Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why the Kindle deserves to fail miserably

I really want an eBook reader. Trouble is, my concept of such a gadget is light-years away from the #1 seller, the insipid Kindle. Words fail me when I contemplate the stupidity of the Amazon business model - clearly inspired by Apple.

It's like PCs if we were forbidden to run any software that wasn't sold by Microsoft, or even to advise others on how to do it. According to Amazon I should have a Kindle to read their stuff, a Nook to read anything from Barnes & Noble, a Spring Design Alex (Nook-like but better) for Borders etc, et-bleeding-cetera.

Apart from a gazillion real books (roughly 7k?) I already have about 5000 e-books, in formats including ePub, pdf, cbz, cbr, txt, rtf, doc, html and probably others I can't recall. Many are from Gutenberg, or are articles rather than books, even more are out of print or unobtainable in any other format. And since I prefer paper, I've tried 2nd hand bookshops on line & locally. So what would be my ideal e-book reader?
  1. Screen big enough to read a magazine page at full size without scrolling.
  2. Full colour.
  3. Pages that turn as fast as paper, and by a similar motion, thus -
  4. Touch screen, preferably capacitive but I'll take resistive if I have to.
  5. Can run 'reader' software for the above formats, plus DRM protected files from ANY bookseller/publisher, thus -
  6. Windows 7 OS, though I'd be happy with Android or any flavour of Linux as long as it works.
Since more functions = more value for us geeks, I'd also like
  1. WiFi web browsing with a 3G option.
  2. Local storage by SDHC or SDXC (Can't believe SD cards are going to 1TB soon)
  3. HD video decoding with HDMI output.
Sounds to me like a netbook in a tablet format with an 11" or 12" screen? Battery life doesn't greatly concern me. I already have solar and wind-up rechargers and would rarely use it far from power anyway. The screen can be LCD, Pixel Qi, OLED or whatever. Couldn't care less as long as I can read it (modern LCDs don't seem to cause any problems). So what are my chances? Is that too big an ask? Should I get a 2nd hand netbook on ebay and start modding it? The only thing I'm sure of is that the Kindle and its proprietary, restrictive, monochrome ilk don't tempt me in the slightest.


  1. For books to be overtaken by e-readers they need to provide a better experience, some sort of 'surprise and delight' feature. The Kindle just doesnt have it. Makes bookreading less of an experience.

  2. So, how's this prognostication working out for you, over a year later with the outright success of the Kindle?

  3. About as well as all my other predictions! (That 2008 was going to be a great year on the stock market). For all that, I've been using an ExoPC Windows Tablet as an ebook reader, among other things quite happily. Also interested in the possible 10" Kindle Fire in 2012. Apparently the 7" Fire can be easily rooted, since the above was written Android readers have become available for all the formats I want and of course it's high res colour.