stored in the Kindle's memory. The Kindle charges monthly for RSS subscription to select blogs, even though users may use the experimental web browser to navigate to and read blogs or any other web pages free of charge.[25]

Annotations

The user can bookmark, highlight, and look up content. Pages can be dog-eared for reference and notes can be added to relevant content. While a book is open on the display, menu options allow users to search for synonyms and definitions from the built-in dictionary. The device also remembers the last page read for each book. Pages can be saved as a "clipping", or a text file containing the text of the currently displayed page. All clippings are appended to a single file, which can be downloaded over a USB cable.[26]

Summary of content availability

LinkFormatsWireless TransferWired Transfernotes
http://www.amazon.comAZWAmazon.com has over 240,000 titles available, with more being added almost daily.
http://www.gutenberg.orgTXTProject Gutenberg contains over 20,000 titles. Mostly classics and titles that no longer have copyrights. Multiple languages. Site runs on donations.
http://www.freekindlebooks.orgMOBIThis is a site that has mostly Gutenberg books automatically formatted for the Kindle.
http://www.pdfbooks.co.zaPDFThis site contains 7,000 Project Gutenberg titles in PDF version. Each title also available in PDF version formatted for mobile devices. No subscription required.
http://www.worldlibrary.netPDFApproximately 400,000 titles. Classics, modern, government, multiple languages. Membership costs $8.95/year; members can access all titles. The "World eBook Fair" from July 4, 2009 through August 4, 2009 will have free access to over one million books at http://worldebookfair.org/
http://www.fictionwise.comMOBIFictionwise, one of the largest independent e-book sellers in North America with an estimated 1.5 million sold in 2008, sells e-books in various formats, both encrypted and unencrypted. Books can be delivered wirelessly through the site by the "email to Kindle" feature, which costs ten cents per book.
http://www.mobipocket.comMOBIMobipocket has lots of titles, most of which you can find on http://www.amazon.com in the Kindle section for less.
http://www.webscriptions.netPRC, RB, RTF, LRF, LIT, HTMLWebscriptions sells books published by Baen, E-Reads, Night Shade, Subterrean, and Tor, mostly in the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Mystery genres. None are encrypted; many older Baen titles are available for free. Choose "Kindle-compatible" for the download. Books can be delivered wirelessly through the site by the "Email book to my Kindle " feature, which costs ten cents per book.
http://www.wowio.comPDFBooks are free if viewed online; otherwise you must pay for non-DRM PDF downloads. Most books available to global audience.
http://www.fictionpress.comTXTFictionPress contains over 100,000 titles. Mostly original works, as in unknown, normally unpublished authors. Displays in text. Cut, paste, and email to yourself, or save in TXT file and upload it to your Kindle.
http://www.manybooks.netAZWOver 20,000 titles. Has a Kindle format automatically generated from Gutenberg ASCII texts, without author listings or tables of contents.
http://www.mnybks.netPRCAn extension of Manybooks above. *If you access it through the basic WebBrowser in the Kindle, you can download directly to your Kindle, similar to the way you would an Amazon book. Choose the Mobipocket format.
http://www.feedbooks.com???Share books, self published books and a make-it-yourself newspaper. With a little manipulation of the tools, you can get your own newspaper. You could probably even directly email it to your Kindle in the morning if you allow that site to send you stuff. Registration is required, but free. There is now a "Kindle Download Guide" from www.feedbooks.com that includes links to many classics, including many in foreign languages. Titles possess author listings (for sorting in Kindle) and tables of contents.
http://feedbooks.mobi/PDF, PRC, LRF, EPUBMobile interface to feedbooks, as above. Access through the "experimental" web browser for direct download to Kindle.
http://www.ccel.orgPDF, DOC, TXTChristian Classics Ethereal Library are Christian-centered works readily transferable to Kindle.
http://www.munseys.comPRC, HTM, PDF, LIT, LRF, PDB, RB, IMP, EPUBOver 28,000 free books, both classic and contemporary. Titles possess author listings (for sorting in Kindle) and tables of contents.
http://www.munseys.com/joomlaPRCThis Kindle-ready version of Munsey's has 25,000 books, but isn't updated as often as the non-mobile site. Access through the "experimental" web browser for direct download to Kindle.
http://www.mobileread.comPRC, LRF, EPUBFree out-of-copyright books, quality handcrafted by volunteer uploaders. Approximately 2,500 PRC titles at the moment (Jan. 09). Has quite a few books in non-English languages. Titles possess author listings (for sorting in Kindle) and tables of contents. *Able to download directly to Kindle if you install an optional guide (updated daily).
http://www.zinepal.comMOBI, PDFCreate your own (maga)zines from Atom/RSS feeds and other web content. Zines can be emailed directly to the Kindle device and can be scheduled for regular delivery. This functionality allows users to assemble a personal news magazine based on different feeds and have it delivered on a daily or weekly basis. It is also possible to share zines with other users and subscribe to zines created by other users.
LinkFormatsWireless TransferWired Transfernotes

Digital Text Platform

Concurrently with the Kindle device, Amazon launched the Digital Text Platform, a system for authors to self-publish directly to the Kindle. Currently in open beta, the platform was promoted to established authors by e-mail.[27] Authors can upload documents in several formats for delivery via Whispernet and charge between US$0.99 and $200 per download.[27] The authors receive 35% of revenues based on their list price, regardless of discounts by Amazon.[28]

Criticism

While the reception of the Kindle has generally been favorable, a number of reviews have criticized both the hardware itself, as well as the business model behind it.

One claim is that the price point of the device is too high to be practical in a bad economy[29] --especially given that by design the Kindle is closed to the kind of expansion and customization available to many other consumer electronic devices in the same price range.[30] [31]

Critics claim that if the Kindle allowed open development, it could compete with existing music players, video players, cell phones and PDAs to some degree. But as an essentially single function device, locked down from being expanded, and expensive to boot, its potential market is very limited.[32] [33] Theoretically, with outside development, other capabilities could be added to the Kindle, which even if they had reduced feature-sets compared to dedicated devices, would vastly expand the desirability of the device.

Additionally there is concern based on the specific hardware choices made for the device.[34] For example, the Kindle 2 had removed the memory expansion slot which was part of the original Kindle. This not only affects the potential number of e-books which can be stored on the device, it also removes potential capabilities to import e-books onto the device via memory card. Another hardware decision which has been questioned is the non-availability of WiFi functionality on the Kindle. Instead the device relies on Sprint's Whispernet service[35], which, critics argue does provide a large amount of geographical coverage, but also drives the price of the device up considerably.[36]

Other criticisms which have been raised involve not only the hardware, but the economic/business model behind Amazon's entire implementation and distribution of e-books.[37] [38] While the cost of e-books has dropped somewhat, the true potential savings to consumers has not been realized. E-books are theoretically far cheaper to produce than printed books, especially when marketed in large volume, but many of Amazon's policies for marketing their e-books have severely limited the potential volume of e-book sales they'd need to sell to reduce costs further, and thus allowing lower pricing, which would allow Amazon to sell at yet even greater volume. The biggest of these barriers, until recently, has been that Kindle format books could only be read on a Kindle device, this limiting book purchasing to Kindle owners. Since it is an expensive device, the potential to sell large quantities of e-books on Amazon.com was severely limited. Amazon, however, eventually retreated from their "Kindle device only" policy and recently introduced a software application allowing Kindle books to be read on an iPhone.[39]

See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Amazon Grows A Startup In Cupertino. 2008-03-22.
  2. http://amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200127480&#whispernet What is the Amazon Whispernet wireless feature and how does it work?
  3. Web site: Product Promotional Video.
  4. http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000301301 Kindle for iPhone home page
  5. http://mediamemo.allthingsd.com/20090303/that-was-fast-kindle-meet-the-iphone/?reflink=ATD_yahoo_ticker "That Was Fast: Kindle, Meet the iPhone."
  6. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/02/books/02bea.html?ref=business Electronic Device Stirs Unease at BookExpo - NYTimes.com
  7. News: The Future of Reading. Newsweek. 2007-11-26. Steven Levy. 2007-12-02.
  8. Web site: Kindle sells out in 5.5 hours. 2007-11-21. Engadget. 2007-11-21. Nilay Patel.
  9. Web site: Amazon's Kindle Back In Stock. 2008-04-21. Gadget Lab. 2008-04-21. Charlie Sorrel.
  10. http://www.thebookseller.com/news/69174-no-uk-kindle-launch-before-xmas.html No UK Kindle launch before Xmas
  11. Web site: Amazon Kindle FAQ. Amazon.com. 2008-01-02.
  12. Web site: Amazon Kindle, CNET editors' review. CNET. David Carnoy. John P. Falcone. 2007-11-20.
  13. Web site: Kindle 2. Amazon. 2009-02-09.
  14. Web site: Amazon press event: Kindle 2 announced.
  15. Web site: Kindle 2 Frequently Asked Questions. Amazon.com. 2009-02-11.
  16. Web site: UR, Exclusively on Amazon's Kindle. Stephen King. 2009-02-10.
  17. Web site: Kindle 2 First Look. iFixit.com. 2009-02-25.
  18. Web site: Reading Personal Documents on your Kindle. Amazon.com. 2007-11-22.
  19. Web site: Amazon Kindle: License Agreement and Terms of Use. Amazon. 2007. 2007-12-13.
  20. Web site: Amazon Kindle available now on Amazon. 2007-11-21. Engadget. Thomas Ricker. 2007-11-19.
  21. Web site: Accessing Basic Web. Amazon.com. 2007-11-22.
  22. Web site: Amazon.com: Help > Digital Content > Amazon Kindle Support > How to Use Your Kindle > Reading Personal Documents on Your Kindle. Amazon. Amazon. 2007. 2007-11-23.
  23. Web site: Amazon.com: Kindle 2: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation): Kindle Store. Amazon. Amazon. 2009. 2009-03-07.
  24. Web site: Kindle Download Guide. Feedbooks. 2008-02-07.
  25. Web site: 15 Things I Just Learned About the Amazon Kindle. Joel Johnson. Boing Boing. 2007-11-19. 2007-11-22.
  26. Web site: Kindle user guide. 2009-02-07. PDF. Amazon.com.
  27. Web site: Why Kindle Will Change the World. Motley Fool. Rick Aristotle Munarriz. 2007-11-27. 2007-11-27.
  28. Web site: Amazon DTP Support:Terms & Conditions. 2007-12-07.
  29. Web site: CHARGED: Kindle, Why So Expensive?. 2009-03-06.
  30. Web site: CNET: Buzz Out Loud Lounge: Kindle 2's closed system and MS wants its money back. 2009-03-06.
  31. Web site: ZDNET: Community Incorporated - Joe Brockmeier - Amazon, open the Kindle before Apple eats your lunch!. 2009-03-06.
  32. Web site: ZDNET: Community Incorporated - Joe Brockmeier - Why I won't be buying the Kindle 2.0. 2009-03-06.
  33. Web site: CNET: Digital City - Dan Ackerman - Kindle, schmindle...I've got your $350 e-book reader right here. 2009-03-06.
  34. Web site: ZDNET: Tech Broiler - Jason Perlow - Kindle Economics. 2009-03-06.
  35. Web site: ZDNET: Between the Lines - Larry Dignan - Amazon's Kindle 2: 5 burning questions. 2009-03-06.
  36. Web site: ZDNET: Tech Broiler - Jason Perlow - Kindle Economics 2: Why Amazon should not be Apple, and Jeff Bezos is not Steve Jobs. 2009-03-06.
  37. Web site: The Business Insider: Silicon Alley Insider - Dan Frommer - Bad News For The Kindle: iPhone 3G + Apps (AAPL, AMZN). 2009-03-06.
  38. Web site: ZDNET: Tech Broiler - Jason Perlow - Kindle Economics. 2009-03-06.
  39. Web site: ZDNET: Tech Broiler - Jason Perlow - Kindlenomics Zero: When e-Texts have no entry cost. 2009-03-06.