Caution: Your Kindle May Break

Kindle2-crackedAs of this holiday season, there are a LOT more Kindles out there. Amazon claims that the Kindle was the best selling item in their store. Ever. Some experts put Barnes & Nobles Nook sales at over 500,000 units in 2010.

And guess what? Some of them are going to break.

Yup, it’s a statistical certainty. Even if only 1% of all Kindles break, there’s a lot more of them out there to be broken.

If you check out some of the articles out there, people are already suing Amazon for the Kindle design. As a consumer, you should have a reasonable expectation that an expensive piece of technology has been tested and improved, right?

Well, not so fast. We’re talking about a product that’s been in the wild for under two years. That’s plenty of time to get market feedback, but not really enough to make significant hardware changes to improve the product.

And that’s the trouble with being an early adopter of new technology. YOU are the beta tester.

It’s cool to have a new toy. People want to see it and you get to be a geek superstar. But that comes at a price. Even early iPods broke or had lousy battery life.

Consider Toyota. Toyota worked hard to build their image of reliability, but they did it over many, many years. It didn’t happen in the first year of production.

Don’t be surprised that your basic laptop is more reliable than, say, your Kindle or Nook. Engineers have had years to make these devices more durable. And just because it fits in your backpack doesn’t mean that it will survive the abuse. The outer bezel on the Kindle is nearly flush with the screen, so that 7-inch e-ink display is pretty vulnerable to cracking. (There’s even a discussion on the cracked Kindle display on Amazon.)

Personally, I keep my Kindle in a thick, zip-lock pouch. It’s not  a traditional ebook pouch. I bought mine at an Army Navy supply store. It protects the Kindle from water. Plus it’s so ugly that nobody even looks twice at it.

So, if you got a Kindle or Nook ereader for this holiday season, congratulations. You got a cool, cutting-edge device that will give you many hours of pleasure.

Until it breaks.

LINKS, NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS:

USA Today – EBooks to Increase

usat_logo2Interesting article on eBooks and Amazon in USA Today.

Tension grows as publishers target Amazon Kindle pricing
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2009-12-11-ebooks11_CV_N.htm

Forrester Research estimates that domestic consumers will buy 6 million e-readers in 2010, up from 3 million this year. “For the first time in history, consumers are realizing that reading books digitally can be a pleasurable experience,” Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps says. And that means “the sky’s the limit” for sales of e-readers and e-books.

There are quite a few similarities between the Kindle and the iPod in terms of fixed pricing. Consumers love the low price of MP3s in Apple’s iTunes Store. So Amazon has been copying that by selling new bestsellers at around $9.99, while the print version is about $25. Publishers are unhappy about this for many reasons, but it’s a trend that’s going to be difficult to prevent.

The big rumors are that Apple will eventually release a tablet computer that may even rival the reading quality of these ebook readers. If that happens, there’s going to be a pricing war to sell the cheapest books, magazines, and other content for ereaders. After all, once someone commits to one of these online stores (like iTunes), it’s probably difficult to get them to leave.

I do a lot of shopping on Amazon. It’s unlikely that I’d leave the Amazon experience to shop in the Sony store. If I had a Nook, I’d shop the BN.com online store, since it has a really terrific selection of books. And I’d definitely shop on iTunes, since I already buy most of my music there.

Some Links:

My Dear John to Kindle 2

Dear Kindle 2,

Hey, baby, I love you, you know that right? So as I write this, please know that my love for you is undying. You were my first eBook reader, and everyone remembers their “first.”

I am in love with another. And like a bad romance novel…I love your sister, Kindle DX.

Now, before you freak out and delete all my eBooks, I want you to remember that I DO love you. (And, quite frankly, I paid for those books and I am planning to transfer them to DX as soon as she’s available this summer.)

Kindle DXYour sister Kindle DX…where do I start? I fell in love the first time her picture was leaked on CNet.

She’s thin and white, just like you. I can see the family resemblance. But she’s tall and really easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean.

And compared to your perfectly acceptable QWERTY keyboard, her ergonomically cute button keyboard seems so…I don’t know…futuristically relevant? Is futuristically even a word? I will have to check my Kindlictionary. Yes, good. Words matter.

Anyway, DX does things for me that you just refuse to do. And I have needs.

For example, DX supports PDF right out of the box. You may not think it’s a big deal to convert to PDF, but…she just knows how to do it automatically. I don’t even have to ask.

Speaking of needs, she can rotate my images just like my Apple iTouch. And while you hold an impressive 1,500 books…she’s deep enough to accommodate 3,500 books. I don’t know why that matters…since I don’t even have that many books…but I guess I am just impressed by girth.

Well, that’s it. Please don’t hate me. I do not hate you. I just found someone I like better. Don’t dwell on the fact that she’s younger than you.

There are so many things I will cherish about our relationship. And until DX comes out, I’d like us to remain “friends with benefits” okay?

Fondly forever,

Buddy Scalera
http://www.buddyscalera.com

More Kindle blogging by me:

LINKS, NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS

Kindles + Kids = 37 Billion Reasons

When I talk to friends and co-workers about the Kindle 2, they are amazed at the ebook technology, but doubtful that they’ll be using one anytime soon. At a price of $359 (and during a recession), they’re right. They probably will NOT be using an ebook this year. Or next.

But you know who will? Their kids.

According the the US Department of Education, there were approximately 34.9 million children in grades K-8 in public schools in 2008. By 2014, they estimate that number to increase to 37.2 million.

That’s a lot of students. That’s a LOT of textbooks.

According to some Internet sources, it can cost anywhere from $800-$1,000 to give textbooks to students every year. Some sources say an average textbook is about $52. (It’s hard to offer a good credible source. If you have one that supports or disputes this claim, please offer some links.)

So simple math here based on 2014 enrollment estimates:$1,000 times 37 million is $37 billion.

Anyway, kids. Yeah. Expensive, aren’t they?

Kids don’t need paper to get the benefit of the education that’s been written. They need information to get smart. We can give them Internet access, but that’s just one resource.

My Kindle ($359) weighs 10 oz. My laptop ($1,200) is about 5 lbs. That may not be much for me, but it is for a 10-year-old.

In a few years, it’s likely that we’ll see government-issued ebook readers replacing overstuffed backpacks. It may be the Kindle or the Sony e-Reader, but it will probably be some new manufacturer that has big government contracts.

Something more durable and utilitarian. Something that’s less hackable and more controllable than the average PC.

Teachers will assign chapters and reading over the school’s wireless network. Schools will only pay for the chapters they assign. New editions of textbooks will be downloaded directly from the publisher’s website via secure FTP.

Less paper. Less storage space. Less money spent on giving textbooks to 37 million students per year.

Say what you will about public schools, but most people in the US attend these schools. Our country generates a lot of smart people because there are a lot of smart people running and teaching in these schools.

A back of the napkin calculation shows that we may be looking at $37 billion in textbooks in 2014.

You can bet there are school administrators crunching numbers too. And while the economics of first generation ebook readers don’t make sense now, that will soon change. Prices will drop, technology will improve, and the economics will become compellingly obvious.

You may never read books using an ebook reader. But your kids in grammar school? They will.

Links….Not Necessarily Endorsements:

My First Self-Published eBook for Kindle

I’ve officially entered the eBook age. As an author, I have published my first eBook for the Kindle. Gimme a big “whoo hoo!”

To explore the technology, I wanted to get something up there on the Kindle store. So I took the complete scripts for my comic book series “7 Days to Fame,” reformatted it, created a Kindle account, and published it on Amazon.com.

7 Days to Fame eBook cover

7 Days to Fame eBook cover

Check out my 7 Days to Fame – The Complete Scripts eBook for the Kindle. It sells for a whopping 99 cents.

To be honest, it wasn’t very hard to reformat for the Kindle. Mostly it just came down to reformatting for the smaller screen and checking for bad line breaks and hiccups in the code. Just a few hours of work and now it’s done.

This isn’t the first time I was part of an eBook. There’s a transcript of a podcast interview that I did a few years ago with Paula Berinstein called Writing Comic Books: A Writing Show Interview and I was a technical consultant on the photo book Artist’s Digital Photo Reference – Landscapes.

But for me, this is much more fun, since I actually did the reformatting myself and published it. It’s…addictive.

Week 2 with Kindle 2

It’s week two or so with the new Kindle 2. Despite being an extremely easy device to use, I still found it took me time to become really comfortable with it. Like most people who saw it for the first time, I was reaching for the screen, since it really looked like it would be perfect for a touch-based interface. Maybe next version.

Over the first few days, I handled it gingerly. It was transported carefully in the original box, since I hadn’t opted to buy one of the many available cases.

Then, after a while, I started to just treat it like another part of my collection. Dropped it in the pocket of my heavy winter coat, and off I went. And you know what? It survived. Nice. The Kindle 2 is proving to be a tough, road-worthy companion.

Right now, I primarily subscribe to the New York Times daily and one of my favorite blogs, which is Read Write Web. And despite a few gripes about navigating articles, I’m really impressed with K2. Durable, fast, convenient. So far, so good.

Been exploring a few Kindle-specific blogs too, which is making me feel like I am part of some cool new club for readers. Check out:

Joe Wikert’s Kindleville Blog: All Kindle, All the Time

Blog Kindle