Video: The bookPod, take two

posted at 1:33 pm on November 25, 2007 by Allahpundit

Another demo, this one significantly longer than the first. My ardor’s cooled since realizing they want you to pay to read blogs but I suppose the device has its uses, especially in the university setting. Apparently it does not, in fact, cure brain cancer, which I guess is reason enough to give it the one-star stinkeye.

Exit question: Why are they charging for blog subscriptions, anyway? Presumably it has something to do with the labor involved in translating the format into Kindle’s proprietary code, but that shouldn’t be that difficult thanks to RSS.

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I wonder if the blog owners share in the subscription fees collected? After all, it’s their content, and the Kindle is just appropriating it. I can’t imagine that the blog owners wouldn’t get a hefty percentage, otherwise that doesn’t seem fair at all.

Am I missing something?

Redhead Infidel on November 25, 2007 at 1:43 PM

I really like the idea of the Kindle, because I’m a bookaholic and my ‘habit’ takes up a TON of space. Sure, I think sometimes I would want a ‘physical’ copy of a book, but if I’m trying out a new author? An e-copy that’s easy to read sounds terrific.

That said, I’m going to wait for at least a few more generations, for Kindle to refine its design (God, it reminds me of my old Tandy laptop), that weird black flash when you turn pages, etc. Hopefully it does well enough that Amazon will be able to keep working on development.

I agree with Redhead about the blog situation.

salmonczar on November 25, 2007 at 1:49 PM

Personally, I use this item to take my books with me, and I can upload via a slick little program any text document.

Snake307 on November 25, 2007 at 1:49 PM

I’m still not interested in e-books of any kind. I’d much rather turn actual pages. I can see how it would be appealing to some people though.

Guardian on November 25, 2007 at 1:52 PM

I wonder if the blog owners share in the subscription fees collected?

35%, I think? BoingBoing thinks the device stinks, but not enough to turn down the money.

Jim Treacher on November 25, 2007 at 1:53 PM

After all, it’s their content, and the Kindle is just appropriating it.

Yeah, I’m wondering that too. I’m guessing they must; otherwise it’s clearly copyright infringement. It just seems odd to me that they’re charging for blogs in the first place. It’s not like Mozilla demands you pay a toll when using its browser. The content’s out there and it’s free. Why not tap into it and open up the whole universe of blogs to Kindle readers instead of picking and choosing a few dozen?

Allahpundit on November 25, 2007 at 1:55 PM

I think you can use the Web browser to read any blog you want. The blog-push thing probably seemed like a good idea at the time…

Jim Treacher on November 25, 2007 at 1:56 PM

Not interested. I’ll take tree pulp and a reading light.

Limerick on November 25, 2007 at 1:57 PM

I think the fee is because of the infrastructure costs of network traffic and converting blogs into Kindle.

Neo on November 25, 2007 at 2:01 PM

Hi AP,
I didn’t realize Amazon is charging for blog access, but if so, here’s my guess: everything, including blogs, are delivered to Kindle via Amazon’s wireless “Whispernet” (that’s what they call it). As described in the video, “Kindle uses the same wireless technology as advanced cellular phones, so you don’t need to hunt for a hotspot like you would with WiFi”. The video goes on to say, “but unlike a cellphone, you don’t need to worry about signing up for an annual contract, finding the right data plan, or even seeing a wireless bill“. Now, that kind of wireless infrastructure (all those base stations) costs real money. Cell phone companies recoup the costs by charging cell phone users. If people start using Kindle as a cheap internet browser (as you alluded to in your last Kindle post), all that wireless bandwidth will be costing someone a lot of money. I think Amazon is worried about that.

A lot of people seem to think this is some kind of newfangled web browser. It’s not. The display (as many who don’t understand the purpose of Kindle have complained about) is a new monochrome technology called “electronic paper display” which looks amazing for text (just like paper, with no backlight), but isn’t really functional for other stuff. I believe it updates really slowly (ie. draws its pixels slowly), so you’re not going to be playing Quake 3 on this thing. It uses way less power than an LCD display, which is great for a book reader.

dave_lantos on November 25, 2007 at 2:09 PM

Exit question: Why are they charging for blog subscriptions, anyway? Presumably it has something to do with the labor involved in translating the format into Kindle’s proprietary code, but that shouldn’t be that difficult thanks to RSS.

I bet its bandwidth usage. Since blog owners do not get any (direct) money for a subscriber on their site; it’s still a little extra cash, even if the owner percentage is low.

lorien1973 on November 25, 2007 at 2:32 PM

Exit question: Why are they charging for blog subscriptions, anyway?

It get’s even worse that’s not the only thing Bezos want to charge you for or restrict how the device is used. Note carefully what is said at 5:13…

If you have personal documents you want to read on your Kindle like Microsoft word files, you can just email them to your Kindle. For just a small charge Amazon will convert the document and deliver it wirelessly.

Step aside Steve Jobs, there is a new “King of closed”, and his name is Bezos!

greggish on November 25, 2007 at 2:48 PM

Sorry, no PDF, no deal. Not only are there already thousands of ebooks in that format on my hard drive available, but the device could replace the 8 linear feet of documentation binders I use regularly at work.

Hannibal Smith on November 25, 2007 at 4:04 PM

The small charge (10 cents) for converting documents is only when you do it wirelessly, I think. You can e-mail documents to another e-mail address they give you and get them converted for free, and then put them on the device via the USB port. You still have to go through Amazon, though. I’m sure somebody’s trying to find a way around that even as we speak.

Jim Treacher on November 25, 2007 at 4:10 PM

pay = failure

advertsing should pay for any costs, or it’s a bad model.

Kaptain Amerika on November 25, 2007 at 4:22 PM

The four hundred bucks will keep me away as well as the pay for blogs and having your own documents on the device. Call me when it gets to a hundred and no fees for reading free material.

d1carter on November 25, 2007 at 4:30 PM

Personally, I use one of these to take books with me:

http://www.rockymountaintrail.com/back-to-school.aspx?gclid=CKKbz8z6-I8CFQ1kWAodZkJtMQ

These enjoy a HUGE advantage in battery life, and have a capacity comparable to the Kindle. In addition, when using this device, you can speed-read books without worrying about the “facing page visibility” problem or slow page turning. You can also renew content without Internet access.

landlines on November 25, 2007 at 4:45 PM

(previous posting got garbled – try again)

Personally, I use one of these to take books with me:

http://www.rockymountaintrail.com/back-to-school.aspx?gclid=CKKbz8z6-I8CFQ1kWAodZkJtMQ

These enjoy a HUGE advantage in battery life, and have a capacity comparable to the Kindle. In addition, when using this device, you can speed-read books without worrying about the “facing page visibility” problem or slow page turning. You can also renew content without Internet access.

landlines on November 25, 2007 at 4:47 PM

The low power display is unique for them right now, but won’t be in a few months. Look for a huge price drop once every smart phone maker and ebook reader has one available.

When you want to read a book, wifi is fine, and when you need some info on the road, a cell phone is fine. Charging to read blogs is a big flop.

Amazon has done some great stuff, but this isn’t one of them.

pedestrian on November 25, 2007 at 5:47 PM

Step aside Steve Jobs, there is a new “King of closed”, and his name is Bezos!

greggish on November 25, 2007 at 2:48 PM

.
Yup, and while EVERYONE is trying to build continuous revenue streams on something that is now free, all these “e-book” manufacturers haven’t even gotten to PDF compatibility.
.
Personally, I LOATHE the PDF format, but all-things peer reviewed and most tech. lit. is unfortunately in PDF containers…(sigh)
.
I’m NOT going to do the conversion for them…..that’s what we pay CONVENIENCE device manufacturers for. CONVENIENCE.
.
And the revenue stream thing is really annoying….almost as annoying as getting gay-agenda crossmarketing force fed on my cell.
.
hmmm….but not quite.
.
Hey, speaking of annoying, why can’t we see Michele on O’Reilly anymore? I swear….I’m changing over to Glenn Beck and staying there, until Michele is back, Whore-aldo is gone, and Dick Morris endorses Huckabee.
.

Keith_Z on November 25, 2007 at 6:04 PM

if you have a palm device, such as a Treo phone or Palm Pilot, or Springboard, check out http://www.tealpoint.com/softdoc.htm

I also recommend http://www.ereader.com/product/browse/software
The titles are a little more than Kindle, but the software beats $400 by parsecs.

Longhorn Six on November 25, 2007 at 6:09 PM

I actually wish Apple would design a bookPod. If they did, I’m certain it would look a heck of a lot better than this thing, and I could purchase and manage my books along with the rest of my entertainment media in iTunes. Or just read them on my iPhone.

aero on November 25, 2007 at 7:37 PM

Oh, yeah, and I forgot about the DRM’d books that you buy that are locked into the Kindle. I am not counting Bezos out yet. Kindle has some changes to make but it is a start.

d1carter on November 25, 2007 at 7:52 PM

A) I would NEVER buy a bit of hardware with a propietary one-of-a-kind software (see: iPod). The lack of competition and the ability to exclude anyone who won’t pay the freight is monopolistic at best, and will restrict my ability to read anything I can get my grubby mitts on.

B) A “uni-task” device like this is silly. Will it play video? Audio? Pictures? Receive and transmit by bluetooth, infrared as well as USB and DSL? Can I use my cellphone as a modem? Is the memory expandable? Removable? Swappable?

C)It’s been done. Your average laptop (even an old laggard) can hold a ton of text in many formats, and, with a bit of manipulation, said text can be turned so you could hold the laptop like a book and change pages with the arrow keys with your thumb.

D)Pay for the translation of blogs into Kindle? Two words, and the first one is “bite”. Capturing HTML pages is a breeze, and paying for a service like this just so you can use the reader that you paid for is doubly stupid.

Kindle? Kindling.

heldmyw on November 25, 2007 at 9:04 PM

The primary use for the device is for the user to buy books and get “free” delivery, that is, the delivery cost is factored into the cost of the book. So, if something is free, like blogs, Amazon gets nothing and has to pay to use the network. They could charge on a pay-per-use basis, but most people willing to have a transaction cost on a blog will be obsessive enough to go for a per-month charge. Unlimited use would be another option, but odds are that a Kindle user isn’t going to want to pay $30 or $60 a month to surf the web via a device not designed for surfing the web. Plus, the battery life would probably nosedive with surfing, and this is likely something Amazon wants to head off, though good luck getting any substance out of Instapundit without following the links.

What about Wikipedia, then? I suspect that you won’t get the newest version of Wikipedia, but rather a version resident on the device, which might update from time to time. Unlike blogs, most Wikipedia pages are just as relevant in last month’s version than today’s. So Amazon can let those connect charges slide. At the very least it’s cache-able, unlike blogs.

Ten years ago, when electronic paper was being researched, concurrent research was going into how to electronically annotate documents. Too bad such “dog earring” abilities aren’t here.

As for brain cancer, some might argue that the reduced telecommunications of the device compares favorably to cell phones (iPhones?) in its brain cancer risk. I don’t know about that. I guess we’ll see down the road.

calbear on November 25, 2007 at 9:12 PM

Sorry, no PDF, no deal…. Personally, I LOATHE the PDF format, but all-things peer reviewed and most tech. lit. is unfortunately in PDF containers…(sigh)

Even more unfortunately, most of that is not tagged, meaning that it will never be able to be reliably reformatted for any page size other than that it was originally designed for. That means that you’re not going to be able to read most documents on any Kindle-sized devices without either scrolling or squinting.

heldmyw on November 25, 2007 at 9:04 PM

A) Clearly, you’re not typical of consumers.

B) The original cell phone was a unitask device. So was the iPod, unless you count the few games that came with it as other “tasks.”

C) The whole point of this device is to be book-like. A laptop turned on its side is a lot of things, but book-like it isn’t. The Kindle has your laptop solution beat on eye strain, weight, and battery life, not to mention aesthetics.

D) Again, I think this is designed so your average Kossack can read his blog if he wants to. Some people are willing to pay a couple of bucks a month for ease and convenience. Call waiting and cable TV aren’t necessary, either, but most people wind up getting them. Likely not you or I, but we’re not “typical consumers.”

I’m guessing they must [charge]; otherwise it’s clearly copyright infringement

Is it? Your cell phone charges for data, be it per kilobyte, per minute, or per month. Why should per-month, per-blog be any different? It seems different because the correspondence between monetizing and content is one-to-one, but why should that make a legal difference?

A kickback, though, might help bloggers push this device, so, copyright or none, Amazon would do well to reward its top content providers.

calbear on November 25, 2007 at 10:22 PM

I like it and find it to be a great first step in the ebook line which has been far behind the music and movie areas. Its a first attempt so while they got some important steps right (the paper display, ability to download wirelessly the books and hold 200+ along with newspaper and magazines) they need to mkae some more strides (more selections, more responsive and faster machine, maybe color e-paper, definitely lower price) before it truly becomes accessible.

Defector01 on November 25, 2007 at 10:25 PM

Presumably it has something to do with the labor involved in translating the format into Kindle’s proprietary code, but that shouldn’t be that difficult thanks to RSS.

They’re the ones who decided on a proprietary storage format instead of supporting HTML/CSS and PDF. If I can’t just shove files in those formats over (via USB or my home WiFi) for free, I won’t be buying one.

The Monster on November 25, 2007 at 11:42 PM

A cold electronic device cannot replace a good book. This is a terrible idea. Our reliance on technology is scary.

gator70 on November 25, 2007 at 11:52 PM

A cold electronic device cannot replace a good book. This is a terrible idea. Our reliance on technology is scary.

gator70

Even if this catches on I don’t see books going up in something akin to Farenheit 451 – did the car lead to a massacre of horses? No, the horse became less used but different and special in its own right instead of just being a transportation. A good paper book will never go out of style and will just become something special. Besides I’ve got a couple of hundred books in my home, I’m not giving those things up for anything.

Defector01 on November 26, 2007 at 12:54 PM