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E-books: Amazon bites back

Rory Cellan-Jones | 08:14 UK time, Thursday, 29 July 2010

Remember the Kindle, the device that was going to cause an earthquake in the publishing industry, while saving the travelling bibliophile from backache and excess baggage charges? Well, according to some technophiles, Amazon's e-reader is already sooooo last year, made redundant by the arrival of a shinier, smarter tablet device from a rival technology firm.

Man holding KindleNot so fast. Today Amazon is unveiling a new version of the Kindle, and making clear the scale of its ambitions in the UK. For the first time UK users will be able to order the e-reader from its UK store rather than have it shipped across the Atlantic, and then buy books from a UK Kindle store. Having had a quick look at the new device, I think I understand why Amazon believes it can still be the game-changer in the book trade, however much attention Apple's iPad and iBooks store may be getting.

Steve Kessel, the Amazon executive who was in London to spread the word, was keen to dispel any idea that the Kindle had been affected by the arrival of the iPad. In fact, he said, sales had accelerated, particularly since the price was cut a month ago. And last week Amazon grabbed headlines with the news that it was now selling more digital books than hardbacks.

What's interesting about the latest Kindle is how defiantly different it is from the iPad or other tablets. Amazon has refused to bend to pressure to make it touchscreen or to introduce colour. The company believes that would detract from the experience, which it seeks to make almost impossible to differentiate from that of reading a book.

"You're not buying a gadget," says Mr Kessel, "The design goal was to make sure readers still get lost in the author's words."

Priced at around a third of the cost of an iPad, weighing just 250g and with a battery that can last a month if the wireless is switched off, the new Kindle will certainly prove attractive to those who just want an e-reader, rather than something that can surf the web, play videos or do a dozen other things.

Amazon believes there is a big and big growing audience for that kind of device. We shall see, but even if the hardware fails to prove an enduring hit, the online retailer can still win the software battle. Its Kindle store can already deliver e-books to a range of devices, from phones to tablets, and it has a much wider range at lower prices than Apple's iBook store and, it claims, than any other e-bookstore.

In the end, it is the publishing industry, not Apple, that needs to sit up and take notice of Amazon's ambitions. Its prices will be forced lower by the advent of the Kindle store.

"Customers believe prices for digital books should be lower than those for the real thing. We believe that too," says Steve Kessel.

The Seattle firm now has the power to do to book retailing what Apple has done to the music industry. Now there's a thought which might well put some veteran British publishers right off their lunch.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think a key part of Amazon's strategy is platform neutrality. I can read books I buy from the Kindle store on my Kindle, my iPad, my phone or my laptop. That means that I can read pretty much wherever I am and choose the device that's appropriate for whatever else I'm doing. The Kindle is a really good device at what it does, but Amazon's real success will be becoming the defacto standard for eBooks regardless of device.

  • Comment number 2.

    I already have a Sony e-reader and I love it but I must confess I am tempted by a Kindle because of the free wireless and the ability to sync books around other devices.

    The key point will be the price of the books. Anything more than abou £3 and I I foresee the built in PDF reader getting the most usage as people just download pirate copies for free.

    Hopefully the publishing industry will learn the lessons of the music/film industries and give the public what they demand.

  • Comment number 3.

    The trouble for me is that the publishing industry has always had another model for reaching the client - the public library.
    I pay my council tax, I read free books...
    I can even order books online they don't have in stock for 50p, and be the first person to read them.
    Where do the eReaders fit into, or beat this model??

  • Comment number 4.

    Anyone who makes a direct comparison between an eReader and an iPad is missing two important, practical points. With a digital ink device, battery life is measured in weeks, not hours. And for me, the most important thing is that you can read outside in bright sunlight. Just like you can with paper. They're different devices for different jobs.

    (No-one ever complains that a book can't display moving video or browse the web in colour.)

    I'm totally sold on eReading. Whenever I see someone reading a book, I ask them: "how many books are there in that book?".

    Footnote: DRM is always a nuisance, but it doesn't look like it's going away. So the very least it has to do is get in the way as little as possible. I've got an eReader by another giant electronics company, and the DRM is as user-friendly as a rattlesnake. At least with the Kindle DRM and the whole process of buying a book is a fairly seamless experience.

  • Comment number 5.

    Amazon uses a propriatorial format. This means that it sells you the ability to read the books they rent you. Other readers use the open ePub format (essentially a zipped wesite) or copy protected PDFs that are much more widely supported.

    Why do you want to pay for wireless and syncing? I do these for free with my sony. Clearly you have access to the Internet so you can buy (not rent) books, back them up on your hard drive or CD and use free programs like Calibre sync them.

    Public libraries have now started to lend eBooks over the Internet. But not to the Kindle.

  • Comment number 6.

    I really just like the idea of holding a real book - I fear that this may be lost, and it would be such a shame. Don't get me wrong I am not technophobic it's just you cannot get the same feeling from a tablet or reader as you do when you buy a new book and it has that wonderful new book smell

  • Comment number 7.

    I have just bought a Sony e reader and am delighted with it. One great aspect which no-one seems to have pointed out is that you can download e books from your library for FREE and they "disappear" when your time is up so you don't get cluttered up with books you have already read - one of the nuisances of paper books was that I get a pile of titles to dispose of regulalry or to return to the library. Looked at the Kindle and decided WiFi wasn't an issue as I can decide that sort of thing at home on the PC.

  • Comment number 8.

    I know I may sound old and Iam only 30 years old, but what happened to browsing through a bookshop in a lunch break and actually enjoying the experience of buying a book.
    With music yes you buy the case with you purchase but the actual enjoyment comes from something which isn't tangible.

    I think these new items of software may be popular with some but sorry picking out and holding a book, flicking backwards and forwards through pages will beat a download and a computer screen anytime.

  • Comment number 9.

    All this is very well, as there will always be arguments over who has the best portable ePub formats, the most titles, and the lowest costs.
    Until the industry itself agrees a standard output format, and a cheaper option of displaying colour, such as the original dustwrapper, the choice of books is limited to non photograph illustrated fiction and fact.
    Portable document files by Adobe was the first attempt to do this service for computers, but is limited unless the output is a tagged .pdf file to alter the display to fit a portable unit, such as an eReader or a mobile phone.
    Also, I see this as the way many books will be 'published' in the future. Production costs are obviously minimal compared with a physical mound of paper, bindings, and dustwrappers. And, it is more environmently friendly.


  • Comment number 10.

    Dukeofearl asked where eReaders fit with library lending.

    Many UK libraries are already lending eBooks through the Overdrive system, with more coming on board all the time. The process is the same as borrowing a normal book, with a due date for return.

    The problem isn't with the technology but with two other things: (1) format and (2) stock.

    (1) Overdrive uses the Adobe Digital Editions DRM system to control the borrowing, ensuring that the copy can expire at the end of the due date. A few months ago this looked very sensible as most eReaders support ADE. However, the most notable exceptions are the Kindle and the iPad. Today's announcements along with the phenomenal success of the iPad are going to make those by far the dominant devices in the UK, unless their competitors can cut their prices dramatically in the next few months. This is going to lead to confusion at libraries until the format/DRM support gets extended either at the libraries or through updates/apps for the devices.

    (2) Libraries have a limited budget for eBooks so the number of books that are available is small. If eBook borrowing takes off, then the stock will grow over time, particularly as eBooks don't 'wear out'.

    So, there's no technological barrier to using eReaders with a library, just some wrinkles that will get ironed out in time. The process is the same, and many would argue that cutting out the need for two trips to the library and never accidentally going overdue would 'beat' the current model. (Though you'd lose the pleasure of browsing the paper versions, and the social aspect of visiting the library.)

    You'd also be able to borrow a book from your local library from the other side of the planet...

  • Comment number 11.

    starfish2606 loves that wonderful new book smell, as do I.

    However, my old books vastly outweigh my new books, and my old books make me sneeze...

    For the last couple of years article after article, including those here at the BBC, have reviewed eReaders and then dismissed them with the same argument - that they simply can't replace the smell and feel of a new book.

    Time and again they've missed the point that everyone with an eReader takes for granted: eReaders provide an additional way to read, not a one-off complete replacement for reading paper books. More choice, not less.

  • Comment number 12.

    It seems people are more interested in what technology they use rather than what books they read.

    As the author of a book I would like people to give some consideration to valuing the product again whatever platform they wish to read it on. People will pay lots of money to go to a concert or watch a football match but want to buy a book for pennies.

    It took me 9 years to write my book and would break my heart of all people wished to pay for it was about £3 through Amazon bearing in m8ind Amazon then want to snaffle at least half of that amount.

    Writers need to eat as well as write!

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm a voracious reader and due to the huge numbers of paper books stacking up in my home I did buy the Sony eReader when it first came out.

    But the problem I had with it was the cost of the books and availability of authors that I regularly read in the right eBook format.

    As a result I haven't used my eReader for a while and have reverted to the print versions.

    So I agree with the calls for reduced costs for eBooks, but also for a standardised format for eBooks along with a solid commitment from publishers to make their books available digitally.

    I'm tempted by the Kindle, but as I can't currently tell how many of the books on Amazon UK are available digitally, and which of those are authors I read, its a big leap of faith to switch again.

  • Comment number 14.

    LonelyVoice says "what happened to browsing through a bookshop in a lunch break and actually enjoying the experience of buying a book."

    Buying an eReader doesn't ban you from bookshops. Go there at lunchtime, browse and enjoy, buy your book. Take it home, read it.


    Get additional pleasure from browsing online, sitting down, exploring authors' biographies and bibliographies. Download your book and pop it onto your device (in seconds), adjust the text size quickly to whatever suits your eyes best there and then, and immerse yourself in the author's words just as deeply and quickly as when reading a paper book.

    Please don't dismiss eReaders with the words "computer screen". eInk devices are a pleasure to read for hours at a time.

  • Comment number 15.

    I have both a Kindle and an iPad with Kindle Reader software. The two complement each other perfectly. I use the iPad indoors and the Kindle both indoors or outdoors and when battery life is an issue. Because of the automatic page sync between devices I never have to worry about where in an ebook I have reached. This is a major advantage of the Kindle reader software.

    Purchasing books is also very easy via the Amazon Kindle Store, although I do find the bestseller lists a bit odd - a lot of Christian Thrillers or Soft Porn novels .

  • Comment number 16.

    Personally, i am not into ebooks but if i was, i would just want an e-reader and not a gadget and so i would opt for the Kindle and similar. I don't want to play games (have my handheld for that), web (notebook for that) etc but just read books. I think the revamped Kindle will succeed

  • Comment number 17.

    Colour isn't much use for reading fiction, but the vast majority of books I've bought as PDF include colour pictures, maps or diagrams.

    I also read a fair number of graphic novels, and rendering Watchmen as monochrome would hugely diminsih the experience.

  • Comment number 18.

    "In the end, it is the publishing industry, not Apple, that needs to sit up and take notice of Amazon's ambitions. Its prices will be forced lower by the advent of the Kindle store. "

    Didn't Amazon have this battle with Macmillans earlier in the year? The consensus at the time was that Amazon lost, are you saying they won after all?

  • Comment number 19.

    I really, really want an eBook reader and the one I buy will be whichever one gets rid of the awful moment of blackness every time you flip the page. I find it really annoying and intrusive. Get rid of that and I'm sold! Suggestions, anyone?

  • Comment number 20.

    I have a Sony eReader and I love it! Sometimes, I get so lost while reading a book that I find myself wanting to turn the page. That's how close to a paper book it is for me.
    So, I have no interest in nothing else than to have the same experience as when I am reading a paper book. I don't want to be distracted with checking emails, browsing the web, IM... I want to focus on the author's work...

    My only issue is the lack of eBooks and the price of eBooks. Some eBooks are even more expensive than paper version. Why is that? Also, there's still a limited number of authors whose books are published digitally.

    Another drawback I can see is for people doing research. Sometimes, you want to print a few pages from a book, make notes and highlight parts of it.

  • Comment number 21.

    gibbon_plinth, my suggestion is buy one. You'll stop noticing the black page refresh within five minutes. It's really no more distracting than turning the page of a real book, and we've all got used to that.

    There are some readers which don't do the full black refresh every turn, such as the Elonex 511EB from Waterstone's or the Pocketbook 360, but allow you to do it manually when required, or set a specific number of page turns between full refreshes.

  • Comment number 22.

    I can drop a paperback in the bath and, once dried, it will continue to work properly. I can do the same with a hardback, but the cosmetic damage will be more serious. However what would happen if I dropped an eReader in the bath? Would it work once dried-out? I very much doubt it. Until it can then I think the printed word is safe.

  • Comment number 23.

    I converted to a Sony E reader for practical reasons, when I go abroad working it is often hard to buy books, downloading is easier. As an added bonus when in hot climates the pages don't fall out when the glue melts. When falling asleep reading I don't get woken by a book smacking me in the head, and of course my ebook always opens where I left it, an doesn't require the pages being weighed down to read while at eating (alone) in a restaurant.

    However... it doesn't feel as nice to hold while reading as a paperback... but apart from the price of ebooks I'm a convert, I may try the iPad to see with the added features it is an improvement as a multi use device

  • Comment number 24.

    Normally, I quite like gadgets, but I have yet to be convinced of the benefits of ebooks.

    If I travel, then I find that one book is normally quite enough to keep me happy for the duration of my trip. Perhaps others do nothing when they go on holiday except sit around and read books all day and might get through a dozen or so, and I can see the advantages for them, but I'm usually busy doing other things.

    Also, paperback books are cheaper than ebooks, and I don't have to worry about fiddling around with DRM if I buy a real book.

    If the price of ebooks falls below that of paper books and they abandon that daft DRM malarkey, then I'll be happy to reconsider.

  • Comment number 25.

    MrNed, while your books may be legible after drying they'd probably be warped and not so nice to read.

    If you drop your eReader in your bath your *books* will all be fine. Just simply restore from a backup or download again from the store, to a new device if necessary. The same applies to theft or fire or damp or...

    Both printed and eBooks have their advantages, and to dismiss one for lacking the advantages of the other is pointless. We have both.

  • Comment number 26.

    Personally, I love reading. I am a student on a course which requires a LOT of reading, plus a full time employee of a firm that also requires me to read a lot and have PDF files with me at most times.

    I think there is a healthy balance between e-books and normal books. I have a lot of paperbacks and hardbacks of my favourite authors and titles but I also have a lot of e-books of random books, a lot of them even free, that I would not want to clog up my bookshelf but I want to read.

    If I really like a book I read as an e-book there is a high possibility that I will actually buy the book of it.

    I don't think it should be a case of ignoring e-books all together for normal books or dumping all your normal books for e-books. I think there can be a lot more choice if you use both.

  • Comment number 27.

    Having written and designed and self-published a book this past winter/spring, I see a huge failing with the Kindle in relation to an important sector of the book market. Are all books now supposed to be text only? My book is on healing qualities of orchids, and to describe these by text only would be almost a waste of time: one needs to see the orchids as well.

    Apple have not yet fully understood what they are doing with their colour screen, since they expect all books to fall into the e-Pub format, which demands all text to be centre-aligned, and photos are unable to be enlarged at all. So old-fashioned notions of good visual design go out the window, nearly. At the moment Apple are streets ahead with the hardware for this niche market within the publishing industry, but are struggling on the conceptual side to grasp the advantage they have over the Kindle and other B&W readers.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'll have a look at those, Graham, thanks! :) I have had a chance to read on a couple of different readers and didn't get past the annoyance at the black refresh, unfortunately, not even after quite a while.

    @Calliope55, I have to disagree, ebooks can be great for research. My uni library offers browser based ebooks and I was dubious at first but then convinced, the ebrary reader (for example) means you can highlight, annotate, bookmark etc. all on the ebook and it saves your notes and things for the next time you open the text and no overdues or queues of students wanting the text - I love it! Not sure how that works with the readers, though :)

  • Comment number 29.

    I work as an IT Specialist and stare at screens all day, I have a playstation, xbox and wii which I'm normally on for a few hours after work. I've got an iPhone that is attached to me 24/7. The last thing I need is another device to stare at. I regularly get eye strain from work, and at the end of the day I look forward to un-plugging from the wired world and reading a book.

    Also, I'm a keen writer, i've noticed torrent sites offering illegal eBook downloads in pdf format to read. How is this going to effect the author in the future when/if eBooks really take off? Will they be effected as the music and film industries are now?

    It doesn't matter if they encrypt the document, any man and his dog who are computer savvie can hack anything they want, or google someone who can.

    !rant over! :)

  • Comment number 30.

    Why are so many people obsessed with the cost of e-books? I agree there should be some discount given the savings in paper, distribution etc. But what is wrong with paying £10 or so for a new book, when cinema tickets routinely cost £10 to £12 and a round of drinks in a pub can easily exceed that? The pleasure lasts much longer and you can go back to it whenever you want.

    There is a fundamental point here: if everything is free to acquire, nobody will produce anything.

  • Comment number 31.

    @gibbon_plinth: I wasn't aware that you can now do that on eBook. That's great! So I take back what I said about doing research using an eBook.

    @Michael: I don't want everything to be free. And as an aspiring writer myself, I wouldn't want another author's book to be free, unless they choose to give it for free off course. But my thing is that an eBook should not cost more than a hardback. How can the publishers justify that? There's considerably much more going into publishing/distributing/fulfillment(if you buy online) of a paper book. The eBook eliminates some of these steps, and the consumer should benefit from that. That's my only contention.

  • Comment number 32.


    “It took me 9 years to write my book and would break my heart of all people wished to pay for it was about £3 through Amazon bearing in m8ind Amazon then want to snaffle at least half of that amount.

    Writers need to eat as well as write!”

    For something like a vigorously researched history book maybe more is appropriate, but for run of the mill fiction no way.

    You don’t say what kind of book you wrote so I may be doing you a disservice but if it took you 9 years to complete then maybe the old phrase “don’t give up the day job” applies.

  • Comment number 33.

    Don Dennis, ePub format certainly doesn't expect "all text to be centre-aligned", it's a wrapper around XHTML and while not perfect it allows for considerable control over the formatting of the book. If you've seen some poorly-formatted books then that's a failing of the publisher, not the format. ePub may struggle with complex reference books or mathematical formulae, but you're more likely to be using PDF for those sorts of books.

    And of course books aren't supposed to be text only. ePub format is perfectly capable of including illustrations. eInk devices are currently limited to black & white, but not the format. Colour eInk is still a few years away but working prototypes exist and will arrive, and of course the same ePub displayed on a LCD device like the iPad or an Android tablet will appear in colour.

  • Comment number 34.

    I love books and have both the Sony ereader and Kindle DX, yet I still buy books in paper versions.
    One problem I find is that sometimes I want a book and Amazon US has a Kindle version but it is not avaliable because of copyright issues to send to me in the UK, yet I can buy the same physical version from Amazon UK. I am hoping the new Amazon UK Kindle shop will improve that. Also I thought about getting magazines on my Kindle but again the US copyright issues have in the past made this difficult.
    I still love that I can read my Kindle book on my computer at work at lunchtime then sync it to read later at home if I forgot to bring it with me. And if you love reading you never have to worry about running out of books as you can buy anytime, anywhere (almost).
    Note you do not need wireless access like the ipad or ipod touch to access the shop, and hence my comment about access anywhere.

  • Comment number 35.

    Calliope55, there have been various discussions with publishers and others in the industry on sites like MobileRead and the cost of "publishing/distributing/fulfillment" is quite a small percentage of the overall cost of the book. It seems unintuitive but some put it as low as 10%, though probably a bit higher if you factor in returns.

    Publishers traditionally make their profit on the hardcover sales of their bestsellers, which is why the paperback release is usually delayed by up to a year. Their concern over ebook pricing was that Amazon in particular were destroying that income stream by aggressive pricing on newly-released eBooks. Without that part of their income they were going to struggle to support the rest (majority) of their non-best-selling catalogue.

    The big 5 publishing houses have recently introduced the Agency pricing scheme to try to safeguard this, which is why you're now seeing eBook prices up at around the hardcover price for new releases and dropping later to near the paperback price.

    One big issue we have in Europe though is VAT, as under EU law eBooks are treated as software and attract VAT, while printed books are VAT free. So, in the UK you'll often find that the price of the eBook is about the same as the paperback plus 17.5% VAT, making eBooks more expensive.

    That definitely needs sorting out!

    Whether the Agency pricing/old fashioned publishing model is sustainable is a discussion for another time, of course. We're already seeing some established authors self-publish, along with many new writers. But do we really want to move to a world without editors between the author and the finished product?

  • Comment number 36.

    #30, Michael:

    "But what is wrong with paying £10 or so for a new book"

    Absolutely nothing. I have no problem at all with paying £10 for a book, or maybe £50 if its a suitably specialised and interesting one.

    But I won't pay £10 for an ebook if I can buy it in paperback for £5.

  • Comment number 37.

    12.annsome wrote:
    It took me 9 years to write my book and would break my heart of all people wished to pay for it was about £3 through Amazon bearing in m8ind Amazon then want to snaffle at least half of that amount.

    Writers like you as well as the publishers, newspaper companies and music corporations like WMG need to accept that this is a new era.

    Internet and all sorts of devices like the iPad or Kindle or whatever they are called, have made a host of things obsolete.

    The newspaper is one of the most glaring examples, the 'paper' newspaper will disappear before 2050 and possibly earlier. The printed book is also obsolete now as people can read it digitally in more and more ways. CD's are obsolete. And the business model of many media corporations is also totally obsolete.

    But the bad news is, that those very corporations whose business models are obsolete are seeking to prop up their outdated business model by enshrining it with the help of international treaties. The latest attempt is called 'ACTA'. ACTA is against freedom, democracy and the people, but the corporations and their political friends and also some 'brown' organizations like the RIAA e.a. are frantically pushing it.

    ACTA must be stopped at all costs. Because of the internet there is now more music than there ever has been before, but the corporations want to stop all that. They don't want to give up their monopoly and don't like it that people can publish songs and books and not need the corporations anymore.

    Stop ACTA!

  • Comment number 38.

    Read the draft of ACTA here:

    I hope its still online, the politicians and corporations don't like it that the people have found out about this grand assault on freedom.

  • Comment number 39.

    For me e-books are the way forward, just not yet.

    I go on holiday I might read a book a day (more if lousy weather).

    My morning commute on the london tube takes about an hour and the newspaper is awkward so being able to download onto e-reader would be ideal.

    But as yet there are a few problems:

    1. How do I do the crossword and suduko on the e-book.

    2. DRM is a no no for me. If I buy the book I should be able to read it on whatever device I like.

    3. Single screen readers are useless for quick readers. Give me a dual screen and I may be happy.

    4. Cost: If a paperback costs £5 then the ebook should cost £3-4 because the costs of manufacture, distribution and storage are minimal. I would pay the same as a paperback if more money went to the author.

    Maybe in about 2-3 years the perfect device for me will exist

  • Comment number 40.


    I think a lot of people these days who work in an office spend most of their times staring at a screen.
    It's a matter of personal choice I guess. I myself am an IT specialist who spend more than 8 hrs a day staring at screens.
    But I find the resolution of my eReader not to be an assault on my eyes, unlike my other digital gadgets.

  • Comment number 41.

    #39. Justin150

    may I add to your list of reasons...

    5. Ebooks are a real liability if read in the bath. Even a potential hazard to life!

    6. Leaving one on the tube/train/bus is also a far more expensive proposition.

    7. Making notes in the margin is far far trickier.

    8. Carelessly stuffing them is a pocket is also out.

    I also find the idea that the manufacturer of the ebook reader can arbitrarily take away a book I have purchased totally intolerable.

    I do like the electronic ink display that only require energy when pages are turned a really good idea - pity I cant see video on it though!

  • Comment number 42.

    Why do publishers/booksellers not do to me what would seem an obvious thing? E.g. I go in to a shop & buy a paperback (or HB for more) for say 7.99. For an extra 1 or 2 squid I get an e-copy in whatever format I desire. I'd do that. If it's a case of buying a e-copy only, in a DRM hobbled format, for the same cost (+/- 20%) as a 'real' book then I'm not so convinced.

  • Comment number 43.


    I agree that it comes down to personal choice. I myself get eye strain a lot thats all, if the devices do not produce that much glare as you say, then who knows, may be a Christmas present from the wife in the future. My only gripe is with how the authors work is to be protected. To be honest I don't think it can. Music and films have been copied and distributed illegally for years, and torrent sites are flooded with pirated eBook downloads as well.

    The eReaders will no doubt become very popular but books will not disappear altogether. I may end up with an eReader and shelves of much loved hardbacks stories.

    Great idea, for a few extra pounds, I'd also purchase a paperback/hardback with an optional download code for a pdf etc version as well for an eReader.

  • Comment number 44.

    I've had the Kindle 2 international version since Christmas and its the best gadget I own! I can take it everywhere with me, I can buy a book whenever I want to, I read it in the bath without dropping it (can always put it in a sealed plastic bag just in case!), its excellent. I've pre-ordered the K3 from the website because I'm happy to just use wifi, and my mum will get my current K2i.

    I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year, and started to find it difficult to hold up a book to read, or I'd fall asleep whilst reading and lose my place. I don't have to worry about any of this now! I have a case for my K2i which props it up, and if I fall asleep the screensaver comes on and saves my place. With the latest software update theres the bonus of being able to password protect (which stops other people turning it on to nose at what books you have), and being able to sort them into folders.

    I haven't read a paper book since Christmas.

  • Comment number 45.

    Steve Kessel may well believe that prices for digital books should be lower than those for the real thing, but - like the rest of Amazon - he believes with a even deeper conviction, in the idea that the margins Amazon makes on each one should be aggressively and ruinously higher, too. The savings run both ways, in Amazon's model, but what goes Amazon's direction is vastly greater than the derisory sop that reaches its customers.

    Amazon's arrival probably delivered a much-needed kicking, to an otherwise complacent publishing industry, a decade and a half ago, but now, its practices are apt to flatten what remaining profits exist for any one else in the supply chain.

    This, alone, would be worrisome enough, were it not for the downright creepy restrictions and controls Amazon seeks to impose upon its (apparently all-too willing) customers. Why is it, that this "Brownshirt Vanguard" - the gadget freaks, and the early-adopters - are always so keen to make friends with the biggest bully in the schoolyard - as if the only way to get rid of one monopoly was to actively collaborate with the next one?

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.


    Could you not have elaborated a bit more on the technical aspects of the reader and not just a populist 'idiot's guide' review? I like your blogs but the lack of clarity sometimes grates. Specifically, your description of the Kindle lacking colour or touchscreen just made it sound backwards compared to an iPad, when in actual fact the Kindle uses a high contrast display called E-ink which nearly replicates the visual qualities of paper. This is much better than LCD based readers (like the Apple) because you get almost zero eye strain and it can be read in broad sunlight or a candlelit room, just like a paper book.

    @mvr512 #37

    I agree that companies presiding over media are bloated and are clinging to a bygone era, but things have to be paid for, even if it's significantly lass than what was enjoyed before. They need new ways of making revenue and distribution, but your comments have more than a whiff of conspiracy theory about them. 'The corporations' are not shadowy evil organisations, rather they are simply ruthless companies headed by people desperate to continue earning what they always have done, and desperate to impress the shareholders. They'll change eventually 'cause they'll have to.

  • Comment number 48.


    I find a shower and a waterproof radio works well.

    I would still buy real books though. E Books are a convenience for me, books a pleasure

  • Comment number 49.

    Comparing two totally different devices.

    E-readers are devices with very clear uses...reading books and newspapers.

    Tablets are devices that don't have anything in particular that they are overly useful for, they are less useful than laptops for internet/email, less useful than e-readers for reading, less useful than consoles for games. They are a jack of all trades, master of least they make the owner feel cool, goes well with the cherry red sports car.

  • Comment number 50.

    I find the prices of ebooks very off putting for one very good reason.
    I have over 25 years experience of working in binderys and prepress for some of the biggest book printers in the UK, nearly all printed books nowadays are printed from PDF files, and there is no reason in my mind why ebooks should be the nearly the same price as a printed copy, taking the price of paper, the cost of printing, binding and distributing and selling a physical book. To convert a PDF file to any of the formats required for any Ereaders is surely a one click process, and the price should reflect this.

  • Comment number 51.

    Pricing is an absolute. I have an iPad and have just pre-ordered a new Kindle. I don't see the iPad as a book-reader at all.

    BUT, like Apple (and I'm an Apple fan) the price of items is key. Why would I pay £7.99 for an album from iTunes when I can get the CD from Amazon cheaper? The clever part about iTunes is, of course, the ability to purchase just the tracks you like. You can't do this with books (apart from collections of short stories) so the initial price-point is crucial.

    I think Amazon's Kindle is around for a long time to come and the iPad (or whatever other manufacturers come up with) is no great threat.

  • Comment number 52.

    #5 YetAnotherGeek - you are quite correct about Kindle using its own format, however virtually all ePub books (unless free) are copy protected, so as good as tied down. Also, I priced four Kindle books yesterday and the cost was £18, the ePub books varied from £37 to £43 depending on website. The success of ebooks will be down to cost, availability and a standard DRM free format.

  • Comment number 53.

    The concept of the Kindle always interested me, but the price was just too high.
    However, with a Wi-Fi only version and with it the lower price, I got interested.
    Having a UK-based book store makes it very appealing, too. I've looked at the pricing and almost everything is cheaper for the Kindle version versus the dead-tree edition.
    The kind of books I read are there(and cheaper, of course) but so is the Financial Times and some magazines I used to read.
    It’s a shame that The Guardian is absent, but hopefully it’ll be added at some point.
    That there’s an Android application obviously doesn’t hurt, either.

    I've ordered one and have even ordered some books for it to read when it arrives.

    To be perfectly honest, I'd pay a premium for Kindle books over paperbacks. Extra you say? Why on earth would you do that?!
    The fact is that if I order a paperback book from Amazon right now and pay for first class delivery, it'll likely turn up on Tuesday. Even if it were Monday now I'd likely not see that book until Wednesday. Not only that, but if I lose it or spill coffee on it, that book is lost or damaged forever.

    If I buy that same title for Kindle it's delivered within a minute. Not only that, but it's backed-up to Amazon's cloud, so if my device is damaged or lost I can get it back. I'm also not cutting down trees by buying that book and I can read a 1-chapter sample if I so choose. Being able to read it on multiple devices is also awesome.

    Finally, by having a Kindle I'm contributing to the popularity of a platform not totally controlled by publishing houses.
    That means I'm encouraging independent authors to write their own books. This means more choice for me, cheaper books(I'd imagine most first-time authors charge less than a major publishing house does) and an outlet for writers that can reward them.

  • Comment number 54.

    I am an author of Gay stories publishing on amazon kindle.

    I love it!!! it's easy, it's fast, it can be modified within minutes, you have full control.
    The advantages to the reader have been discussed extensively, but for us authors it is by far the best medium ever!!!

    my only complain is the price and distribution:
    a) Amazon should sell it at cost price, they make anyway money over the books they sell, it's still too expensive
    b) I bet Amazon would sell many more if the sold it also in over the counter stores

  • Comment number 55.

    Amazon and Kindle should be boycotted and here is why:

  • Comment number 56.

    And to add to my fellow Linux user (RedLinuxHacker) , here's another take on why Amazon should be avoided:

  • Comment number 57.

    Kindle, E-reader, iPad, new version of the Kindle...Yes, indeed I think all these are onto something - books, books, books at your fingertips without intermediary libraries, searching, or too much weight...and yes, the market is really huge.
    I'm a long-time book reader; so, I would prefer my e-reader without bells and whistles - just words, please & thanks.
    You offer an interesting perspective on book prices, publishing houses, and ultimate book cost, which I agree should lower the price of the written word down.
    I can't help but pondering a Twilight Zone segment about a myopic man who wants to read and never has the time. He wakes up one morning - the world is devastated but he is surrounded by books - tons of books which he organises into neat piles. He's all set for a life-time of uninterrupted reading...but then this terribly myopic man breaks his glasses and cannot see to read. The end.
    My point, lets not do away with hard copies too fast or we may find ourselves disconnected from all books by some future, unforeseen catastrophe.

  • Comment number 58.

    I remember in the late 1990s, just before the web started to become so popular, I hadn't quite got my head around what the World Wide Web would be used for. My main thoughts were that it would be an avenue for the public to download books for free (not sure why I thought they'd all be free, I guess a bit like a library!). Google Books and Amazon Kindle do offer some free content as well as paid-for content, but the great thing about this ebook revolution is how another useful stage of the Internet is coming to the fore. It can only be good for us web users.

  • Comment number 59.

    With Amazon's £109/£149 pricing, things are about to get very, very competitive.

    The winner of this battle for supremacy could quite easily be the physical bookshop who will sell you a book, and then give you a code on your receipt to download a digital copy as part of that price.

  • Comment number 60.

    No I can't be bothered to drive/walk to a book shop ;-) I imagine that the laziness in people may make the 100% Internet route the winner by far. Why would I want to go to a book shop when I can preview many books online and also find reviews online?

  • Comment number 61.

    As others have remarked, I don't think it is very constructive to think of all the new book buying and reading options as mutually exclusive.

    I own an iPad and an iPhone. I've been reading books on them for a few months but I still buy hardcopy books too. Furthermore, nothing is stopping me buying a Kindle or any other type of book reader.

    The important thing is that I have the freedom to choose what format I get my book in. There are pros and cons to each option but just because you start reading books on some kind of gadget it doesn't mean you can never buy paper again. Nor is anyone restricted to one kind of gadget, store or reader application.

    It's great that we have all these choices available and each of us will choose what is right for us. The market will take care of ensuring that new content comes along at prices that are good for both author and consumer.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    I have always been a bookworm and have piles and piles of books everywhere. My partner bought me a Kindle for Christmas last year and I haven't bought a paper book since. My Kindle goes everywhere with me now anfd it's so easy to use. Even for a technophobe like me it's very intuitive to use and the battery lasts forever! One click ordering is a bit of a problem's just too easy to buy books without even thinking about how much your spending! The Ipad looks fabulous and I'm thinking of getting one of those too but I'll be sticking with my kindle for book reading.

  • Comment number 64.

    There is nothing like holding and reading a real book . 140 quid can buy me a lot of books . I cant see an everyday reason for carrying a reader . Maybe on holiday , possibly. I only read one book at a time so whats the benifit in carrying more in every day situations.

    Also there is nothing like having a row of book shelves to gaze through. How sad is it that we take away real physical material and replace it with souless 0's and 1's . I cant think of anything worse than reading a "book" getting to a good bit and the battery running out with no way of recharging it .

    Reminds me of "Mobile phones" . Hardly mobile when the batteries run out after a day .

  • Comment number 65.

    Printed books vs eReaders...

    What happens if you swat a fly against the wall with an eReader?

  • Comment number 66.

    I want one!! I too am an avid reader and have over 600 books which I have bought in my short life and this makes me realise why I need one.

    *I have no room for paper copies. I have 5 bookcases and still too many books to fit into them and no where for another as I live in a tiny back room of a 2 bed house.
    * I read very fast and a lot, on holiday I would read in 2 weeks around 10 books. Even when not on holiday I do in fact the other day I read a 750 page book in a matter of hours.
    *Books are heavy! I carry a drink. hair brush, purse, portable coffee cup, notes etc around with me and this means I am bent double if I try to carry a book but an e-reader is light as a feather, so easier to transport.

    The only think that would put me off is having to update my books into ebooks which would cost thousands (may need to cut back lol), not seeing my collection of books which whilst annoying fills me with pride and the biggest worry is that a better one will be created and it I end up having to buy least with books unless they fall apart they will never go 'out of fashion' or the software out of date.


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