View Full Version : Amazon Kindle might be the worst thing that could happen to e-books?


Bob Russell
11-19-2007, 03:20 PM
Amazon, possibly the biggest name in paper books, has come out with a wonderful new e-book device called the Kindle, which doesn't require a PC to operate. Cellular connectivity lets you buy and download a book from almost anywhere, and you don't even have to pay a monthly fee for the wireless provider. It has potential (especially in future models as prices drop) to gain acceptance by the general public. There is a huge book list of available titles. Free first chapters are available for the books, so you can try before you buy instead of wasting your money on dud books.

In almost every way, this looks like the revolution that e-book lovers have been waiting for. So how can I possibly wonder if this is the worst thing that could happen to e-books?

I'll give you a hint... Amazon has gone out of their way to make sure that you can only buy books from them, and can't use them anywhere else. When you buy a book, you use it on the Kindle or you're out of luck. We're talking about control of content, with format and DRM lock-in as the tool of power. We're on the verge of a future for content that makes you buy the same thing over and over every time you have a new technology.

If you don't want to think about this in more detail, I'd suggest you jump to the end. But in case some of you are interested fanatics, let's take a look at how DRM locks every purchased book into a particular device.

Just imagine if every paper book you owned could only be read using a particular book light. If the light bulb burns out, you have to get a new DRM key from the company that sold you the book, or you can't read it anymore even though you have the book in your possession and you paid for it. That's what it's like with device-based DRM. There are gentler versions, but that's the core idea.

If you want to read the e-book you purchased after you buy a new device you are at the mercy of the seller. Maybe they will allow you some small flexibility like allowing you to upgrade to another newer model of the device, or even use the same reading software on another device. But if you want to change to something else, you're probably out of luck.

Want to keep reading the e-book? You have to buy it again! And again! And again! Is that the best future for e-books? Maybe for publishers (but that's up for debate as they may be cutting off their own arms by limiting the market this way), but definitely not the best scenario for customers. In fact, I'd say it's the worst result. Higher prices and basically all you will get is a book rental. You're only renting the e-book for the period of time you use a particular technology. And we know how fast technology changes. Then you have to lose the use of the e-book or buy it again. Doesn't sound too customer oriented.

Now consider Amazon's plan for the Kindle as I understand it. As it stands now, it looks like you can read other formats on it, maybe requiring a conversion step. That's good. But if you want to buy a modern book for it, you had either find a non-DRM'd book seller like Baen Science Fiction or Steve Jordan Books, or you had better consider your book to be held hostage by your Kindle. You won't be reading it on your PDA.

And you won't even be able to read your purchase of a DRM'd e-book from MobiPocket sellers. That seems to be an innocent statement at first - you can only read non-DRM'd MobiPocket format on the Kindle. But think about it. It's a power play. So like I said earlier, even though Amazon owns MobiPocket, Amazon has gone out of their way to make sure that every book you buy for the Kindle stays there, and that you can't buy anywhere else. If you buy the more common MobiPocket formatted (DRM'd) e-book, you can't read it on the Kindle.

That's power for the seller. And it's trouble for the customer.
If this is the Amazon plan, beware. It's nice in the short run. But in the long run, it might just be the worst possible scenario for readers like you and me.

Is there an alternative? Actually there are two other general roads to the future that give some additional benefits to the consumer. Booksellers are probably going to fight this unless they believe the benefits of a large market outweigh any apparent loss of control over the content.

*) A generic shared DRM future

Imagine if we have DRM controls on e-books, but you can buy one of the standard formats with a standard DRM protection. There are only a few different competing approaches. There is so much of a customer base that you have some comfort level that new technologies will also support some of the existing formats and DRM.

That means you can probably buy books at multiple stores, and price competition should keep prices more reasonable (although the publishers still control pricing on particular titles, so competition is still somewhat limited). More importantly, it allows you to keep using your e-book even when technologies change. Someone is probably going to support the existing format on new devices and platforms.

It's not perfect. Even such a format might end up being worthless 20 years from now, but it sure beats only being able to read a book on one particular device.

Sony is supporting this incrementally better future by indicating its support and partnership with Adobe for ePub. Assuming they don't limit the DRM on e-books to the Sony Reader only, it allows the potential for multiple e-book sellers to sell for the Reader and it allows a purchased e-book to be read even if you don't always use a Sony Reader to read the book. In addition, they allow for several devices on an account to read a purchased book. That is also slightly better than limiting the book to a single device. (In fairness, the same might be true of the Kindle, I just don't know yet.)

eReader format uses a credit card number (stored only as the hash value internally for safety and privacy reasons). The advantage of this is that you or your family members can read the book on any device that supports eReader software. Of course, that's the problem -- the device list is very limited.

So what is the ideal answer for an e-book consumer? This might just be it...

*) A DRM-less e-book future

In this case, the consumer wins, and by making the consumer happy, publishers and writers get rich also due to the explosion of sales and renewed interest in reading.

The danger is the potential for book copying to become so rampant that publishers and authors can't make money on books. The opportunity is for e-book sales to explode, and for consumers to buy an e-book and use it on whatever device they want to read it on, and to say goodbye to the nightmare of incompatible formats or general DRM problems.

Your own version of the future with no DRM probably depends on whether you are a consumer or publisher, whether you believe most people are inherently honest, and whether or not you believe that consumers need to be encouraged or extorted. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but a future of DRM certainly has both elements of opportunity and fear, and I don't think anyone has the definitive answer of what is best or most fair.

But the Amazon vision of the future apparently is not in the consumer's best interest. Kindle supplies a full e-book ecosystem, but it's a very closed ecosystem when it comes to purchased books. You want to buy a modern book? Buy it in Kindle format and you can only read it on a Kindle. Even worse, maybe you can only read it on your Kindle.

So as I said, Amazon might just be the worst thing that can happen to e-books. The Kindle looks like a great device, so I hope I'm wrong. Let's give Amazon a chance to show us the future they are trying to shape. I really, really hope I'm wrong. But the early signs so far are ominous for the general public. E-book fans, hang on to your wallet... you might find it hemorrhaging content loss.

dugbug
11-19-2007, 03:30 PM
when someone buys a "real" book, only the holder of the book can use it anyway.

DRM with books is a little more understandable to me. For one, they have a more reluctant industry that they must passify, and for another books are typically only read once. With music, you hear a song for free on the radio, yet still pay for it later because you want to listen to it again.

-d

mdhuang
11-19-2007, 03:30 PM
Amazon is trying to follow the steps of iTunes+iPod. But at least the iPod supports MP3 from the beginning, while the kindle does not support PDF, the ebook equivalent of MP3 music.

yvanleterrible
11-19-2007, 03:32 PM
Hmmm! Luckily they won't only offer books, there are newspapers in the mix, magazines and blogs. Just for the periodicals alone, the device is great.

Unfortunately no one has tried the device yet at MR. We can not say that the books we have on our computer work or not on the Kindle. Any purchase I would do of such a tool would greatly depend on this. This little keyboard gives me an itch that I fear might be a fatal purchace urge.

Any one know if we can use this to write? Is the USB port active enough to use a full keyboard?

NatCh
11-19-2007, 03:34 PM
... PDF, the ebook equivalent of MP3 music.I'm afraid I can't agree with that notion. :unafraid:

Unlike PDF and e-books, MP3 actually is suited to music. PDF is designed expressly for the purpose of preserving the page layout, that specific design point is totally contrary to e-books where the screen size is necessarily variable. But that's just my opinion, of course. :shrug:

nekokami
11-19-2007, 03:36 PM
1 - Amazon says you can register more than one Kindle to the account, and people can share books that way.

2 - If the Kindle takes off, I predict the DRM and other restrictions will be broken within 3 months, max.

3 - Long term, I think Amazon will end up following Apple's lead, and opening up the Kindle and their Kindle store. They may want to protect their initial hardware investment, but they'll make a lot more money if they open up the system.

CommanderROR
11-19-2007, 03:39 PM
I'd agree with you on some points Bob, however I have to say the following:

We are not dealing with a small outfit here...this is Amazon we are talking about. They give you ebooks and they store them for you on their server. Now, let's assume you buy the Kindle V2 next year, then I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to use your old books again. Amazon would make sure of that.

While it's not nice to be bound to one provider, it is a system that works quite well as long as the provider is big and can stay in business for a long time. Amazon is such a provider and so is Apple. The iTunes store does the same thing for Tunes that the Kindle store does for books.
It gives you lots of convenience and OK prices and all it asks is that you use the whole package. Use the Hardware, use the Software, you can't get one without the other. If the system works well (and iTunes/iPod does work well, at least for me) then it will give a lot of customers what they want and also give the provider the security they want.

Also, the Kindle already offers a few "open" features like support for personal documents (you can get them in different formats and can have them converted from others for free and delivered to your Kindle (for a small fee) or load them onto the device yourself for free). You can also register several Kindle devices to one account, so your family can all share one e-library and several people can read the same book at the same time.

While I do not agree with the whole "closed ecosystem" that Amazon ist trying to force upon us, I'd gladly accept it if it means I get cheap and convenient access to a large selection of ebooks.

What bothers me far more (as I have pointed out a gazillion times today) is that once again there is a new product that could conquer the world but it is restricted to the US market...and this time it is restricted by hardware too, so importing it from the US would severely damage it's usefulness...

yvanleterrible
11-19-2007, 03:40 PM
1 - Amazon says you can register more than one Kindle to the account, and people can share books that way.

2 - If the Kindle takes off, I predict the DRM and other restrictions will be broken within 3 months, max.

3 - Long term, I think Amazon will end up following Apple's lead, and opening up the Kindle and their Kindle store. They may want to protect their initial hardware investment, but they'll make a lot more money if they open up the system.

Agreed. But yet again it is conditional to the terms set with publishers and might not be under their control for the duration of the first deal. Might me more in years than months.

talaivan
11-19-2007, 03:44 PM
Mobipocket has a free conversion utility to its format. It seems to work quite well and supposedly even converts pdf's. One thing no one has mentioned: as far as I know, the Kindle does not allow other fonts (like cyrillic) to be used, while the Sony does. I assume the non-drm'ed material produced by Mobipocket's converter will work on the Kindle. Another issue -- Book Designer for the Sony allows you to format converted material any way you want (margins, font, size, etc.) while the Mobipocket converter does not. Of course, the Sony only gives you 3 possible sizes while the Kindle gives you 6.

da_jane
11-19-2007, 03:44 PM
Can anyone tell us whether the content that is "stored" on Amazon's servers can be retrieved and saved on a harddrive?

Nate the great
11-19-2007, 03:47 PM
Can anyone tell us whether the content that is "stored" on Amazon's servers can be retrieved and saved on a harddrive?

The system does not yet work, but yes I can download it to my PC.

nathantw
11-19-2007, 03:48 PM
Actually, I think the way Amazon is promoting it is bringing awareness to the people. Like the saying goes "any press is good press" whether they're talking good or bad about the item the name is still out there in the world. So any kind of press that brings awareness of E-readers or e-books in general is good press. Why stay nitch when you can get worldwide acceptance instead? Only good can come out of it, right? Well, unless the closed system becomes the defacto standard.

As for the unit itself I read the description and it sounds very, very promising. I like the idea you can get Forbes, the Wall St. Journal and other newspapers and periodicals for a pretty cheap price. Being able to read the first chapter of books is also very, very handy. I hope that Sony comes up with that model when Borders breaks away from Amazon (is that still happening?).

RSaunders
11-19-2007, 03:49 PM
Amazon is trying to follow the steps of iTunes+iPod. But at least the iPod supports MP3 from the beginning, while the kindle does not support PDF, the ebook equivalent of MP3 music.
I disagree. Kindle supports .TXT, that's the equivalent of MP3. It's an open, international standard, that's truly the lowest common denominator. For now, they don't charge to convert your text to their format, unless you want it wirelessly. You can get it back on your PC free, and from there to the Kindle. They could change their mind, if there were 100 Gutenberg books translated for every book they sell. The HMTL formatting they take as input for books-to-sell is as sophisticated as the other reader formats. Presumably we will have tools that make this format out of our own book sources.

PDF is not a good ebook format, even as a lowest common denominator. It's a printing format, for making pbooks.

tirsales
11-19-2007, 03:58 PM
I totally and completely agree to Bob.
This is what I actually wanted to write - and this is why I hope, that the Kindle fails. And that it fails fast and furious.

So: THANKS for this resume! You took my words. Please: Let me be the first to sign a competition to Amazon you wrote - a competition that states what you wrote and asks for either a drm-free or a shared-drm solution.
If Amazon won't give it to us, the law will have to - and nobody wants that solution,

gmanacsa
11-19-2007, 03:59 PM
..snip..

We are not dealing with a small outfit here...this is Amazon we are talking about. They give you ebooks and they store them for you on their server. Now, let's assume you buy the Kindle V2 next year, then I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to use your old books again. Amazon would make sure of that.

..snip..


Amazon has apparently already abandoned purchasers of their DRMd Mobipocket titles with no upward path to the Kindle. Microsoft essentially abandoned purchasers of protected Windows Media music files with no upward path to the Zune.

Amazon will undoubtedly still be around next year, but that's no guarantee that file compatibility or support for any particular DRM format will be.

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 04:02 PM
I'm afraid I can't agree with that notion. :unafraid:

Unlike PDF and e-books, MP3 actually is suited to music. PDF is designed expressly for the purpose of preserving the page layout, that specific design point is totally contrary to e-books where the screen size is necessarily variable. But that's just my opinion, of course. :shrug:

I believe your opinion is shared by anyone that has actually tried to use PDF on 6" devices. It is a technical reality that it does not work well if at all. Reflowing PDF can solve some of the problems but none of the dedicated readers currently support reflow.

At this point the eBook equivalent of mp3 is ... MobiPocket. There are lots of readers available on lots of platforms and the content can be made for free. Kindle can read these books.

Dale

wallcraft
11-19-2007, 04:12 PM
We are not dealing with a small outfit here...this is Amazon we are talking about. They give you ebooks and they store them for you on their server. Now, let's assume you buy the Kindle V2 next year, then I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to use your old books again. Amazon would make sure of that. We already know that Amazon will abandon e-book readers, since they have done it before. They sold Adobe secure e-books and stored them on their server, but they deleted them all from their site one year after dropping the format. I agree that if they make a Kindle V2 they may well allow your content to be moved over, but suppose they decide to discontinue the Kindle line. Then what?

tirsales
11-19-2007, 04:13 PM
Oh and btw: Zune has failed.

MaggieScratch
11-19-2007, 04:15 PM
Hmm...the Kindle seems to be the same physical size as the Cybook, but a little wider. With all the real estate taken up by the keyboard, the screen must be smaller. That could be one of the reasons why no PDF support. This is the e-book reader for Joe & Sue Sixpack, who are intimidated by the idea of syncing a device with a computer, and Amazon probably anticipated a lot of complaints about PDFs being difficult to read.

Not making excuses here, just thinking out loud. Or in print. :-)

I wonder how long it will take for converters to hit the 'net. Though I still think the thinner, lighter, larger-screened Cybook is a winner right now. Oh well, I don't get my holiday bonus for a few more weeks so I have some time to read the early reviews and decide between the Kindle and the Cybook.

NatCh
11-19-2007, 04:16 PM
At this point the eBook equivalent of mp3 is ... MobiPocket. There are lots of readers available on lots of platforms and the content can be made for free. Kindle can read these books.I'd say that a good case can be made that mobi is the closest e-book equivalent to what MP3 is for music, but I'm sure that a case could be made in the other direction too. :shrug:

Over here (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?p=117063#post117063) there's a reference to the Kindle Manual saying that it won't take DRMed mobi files from other vendors. It remains to be seen if it really can't, or if they've just made it complicated. :wink:

Seeing as how a goodly percentage of those who already use mobi (e-books in general, for that matter) wouldn't bat an eyelash at the prospect of finding a way around a barrier if it's not really impossible to do, I'd say that there's a goodly possibility that this may change in the near future. Already ideas to get around it are flying about, but until somebody tries a few of them, we won't know for sure. :shrug:

Of course, that will require access to the hardware, since it only went on sale this morning, I'd give it perhaps a week before we have some idea of whether it's a "real" barrier or just a "we want you to think it's a real barrier" barrier. :nice:

tirsales
11-19-2007, 04:19 PM
And for those hoping for a drm-circumvention: In Germany it is actually illegal to bypass *any kind* of copyright-protection. Whatever senseless it may be - so at least here this would not be a solution.

TheMooch
11-19-2007, 04:19 PM
We already know that Amazon will abandon e-book readers, since they have done it before. They sold Adobe secure e-books and stored them on their server, but they deleted them all from their site one year after dropping the format. I agree that if they make a Kindle V2 they may well allow your content to be moved over, but suppose they decide to discontinue the Kindle line. Then what?

I think comparison with the Adobe eBooks is a little "misguided". Yes they were "Electronic Books", but I don't know that they were ever intended for use on anything other than a computer. I'd be more likely to believe that it was the fault of Adobe more than Amazon. Amazon likley didn't have a whole lot of say in the matter. Adobe likely realized that a PC only book is not really a viable long term solution. From what I can see, they've basically said We've got the format...YOU make it work. Sony decided to try it, but failed miserably IMO.

bingle
11-19-2007, 04:22 PM
I'd say that a good case can be made that mobi is the closest e-book equivalent to what MP3 is for music, but I'm sure that a case could be made in the other direction too.


Perhaps the real problem is that there *isn't* an ebook equivalent of MP3. So far, PDF, TXT, and mobi have been proposed, but none of those are nearly as universal as MP3, and they each have their own problems. PDF preserves all formatting, but can't reflow for different devices. TXT is the opposite - it is flexible and can be displayed on anything, but loses almost all formatting information. (Not to mention images). Mobi is proprietary and closed. (Which, to be fair, MP3 is to a degree).

I think the MP3 of ebooks will arise the same place the MP3 format did - on the back alleys of the Internet, where the most convenient ebook format will be converted and shared, driving people to purchase a reader that supports it.

NatCh
11-19-2007, 04:25 PM
And for those hoping for a drm-circumvention: In Germany it is actually illegal to bypass *any kind* of copyright-protection. Whatever senseless it may be - so at least here this would not be a solution.The approaches discussed so far aren't DRM circumvention, really -- more ways of capturing the information necessary to get files from other stores properly registered so that the DRM works with the device. :nice:

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 04:27 PM
I'd say that a good case can be made that mobi is the closest e-book equivalent to what MP3 is for music, but I'm sure that a case could be made in the other direction too. :shrug:

Over here (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?p=117063#post117063) there's a reference to the Kindle Manual saying that it won't take DRMed mobi files from other vendors. It remains to be seen if it really can't, or if they've just made it complicated. :wink:

I wasn't talking about DRM'd books. Mobi format is both a DRM and a non-DRM format. Only the non-drm is equivalent of mp3. PDF is not an eBook format and was never designed to be one.


Seeing as how a goodly percentage of those who already use mobi (e-books in general, for that matter) wouldn't bat an eyelash at the prospect of finding a way around a barrier if it's not really impossible to do, I'd say that there's a goodly possibility that this may change in the near future. Already ideas to get around it are flying about, but until somebody tries a few of them, we won't know for sure. :shrug:

Of course, that will require access to the hardware, since it only went on sale this morning, I'd give it perhaps a week before we have some idea of whether it's a "real" barrier or just a "we want you to think it's a real barrier" barrier. :nice:

Amazon has made it quite clear that they do not support DRM from MobiPocket. Like every other eBook reader on the planet they only support one DRM format.

Dale

Cogito
11-19-2007, 04:32 PM
Re: the apple/ipod/itunes metaphore: In addition to buying songs on iTunes, one is able to rip CDs from his existing collection (leaving aside stealing music for the moment.) Wouldn’t the equivalent for ebooks be the ability to get all the pbooks in your library into your Kindle or Sony reader? Instead one has to purchase them again (except books in the public domain.) Feels more like having to repurchase a movie on DVD you once owned on VHS, and may buy again on HD-DVD.

NatCh
11-19-2007, 04:35 PM
I wasn't talking about DRM'd books. Mobi format is both a DRM and a non-DRM format.Quite right, sorry, I read more in than you wrote. :smack:

Amazon has made it quite clear that they do not support DRM from MobiPocket. Like every other eBook reader on the planet they only support one DRM format.Yes, that's what they said, but ....

Then we find out that .AZW format is apparently just mobi with a different extension, which suggests that if a DRMed mobi file could be registered to a Kindle's PID (assuming it has one) and its extension changed to .AZW, the poor Kindle might not know it wasn't an "official" Amazon e-book.

Amazon owns MobiPocket, so it's not all that great a leap to wonder if they aren't really using the same format (as they apparently are) and the same DRM, regardless of what they say on the matter -- you know how Marketing guys can be. The befuddling thing to me is why they'd want to even appear to burn that particular bridge (let alone really do so) in the first place. :headscratch:

mores
11-19-2007, 04:41 PM
And for those hoping for a drm-circumvention: In Germany it is actually illegal to bypass *any kind* of copyright-protection. yes, that is why germans still listen to CDs and cassettes and do not ever watch video on their PCs.
:p
i know people who have an MP3 collection that even bill gates could not afford to buy with iTunes. p2p, limewire, shareza, torrentreactor etc.

i say let the kindle launch with a huge bang, let it be available in 500 countries, let it be announced in the news for 3 months without end ... and let this event be the "coming out" for the ebook.
i am sick and tired of people complaining that ebooks are "not real books", i am sick and tired of the same old "i need the smell of paper" and "books are for snuggling up in front of the fireplace, you can't do that with ebooks" phrases. i want the world to see that literature is not dependent on a specific type of medium.

the drm of the kindle will be hacked before it is even out, and it'll be converted to all kinds of things and made to run linux within a few months.
it'll have a gameboy emulator, send emails and surf the web real soon.
:D

jgrnt1
11-19-2007, 04:41 PM
I already own an iLiad, but would consider the Kindle for the additional content and instant wireless. However, I own 40 Mobipocket-DRM books. Not having access to them makes the Kindle a complete no-go for me. It's a shame, since I love Amazon. I'm an Amazon Prime member and buy a lot of stuff from their site.

JAcheson
11-19-2007, 04:46 PM
One of the common uses people bring up for ebook readers is to bring reading material along on travel, particularly on plane flights.

But with the EVDO on this device, would they allow you to use it on a plane?

Just a random thought...

pitcher23
11-19-2007, 04:48 PM
We are not dealing with a small outfit here...this is Amazon we are talking about. They give you ebooks and they store them for you on their server. Now, let's assume you buy the Kindle V2 next year, then I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to use your old books again. Amazon would make sure of that.


I would think so too. Amazons Unbox video service for television shows does this. I have purchased programs from them, deleted them and re-downloaded them with no extra charge. I would think that it would be the same with their Kindle service.

tirsales
11-19-2007, 04:49 PM
@mores: It's not about the "you can't do it".
There should be no need to break a law - however senseless it might be. And telling that an illegal option really negates all those negative points (strict drm etc) .. It just is not an option.

Oh and: However positive your view of Amazon might be - there is NO warranty that they will keep to their kindle format.

Nate the great
11-19-2007, 04:49 PM
One of the common uses people bring up for ebook readers is to bring reading material along on travel, particularly on plane flights.

But with the EVDO on this device, would they allow you to use it on a plane?

Just a random thought...

Yes. The EVDO has it's own on/off switch.

Alisa
11-19-2007, 04:52 PM
I already own an iLiad, but would consider the Kindle for the additional content and instant wireless. However, I own 40 Mobipocket-DRM books. Not having access to them makes the Kindle a complete no-go for me. It's a shame, since I love Amazon. I'm an Amazon Prime member and buy a lot of stuff from their site.

Part of me is tempted by the Kindle for that same reason. I've been a regular, happy customer of Amazon since the early days. I'm a Prime member. I've hardly bought a birthday or xmas present for anyone anywhere other than Amazon in years. I'm really saddened by their decision here to make it so restrictive. I'm looking at the feature set and the content and it even makes me willing to overlook the ugly. That thing would be on it's way to me right now (with my beloved $3.99 Amazon Prime overnight shipping) if I didn't feel like they were trying to lock me down.

MaggieScratch
11-19-2007, 04:54 PM
Alisa, everything you've been saying in your posts is echoing my thoughts.

I LOVE Amazon and buy tons of stuff from them--not just books but movies, music, Amazon Unbox, electronics, clothes, all kinds of stuff, and I am tempted by this device but so disappointed with the restrictions. I'd like to think at some future time they may go away, the way DRM did for iTunes, but do I want to take that chance?

Jack B Nimble
11-19-2007, 04:56 PM
Perhaps the real problem is that there *isn't* an ebook equivalent of MP3. So far, PDF, TXT, and mobi have been proposed, but none of those are nearly as universal as MP3, and they each have their own problems.

Come on, guys. The real ebook equivalent of MP3 is HTML, which is why PG is using it. It is usable on nearly every computer and handheld available, though some do it really well with lots of features, and some are very basic (my mac ebook reader software (Tofu) even allows me to reformat and saves my place when I close it). The only devices you expect to read it and don't are the Sony ones, which force you to convert HTML files -- that sounds a lot like Sony's approach to MP3 on their early music players as I recall. It just extends the metaphor. :grin2:

Jack

TheMooch
11-19-2007, 04:58 PM
One of the common uses people bring up for ebook readers is to bring reading material along on travel, particularly on plane flights.

But with the EVDO on this device, would they allow you to use it on a plane?

Just a random thought...

It would be subject to the same paranoid delusions of "you're gonna crash us" as any other electronic device>

kovidgoyal
11-19-2007, 04:59 PM
Come on, guys. The real ebook equivalent of MP3 is HTML, which is why PG is using it. It is usable on nearly every computer and handheld available, though some do it really well with lots of features, and some are very basic (my mac ebook reader software (Tofu) even allows me to reformat and saves my place when I close it). The only devices you expect to read it and don't are the Sony ones, which force you to convert HTML files -- that sounds a lot like Sony's approach to MP3 on their early music players as I recall. It just extends the metaphor. :grin2:

Jack

HTML by itself is not good enough, you need the ability to embed images for instance, which really means some sort of container format.

tsgreer
11-19-2007, 05:00 PM
I just noticed that they now have "91,269" kindle books on now. Just the sheer number of books that they will end up having should drive competition. I think that this will make the publishers realize that their IS a market for ebooks. So I think the Amazon is a good thing, the DRM situation will work itself out eventually. Hopefully. :)

JerryEF
11-19-2007, 05:02 PM
While I agree with many of the points initially raised, I suspect that this may be the best thing to happen to ebooks. One of the several reasons that ebooks have not been more successful is they require certain amount of computer competence to get everything working correctly. While this may all have been a major non-event for those of us who are computer savvy. For the average guy on the street who has a hard enough time keeping up with his email and web browsing software, it has been too much to expect. Along comes Amazon with a (pub-ugly) device that makes the ebook purchasing process a simple and seamless process. The ipod experience showed us that it is possible to simplify a process that had been way too out there for the average Joe. Amazon, I hope, will do the same for ebooks.

The DRM issues drive me nuts too. On the other hand, my wire, sister, children, in-laws and most of my friends have no idea what DRMs, PDFs, PRCs or .ePubs are and don’t really care to know. They have seen me reading with various dedicated and non-dedicated ebook readers over the years and have been intrigued. Limited titles (becoming lass and less of an issue as time has moved on), and technical silliness have kept all of them stuck in the 19th and 20th century paper books. Some of them have made the leap to ipods because the process was made very simple by Apple.

My wife is waiting to see my Kindle to show up (tomorrow!!!) and she may be willing to join in if it is all as advertised. She had no questions about PDF compatibility, DRM or other geeky crap that many of focus on. She wanted to know if she could get many of the books on the Oprah list. She buys books now on Amazon with one-click and loves it. I showed her the new Kindle format on the book pages and how she would only have to OneClick on it and the book would magically appear on her ebook reader. If it is that simple, and Amazon can keep get the publishers to provide more and more books in eformat, this simplicity will sell the concept. We can only all prey that eventually Amazon will release a version that is a little easier on the eye, and maybe more open to other formats … but, hopefully, that may only be a concern for those of that may then turn out to be on the fringe.

TheMooch
11-19-2007, 05:05 PM
While I agree with many of the points initially raised, I suspect that this may be the best thing to happen to ebooks. <Remainder removed for brevity's sake>

Well said. I agree completely.

tsgreer
11-19-2007, 05:08 PM
While I agree with many of the points initially raised, I suspect that this may be the best thing to happen to ebooks. One of the several reasons that ebooks have not been more successful is they require certain amount of computer competence to get everything working correctly. While this may all have been a major non-event for those of us who are computer savvy. For the average guy on the street who has a hard enough time keeping up with his email and web browsing software, it has been too much to expect....

I agree with your post totally. Us techies may complain, but the average joe user can just click on a book, and read it without having to get on the computer. The ease of use is a great thing. The first think my girlfriend asked was if she had to do all the "conversion thingies" to read a book on here--she's seen me have to do that for my Sony.

I told her no and that she could shop right from the device. Now she wants one--this is the market they are appealing to, not us.:unafraid:

Alisa
11-19-2007, 05:10 PM
LOL @ "pub-ugly". So how many beers will it take for this to be "pub-beautiful"?

kovidgoyal
11-19-2007, 05:16 PM
@JerryEF
You raise a good point, however, I think the amazon kindle is going to be a far greater thing for Amazon ebooks than ebooks in general. Indeed, it's likely to adversely impact the cause of e-books simply from the fact that they are refusing to standardize on an ebook format, which means more pain for people producing ebooks and people consuming ebooks.

Sure, it will raise the visibility of ebooks, but I think ebooks were going to succeed even without Amazon and in the long run, they are simply delaying the day when the tower of babel can be collapsed, all to make a fast buck. And then they wax pompous about how they are ushering in the greatest revolution in book reading since gutenberg.

dugbug
11-19-2007, 05:28 PM
LOL @ "pub-ugly". So how many beers will it take for this to be "pub-beautiful"?

heh, a lot.

But having the design explained to us clears up a lot. Its thicker on one end and tapered on another to feel like you are holding a paperback. The keyboard is ment to be out of the way during reading, but provide note taking and searching features when needed.
-d

tcv
11-19-2007, 05:33 PM
After the iPod, how much more open is that world? A lot of these points fit squarely with the original iPod and iTunes combination. The most "innovation" we've seen is other players ability to play un-encumbered AAC.

Still, if you've an iPod, you've got to use iTunes. Sure, you can bring in other formats, but it's still an Apple world.

(Ok, ok, you can install a Linux-based O/S on the iPod and run anything, but, c'mon, I'm talking about the majority of consumers.)

And, what's more, it seems that most people don't care. iPods still fly off the shelves. iTunes is still the most popular store online. Yeah, users know something about the limitations, but they don't care.

We care, but how much of the population do we represent?

m

slayda
11-19-2007, 05:41 PM
While I agree with many of the points initially raised, I suspect that this may be the best thing to happen to ebooks. One of the several reasons that ebooks have not been more successful is they require certain amount of computer competence to get everything working correctly.


I kind of agree. Like the Mac is the PC for the rest of y'all, maybe the Kindle is the ebook reader for the rest of y'all.

However, having some computer competence, I would prefer a more open SW/HW ebook reader. Maybe it won't be too long before it is hacked with an equivalent to "Book Designer" developed for it.:book2:

AnemicOak
11-19-2007, 05:41 PM
We care, but how much of the population do we represent?

Very true.


I'm on my 3rd IPod (use it for hours every day) & have never purchased a single item from iTunes, but I'm quite sure I'm in the minority.

tirsales
11-19-2007, 05:48 PM
Yes, the normal user doesn't care about DRM especially not if sold as nicely (and even more braindead than normal DRM). But does this make this kind of bullshit any better? No, it does not. By bullshit I mean this closed proprietary systems. And senseless decision like creation a new DRM-format if you have an existing one - a nice one - by the hand.
And - in the long run - average joe *will* see why it was a very, very bad thing to support.

Oh: And the average joe user doesn't care about things like backups - nevertheless they need them. They don't care about peoples rights - but they need them.
I never meant a "non-drm-system" as the only solution, but at least a "common and shared" one. Not some kind of "one device, one reseller"-crap.

Alisa
11-19-2007, 05:50 PM
Very true.


I'm on my 3rd IPod (use it for hours every day) & have never purchased a single item from iTunes, but I'm quite sure I'm in the minority.

Yep. I don't have an iPod and all my music is in .ogg but my dad, who never touched a computer until a few years ago doesn't want anything for xmas or his birthday but iTunes credits for his. He wouldn't want to have to convert files or find his PID. He just wants to buy the book and read the book.

yvanleterrible
11-19-2007, 05:53 PM
Very true.


I'm on my 3rd IPod (use it for hours every day) & have never purchased a single item from iTunes, but I'm quite sure I'm in the minority.

You're not alone, I've used iTunes for the last three years and never bought a tune. I just think it's a great jukebox for the jazz I have that they don't sell. I plugged the computer on the shop PA and I let iTunes do its magic all day with never a dupicate played; there is enough to run for 20 days. Find a radio station that'll do that!

tompe
11-19-2007, 05:59 PM
Its thicker on one end and tapered on another to feel like you are holding a paperback.

I do not get this. I just tried to hold a paperback but do not see how one end is thicker.

jasonkchapman
11-19-2007, 06:01 PM
I do not get this. I just tried to hold a paperback but do not see how one end is thicker.

Curl the left-hand page back behind the book and read the right-hand page. I think that's what they were going for.

NatCh
11-19-2007, 06:02 PM
While I agree with many of the points initially raised, I suspect that this may be the best thing to happen to ebooks ....Excellent first post, JerryEF -- you clearly know how to make an entrance!

tompe
11-19-2007, 06:06 PM
Curl the left-hand page back behind the book and read the right-hand page. I think that's what they were going for.

But persons that destroy books that way are evil persons and I thought they were a very small minority...

GregS
11-19-2007, 06:08 PM
I have no idea about the general market, but I would not buy anything that enslaves me to a particular publisher, nor anything that locks my books to a particular vendor, or is DRMed and cannot be de-DRMed.

I still have the books I read in Primary school - and I am 50 years old, I have some of my father's books, old books I bought some over 100 years old.

My library is my pride and joy, but I am not addicted to paper or any other technology, but to the content of these marvellous treasures. Content!

One of my prized books, is small, less than 100 pages, practically self published, largely unknown, and absolutely, in its area, brilliant. How with a Kindle would I ever have such a book?

Is Amzon.com trying to set itself up as the ultimate power over content? It seems this is its ambition, and I say no way, never.

A big mistake, if what is being said is true, a really big mistake.

edsohsmith
11-19-2007, 06:22 PM
I think a lot of people are rationalizing away some of the drawbacks here. No DRM Mobi support. No reading Amazon titles on other readers. No PDF support. No self conversions. Completely locked system.

If a real drawback to the furthering of ebooks as a viable alternative is the "Tower of Ebable", then I do not see how the initial incarnation of the Kindle can be seen as anything besides a disaster. Saying that DRM lock down does not matter to the average uniformed Joe is missing the point. DRM is bad for customers whether they initially feel it or not.

AnemicOak
11-19-2007, 06:25 PM
No self conversions.

Not sure what you mean here. You can download software from Mobi & convert stuff yourself to non-DRM'd Mobi files & then read it on the Kindle.

igorsk
11-19-2007, 06:41 PM
I just noticed that they now have "91,269" kindle books on now. Just the sheer number of books that they will end up having should drive competition. I think that this will make the publishers realize that their IS a market for ebooks. So I think the Amazon is a good thing, the DRM situation will work itself out eventually. Hopefully. :)
Many of them are not really books but articles and such.

Zoot
11-19-2007, 07:16 PM
I don't have any problem with the DRM issues for the Kindle. I own a Sony Reader and ordered a Kindle this morning which will be here tomorrow.

The only real difference I see is that you can't read the books on a PC as well as the reader device. Other than that the specs and the DRM limitations are almost exactly the same.

The major issue is simply the price and the fact that you're not going to replace paperback books universally with a $400 device. So will Amazon still be selling these and will I still be able to read the books I've bought in 1, 2 3+ years? Who knows.

I will say that in the iPod analogy there's one way that the Amazon Kindle is better than iTunes and iPod. On my iPod probably 90% of the content came from CDs I owned before there was an iPod. The remaining 10% is everything I could find on the iTunes store that I didn't own that I wanted to listen to. I would *love* to buy more music but honestly it's virtually all crap these days. At least with Amazon I look at their initially available catalog for the Kindle and I can see a huge number of books that I might be interested in reading.

I really like reading on my Sony Reader and having the free wireless is going to be really nice. So I'm happy to support Amazon's bold venture, whether or not they make it in the long term.

Consider also that the price for the reader may go down, or might become subsidized (buy N books in a one year period, pay for some premium EV-DO subscription that includes email, etc.), that the book catalog will likely expand both into new and older titles, and that new capabilities and features may be only an (automatic forced) software update away.

People moan about PDF support but the two attempts I made to read PDF files on the Sony sent me fleeing in terror. PDF on a book reader is not practical until we have displays that can display 8.5x11 at 150dpi or better IMHO.

I think the Kindle is a step in the right direction, and while it may not be the "tipping point" device, it will take us a long way in that direction by introducing the technology to perhaps more people than all the similar devices made so far.

So far Amazon is doing this up right. Their store is well done (unlike Sony's) and the process is totally painless. When you order a Kindle they automatically register the device to your Amazon account, assign it a name "Bob's Kindle" etc. based on your Amazon account info, and even before it arrives you can start buying books and subscriptions which will appear on the device like magic within minutes of turning it on for the first time. It will start out with the same one-click buying options as your Amazon account.

I've already bought my first book, assigned the device an email address, and it hasn't even gotten on the FedEx truck yet.

Z.

tirsales
11-19-2007, 07:28 PM
*grml* I didn't want to write here anymore ... NTL:

Yes, they did many things right - which is EXACTLY why it bothers me, that they did so many things completely wrong.
1. WHY THE HELL a new format? Mobipocket is nice, why not keep this? This would allow more people to read their books - people who already own a Reader would either buy the Kindle (no matter of the DRM/Format) or won't, it wouldn't cut down their Kindle-sales but would increase their book sales.
2. See 1
3. WHY ONLY IN THE US? Their is no reason for this
4. WHY Whispernet?
5. Why not add some simple converters (e.g. PDF)?
6. The point "Kindle reader on the PC" would not be a point if Point 1 would have been taken in view.

These are very simple to fix points. In fact it would probably had been easier to create a Kindle WITHOUT those screwed up points.

Why get a few nice things - but don't go the complete path? Why try some things and f**k up the rest so completely???

Oh well .. Whatever.

Without those very simple points it would have been a good device, perhaps even the tipping points. Now - it is just another example of a company being braindead and (hopefully) screwing up.

Monteagle
11-19-2007, 08:05 PM
Instinct tells us that a big outfit like Amazon is a good place to store books on their server. That's dead wrong. A year ago, Amazon very quietly and unilaterally deleted the ebook bookshelves of tens of thousands of ebook customers that had been buying from them for years. No explanation was given.

Two months ago, Amazon's Mobipocket server went down in Paris. It stayed down for ten days during which no one could download their Mobipocket ebooks.

Yet, in spite of this very recent history, Amazon wants us to believe in the warm comfort of their servers to offload these books since one audiobook might use up ALL the space available on it.

Bottom-line: Amazon has no loyalty to ebook customers, only to its profit center. If Kindle stumbles, then the buyers of the device and the books that go on it may well have nothing but bad memories.

As to the 9.99 price, the publishers should be driving this for ebooks themselves, but they're not. Instead, Amazon is pricing well below cost in most cases, undermining other honorable ebook retailers that have stuck it out through all the device mis-steps. Under other Justice Departments, this violated a range of anti-trust conditions. It will be interesting to see if the current one has the courage to step in. Amazon is guilty of predatory pricing as the dominant market player in books. They want to reduce the consuemr to only one choice for ebooks: Amazon. Then, if Amazon stays in the ebook business, it will be interesting how quickly that "free" whispernet service starts costing every one $30 per month. Some folks can still remember when basic cable TV was free.

We should support the smaller ebook retailers that have to care about the individual customer (because they don't have the Amazon war chest to replace lost customers by buying more). BooksOnBoard, Fictionwise, eReader.com, to name a few. BooksOnBoard seems to have matched - and in some cases beaten - Amazon Kindle pricing for now. Fictionwise also does this with many of their titles.

dugbug
11-19-2007, 08:06 PM
3. WHY ONLY IN THE US? Their is no reason for this
4. WHY Whispernet?




Well OBVIOUSLY they are a US-based company, wanted to have a cellular-based solution nation-wide, and made a deal with a carrier that required no contract (ie: book sales cover the cost of the delivery mechanism). Why the hell not be only in the US for now? The majority of their sales are in the US, the majority of their customers are in the US.

Im sure we will see one in Germany there is some Europe-wide wireless deal that can be made.

Zoot
11-19-2007, 08:15 PM
Kindle books are not $9.99 the way iTunes tracks are $0.99. There are many many Kindle books that cost less than that (or more than that). They're just saying that they'll try to make everything on the bestseller list cost no more than that when they can get away with it, which isn't too bad a price (once you get past the idea that ebooks ever cost more than like $1).

As far as it being yet another proprietary format, that appears to be wrong. As far as I can tell the format *is* Mobipocket completely, just with the DRM setup so that *currently* you can only decrypt the books on a Kindle. If the format is successful then there's no *technical* reason why they couldn't be enabled for reading with Mobipocket reader, etc.

Z.

tirsales
11-19-2007, 08:15 PM
The majority of their customers are in the US? Are you really sure? Well, I would guess that Amazon sells more books outside the US than inside, though I have no figures to prove that.
Oh and: There is a US-wide GPRS/UMTS, which is also supported elsewhere. So there really is NO reason to use other niche techniques ... And don't tell me that there are no GPRS-carriers willing to break a similar deal ...

Yes, they are a US-based company and they make the same mistakes tons of companys do: They ignore the rest of the world. Why?
One content customes is three customers won - one discontent customer is seven customers lost. Make your own calculations...
And yes, it is their right to sell only inside the US. But it is stupid.

@Zoot: There is no *technical* reason - agreed. But there is no *technical* reason to use a different format at all - so it is all down to marketing. And right now we see Amazons marketing strategy.

TallMomof2
11-19-2007, 08:16 PM
I'm a big Fictionwise customer and will continue to be one. I'll simply keep my purchases to non-DRM .PRC titles from now on. I have many DRM .PRC titles and also eReader .PDB titles that will have to be read on my T|X for now. If I really desire a new DRM title I'll look for it on Amazon.

Yes it's a huge pain in the posterior. I remember going through the same mess going from LP to 8-track to cassette to CD. Also VHS (never did Beta) to DVD. It's aggravating and costly for the consumer but at least I had options where I could record from the original media to the newer media, well except for 8-track :D

Now there is no option except to read on the old system or (when possible) repurchase the books in the new format. :( I don't like it but I wanted a eInk device and I like the look of the Kindle and the features. (Yes, I'm in the minority but that retro look appeals to me.)

tompe
11-19-2007, 08:30 PM
Well OBVIOUSLY they are a US-based company, wanted to have a cellular-based solution nation-wide, and made a deal with a carrier that required no contract (ie: book sales cover the cost of the delivery mechanism). Why the hell not be only in the US for now? The majority of their sales are in the US, the majority of their customers are in the US.

Im sure we will see one in Germany there is some Europe-wide wireless deal that can be made.

I have always looked at Amazon as global company and that that was an important part of their dentity. From the start there was no problem buying books from anywhere in the world. So restricting book selling to one country is not consistent with how I viewed Amazon. Maybe they do not want to sell paper books to the rest of the world either or?

Monteagle
11-19-2007, 08:30 PM
Amazon's far more likely to shut Mobipocket down than to enable Kindle reading with Mobipocket Reader. I don't think I would buy any more Mobipocket ebooks. The Kindle cannot read or convert DRM Mobipocket ebooks so its loyal Mobipocket customers cannot buy the device and transfer over.

... And Amazon does shut things down as they did with ALL ebooks a year ago. They only have five people working in the Mobipocket Paris office. And when their server went down, they left the French guys hanging and down for ten solid days.

This is a play for control and complete dominance, pure and simple. Amazon wants to end up dictating how much we pay for books, who gets to sell them, which authors get promoted, etc.

You can best judge future behavior by monitoring past behavior. With Amazon, the last year alone tells the story. My bet: They will wind down Mobipocket over the next year and they will start charging for use of WhisperNet by next Christmas.

A $99 device that can read all formats is the way to go. That can happen... except it probably won't read Sony or Kindle because Amazon and Sony won't let it. So that rules out Sony, Kindle and Mobipocket. Leaves Adobe and eReader, and Microsoft, but Microsoft seems already out of play with its format. Let's hope Adobe's up to the task. They allegedly have mobile solutions coming for Digital Editions soon. That will help - a lot.

Sebastiano
11-19-2007, 08:37 PM
Last week I was in doubt, but happily now it's clear which device to buy. Around Christmas I will be a glad owner of a new CyBook.

:)

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 08:38 PM
@JerryEF
You raise a good point, however, I think the amazon kindle is going to be a far greater thing for Amazon ebooks than ebooks in general. Indeed, it's likely to adversely impact the cause of e-books simply from the fact that they are refusing to standardize on an ebook format, which means more pain for people producing ebooks and people consuming ebooks.

Sure, it will raise the visibility of ebooks, but I think ebooks were going to succeed even without Amazon and in the long run, they are simply delaying the day when the tower of babel can be collapsed, all to make a fast buck. And then they wax pompous about how they are ushering in the greatest revolution in book reading since gutenberg.

I am not sure I agree. Amazon is using a standard at the publisher level. mobipocket can use epub (or will shortly) and Amazon is using the same source. Anyone who jumps on the epub bandwagon will aid in the eBook effort standardization on the part of publishers. The end format is not of any concern to the publishers, only to the retailers.

Dale

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 08:41 PM
While I agree with many of the points initially raised, I suspect that this may be the best thing to happen to ebooks. One of the several reasons that ebooks have not been more successful is they require certain amount of computer competence to get everything working correctly. While this may all have been a major non-event for those of us who are computer savvy. For the average guy on the street who has a hard enough time keeping up with his email and web browsing software, it has been too much to expect. Along comes Amazon with a (pub-ugly) device that makes the ebook purchasing process a simple and seamless process. The ipod experience showed us that it is possible to simplify a process that had been way too out there for the average Joe. Amazon, I hope, will do the same for ebooks.


Actually Gemstar had this feature, although it was a bit ahead of its time. You only had to plug in the unit to a telephone line. No computer required.

Dale

dugbug
11-19-2007, 08:49 PM
I have always looked at Amazon as global company and that that was an important part of their dentity. From the start there was no problem buying books from anywhere in the world. So restricting book selling to one country is not consistent with how I viewed Amazon. Maybe they do not want to sell paper books to the rest of the world either or?


North American sales for amazon (in all categories: media, electronics, etc) are larger than the rest of the world combined (for amazon, mind you). Not by much, but enough. Its all there in their financial reports.

Im sure they want to bring a kindle to the rest of their customers, but they had a great deal with sprint, a US carrier, and are focusing on the market they know the best. People are just pissed off because they want the experiment to take place on their home turf first.

The playstation 2 launched in japan first, so did the game cube. Just relax, it will make it over.


-d

Sebastiano
11-19-2007, 08:49 PM
I have no idea about the general market, but I would not buy anything that enslaves me to a particular publisher, nor anything that locks my books to a particular vendor, or is DRMed and cannot be de-DRMed.

I still have the books I read in Primary school - and I am 50 years old, I have some of my father's books, old books I bought some over 100 years old.

Yes, I could subscribe every word. The oldest books I own are from the 17. century, some from 18., many from the 19., 20. and some from the 21., many from my grandfather or grand-grandfather. Even if I'm aware that the life of digital books generally will be much shorter -- what a silly idea to bind oneself to the grace of one particular company?

Ts, ts, ts.

Sebastian

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 08:52 PM
I kind of agree. Like the Mac is the PC for the rest of y'all, maybe the Kindle is the ebook reader for the rest of y'all.

However, having some computer competence, I would prefer a more open SW/HW ebook reader. Maybe it won't be too long before it is hacked with an equivalent to "Book Designer" developed for it.:book2:

You can use Book Designer already. Save in MobiPocket format and it will work fine.

Dale

kovidgoyal
11-19-2007, 08:53 PM
I am not sure I agree. Amazon is using a standard at the publisher level. mobipocket can use epub (or will shortly) and Amazon is using the same source. Anyone who jumps on the epub bandwagon will aid in the eBook effort standardization on the part of publishers. The end format is not of any concern to the publishers, only to the retailers.

Dale

Note I didn't say publishers, I said "people producing ebooks", by which I meant distributors (in particular those that distribute non DRM versions) and power end users, who will presumably have to maintain a catalog of ebooks in multiple formats.

I wish Amazon had taken the very little additional trouble to support an actual open ebook format, especially since they've taken the trouble to support HTML. Actually, the fact that they don't support epub/oebps leads me to suspect their HTML support is very limited.

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 09:00 PM
Note I didn't say publishers, I said "people producing ebooks", by which I meant distributors (in particular those that distribute non DRM versions) and power end users, who will presumably have to maintain a catalog of ebooks in multiple formats.

I wish Amazon had taken the very little additional trouble to support an actual open ebook format, especially since they've taken the trouble to support HTML. Actually, the fact that they don't support epub/oebps leads me to suspect their HTML support is very limited.

There is no reason to support amazons format any more that you support LRX. MobiPocket works fine. You just make .mobi files like always. You can sell Mobi pocket non-DRM for the Kindle. you can use the pc program to convert PDF files. You seem to not realize that internally this is MobiPocket and the HTML support is the same as MobiPocket.

Dale

Barcey
11-19-2007, 09:07 PM
Both Sony and now Amazon are trying to emulate the Apple iTunes model but they're only seeing the model through the greedy eyes of a corporation. They've failed to see how Apple managed to get to where they are.

When I bought my original iPod I could import my existing CD library at no cost. I could also continue to buy CD's from other music stores (if I wanted to) but it was easier to buy from iTunes. If I did buy from iTunes they allowed me to burn it to a CD. In other words they threw me enough bones and gave me enough leash that I ended up eating the dog food and now my music library is all on iTunes. They also haven't upset me enough to consider going through the effort of converting it.

Amazon has demonstrated zero good faith with this model. Their interpretation of fairplay is play by our rules and you can't buy from anyone else. I can't see how this can succeed.

groch
11-19-2007, 09:20 PM
I ordered a Kindle today, before knowing this forum existed. What I have read thus far confirms my decision.

I understand how anyone who has invested in an e-reading Sony, or iliad or other device would be upset that the Kindle is not compatible. However, the current market in e-books is far different than the music market when Apple introduced the iPod.

CDs were a huge mass market....and a large number of people were already converting them to MP3. This has never been the case with e-books, and I know of no way to easily convert the mass market reading format (print) to any ebook format.

I bought today because for the first time eBooks cost less than print, and because they promise a wide variety of titles. I think that will be most important to most new buyers, and in the eBook market, generating new buyers is what is most important to Amazon, and I expect to the future of eBooks.

George

kovidgoyal
11-19-2007, 09:23 PM
There is no reason to support amazons format any more that you support LRX. MobiPocket works fine. You just make .mobi files like always. You can sell Mobi pocket non-DRM for the Kindle. you can use the pc program to convert PDF files. You seem to not realize that internally this is MobiPocket and the HTML support is the same as MobiPocket.

Dale

Just because Sony did something wrong is no justification for Amazon doing something wrong. And mobipocket has no cross platform customizable, open source converter, which means for someone like me, it's a dead-end format unless I take the trouble to write the converter.

I've been looking over mobipocket and its not HTML, its a proprietary customization of HTML, for example, to specify text indent on a paragraph you have to use the width attribute on a <p> tag which is not part of the HTML spec. It doesn't support CSS. Even microsoft's .lit format is superior technically to mobi and is more usable thanks to the guys at convertlit. And when I say more usable I mean one can convert both to and from it, on multiple platforms. I don't care about DRM.

Another problem is that .mobi is a technically inferior format. This is because it was designed originally for very low performace devices with very small screens. Witness the numerous threads on images in mobipocket in this forum.

So to summarize, if Amazon cared about the device rather than about selling books, they should have added support for a decent, open ebook format.

Andy Baird
11-19-2007, 09:30 PM
"PDF is designed expressly for the purpose of preserving the page layout, that specific design point is totally contrary to e-books where the screen size is necessarily variable."

I couldn't agree more. PDF is very poorly suited to ebooks. Almost any other format (e.g., RTF) is a better choice.

Andy Baird
http://www.andybaird.com/travels/

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 09:30 PM
Just because Sony did something wrong is no justification for Amazon doing something wrong. And mobipocket has no cross platform customizable, open source converter, which means for someone like me, it's a dead-end format unless I take the trouble to write the converter.

I've been looking over mobipocket and its not HTML, its a proprietary customization of HTML, for example, to specify text indent on a paragraph you have to use the width attribute on a <p> tag which is not part of the HTML spec. It doesn't support CSS. Even microsoft's .lit format is superior technically to mobi and is more usable thanks to the guys at convertlit. And when I say more usable I mean one can convert both to and from it, on multiple platforms. I don't care about DRM.

Another problem is that .mobi is a technically inferior format. This is because it was designed originally for very low performace devices with very small screens. Witness the numerous threads on images in mobipocket in this forum.

So to summarize, if Amazon cared about the device rather than about selling books, they should have added support for a decent, open ebook format.

With this data, I agree. Mobi is pretty old format although they do a creator program that is free that can be used to convert files. It has a command line mode. They have promised to support epub at the source level but the creator program certainly does not so far. The fact that they use Mobi should be no big surprise to anybody. Why would they buy a company and then use another format? The image support is better if you use there jpeg option on the command line of the creator program and the source can specify a larger image.

Dale

yvanleterrible
11-19-2007, 09:33 PM
I ordered a Kindle today, before knowing this forum existed. What I have read thus far confirms my decision.

I understand how anyone who has invested in an e-reading Sony, or iliad or other device would be upset that the Kindle is not compatible. However, the current market in e-books is far different than the music market when Apple introduced the iPod.

CDs were a huge mass market....and a large number of people were already converting them to MP3. This has never been the case with e-books, and I know of no way to easily convert the mass market reading format (print) to any ebook format.

I bought today because for the first time eBooks cost less than print, and because they promise a wide variety of titles. I think that will be most important to most new buyers, and in the eBook market, generating new buyers is what is most important to Amazon, and I expect to the future of eBooks.

GeorgeWelcome to Mobile Read groch!

Ebooks have been around for a long time. If you think of it closely, every book has to go through an electronic phase for print, it's only natural that it lives this way for us to appreciate. There have been numerous ebook readers in the past and most of them have partially failed for numerous reasons. But it's coming back now since the introduction of eink. Browse through the site, do searches, use our excellent Wiki section and you'll find all about ebooks and their associated devices around here. And beware... there is a lot to read! :smiley2:
Have fun!

kovidgoyal
11-19-2007, 09:45 PM
It will be interesting to see how comprehensive the HTML support is. Will it support CSS? links to other files on the filesystem? links to images? Will it pre-paginate the HTML file? What will the layout and rendering performance be like?

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 09:51 PM
It will be interesting to see how comprehensive the HTML support is. Will it support CSS? links to other files on the filesystem? links to images? Will it pre-paginate the HTML file? What will the layout and rendering performance be like?

Pagination is an interesting issue. The Kindle seems to have adopted a different strategy on the pagination issue. If you read their manual they talk about some arbitrary digital numbering scheme that survives font size changes. I am not sure what triggers the number to change. At first I thought it was paragraphs but I am not sure. Does look interesting to investigate. If you look at the manual you will see that the page is a range of numbers.

Dale

jharker
11-19-2007, 09:54 PM
I don't see what all the DRM hooraw is about. Sure, the Kindle supports a DRMed format, but it also natively supports popular non-DRM formats. Look at the parallel:
Kindle iPod
+-------------------+
DRM | azw | m4p |
+----------+--------+
non-DRM | mobi | mp3 |
+----------+--------+

There's nothing stopping you from keeping your whole library in mobi format on your computer and updating to the Kindle by USB, in the same way that many people never buy from iTunes, keeping their music library in mp3 files.

If you don't trust Amazon, you don't have to go through them. Use the Kindle like you'd use an iPod. You still get these bonuses: Free Wikipedia wherever you are Easy file searching Built-in dictionary lookup Note taking BookmarkingNo other e-reader offers anything close to all those features built-in.

But the ease of wirelessly buying and downloading books and newspapers directly from Amazon is what will sell this to the average user and make it take off in a larger sense. We enthusiasts may be big in heart, but we're small in numbers. The Kindle is designed for the average user, not us.

And just like iTunes, with increasing popularity Amazon will eventually sell books without DRM restriction, probably for a small price markup.

The rising tide of the Kindle+Amazon combo will eventually improve and open up the e-book business, in exactly the same way that the DRMed iPod+iTunes combo changed music publishing.

jharker
11-19-2007, 09:57 PM
A couple of details:

The Kindle supports mobi and txt natively. However, html and doc formats are NOT native and must be converted. Curiously, the Kindle user manual doesn't mention PDF support in any context.

As for criticism of mobi as a technically inferior format, please point out to me a decent open-standards format that is more commonly used for ebooks than mobi is. Like it or not, mobi is the de facto standard at the moment.

kovidgoyal
11-19-2007, 10:04 PM
A couple of details:
As for criticism of mobi as a technically inferior format, please point out to me a decent open-standards format that is more commonly used for ebooks than mobi is. Like it or not, mobi is the de facto standard at the moment.

That's the point, there isn't one and Amazon is doing its best to make sure there never will be one. But as far as technically suprior formats for ebooks are concerned, a simple zip file with a opf file in it and HTML files for content would be superior. That's essentially what mobi is except that for legacy reasons they use a non-standard HTML variant.

DaleDe
11-19-2007, 10:05 PM
A couple of details:

The Kindle supports mobi and txt natively. However, html and doc formats are NOT native and must be converted via Amazon. Curiously, the Kindle user manual doesn't mention PDF support in any context.

As for criticism of mobi as a technically inferior format, please point out to me a decent open-standards format that is more commonly used for ebooks than mobi is. Like it or not, mobi is the de facto standard at the moment.

You can easily use the MobiReader on the pc to import all the formats including PDF. No need for the Amazon converter.

Dale

delphidb96
11-19-2007, 10:56 PM
A couple of details:

The Kindle supports mobi and txt natively. However, html and doc formats are NOT native and must be converted. Curiously, the Kindle user manual doesn't mention PDF support in any context.

As for criticism of mobi as a technically inferior format, please point out to me a decent open-standards format that is more commonly used for ebooks than mobi is. Like it or not, mobi is the de facto standard at the moment.

Well. Actually. You see... The Kindle does *NOT* support .mobi directly. Nope. Users are reporting that html, doc and prc/mobi files (except for .txt) are getting translated into .azw. Which has it's own proprietary DRM crud.

Derek

Barcey
11-19-2007, 11:01 PM
I ordered a Kindle today, before knowing this forum existed. What I have read thus far confirms my decision.



Welcome groch. I sincerely hope you enjoy your new Kindle and I'm sure you made the correct decision for your own needs. I'm sure you'll enjoy the e Ink display and many other fine features on the Kindle. I hope that you or anyone else who purchased a Kindle don't take my comments personally. I was just hoping that Amazon in good faith would allow their customers to purchase books from other companies and to sell ebooks that could be read on other vendors readers.

The Kindle is the correct choice for many people's needs but I think it would have met many more people's needs with a slightly different sales model and that would have been good for the whole industry.

Let us know what you think when you receive your Kindle and enjoy the forum.

robhedin
11-19-2007, 11:15 PM
Well. Actually. You see... The Kindle does *NOT* support .mobi directly. Nope. Users are reporting that html, doc and prc/mobi files (except for .txt) are getting translated into .azw. Which has it's own proprietary DRM crud.

Derek

Well, according to page 76 of the Kindle user guide there's no need to convert unencumbered .MOBI or .PRC files, just copy them to the Kindle and away you go.

Below is directly from the manual (feel free to D/L it yourself to check):

"When Kindle is connected to your computer, you will see three directories or folders. The one called "documents" contains all of your digital reading materials like books, newspapers, your "My Clippings" file, etc. The "Audible" directory is for your audiobooks, and "music" is for your MP3 files. You can add Kindle compatible files to these directories, and you can copy, move, or delete the files that are already there. The computer file formats that you can read or listen to on your Kindle are listed below:
• Kindle (.AZW)
• Text (.TXT)
• Unprotected Mobipocket (.MOBI, .PRC)
• Audible (.AA)
• MP3 (.MP3)

Tip: Mobipocket files must have no Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection applied to be readable on your Kindle. If you purchased a Mobipocket file from a Mobipocket retailer, you will not be able to open the file on your Kindle."

Zoot
11-19-2007, 11:30 PM
Well. Actually. You see... The Kindle does *NOT* support .mobi directly. Nope. Users are reporting that html, doc and prc/mobi files (except for .txt) are getting translated into .azw. Which has it's own proprietary DRM crud.
Well, those .azw files are probably vanilla unencumbered .mobi files. Somebody needs to take a converted file and try renaming it to .mobi and see if it's readable with Mobipocket or whatever. I bet it works fine.

Z.

pilotbob
11-20-2007, 12:02 AM
Oh and btw: Zune has failed.

Yes, and so has:

Tablet PC
Playstation 3
Sony Reader
Vista
Blu-Ray DVD
HD DVD
Tivo
Satalite radio
HD Radio
etc...

Actually, none of the above have reached "The Tipping Point"... that doesn't mean they have failed.

BOb

pilotbob
11-20-2007, 12:04 AM
Come on, guys. The real ebook equivalent of MP3 is HTML, which is why PG is using it. It is usable on nearly every computer and handheld available, though some do it really well with lots of features, and some are very basic (my mac ebook reader software (Tofu) even allows me to reformat and saves my place when I close it). The only devices you expect to read it and don't are the Sony ones, which force you to convert HTML files -- that sounds a lot like Sony's approach to MP3 on their early music players as I recall. It just extends the metaphor. :grin2:

Jack


What is PG?

You all know what PCMCIA is right?

People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms!

BOb

Alisa
11-20-2007, 12:09 AM
PG = Project Gutenberg = http://www.gutenberg.org/ = huge repository of public domain books for free! Yay Internets!

pilotbob
11-20-2007, 12:09 AM
She wanted to know if she could get many of the books on the Oprah list. She buys books now on Amazon with one-click and loves it. I showed her the new Kindle format on the book pages and how she would only have to OneClick on it and the book would magically appear on her ebook reader.

They could even extend this to Wish Lists. If I put Kindle books in my wish list and someone buys one, it auto-magically gets put into my Kindle library. I could get a notice that I got a gift... the gifter could send a little note to be attached to the notification.

Jeff Bezos... Wish List to Kindle Library is copyrighted by me... if you want to use it I would be happy to license the idea to you for a revenue share on Kindle Wish List purchases!!!

BOb

Charbax
11-20-2007, 12:10 AM
Couldn't Amazon just add support for other ebook DRM formats and also add built-in support for PDF, DOC and other unprotected text formats?

pilotbob
11-20-2007, 12:15 AM
Still, if you've an iPod, you've got to use iTunes. Sure, you can bring in other formats, but it's still an Apple world.


Actually, the iPod is open... you can use many formats on it and it will play them just fine, including the ubiqitious .mp3. iTunes is "semi-open" it will support any format that iPod does and synch them all to you iPod. iTunes is "closed" in that it will only sync to an iPod as a device.

What is "closed" is the iTunes store... but, this is changing now that they do have DRM free tracks. The next "great" move for openness would be for iTunes to support other devices. I think there is a simple file format standard that many of the devices support which would make it a driver free no brainer!

Kindle and Amazons Kindle store are starting out as iTunes did... one device and one store. I would hope eventually the content would become non-DRM... it is the only way that wide adoption will take place.

BOb

da_jane
11-20-2007, 01:01 AM
You know what I don't get? Where are these extra books coming from? I.e., all the publishers I contacted said their books would be available in all formats (except for Wiley). So when Amazon says it has 80,000+ ebooks, what are they?

pitcher23
11-20-2007, 01:23 AM
And don't tell me that there are no GPRS-carriers willing to break a similar deal ...

There may not have been. Other major GPRS carriers may have wanted to broker more expensive deals that would not have aligned with Amazons price point.

Yes, they are a US-based company and they make the same mistakes tons of companys do: They ignore the rest of the world. Why?
One content customes is three customers won - one discontent customer is seven customers lost. Make your own calculations...
And yes, it is their right to sell only inside the US. But it is stupid.


The U.S. is only the first market. It would be foolish to start it world wide without building a strong base in its home market. Once (or if) it takes of in the U.S., it will most likely start to open in European countries.

pitcher23
11-20-2007, 01:28 AM
The playstation 2 launched in japan first, so did the game cube. Just relax, it will make it over.


-d

Excellent point. Us U.S. Gadget lovers usually have to wait for our favorite Japanese or South Korean electronics. Hell, I was jealous of my European peers when they received their Iliads a couple of months ahead of me. :p

mitja_i
11-20-2007, 03:02 AM
Ok, the bad:
- new exclusive DRM
- no .mobi DRM
- document conversion by Amazon only (office, picture formats)
- price (too much)
- it's big
- ugly
- US Only
- EVDO (slow, US only)
- no open source community

But to be honest, there are some good things:
- internet acess (limited wikipedia only?)
- keyboard for text input (strange design)
- note making
- wireless (not direct PC sync)
- huge store
- great book prices
- great battery

Zoot
11-20-2007, 03:16 AM
But to be honest, there are some good things:
- internet acess (limited wikipedia only?)

Currently it appears to be unlimited web access, but the license agreement says they reserve the right to change the price from zero or otherwise limit or eliminate it in the future. They do say that Wikipedia access is free explicitly (though it's not mentioned in the licens agreement) so chances arer that even if they started limiting or charging for other web access that they'd leave Wikipedia free.

Z.

HarryT
11-20-2007, 03:45 AM
But with the EVDO on this device, would they allow you to use it on a plane?


There's an "off" switch for the wireless comms.

resistor
11-20-2007, 04:50 AM
- EVDO (slow, US only)

Actually, EVDO is 3.1Mbits, about the speed of a low-end DSL or cable connection. Hardly slow.

HarryT
11-20-2007, 07:57 AM
Well, those .azw files are probably vanilla unencumbered .mobi files. Somebody needs to take a converted file and try renaming it to .mobi and see if it's readable with Mobipocket or whatever. I bet it works fine.

Z.

They are indeed just renamed Mobi files.

HarryT
11-20-2007, 08:10 AM
Actually, EVDO is 3.1Mbits, about the speed of a low-end DSL or cable connection. Hardly slow.

And speed isn't really that critical for books - they're tiny compared to music tracks.

wgrimm
11-20-2007, 08:56 AM
Amazon has apparently already abandoned purchasers of their DRMd Mobipocket titles with no upward path to the Kindle. Microsoft essentially abandoned purchasers of protected Windows Media music files with no upward path to the Zune.



You have made a very good point. I bought $200 worth of e-books from Amazon in .lit format, so what good are they doing me now? They never did work on the HP CE device I owned because, despite announcing that they were releasing a reader for this format, M$ never did, at least during the time I owned my HP. Will they work on a Kindle...Sure <G>.

wgrimm
11-20-2007, 09:04 AM
If you don't trust Amazon, you don't have to go through them. Use the Kindle like you'd use an iPod. You still get these bonuses: Free Wikipedia wherever you are Easy file searching Built-in dictionary lookup Note taking BookmarkingNo other e-reader offers anything close to all those features built-in.

But the ease of wirelessly buying and downloading books and newspapers directly from Amazon is what will sell this to the average user and make it take off in a larger sense. We enthusiasts may be big in heart, but we're small in numbers. The Kindle is designed for the average user, not us.


The REB made it easy to buy content- just plug into a telephone line. They are practically everywhere, and the number to call was toll free. Its browser easily let you download websites to read on the reader- Wiki or whatever.

These features won't save the Kindle from oblivion.

tompe
11-20-2007, 09:05 AM
You have made a very good point. I bought $200 worth of e-books from Amazon in .lit format, so what good are they doing me now? They never did work on the HP CE device I owned because, despite announcing that they were releasing a reader for this format, M$ never did, at least during the time I owned my HP. Will they work on a Kindle...Sure <G>.

Yes, they will work. You have to convert them to mobi-format using ConvertLit and mobigen.

HarryT
11-20-2007, 09:20 AM
You have made a very good point. I bought $200 worth of e-books from Amazon in .lit format, so what good are they doing me now? They never did work on the HP CE device I owned because, despite announcing that they were releasing a reader for this format, M$ never did, at least during the time I owned my HP. Will they work on a Kindle...Sure <G>.

Why don't you just use ConvertLIT to convert them to HTML, and then BD or MobiGen to convert to DRM-free Mobi format? That way you can read them on both your CE device and the Kindle.

TallMomof2
11-20-2007, 09:24 AM
Well, those .azw files are probably vanilla unencumbered .mobi files. Somebody needs to take a converted file and try renaming it to .mobi and see if it's readable with Mobipocket or whatever. I bet it works fine.

Z.

Did that with an .AZW ebook I downloaded last night. Mobipocket reader cannot read more that the title and cover page. I get the same error that I got before I registered my PID so it's DRMed.

TallMomof2
11-20-2007, 09:29 AM
You know what I don't get? Where are these extra books coming from? I.e., all the publishers I contacted said their books would be available in all formats (except for Wiley). So when Amazon says it has 80,000+ ebooks, what are they?

Amazon has the Digital Text Platform
(http://dtp.amazon.com/mn/signin) that allows anyone with an Amazon account to create ebooks for the Kindle and sell them on Amazon. I'm sure that's from where the additional books originate.

HarryT
11-20-2007, 09:35 AM
Did that with an .AZW ebook I downloaded last night. Mobipocket reader cannot read more that the title and cover page. I get the same error that I got before I registered my PID so it's DRMed.

No, that's not what was being discussed. We were saying that when you upload a DRM-free Mobi file to the Kindle it gets "converted" to AZW, but that AZW file is just the original renamed Mobi file. Rename it back to ".mobi" or ".prc" and Mobi reads it fine.

AZW files you buy from Amazon are very likely just standard Mobi DRM files using a PID hidden in the Kindle.

TallMomof2
11-20-2007, 09:54 AM
No, that's not what was being discussed. We were saying that when you upload a DRM-free Mobi file to the Kindle it gets "converted" to AZW, but that AZW file is just the original renamed Mobi file. Rename it back to ".mobi" or ".prc" and Mobi reads it fine.

AZW files you buy from Amazon are very likely just standard Mobi DRM files using a PID hidden in the Kindle.

Sorry, I read it differently. If you are talking about emailing .PRC files to Amazon and then back to your Kindle I'm a little curious to see if they add DRM *but* on page 78 in the User Manual it states:

"The conversion service on Your Kindle is meant for the receipt of personal, non-commercial documents only. You may not authorize the sending of documents from automated distribution services."

wallcraft
11-20-2007, 09:58 AM
document conversion by Amazon only (office, picture formats) You can use any software you want to convert to .MOBI on a Desktop PC and then copy it to the Kindle via USB. For Windows, MobiPocket Reader (or Creator) is one way to do this.

yvanleterrible
11-20-2007, 10:39 AM
Actually, the iPod is open... you can use many formats on it and it will play them just fine, including the ubiqitious .mp3. iTunes is "semi-open" it will support any format that iPod does and synch them all to you iPod. iTunes is "closed" in that it will only sync to an iPod as a device.

What is "closed" is the iTunes store... but, this is changing now that they do have DRM free tracks. The next "great" move for openness would be for iTunes to support other devices. I think there is a simple file format standard that many of the devices support which would make it a driver free no brainer!

Kindle and Amazons Kindle store are starting out as iTunes did... one device and one store. I would hope eventually the content would become non-DRM... it is the only way that wide adoption will take place.

BObActually the iPod itself only reads Apple's formats. All others are interpreted by iTunes when you get them in. The Kindle works the same way but they will charge for the conversions; until someone writes a patch software to do it. :wink:

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-20-2007, 10:50 AM
There's nothing stopping you from keeping your whole library in mobi format on your computer and updating to the Kindle by USB, in the same way that many people never buy from iTunes, keeping their music library in mp3 files.

This, I think, sums up my opinion of the situation, as well. To that end, I plan to recommend on my site that Kindle users can buy Mobi versions of my e-books and upload them to Amazon's conversion system to their Kindle. That way, if anything happens to their Kindle, or if they want to read the book somewhere else, they are free to do so.

On the other hand, I recognize that there are plenty of people who appreciate the iTunes system, and just want to buy from Amazon and let them do the heavy lifting. To that end, I will also put my books on Amazon for sale as Kindle e-books, and let people buy the books that way if they wish.

(Of course, Amazon takes a hefty chunk of the sales revenue, so I haven't decided how my pricing structure will reflect that yet.)

yvanleterrible
11-20-2007, 10:58 AM
This, I think, sums up my opinion of the situation, as well. To that end, I plan to recommend on my site that Kindle users can buy Mobi versions of my e-books and upload them to Amazon's conversion system to their Kindle. That way, if anything happens to their Kindle, or if they want to read the book somewhere else, they are free to do so.

On the other hand, I recognize that there are plenty of people who appreciate the iTunes system, and just want to buy from Amazon and let them do the heavy lifting. To that end, I will also put my books on Amazon for sale as Kindle e-books, and let people buy the books that way if they wish.

(Of course, Amazon takes a hefty chunk of the sales revenue, so I haven't decided how my pricing structure will reflect that yet.)Yours might but what about those Mobi ebooks that are DRMd, can they be uploaded to the Kindle? Could the device be considered by the store that sold them?

Say Steve, will you try yor luck with Amazon? Please keep us posted about the negotiations, if there are any.:wink: I'm curious as how it's done. (just finished Berserker. Loved it!)

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-20-2007, 11:08 AM
Yours might but what about those Mobi ebooks that are DRMd, can they be uploaded to the Kindle? Could the device be considered by the store that sold them?

The impression I've gotten from the comments here is that DRM'd Mobi can't be converted, but I don't know if anyone's tried it yet. Since none of mine are DRM'd, I don't have anything to try it myself.

Say Steve, will you try your luck with Amazon? Please keep us posted about the negotiations, if there are any.:wink: I'm curious as how it's done. (just finished Berserker. Loved it!)

Thanks! Yeah, I'm checking it out now (I have another holiday surprise in the works, and I need to finish that up first). But this is just the e-books, not printing, and (I hate to say it) with Amazon's new system, anyone can download an e-book to sell. Apparently, Amazon does not consider the need for extensive contracts or negotiations with e-books--which may say a lot about how they're considered at Amazon.

What will be significant is how well prospective customers can find my material in specific or random searches, as opposed to (printed) material that Amazon has selling contracts (and presumably promotional deals and perks) with. If it works out, I may get a lot more exposure, and great sales. But if non-entities like myself are just shoved into the virtual corner, it might not be worth the time and trouble for me to sell there. Time will tell, I suppose.

HarryT
11-20-2007, 11:16 AM
Actually the iPod itself only reads Apple's formats. All others are interpreted by iTunes when you get them in.

No, that's certainly not the case. The iPod will natively play MP3 files. There are some formats it does indeed convert when you import them into iTunes (eg WMP) but MP3 files can be imported and played with no conversion.

The Kindle works the same way but they will charge for the conversions; until someone writes a patch software to do it. :wink:

No, they're charging for the wireless transmission. You can upload via USB at no charge.

jharker
11-20-2007, 11:22 AM
Actually the iPod itself only reads Apple's formats. All others are interpreted by iTunes when you get them in. The Kindle works the same way but they will charge for the conversions; until someone writes a patch software to do it. :wink:

Sorry, I don't even own an iPod (my fiancee does, though) so I didn't remember exactly how that worked.

However, Amazon does NOT charge for conversion of the files, only for sending the file to the Kindle via wireless.

But you CAN access the Kindle directly via USB, and copy mobi files* on to it directly, and it can read them and open them natively. This is different from your description of the iPod which must convert mp3 files.

Does anyone know, is there a way to strip DRM protection from a mobi book if you know the password/number/whatever?

[* non-DRMed mobi files, anyway. ]

HarryT
11-20-2007, 11:25 AM
Does anyone know, is there a way to strip DRM protection from a mobi book if you know the password/number/whatever?


Such tools do exist, yes, but that's all I'm going to say.

robhedin
11-20-2007, 12:01 PM
My Kindle arrived about an hour and a half ago... so far the experience has been very positive. Previously I used my Nokia 770 but have been lusting after e-ink for quite a while now.

The boxing on the Kindle was very apple-esque and made it feel like an event to open; plugged it into power and turned it on, and in about a minute and a half the screen came up with a personalized greeting "Dear Robert" with no setup required on my part. Read the greeting, looked over the on-line manual, and went to the menu and Lo! the books I had bought yesterday were already downloaded and ready for reading.

Plugged in the device to my Mac via USB and proceeded to load up the books I've purchased from Webscriptions.Net as well as much of the Baen free library (all as Mobipocket PRC files), and everything has been working happily with no conversion needed.

So far so good.

rob.

rwsimon
11-20-2007, 12:02 PM
All the discussion comparing Amazon and Kindle with Apple and iPod is interesting. I've had several iPods over the years and have never used iTunes. There are much better third-party applications that aren't as "autocratic" as that piece of software. So for me, the iPod is only valuable because I'm not tied to Apple's DRM'd content. And there really isn't anything I want that can't be obtained (quite legally) without going to the iTunes store.

In the case of the Kindle, Amazon has impressively made a huge amount of content available instantly with the new hardware. I would guess that much of it is only available through Amazon at the moment (certainly they have many more titles than the Sony Connect store.) So if the analogy somebody suggested with Apple format vs. MP3 and Kindle format vs. some non-DRM'd ebook format is to hold, there will need to be sources of content out there that can compete (both in diversity and price.) Until the various other ebook providers out there catch up with Amazon in this regard, they do have us at a disadvantage. The same could never be said for Apple even if most iPod users elect to use iTunes.

jgrnt1
11-20-2007, 12:14 PM
jharker,

I own 40 Mobipocket-DRM'ed ebooks, which makes the Kindle a no-go for me. If they offered a one-time conversion for pre-existing ebooks, that might cover it, since their catalogue is so much bigger than other ebook sellers. I believe stripping the DRM is possible, but who is to say that Amazon won't be able to detect it? With EVDO, they have access to your device anytime they want. They can update the OS whenever they choose. Suppose they can also check your library? You could keep EVDO turned off, but then some of the best features of the Kindle become useless.

Amazon is using the iPod/Zune model with the DRM lockdown. However, I don't think Amazon expects people to buy all their ebooks again. Most people read a book once and are done with it. There are a few people, like me, who will reread a book because they liked it so much, but they are a small minority. The only real issue then is reference works. Unfortunately, many of my Mobipocket books are reference works.

tcv
11-20-2007, 12:17 PM
I honestly do see your point, rwsimon. I still think by-and-large that iTunes is a very popular store for several reasons, one of which being that people are buying from it. (Or are tied to it because they don't know any better -- like a report that says MSN.com is the most popular home page.) So while I can grant that you've not used it, or that many people here have not used it, I would offer that the majority of iPod owners have. We're in the minority and companies cater to what they perceive majorities want.

One thing that's very interesting to me is that many new iPod users typically have larger CD collections. It's fairly trivial to rip a CD into an iPod via iTunes. A kindle user will already need to have an electronic version of a book in order to have it processed. This makes going from p-space to e-space much more difficult and burdensome. Although Amazon might make the transition easier. (I know they do this already for some titles. You can buy the e-version for a substantially reduced price if you've already bought the p-version from them. I can't remember the name of the service.)

Cheers,

m

DaleDe
11-20-2007, 12:17 PM
This, I think, sums up my opinion of the situation, as well. To that end, I plan to recommend on my site that Kindle users can buy Mobi versions of my e-books and upload them to Amazon's conversion system to their Kindle. That way, if anything happens to their Kindle, or if they want to read the book somewhere else, they are free to do so.


Mobi files do not need to be uploaded to Amazon at all. They can be transferred directly. Amazon does not keep copies of files you upload to them, only the books they sell and your notes.

Dale

BillZ
11-20-2007, 12:20 PM
I haven't seen this mentioned here, but I'm hoping the $9.99 price puts pressure on other eBook sellers. If you look at smartphone prices, post iPhone, $399 seems to be the top of the market now.

da_jane
11-20-2007, 12:35 PM
Amazon has the Digital Text Platform
(http://dtp.amazon.com/mn/signin) that allows anyone with an Amazon account to create ebooks for the Kindle and sell them on Amazon. I'm sure that's from where the additional books originate.

Those must be self published books then because the authors who publish with NY or with epublishing houses dont have the rights to sell their own book. To which I say that the majority of Amazons offerings are fluff. They've got quantity but not quality.

igorsk
11-20-2007, 12:39 PM
I haven't seen this mentioned here, but I'm hoping the $9.99 price puts pressure on other eBook sellers. If you look at smartphone prices, post iPhone, $399 seems to be the top of the market now.
I think it already did. Check current prices at http://ebooks.connect.com/

yvanleterrible
11-20-2007, 01:04 PM
No, that's certainly not the case. The iPod will natively play MP3 files. There are some formats it does indeed convert when you import them into iTunes (eg WMP) but MP3 files can be imported and played with no conversion.

My apologies for confusing any one who's read my previous post. :o
I have reseached the subject and found the source of my confusion. The iPod when first out of the box is configured to work solely with iTunes; which at this point is sole caterer to content. It then uses AAF, a variant of M-PEG4, to optimize the quantity of music to be used on board the iPod. If this setup is maintained, it is not possible to access any of the stored music other that through iTunes. Not only so but the iPod will not recognize any music drag and dropped to it. However when properly configured, it will recognize and read any compatible file such as WAV and MP3 that has been dragged to it according to host computer OS fashion. It is to be noted that on a smaller storage capacity device, the AAf should be used as it takes up less space and allows more music to be stored.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-20-2007, 01:28 PM
Mobi files do not need to be uploaded to Amazon at all. They can be transferred directly. Amazon does not keep copies of files you upload to them, only the books they sell and your notes.

Even better!

Alisa
11-20-2007, 01:45 PM
Excellent point. Us U.S. Gadget lovers usually have to wait for our favorite Japanese or South Korean electronics. Hell, I was jealous of my European peers when they received their Iliads a couple of months ahead of me. :p

The new Motorola Razor 2 launched in Korea first and they're an American company.

dedicated
11-20-2007, 02:02 PM
No, they're charging for the wireless transmission. You can upload via USB at no charge.

I was under the impression that for PDF or Word files, you have to use the conversion via sending an email to yourself at the cost of 10 cents each. Would the USB route avoid the charge?

DaleDe
11-20-2007, 02:24 PM
I was under the impression that for PDF or Word files, you have to use the conversion via sending an email to yourself at the cost of 10 cents each. Would the USB route avoid the charge?

Yes and you don't even need to do this at all if you have a pc even though it is free. On a pc just download MobiReader and use it to translate your files.

Dale

wgrimm
11-20-2007, 02:27 PM
For all fans of DRM, here's one person't story of dealings with Mobi:
http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2007/09/mobipocket-remi.html

And here is what Stallman has to say about ereaders:

http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2007/09/mobipocket-remi.html

jharker
11-20-2007, 03:01 PM
jharker,

I own 40 Mobipocket-DRM'ed ebooks, which makes the Kindle a no-go for me. If they offered a one-time conversion for pre-existing ebooks, that might cover it, since their catalogue is so much bigger than other ebook sellers. I believe stripping the DRM is possible, but who is to say that Amazon won't be able to detect it? With EVDO, they have access to your device anytime they want. They can update the OS whenever they choose. Suppose they can also check your library? You could keep EVDO turned off, but then some of the best features of the Kindle become useless.

Why does Amazon care if you're using DRM-free copies of books in your personal library?

Say you have a legitimately bought DRM-ed Mobipocket ebook from somewhere else, you strip the DRM and put it on your Kindle for your own personal use. Even IF Amazon cares enough to snoop on your Kindle and check out your library, there's nothing you're doing wrong and certainly nothing that Amazon cares about.

In any case, a mobi file stripped of DRM is just a regular mobi file; there are plenty of those around and it would be very hard for Amazon to prove it's not legitimate, even if they cared, which they don't.

I have no qualms about recommending the use of mobipocket DRM-stripping software on e-books you legitimately own, as long as it's for your private use only. Once you own a book, you have the right to use it in any format you want. IANAL, but I'm speaking about ethics here, not legalities. And as long as you don't share your files with anyone else, there's no way to be "caught" and the legalities are irrelevant.

Not to mention, no one's going to sue you for NOT file-sharing.

pilotbob
11-20-2007, 03:26 PM
Say you have a legitimately bought DRM-ed Mobipocket ebook from somewhere else, you strip the DRM and put it on your Kindle for your own personal use. Even IF Amazon cares enough to snoop on your Kindle and check out your library, there's nothing you're doing wrong and certainly nothing that Amazon cares about.


Um... there's nothing your doing wrong, except for the whole stripping DRM from the file thing. At least in the US that is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Since you are in NY you are doing something "illegal" although maybe not "wrong".

BOb

HarryT
11-20-2007, 03:38 PM
Um... there's nothing your doing wrong, except for the whole stripping DRM from the file thing. At least in the US that is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Since you are in NY you are doing something "illegal" although maybe not "wrong".

BOb

Hi Bob,

We are informed by people who claim to be "in the know" that the act of removing DRM is probably not per se illegal, only the writing or distribution of the tools to do so. Of course, that's never been tested in court, so nobody really knows.

HarryT
11-20-2007, 03:42 PM
For all fans of DRM, here's one person't story of dealings with Mobi:
http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2007/09/mobipocket-remi.html


<shrug>

I'm sorry that he had problems. My experiences differ; so do those of many other people.

6charlong
11-20-2007, 04:13 PM
All the discussion comparing Amazon and Kindle with Apple and iPod is interesting.

I think the better comparison is between IBM and Microsoft. In 1982--when IBM introduced their Personal Computer--Apple "owned" the microcomputer market. IBM let Microsoft have the operating system because IBM--as it turns out: correctly deduced--that they are a hardware maker.

If Amazon is as savvy a marketer as they seem, they will license the Kindle format to all hardware manufacturers COST FREE (so they'll adopt it), and drive the book selling business in Amazon's direction. Obviously this move makes the Kindle format available to other book-sellers too, but, as the Microsoft analogy shows, competition forces even big companies to innovate. And in this business companies innovate or die. So will the other eBook hardware makers come along?

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-20-2007, 04:55 PM
If Amazon is as savvy a marketer as they seem, they will license the Kindle format to all hardware manufacturers COST FREE (so they'll adopt it), and drive the book selling business in Amazon's direction... So will the other eBook hardware makers come along?

Interesting theory... in fact, if another hardware maker came up with a more attractive, less costly reader that also connected to Amazon's system, I might consider buying one... and possibly many others would, too. But can we expect other companies to make the devices? I'm not sure if brisk Kindle sales will be enough to convince them to bring new devices to market.

On the other hand, if other HW manufacturers see legitimate ways to improve the device (beyond the cosmetic, anyway), or give us a completely different Amazon-compatible form factor (LCD, OLED, flexible, no keyboard, larger, smaller, color, etc, etc), they may hit on a device that will really take off when combined with Amazon.

pitcher23
11-20-2007, 07:03 PM
The new Motorola Razor 2 launched in Korea first and they're an American company.


Well there you go. They opened in the market where they believed they had their strongest customer base before opening in other markets. I believe Amazon is doing the same.

igorsk
11-20-2007, 07:07 PM
Hi Bob,
We are informed by people who claim to be "in the know" that the act of removing DRM is probably not per se illegal, only the writing or distribution of the tools to do so. Of course, that's never been tested in court, so nobody really knows.
Hmm, didn't Sklyarov's case get to the courts? Though it did not go the whole way.

wgrimm
11-20-2007, 07:53 PM
If Amazon is as savvy a marketer as they seem, they will license the Kindle format to all hardware manufacturers COST FREE (so they'll adopt it), and drive the book selling business in Amazon's direction. And in this business companies innovate or die. So will the other eBook hardware makers come along?

Here is what simply amazes me- companies like Amazon and Sony are trying to "open up" the ebook market. Sounds good, but I have doubts about the depth of their analyses (though not the depth of their greed).

For example, Apple managed to make a success of the ipod and Itunes, despite the fact that it is very easy to obtain free music (illegal filesharing, newsgroups, etc.) I have used the Itunes store and have a couple of ipods, and the experience is easy and doesn't piss me off.

When it comes to ebooks, the only seller I have used with frequency is Ereader (formerly Peanut Press). Likewise, they don't piss me off. The other ebook DRMs piss me off and complicate my life. The companies that want to be a success had better realize that one of their competitors are ebook pirates. Apple realized piracy was a competitor, and made a go of it. Look at the average consumer- is he going to ewant to be pissed off by DRM, or will he decide to go to ebookshare.net and do a few free downloads. Like the music pirates, those guys make it look easy.

Ereader has a very successful model, and does not tie you to a single reader. I have 7 electronic ebook readers here, not counting the Palm, and I still find most of my reading is done on the Palm because it is so much less hassle. I have read 25 books or so on the Sony, but it isn't the reader I carry with me.

wgrimm
11-20-2007, 08:31 PM
For all fans of DRM, here's one person't story of dealings with Mobi:
http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2007/09/mobipocket-remi.html

And here is what Stallman has to say about ereaders:
]

Here's the proper Stallman link:
http://csclub.uwaterloo.ca/media/Copyright%20vs%20Community%20in%20the%20Age%20of%2 0Computer%20Networks.html

hidari
11-21-2007, 04:25 AM
ebookshare.net , I had heard of it but had never checked it out. It appears to be interesting.

I agree with you grimm, Most of the posts I read in regards to readers seem to have many small delays or obstructions due to drm/ format onversion/ limits on formats.

I for one am waiting for a pocket pc with eink. I like the small size. I am weary to buy a sony reader or Cybook. Many people own many ereaders on here but a large number seem to use their PDA as much as their ereader.

My Acern311 with mobipocket on it does. Fine. If i have a format problem. I simply convert it to .txt and pop it on my Acer to read. No problem. Have yet to try the ereader, mobipocket has been fine for me.

astra
11-21-2007, 06:28 AM
If i have a format problem. I simply convert it to .txt and pop it on my Acer to read. No problem.


Then you loose all the special formating of the text. All you get is a raw text. No bolds, no italics. Evereything is the same. It would ruin reading experience completely for me.

fugsly
11-21-2007, 07:52 AM
The majority of their customers are in the US? Are you really sure? Well, I would guess that Amazon sells more books outside the US than inside, though I have no figures to prove that.
Oh and: There is a US-wide GPRS/UMTS, which is also supported elsewhere. So there really is NO reason to use other niche techniques ... And don't tell me that there are no GPRS-carriers willing to break a similar deal ...

Yes, they are a US-based company and they make the same mistakes tons of companys do: They ignore the rest of the world. Why?
One content customes is three customers won - one discontent customer is seven customers lost. Make your own calculations...
And yes, it is their right to sell only inside the US. But it is stupid.

@Zoot: There is no *technical* reason - agreed. But there is no *technical* reason to use a different format at all - so it is all down to marketing. And right now we see Amazons marketing strategy.

As people have mentioned before, the screen size of the kindle is different which could account for only using their format of ebooks. You will be able to convert other formats and soon enough i'm guessing amazon will sell their selection in other formats as well. If not then there's plenty of other places out there.

why only US? I would presume because it is cheaper/more profitable for them to do so - if they could have made more money selling it outside of the US then undoubtedly they would have done so. It will filter out soon enough if it does well.

Why worry about it anyway - by the time it comes to us all the first bugs will be fixed, all the hacks will be out and you'll be able to convert other formats for the kindle.

And since when was it a crime for companies to make money? How do you think amazon paid to develop the kindle in the first place?

HarryT
11-21-2007, 07:57 AM
As people have mentioned before, the screen size of the kindle is different which could account for only using their format of ebooks.

Is it? I thought it was the same 120x90mm 800x600 res screen that the Sony and the Gen3 use?

astra
11-21-2007, 08:14 AM
Is it? I thought it was the same 120x90mm 800x600 res screen that the Sony and the Gen3 use?


I thought the same...:headscratch:

fugsly
11-21-2007, 09:59 AM
Is it? I thought it was the same 120x90mm 800x600 res screen that the Sony and the Gen3 use?


I thought the same...:headscratch:

oops, just read a couple of posts mentioning that the screen was different on the kindle. Should really remember that not everything you read on the interwebs is true :)

I still don't really understand why you're so annoyed by the Kindle/Amazon astra.

I can understand the DRM thing. Music and books are something that should remain open and I really hope that at some point a universal format is adopted. There's no way I want to have to buy a different reader to read certain books (as you would to play video games). And I hate the idea of one monopoly winning out (as with microsoft). It's just to much of a pain converting everything or settling for a slightly different (and normally worse) version that's compatible.

But I can see where amazon are coming from - this is still a small and uncertain market. Let's just hope they start heading in the right direction.

JSWolf
11-21-2007, 10:04 AM
For all fans of DRM, here's one person't story of dealings with Mobi:
http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2007/09/mobipocket-remi.html

And here is what Stallman has to say about ereaders:

http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2007/09/mobipocket-remi.html

Why would anyone purchase any ebooks via Mobipocket? Mobipocket charges the most for their ebooks. I would use a site like PaperbackDigital or BooksOnBoard for Mobipocket format ebooks. The prices are a lot cheaper. And you don't have to put up with the one week reset either.

JSWolf
11-21-2007, 10:09 AM
As people have mentioned before, the screen size of the kindle is different which could account for only using their format of ebooks. You will be able to convert other formats and soon enough i'm guessing amazon will sell their selection in other formats as well. If not then there's plenty of other places out there.
Here is what some of us are guessing at present...

We are guessing that AZW format is th Mobipocket format with a hidden PID. Also we are guessing that Amazon is not using the direct Mobipocket format because of the issues with images. Images in most Mobi format books are too small for a 6" screen. So my guess is AZW is using larger sized jpeg images formatted for a 6" screen.

why only US? I would presume because it is cheaper/more profitable for them to do so - if they could have made more money selling it outside of the US then undoubtedly they would have done so. It will filter out soon enough if it does well.
Could be that Amazon is testing how well the Kindle does in the US before bringing it out in other countries.

bwit
11-21-2007, 10:09 AM
The prices are a lot cheaper. And you don't have to put up with the one week reset either.

What is the "one week reset"?

JSWolf
11-21-2007, 10:13 AM
Is it? I thought it was the same 120x90mm 800x600 res screen that the Sony and the Gen3 use?
It is. But remember, most Mobi format ebooks that have images have small images because of PDA sized screens. I downloaded One of the WInston Churhill WWII books from my local library and I found the images (which are important) to be way too small. They are become fuzzy when I try to enlarge them. That makes Mobi format books with images a no-go on the Kindle. But reason for AZW is so they have Mobi formatted books that will look good on the Kindle screen. That would make a lot of sense in this case. Imaging reading a book that has maps, diagrams, tables, etc.. that are important to be able to see but you cannot see them clearly enough due to the fact that the graphics are too small. That would ruin the reading experience for that book. Also it does look silly to have this tiny block on the screen that is supposed to be the cover image.

tompe
11-21-2007, 10:21 AM
It is. But remember, most Mobi format ebooks that have images have small images because of PDA sized screens. I downloaded One of the WInston Churhill WWII books from my local library and I found the images (which are important) to be way too small. They are become fuzzy when I try to enlarge them. That makes Mobi format books with images a no-go on the Kindle. But reason for AZW is so they have Mobi formatted books that will look good on the Kindle screen. That would make a lot of sense in this case. Imaging reading a book that has maps, diagrams, tables, etc.. that are important to be able to see but you cannot see them clearly enough due to the fact that the graphics are too small. That would ruin the reading experience for that book. Also it does look silly to have this tiny block on the screen that is supposed to be the cover image.

But that is because the book you downloaded from the local library was badly formatted. As discussed in other thread it is technical possible to get large images in a mobi file. You could get device dependent image size.

How common is it that mobi files are badly produced with respect to image size? The ones in Mobileread hade small images but I suppose that is because BookDesigner does not support bigger images.

But I agree with your point that they did not want to risk complaint about mobi files with small images so they formatted to a new format that they had control over.

JSWolf
11-21-2007, 10:25 AM
But that is because the book you downloaded from the local library was badly formatted. As discussed in other thread it is technical possible to get large images in a mobi file. You could get device dependent image size.

How common is it that mobi files are badly produced with respect to image size? The ones in Mobileread hade small images but I suppose that is because BookDesigner does not support bigger images.
It is common. Look at a lof ot Mobi books and you'll see the cover is tiny. Mobi format is a throwback to PDA/Cell phones resolution screens. Yes, you can make Mobi formatted books with larger enough images. But most are not formatted that way. And as far as the book posted here, yes the small images are due to Book Designer's output. Nothing we can do about that if we use Book Designer.

But I agree with your point that they did not want to risk complaint about mobi files with small images so they formatted to a new format that they had control over.
I think AZW may be Mobi format with formatting for the Kindle screen. It does make sense given all the information we have on the Kindle books.

HarryT
11-21-2007, 10:27 AM
Why would anyone purchase any ebooks via Mobipocket? Mobipocket charges the most for their ebooks. I would use a site like PaperbackDigital or BooksOnBoard for Mobipocket format ebooks. The prices are a lot cheaper. And you don't have to put up with the one week reset either.

I don't buy fiction at MP - as you say, their prices are often higher than elsewhere - but I've not found any other retailer who stocks all the dictionaries that MP sell. Have you?

nekokami
11-21-2007, 10:30 AM
Does Mobi support SVG or some other resizable graphic type? I know that wouldn't be so appropriate for photos or book covers, but it might work well for maps, diagrams, etc.

DaleDe
11-21-2007, 10:54 AM
What is the "one week reset"?

It is FUD - the art of casting fear and uncertainty and doubt. There was a security breach of the MobiPocket DRM site once and they shutdown to fix it. It is unlikely to ever be repeated but it gets brought up from time to time with various explanations to cast FUD in the minds of folks thinking about MobiPocket.

Dale

nekokami
11-21-2007, 10:55 AM
I thought it was a reference to the time it can take Mobipocket to reset one of your devices to a new device?

HarryT
11-21-2007, 11:07 AM
I thought it was a reference to the time it can take Mobipocket to reset one of your devices to a new device?

It is - if you fill up your device list. I only have two out of the four "slots" filled so far - my iLiad and my Gen3.

jgrnt1
11-21-2007, 12:09 PM
Could be that Amazon is testing how well the Kindle does in the US before bringing it out in other countries.

We need to remember that the Kindle is not just a device. It is also, and perhaps most importantly to Amazon, an integrated delivery system. To bring the Kindle to other parts of the world will require a GSM version, which shouldn't be difficult, but also a contract with a phone/data carrier in each country. My guess is ebook pricing is dependent on the cost of the contract, so pricing might be different everywhere.

Aenea
11-21-2007, 11:25 PM
1. WHY THE HELL a new format? Mobipocket is nice, why not keep this? This would allow more people to read their books - people who already own a Reader would either buy the Kindle (no matter of the DRM/Format) or won't, it wouldn't cut down their Kindle-sales but would increase their book sales.

It's NOT a new format. It's plain old mobipocket with a custom DRM which is also supported in the current version in use on other devices. The iLiad for instance does have code to decrypt the custom DRM, but misses some extra information (the 'custom' part, just an extra integer). This extra step is so simple the code in the iLiad can actually be patched so it works... My decrypt utility can now handle this as well, but I can not distribute it since it would again contain copyrighted code...

airlik
11-22-2007, 02:56 AM
... They give you ebooks and they store them for you on their server. Now, let's assume you buy the Kindle V2 next year, then I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to use your old books again. Amazon would make sure of that.

While it's not nice to be bound to one provider, it is a system that works quite well as long as the provider is big and can stay in business for a long time. Amazon is such a provider and so is Apple. The iTunes store does the same thing for Tunes that the Kindle store does for books.

Just a comment on that... I had a hard drive crash recently, about a week after iTunes went iTunes Plus and I finally decided to buy music from them since I felt I actually OWNED it then, in the same way I OWNED my CDs. Anyway, I'm on a 2-week backup schedule... bought lots of tunes... drive crashed before next backup. It was ugly. One of my concerns was the music I had recently purchased but that wasn't on my backup. I searched the Apple web site and lo! - you get to download it once. End of story. If there's a problem, even though it's DRM-free, even though you have the same iPod and the same user ID and password, you cannot download more than once something you paid for - company policy. Now, happily they let me download it all again once I explained my plight and went throught their customer service folks despite all their printed warnings that I was doomed.... but... in my mind, paying for and downloading DRM stuff is like going to see a movie - enjoy it while you can, but it'll likely be a distant memory in the not-so-distant future. I have NEVER lost a book, and I have hundreds (thousands?). eBooks I'm pretty much treating as write-offs if they have DRM. Once the keys are gone/lost/stolen/outdated, the file is useless, and you are at the mercy of the people you bought the file from.

For the record, I DO buy DRM stuff from Sony Connect... but only stuff that I know I'll only read once and never come back to for reference.

HarryT
11-22-2007, 03:43 AM
I have NEVER lost a book, and I have hundreds (thousands?). eBooks I'm pretty much treating as write-offs if they have DRM. Once the keys are gone/lost/stolen/outdated, the file is useless, and you are at the mercy of the people you bought the file from.


There is one rather fundamental difference between music and eBooks. Music tends to be listened to repeatedly, but people tend not to re-read most books, so it doesn't actually matter particularly if the book can be re-read in 5 years time.

As I've said before, if I spend $10 on a book, I regard that as $10 of immediate reading pleasure, like spending $10 on a night at the movies. I don't think of it as a "lifetime investment".

fugsly
11-22-2007, 09:27 AM
There is one rather fundamental difference between music and eBooks. Music tends to be listened to repeatedly, but people tend not to re-read most books, so it doesn't actually matter particularly if the book can be re-read in 5 years time.

As I've said before, if I spend $10 on a book, I regard that as $10 of immediate reading pleasure, like spending $10 on a night at the movies. I don't think of it as a "lifetime investment".


I re-read books over and over and over and over...

I've even re-read books i hate just to have something to read. If I spend $10 on a book then I would expect to own that book and be able to read it in 5, 10, 15 years time.

An ebook however is something different than a book precisely because it's electronic. Technology changes quickly and you can't expect to be able to use the same file, just as you can't listen to a vinyl on a CD player. If I spent $10 on an ebook and could only read it once then I'd resort to hacking / pirating. If I'd spent a dollar then whatever, I'll download it again. I read way too fast to be spending $10 a book.

You're point about 'most people' could be correct - I have no way of knowing. I know my friends and family re-read books apart from my mum. She read thrillers and gives them away once read once.

dugbug
11-22-2007, 09:39 AM
You're point about 'most people' could be correct - I have no way of knowing. I know my friends and family re-read books apart from my mum. She read thrillers and gives them away once read once.

Its not just most people, its the vast majority... it takes a lot more time and energy to produce say, "Davinci Code", over a single mp3. and it has little "replay" value, whereas music thrives solely on replay. You hear it for free on the radio yet you still buy it. You pay even more to hear it performed live.

So book publishers are a little squeamish about them. Its more than likely that Amazon is having to protect their fledgling experiment as well as codify the industry.

oh, btw, both sony and kindle support sharing ebooks if their units are on the same account (ie: you have two kindles on the same amazon account, both kindles get the book with one purchase). So at least your family could distribute books to eachother.


-d

fugsly
11-22-2007, 11:06 AM
oh, btw, both sony and kindle support sharing ebooks if their units are on the same account (ie: you have two kindles on the same amazon account, both kindles get the book with one purchase). So at least your family could distribute books to eachother.


-d

That's a really good feature, can imagine that coming in very handy.

I'm still not sure where you're getting your information from in regards to rereading books.... My previous point was that I wouldn't like to pay $10 for the one off priviledge of reading a book that I may or may not like. I wouldn't pay that at a library and have the option to keep it for 6 months either. When I buy an ebook I want to be able to keep it until the technology no longer works. I don't think that all ebooks should be $1 - that's just what I would pay for a one off / time restriced ebook.

It may have come off wrong but my last sentence (that you quoted) was meant to read that HarryT could well be spot on in his predictions - i was just saying what I and most of my friends / family do and not trying to prove him wrong.

HarryT
11-22-2007, 11:14 AM
My previous point was that I wouldn't like to pay $10 for the one off priviledge of reading a book that I may or may not like.

Plenty of people do routinely do that kind of thing. Is it really any different to paying $10 to go and see a movie that you may or may not enjoy, or going to a restaurant for a meal that you may or may not like?

$10 is, in this country, less than half the cost of a cheap take-away pizza. I get far more enjoyment from an eBook than a do from a pizza, but I regard both forms of entertainment as equally "ephemeral".

yvanleterrible
11-22-2007, 12:47 PM
I share thoughts with Harry on this that a book unless it is poetry should be read once. Since I've reached fifty recently, I tend to see things more by my ending relatively to what interesting material there is left that I could read. However, I still would like my children to enjoy what I have and I do wish that the content I have would last a little more than what is promised.

Liviu_5
11-22-2007, 12:49 PM
Plenty of people do routinely do that kind of thing. Is it really any different to paying $10 to go and see a movie that you may or may not enjoy, or going to a restaurant for a meal that you may or may not like?

$10 is, in this country, less than half the cost of a cheap take-away pizza. I get far more enjoyment from an eBook than a do from a pizza, but I regard both forms of entertainment as equally "ephemeral".

There are some people that like to reread books, or just buy them read a little now, a little later and so on. I easily have 100 print leisure (fiction and nonfiction, but non-professional) books that I bought and never read cover to cover but that I want to be able to read from anytime I want, and similarly I probably have another 500-1000 print books read at least once if not more that I may reread from anytime I want, and I expect the same with my ebooks.

If I want to read a book only once, I would never buy it, just get it from the library, fast read from it in a store...

Many times I read a book from the library and then order it immediately just because I like it and want to reread it at my convenience. Actually it's very rare that I read a book from the library cover to cover and do not buy it, since if I do not enjoy it, I do not waste my time. Almost weekly I visit the library and pick up a stack of books put on hold, browse them, choose the ones that may interest me and return the rest

nekokami
11-22-2007, 01:02 PM
Many times I read a book from the library and then order it immediately just because I like it and want to reread it at my convenience.
Me too! I wonder how many of us there are out there?

AnemicOak
11-22-2007, 01:03 PM
I re-read books over and over and over and over...

Same here. I re-read books/series I like all the time. I've got hundreds of books I've read more than once, many more than two or three times. I guess that's why at this point I'm afraid to lock into any DRM scheme. I'll stick to MS Lit so I have something I can convert & read on whatever device I might have at the time. If I was going to 'trust' one DRM scheme at this point it'd probably be Mobi I think.

astra
11-22-2007, 01:13 PM
Plenty of people do routinely do that kind of thing. Is it really any different to paying $10 to go and see a movie that you may or may not enjoy, or going to a restaurant for a meal that you may or may not like?

$10 is, in this country, less than half the cost of a cheap take-away pizza. I get far more enjoyment from an eBook than a do from a pizza, but I regard both forms of entertainment as equally "ephemeral".

When I go to a restaurant I have a menu which I study for 10 minutes before I order anything and usually I am not too daring in my choices :)

One of the reasons why I don't go to movies is precisely what you have said: go and see a movie that you may or may not enjoy. I am not prepared to throw away £6 or more nowdays? no idea :) for a bad movie. I do buy DVDs for £5-6 of the movies I like. And sometimes even a bit more expensive, such as LotR 3 DVDs extended edition set for £33.

If I were behaving the way you describe, my small salary would be gone way too quickly and I would never take loans. It is not my way of life. So, I have to live accordingly to standards I have set for myself. It includes buying books of good quality that I might read in 10 years time - hardback editions, or in the case of ebooks - books without DRM or with DRM that I can remove. I would definitely not spend $10 for a book that I cannot re-read in 5 years time.

I know, HarryT, you have mentioned it before that you don't see buying a book as a life time investment. I respect it. It is your way of life :) However, you shopuld accept that there are many people who look differently on this matter :)
For example: as I said somewhere else, I am visiting a couple of fantasy related forums. You would not believe how many people over there re-read the same books over and over again.

HarryT
11-22-2007, 01:20 PM
I know, HarryT, you have mentioned it before that you don't see buying a book as a life time investment. I respect it. It is your way of life :) However, you shopuld accept that there are many people who look differently on this matter :)
For example: as I said somewhere else, I am visiting a couple of fantasy related forums. You would not believe how many people over there re-read the same books over and over again.

I absolutely respect that other people feel differently, yes. I too have a small core of books that I read over and over (the great authors, like Charles Dickens, and David Eddings :) ). I probably want to re-read, though, something like 1 in 50 of the books that I read, something like that. The vast majority I read, and would have no interest in reading again.

yvanleterrible
11-22-2007, 01:49 PM
I absolutely respect that other people feel differently, yes. I too have a small core of books that I read over and over (the great authors, like Charles Dickens, and David Eddings :) )

Cheap shot Harry! :laugh4:

fugsly
11-22-2007, 01:52 PM
Plenty of people do routinely do that kind of thing. Is it really any different to paying $10 to go and see a movie that you may or may not enjoy, or going to a restaurant for a meal that you may or may not like?

$10 is, in this country, less than half the cost of a cheap take-away pizza. I get far more enjoyment from an eBook than a do from a pizza, but I regard both forms of entertainment as equally "ephemeral".

Yes but I don't go to the cinema 2/3 times a week, I couldn't afford it. If I only read a couple of books in a month then fair enough but I don't. If you could only read them through once then I'd only ever read extremely long books!

(I also don't tend to go to the cinema very often for the same reason, my shoe budget won't let me) :D

slayda
11-22-2007, 03:49 PM
There are some people that like to reread books, or just buy them read a little now, a little later and so on. I easily have 100 print leisure (fiction and nonfiction, but non-professional) books that I bought and never read cover to cover but that I want to be able to read from anytime I want, and similarly I probably have another 500-1000 print books read at least once if not more that I may reread from anytime I want, and I expect the same with my ebooks.

I don't have that many unread pbooks but probably more "already read and re-readable" pbooks. However I do have probably 150 - 200 "as yet unread" ebooks & still buy more. Many times a book seems too slow so I put it aside for a while & read something else. Some books that looked good at first fall into the "un-readable" or "barely readable" class. After a few of those, I like to get out an old favorite to reread just because I know it's one I'll like.

In the past I had times when I ran out of reading material. I find it's better to keep something in reserve.

tompe
11-22-2007, 05:13 PM
A also reread books. I also buy more books than I have time to read directly so it can be years before I read a book. I think I have exemples were 10-20 years have passed before I read a book. It seems strange to me not being able to do that with e-books.

pundit
11-23-2007, 12:22 AM
My guess is that if the Kindle is a success, it can only be good for eReading.

At $400 apiece, the Kindle has sold out in less than 6 hours. This fact alone is bound to incentivize the market.

Ultimately, Amazon is in the business of selling content, not hardware, and it will go in the direction of selling more content.

Because Apple - or someone - is going to produce a tablet device that will surf the net, convert & play any eBook format, play music, and connect wirelessly to cable television streaming over the net. And Amazon will want a piece of that action.

Look at Audible - at one time they had a dedicated audiobook player for their content. Maybe they still do...

nekokami
11-23-2007, 11:08 AM
Based on the effect of the Kindle program on ebook prices at Sony and BooksOnBoard, I'd say the Kindle is a good thing for ebooks generally.

vivaldirules
11-23-2007, 12:00 PM
Based on the effect of the Kindle program on ebook prices at Sony and BooksOnBoard, I'd say the Kindle is a good thing for ebooks generally.

I hope this is correct. But I worry when I see a smart gorilla like Amazon entering a market and investing in its long-term future by intentionally taking a loss for several years by severely undercutting its competition (e.g., Sony) on prices. It's the same practice Amazon took with pbooks and they stuck it out long enough to survive and win. This same move with ebooks will definitely hurt Amazon, Sony, BooksOnBoard, etc. and I expect some will eventually disappear. If they can ride it out, the increase in ebook customers will be beneficial for the survivors and for us, too.

nekokami
11-23-2007, 01:56 PM
Amazon's prices on p-books are still lower than list. I think you're right that some of the more marginal sellers of ebooks are going to have trouble with Amazon putting price pressure on, but overall I think this is going to force publishers to lower the list prices of ebooks, and I think that's a good thing for everyone (including the other ebook vendors). Ebooks are on their way to becoming a commodity product, so ultimately, survival should be based on what the ebook vendor brings to the process. Currently, that's very little in most cases. Amazon has customer reviews, book recommendations, and the "search inside" feature in addition to ease of use and low prices. I'd like to see some of the other ebook vendors think about adding features to their sites if they want to compete. For example, someone could implement a DotReader-like book club discussion system, or try to get individual authors on board to write blogs (though Amazon does this, too), or --gasp!-- drop DRM in an attempt to be more competitive. This is what the market needs, I think.

tsgreer
11-23-2007, 02:05 PM
And I would like to add that Amazon's great review "free first chapter" function caused me to buy the first DRM books that I've bought in years. I have bought four already. They are books that I would never have bought but after research about them and reading the first chapter, I was hooked.

I honestly didn't buy the Kindle to read too many "bought" books. Most of my stuff is Baen and PG stuff. But I wanted the option and I like how Amazon posts so much info about the book. The reviews section at a lot of ebook sellers is weak.

Not that I am a slave to reviews, but you know, if you have 125 people saying that the characters are flat and un-interesting, odds are they are right. And the reverse is true as well.

But the free first chapter thing, now that is something that people should have thought of a long time a go. Just having an excerpt isn't enough. A chapter does a pretty good job of giving you a feel of the writer though...

AnemicOak
11-23-2007, 02:23 PM
Amazon's prices on p-books are still lower than list.
Only on HC & some Trade PB releases. On Mass Market PB's they charge cover price (although they do have the 4 for 3 deal).


I think you're right that some of the more marginal sellers of ebooks are going to have trouble with Amazon putting price pressure on, but overall I think this is going to force publishers to lower the list prices of ebooks, and I think that's a good thing for everyone (including the other ebook vendors).

I'll admit I haven't looked at tons of Kindle edition listings, but besides the $9.99 bestsellers, which have already caused other sellers to cut prices, most things I looked at were within $.50 to $1 of what everyone else sells for and sometimes Amazon was the one that was higher. The Simon & Schuster titles I checked are still cheaper directly from the publisher.


Ebooks are on their way to becoming a commodity product, so ultimately, survival should be based on what the ebook vendor brings to the process. Currently, that's very little in most cases. Amazon has customer reviews, book recommendations, and the "search inside" feature in addition to ease of use and low prices. I'd like to see some of the other ebook vendors think about adding features to their sites if they want to compete. For example, someone could implement a DotReader-like book club discussion system, or try to get individual authors on board to write blogs (though Amazon does this, too)

Yes. Fictionwise is where I buy most of my stuff & they have a site which is marginal at best. It reminds me of an early 90's e-commerce site, others I've visited could be much improved also. One thing that bugs me about current shops is they don't always sell in every format available so one book I want I can get at say Books On Board, but the second book I want they only have in one format & I have to go to another shop to get it. If the publisher is making it available in multiple formats why not offer them all in your store?

HarryT
11-23-2007, 02:48 PM
Yes. Fictionwise is where I buy most of my stuff & they have a site which is marginal at best.

What's wrong with the Fictionwise site? It's simple and clean, IMHO.

AnemicOak
11-23-2007, 03:20 PM
What's wrong with the Fictionwise site? It's simple and clean, IMHO.

Well nothing is wrong with it per se, I just wish there was more sometimes. Having actual reviews as opposed to just ratings would be nice. Being able to go to a section & see all titles available for pre-orders would be nice. Recommendations (like on Amazon) would be nice. Having sample chapters, which most authors or publishers do make available wouldn't be a bad idea. Of course you can read reviews & sample chapters elsewhere on the net, but it'd be nice sometimes to have it all in one place. There site is certainly functional & they are without a doubt my preferred source for anything not published by Baen (or stuff Webscriptions sells) or Simon & Schuster.

HarryT
11-23-2007, 03:25 PM
Fair points, all of them.

For actual ordering, though, I like the simplicity of the site. Many modern web sites are so cluttered with fancy graphics and other "bells and whistles" that they can be very cumbersome to navigate.

AnemicOak
11-23-2007, 03:26 PM
Fair points, all of them.

For actual ordering, though, I like the simplicity of the site. Many modern web sites are so cluttered with fancy graphics and other "bells and whistles" that they can be very cumbersome to navigate.

Oh, I agree totally. Many sites are way overdone.

nekokami
11-23-2007, 11:06 PM
Amazon is cluttered, I agree. But I do really like the book recommendations feature. If I'm to lose the privacy of my reading list, I'd like to at least get something back for it! ;)

The wishlist is nice, too. Especially around the holidays, when people want to get a book or music as a gift and want to avoid duplicating what the recipient already has.

I could live without the silly "gold box" and other flashy nonsense, though.

hidari
11-25-2007, 01:58 PM
have to agree with Harry T. I read just once and Rarely reread books. Too many good ones out there I have yet to read. Yet, With ebooks, I think one should make sure that it is at least convertible to .txt (which most formats are with the right software). In this way, One can enjoy the book years later on a different device. Ok. .txt does not save everything as people want with font/punctuation- use a bit of imagination- but at least, It keeps the core of the text that you would want to read.

Plus, Most people on this sight should know how to convert between formats.




I absolutely respect that other people feel differently, yes. I too have a small core of books that I read over and over (the great authors, like Charles Dickens, and David Eddings :) ). I probably want to re-read, though, something like 1 in 50 of the books that I read, something like that. The vast majority I read, and would have no interest in reading again.

RSaunders
11-25-2007, 06:58 PM
Perhaps the real problem is that there *isn't* an ebook equivalent of MP3. So far, PDF, TXT, and mobi have been proposed, but none of those are nearly as universal as MP3, and they each have their own problems. (snip)

I think the real problem is that the proprietary folks are not supporting conversion into open formats. Everybody uses the "iPod + iTunes" analog, but that's not what we have. If you buy a sony on iTunes, burn it on a CD, and rip the CD to MP3 - you have the song you bought in an interchangeable format. Kindle files can't (yet) be converted into text or mobi files. Adobe Digital Editions can be converted into text or anything else. Sony Reader DRM files can't be converted into text, etc.

For someone to pursue the "iPod + iTunes" approach we need to me able to convert to a format we can play in all our other MP3 players from other companies.

So far, Kindle isn't "iPod + iTunes" of books.

HarryT
11-26-2007, 05:51 AM
I think the real problem is that the proprietary folks are not supporting conversion into open formats. Everybody uses the "iPod + iTunes" analog, but that's not what we have. If you buy a sony on iTunes, burn it on a CD, and rip the CD to MP3 - you have the song you bought in an interchangeable format. Kindle files can't (yet) be converted into text or mobi files. Adobe Digital Editions can be converted into text or anything else. Sony Reader DRM files can't be converted into text, etc.

For someone to pursue the "iPod + iTunes" approach we need to me able to convert to a format we can play in all our other MP3 players from other companies.

So far, Kindle isn't "iPod + iTunes" of books.

Format conversion is a rather "grey area" of copyright law. It's not at all clear in many countries that it falls into the category of "fair use". In the UK, for example, it is specifically NOT legal to "rip" CDs that you've bought (I'm not saying that people don't do it, just that it's not legal). I believe that it may perhaps be legal in the US.

Publishers do have to be careful about supplying format conversion tools, however, as they may fall foul of the law in certain countries.

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-26-2007, 11:50 AM
Format conversion is a rather "grey area" of copyright law. It's not at all clear in many countries that it falls into the category of "fair use". In the UK, for example, it is specifically NOT legal to "rip" CDs that you've bought (I'm not saying that people don't do it, just that it's not legal). I believe that it may perhaps be legal in the US.

Yes, in the US it's considered "fair use" to rip CDs. However, US law is vague on what "fair use" actually means, so you can still get in trouble depending on exactly what you do with those ripped files.

wallcraft
11-26-2007, 12:54 PM
In the UK, for example, it is specifically NOT legal to "rip" CDs that you've bought (I'm not saying that people don't do it, just that it's not legal). I have seen news stories that the UK intends to make format shifting legal, but I'm not sure if that is still the case. For example, see UK government rejects extended copyright term (http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/10480.cfm).

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-27-2007, 03:42 PM
It's just occurred to me: Bob R, who kicked off this excellent discussion, hasn't been heard from since post #1!

It's been fairly clear that the Kindle has kicked off a lot of discussion, both here and outside this forum, and all that attention has to be good for e-books. Kindles are selling well (I say that, not knowing whether Amazon had 5,000 Kindles or 50 to be "sold out" of), and there's legitimate buzz outside of the traditional e-book and gadget arenas.

With all this attention, publishers have to take notice. And eventually, if more people buy e-books and get clued in to the inherent issues of DRM and formats, there might... just might... be a groundswell of support for formats like ePub, and non-DRM-based selling models... and maybe even lower prices!

(zzz... zzgzkkz... uh? I guess I fell asleep. My, what a nice dream I just had... :rolleyes:)

Anyway... Bob, I'm curious: Do you still think all this attention might not bode well for the e-book field? Or are all those potential customers just sheep being led to the slaughter?

Bob Russell
11-27-2007, 06:09 PM
It's just occurred to me: Bob R, who kicked off this excellent discussion, hasn't been heard from since post #1! [...]

Anyway... Bob, I'm curious: Do you still think all this attention might not bode well for the e-book field? Or are all those potential customers just sheep being led to the slaughter?I was just enjoying watching the discussion build and evolve. But I'll add a few comments:

* To start off, I have to say that the attention from Kindle is a positive for e-books, and I can say that without any qualifications. It's a big deal because it's getting a lot of mainstream publicity and people need exposure to become interested in the possibilities and advantages.

* The device itself has both positive and negative factors, and I'm happy to see that both sides are being revealed. Any device that pushed forward with new and innovative features takes the risk of being nitpicked to death. It's sort of like the old saying about talking to an auditor - answer questions briefly and don't bring up new topics because it only leads to more questions and investigations. If you have a simple device it's not (generally) going to be criticized as much as a feature laden device. I believe we've seen that with all the PDA and smartphone and UMPC complaints. Now we're seeing some of that with the Kindle as people have usability complaints.

But as far as being good or bad for e-books, I can once again say that the Kindle hardware is another definite positive.

* However, my concerns about the direction that Amazon is taking with privacy issues and excessively exclusive DRM control still stand as before. The future of content control is still up in the air. As someone pointed out before, the iTunes store even allowed controlled audio content to be burned onto a CD, so it wasn't 100% hostage to the platform. But Amazon has created a very anti-competitive environment.

It reminds me a little bit of the bit ruckus about companies that made ink-jet printers in such a way that only their brand of refill cartridge would work. There were legal battles because refill prices were very high and other companies wanted to make and sell competing refills. I don't remember the result, but I think that the printer manufacturers won in court, which means that the consumers lost (in the form of higher prices and less suppliers of the refills).

I desire to see a more competitive future business environment for e-books. I want to see legitimate competition of content based on the actual words and the formatting. I don't want to see artificial price control because of format and DRM wars and gamesmanship. I don't want to see consumers reduced to simple rental of content under the guise of a purchase. And I don't want to see consumers misled about what they are purchasing. If DRM keeps up, we have made e-books a disposable world, where you only really get the content for a period of time. It makes e-books a harder and more expensive technology and in my current viewpoint, it means everyone loses. Both consumers and sellers.

In my mind, Steve, the heroes of the future content marketplace are the Mark Cubans, Steve Jordans, and the many other sellers that try to use popular and open formats without DRM (or at least making DRM less onerous). I see the IDPF and Sony and Adobe and others moving toward ePub as a very positive move. It might not solve DRM issues completely, but at least it's something that gets us away from "unreasonable" content control. It's a move in the right direction.

There's a paradigm to be set. It will be determined by e-book sellers like Amazon, and by the legal system, and by politics and by customer response to the various constraints. If anyone tells you that they know how it will turn out, I think they are naive. Every Kindle with closed DRM and loss of previous generic MobiPocket DRM is a nail in the free market coffin. Each step along the way is helping determine the future of the marketplace for books and content, and I wrote this original post because I feel strongly that it's an important topic. Splintered and highly controlled e-book sellers with proprietary DRM that ties the books to the devices are one of the worst outcomes for the future of the book. And it even has potential consequences for the future of libraries and preservation of books.

I will cheer for any manufacturer and publisher that is promoting a future of a free competitive market without artificial constraints for content. And I will gladly point out when I think that a company such as Amazon is taking us the wrong direction (which is exceptionally relevant to this topic because of its wide ranging influence).

My article has been described as "angry" and "hostile" and so forth, and some even think I hate the Kindle. I do consider this a topic that's so important that I will get passionate about it. I think it's similar to the passion we have seen on the MP3 front with albums and DRM. In fact, I think it's of equal importance because I consider the availability and market for books to be critical to our society. But it would be a mistake to think that my passion is because of the hardware or because I don't like Amazon in general or because I like my Sony Reader, etc.

Bottom line, I still think that in every move like the one Amazon made to get into the e-book business, we see a little bit of the future of books being written out. There are a lot of players and a lot of vested interests, and there will be a lot of twists and turns. I see a distorted and sub-par future for the general welfare of our society relative to books and book selling as it goes electronic. But I'm hoping that a free market for books and content will prevail.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me, and that's fine. I'm just trying to get that point of view out there. I want people to understand the issue. Then all the people that are much smarter and more important than me can fight it out and figure out what's really best for us.

Well, Steve... I bet you're sorry you asked now!!!! :D

P.S. With respect to your specific question about customers being sheep led to the slaughter, I wouldn't put it that way. The damage I see is in setting the paradigm for book selling. I hate to see a closed market direction precedent. But for the individual consumer this is a short term thing. As long as one knows that they are taking the risk of locking up content in a strict DRM scheme, that's fine. I do it myself right now with Sony Connect books. It's not perfect, but it's pretty much what we are stuck with for most modern popular books and best sellers.

If the Kindle is popular and wildly successful, it's hard to tell whether or not the level of popularity will be significant in the war for the marketplace. It might actually help, because as people get more familiar with e-books more quickly, they also might become more educated consumers. Or we might see a backlash from consumers against DRM. Personally, I don't in any way suggest any kind of boycott or avoidance of the Kindle. I think that would be misguided. People should get what is best for them. Who knows how this will play out. I would buy one myself if it was the right device for me, and I would enjoy having one.

All I hope for is that in the midst of the Kindle excitement, people don't lose sight of the far-reaching effects that a paradigm of closed content and strict DRM can have on the e-book marketplace if it becomes widespread. And that people understand that it will mean higher prices, more headaches, and repeated purchases as platforms change.

Well one more thing I hope for... that people understand that this is a significant issue that is worthy of being highlighted, but my word is not the final word in any way. It's an ongoing topic that will have plenty of time to be debated and fought over, and my goal is to simply bring exposure. Also realize that this is spur of the moment writing, not some carefully planned out essay. So if anyone is annoyed or offended, or if I've been less than gracious in my writing, please accept my apologies. And if you have a Kindle, don't let this take away from your excitement about the device and e-books in any way. However you look at it, this is a great day for e-books! :)

Steven Lyle Jordan
11-28-2007, 11:06 AM
Pretty good for spur-of-the-moment writing, Bob! I don't think you've alienated or upset anyone, you've just stated the facts and your opinions, and very clearly at that. And I agree with pretty much all of it. Now, go rest your fingers, 'cause I know they must be tired!

I think you referenced the most significant part of this issue here:

If the Kindle is popular and wildly successful, it's hard to tell whether or not the level of popularity will be significant in the war for the marketplace. It might actually help, because as people get more familiar with e-books more quickly, they also might become more educated consumers. Or we might see a backlash from consumers against DRM...

All I hope for is that in the midst of the Kindle excitement, people don't lose sight of the far-reaching effects that a paradigm of closed content and strict DRM can have on the e-book marketplace if it becomes widespread. And that people understand that it will mean higher prices, more headaches, and repeated purchases as platforms change.

As you point out, it will be the public that either rolls over, or stands up and affects change. Publishers and authors providing alternative formats and sales models will help them see that there are other ways of doing things, but only the public can demand change and vote with their wallets.

As for me, I'm glad to be an alternative voice, while at the same time wading into the Kindle waters to see if I can actually get wet--because at this point, the Kindle is still an Insider's game, and despite its widespread popularity, may not earn Peons like me a single dime.

(In fact, if you check their contract, they will not send any earned funds to you until they surpass $100... which may mean that anything under $99 will never be sent to the author. One more part of their system that should be changed, IMO)

cfw123
12-25-2007, 01:54 AM
I love my Kindle, but I smell a rat. Amazon will not accept Amazon gift certificates for anything for the Kindle -- they just charge your credit card for the entire amouint, and leave you with the gift certificate balance untouched. The even refuse to allow you to transfer MobiPocket files with DRM" attached, even though MobiPocket is their own subsidary. As much as possible, Kindle.com and Amazon.com represent completely different companies with separate accounting and P&L.

The rat I smell is how could these two really be just one company? As it appears to me, it is two separate companies selling through Amazon like Amazon does for many other separate companies. I believe it is set up that way to enable Amazon to sell it when they have a proven business, and can get the price that they want for it. Else everything I have just pointed out doesn't make any sense at all.

Charles Wilkes, San Jose, Calif.

HarryT
12-25-2007, 10:28 AM
Amazon and Mobipocket are not "just one company"; nobody's ever claimed that they are. Amazon own MobiPocket, yes, but the two operate as completely separate companies. No "rats" involved.

jasonkchapman
12-25-2007, 02:29 PM
Amazon and Mobipocket are not "just one company"; nobody's ever claimed that they are. Amazon own MobiPocket, yes, but the two operate as completely separate companies. No "rats" involved.

I thought the poster was saying that the Kindle operation is being run like a separate, hosted company in the same way that, say, Foot Locker has a presence on Amazon. Personally, I don't see it. They've spent far too much money on infrastructure to just dump it out of hand or sell it off.

Personally, I think any aspects of the Kindle operation that seem off-kilter can be explained by Amazon trying to jockey an uncertain business venture into a success before they start taking more risks with it.

Alisa
12-26-2007, 01:26 AM
As for gift certificates, they claim they're working on having the ability to use those for Kindle books. As it is, the Kindle is set to use your "one-click" settings. They don't have a way yet to use other payment forms.

sfernald
12-26-2007, 01:15 PM
The more these e-book sellers depend on onerous drm, the more likely they are to push their potential customers over to the darknet. They will figure this out eventually. People don't want to pay for the same content twice. They will find a way around the system. If e-book drm becomes pervasive, then you can eventually count on drm cracking utilities to become pervasive as well, just as they are today for the music drm formats. Simple GUI utilities will exist that let you effortlessly convert Kindle format or Sony Reader format to useful drm-free formats. This is not speculation, but almost a certainty, if the e-book sellers continue to put restrictions on customers.

Customers are generally willing to pay, but not only must there not be restrictive drm, but it must be convenient to make a purchase. This is where the Kindle excels over the Sony Reader. It is easier to download a book from the Darknet than work with the awkward Sony software, navigate through the confusing Sony store, and actually make a purchase there.

The e-book store that provides the two, convenience and minimal restrictions, along with a reasonable price, should be quite successful. Of course, this probably won't happen for a few years until the e-book market matures to where the music market is right now.

groch
12-28-2007, 09:59 AM
The more these e-book sellers depend on onerous drm, the more likely they are to push their potential customers over to the darknet......If e-book drm becomes pervasive, then you can eventually count on drm cracking utilities to become pervasive as well, just as they are today for the music drm formats.....

......It is easier to download a book from the Darknet than work with the awkward Sony software, navigate through the confusing Sony store, and actually make a purchase there.

The e-book store that provides the two, convenience and minimal restrictions, along with a reasonable price, should be quite successful. Of course, this probably won't happen for a few years until the e-book market matures to where the music market is right now.

Sorry for the long quotes, but I think you are right on the money (literally and figuratively) on this.

Amazon made a major investment in developing the hardware, software, and delivery systems for the Kindle, in a market that at the moment really does not exist. 50,000 units sold will not come close to paying that off.

They would not have gotten into the market unless they saw a way to profit from their huge reading customer base and library of books.

If they are successful in creating this market, then competition both from other hardware manufacturers and the "darknet" will force open their DRM policies. This could take years, but if ebooks are to succeed it is a necessary market growth step.

Remember, Apple did not sell DRM free music until there was competition in hardware and software and an established market to make it profitable.