Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazon introduces Kindle ebook reader

I got to play with one of the beta-test units a while ago, and immediately fell in love. Sadly, they're only available in the US right now -- can't wait for them to come to Canada!

The e-ink display is gorgeous, the ergonomics (especially the big page-changing buttons) are much better than the Sony eBook reader, the promise that new releases will be priced at $9.99 or less (as will all New York Times bestsellers), the inclusion of a decent dictionary for free, plus unlimited Wikipedia access all rock.

Yeah, at $399 it ain't cheap, but man, is it ever cool. Not only is this the best dedicated ebook reader I've ever seen, but the distribution method (for free via wireless connection to the Sprint network, at no cost to the end user), and the pricing model is the best I've seen to date.

For the curious, novels of mine available for the Kindle are Hominids, Humans, Hybrids, and a first as an ebook, End of an Era -- plus a couple of dozen of my short stories.

As many of you know, I've long been an ebook fan -- I own dedicated devices including the Franklin eBookMan, the RCA REB-1100, and the Fictionwise eBookwise-1150, plus several Palm OS devices. My trusty Sony Clie TH55 is going to stay my principal reader (because of its portability, magnificent screen, support of multiple formats, backlight, and more), but when the Kindle comes to Canada, I'm going to snap one up.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site



At November 19, 2007 11:01 PM , Anonymous Ian Randal Strock said...

I saw it and thought, "Yeah, that's kind of neat," and sure, maybe it's the best thing yet. But there's still the cost of entry ($399) for a unit, and the fact that the books are retailing for 25% or more than a paperback. It seems to me that each electronic book reader that comes along is touted as "this is it," when in fact it's merely the next step in an evolutionary process. But it still looks to me like a long time before they come up with one that can truly compete with actual books (which after all are a technology that we've perfected over 500 years).

At November 20, 2007 12:00 AM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

You know, I think we should make products available here in Canada only. Give the US a taste of their own medicine. I don’t need a lecture on economics bla bla bla but this really gets my goat. First Tvo and now something like this. How about this: Our Tar sands Oil only available in Canada.

At November 20, 2007 8:32 PM , Blogger Kirstin said...

Sadly, Jim, we signed NAFTA, which means we can't say no with our oil.

Besides, then, when the US hits its next recession (bound to happen in any boom-bust economy), and sales of oil or any of our goods go down, we can all go into a frenzy of blaming the gov't, just like we did with the NEP.

At November 20, 2007 9:35 PM , Blogger redlion said...

I'd rather continue using FBReader on my handheld. Too much DRMnitude here to suit me, too ... if I were going to get another reader (used to own an eBookman like yours, Robert), I'd get one of the Bookeens.

At November 20, 2007 10:41 PM , Anonymous don said...

Amen Jim.

But ya know what?

I'm only available in Canada ;)

At November 21, 2007 4:12 AM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

Don't mean to hijack Robs Blog here but..

With Prince Rupert opening up maybe we should have signed with Asia instead.

I like the way you put that :-)

Hey folks I've nothing against the US, if anything I wonder if it's more our own Government screwing us then them? It seems us Canadians are always getting the short end of the tech stick here.

There's a good discussion about this going on at SF Signal as well. The Kindle I mean not my whining:-)

At November 21, 2007 9:04 AM , Blogger hugh57-sffan said...

Ian - the price ($9.95) for the e-books isn't so bad when you consider that many of the titles are for recent releases that aren't available in MMPB yet. US$9.95 is quite competitive with a hardcover (typically $25.95) or a trade PB (approx $16.95).

The price of the unit itself is what I balk at. And I've never been an enthusiast for the ebook format, though I do concede that it will have its uses, particularly with heavy college textbooks. But the price of a reader will come down eventually. The tree of technological advance must be watered with the blood of early adopters.

At November 21, 2007 11:31 AM , Anonymous Tom said...

What I've been waiting for since the 90s--and am still eagerly anticipating--is an actual "eBook" reading device that will look, feel, and behave as an actual book, but consist of e-paper pages instead of tree-paper pages. So you'll have your standard eBook, which might be 200 pages thick, and you'll be able to flip thru actual physical pages (with pages resetting their position once you get to page 200, say, in a 500-page book). Likewise for magazines and newspapers. We've grown to love the tactile experience of these media forms, so why not replicate that experience via nanotech plastics and electricity?

I think the thickness of current e-paper--and its cost--is one of the main impediments to making this vision an imminent reality, but the technology is rapidly improving. The president of E Ink, Inc., said last month that by mid-2009 e-paper should be able to reproduce full color pretty well, which will be a huge step toward getting magazines on board. It's all just a matter of time.

At November 23, 2007 11:53 AM , Blogger Stephen Kotowych said...

Hey Rob -

The Globe & Mail loves the Kindle, too!

At July 25, 2009 3:16 PM , Blogger skersten said...

How do you a e-book and whom do you send it to for publishing.

At July 26, 2009 12:28 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

skersten, allows authors to publish work directly for the Kindle, so that's probably a good way to start. See for details.


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