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Steven Levy on Amazon's Kindle

Amazon’s Kindle is due out tomorrow, and Steven Levy has a long and thoughtful article in Newsweek about the device, entitled The Future of Reading. It summarizes the device’s attributes nicely, but the best part of the article is the account of Steve’s conversations with Jeff Bezos and others who are trying to build devices that emulate and extend the best features of the book. My favorite part was this one:

Bezos understands that for all of its attributes, if one aspect of the physical book is not adequately duplicated, the entire effort will be for naught. “The key feature of a book is that it disappears,” he says.

While those who take fetishlike pleasure in physical books may resist the notion, that vanishing act is what makes electronic reading devices into viable competitors to the printed page: a subsuming connection to the author that is really the basis of our book passion. “I’ve actually asked myself, ‘Why do I love these physical objects?’ ” says Bezos. ” ‘Why do I love the smell of glue and ink?’ The answer is that I associate that smell with all those worlds I have been transported to. What we love is the words and ideas.”

Long before there was cyberspace, books led us to a magical nether-zone. “Books are all the dreams we would most like to have, and like dreams they have the power to change consciousness,” wrote Victor Nell in a 1988 tome called “Lost in a Book.” Nell coined a name for that trancelike state that heavy readers enter when consuming books for pleasure—”ludic reading” (from the Latin ludo, meaning “I play”). Annie Proulx’s claim was that an electronic device would never create that hypnotic state. But technologists are disproving that.

I’m rooting for Jeff and the Kindle. I’m not sure that he’s going to win his bet that people will use a single-purpose device rather than reading on a multi-function device like the iPhone and its successors. But I’m also not sure he needs to. Even if some other device becomes the reader of choice, Amazon will still become one of the leading sources of the books that feed it. All Amazon needs to do here is move the industry forward, and I think that’s already been accomplished.

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  • biff

    One of the best things for me about reading on line is a product called Rapid Reader which allows me to speed read on a computer screen. I Kindle can incorporate that into its software, Wow I’d buy it.

  • Can’t say anything definitively until I try out a Kindle, but I think Amazon is in for a rude shock. There are two huge flaws with Kindle (a) cost and (b) proprietary format. I think by taking an iTunes/iPod like model with the Kindle Amazon is making a huge mistake and the search for the killer ebook is going to continue.

    One thing is for sure as you note. Whether the Kindle succeeds or not, Amazon is going to play a key role in the future of the ebook.

  • Mark

    ‘Why do I love the smell of glue and ink?’

    Huh?? Perhaps Bezos has a library of musty and moldy books he hasn’t opened in a while or left in his unheated garage too long. Books don’t smell unless they are rotting. Perhaps he is getting his metaphors mixed up or is thinking of that “new car” smell (which is really toxic plastic residual).

    The physical quality of printed material (such as books) is that they are HELD in your hands. It is this feel and the ability to be able to adjust the viewing of the entire page however you wish that needs to be replicated well with electronic viewing tools.

    Books have another physical quality that is yet difficult to replicate with electronics – that is they are very durable (considering their cost) and have a long lifespan (assuming they are allowed not to go moldy and start smelling …). Indeed, a quality book has a potential lifespan of centuries.

    Printed publications are also made of mostly renewable and recyclable materials. Compare that with the ever proliferating of short life-span electronic gadgets that are piling up and creating a disposal nightmare – never mind the toxic metals that they contain.

    So while I wish Bezos well in this endeavor I don’t this that particular effort will make much more progress than previous attempts at electronic books for the mass market.

  • (Disclaimer: I am a published O’Reilly author. Not sure if that would cause anyone would treat my opinion differently, but there it is.)

    I think this whole notion of “recreating the book, only digitally” is completely wrong-headed. E-books can do things that physical books can’t; if you’re not taking advantage of those, you’re working against the grain. (Unfortunately for book publishers, one of those advantages is “easy infinite distribution”. I see that Kindle is DRM-infested — a.k.a. defective by design — from day 1. Well, lots of luck with that.)

    It’s amusing that the article repeatedly tries to make analogies to the iPod, when what Amazon has created here is more akin to IBM’s “RealCD” player ( now firmly ensconced in the Interface Hall of Shame: http://homepage.mac.com/bradster/iarchitect/realcd.htm ).

  • @Mark — your first comment —

    You need to remember that Jeff has a very different experience of books than you do. He gets many a carton, fresh from the printer, and I can assure you that when you open a box of freshly printed books, there is indeed a strong smell of glue and ink. Older books may have that musty smell — and any library that has books that have seen some life has some musty books, however they are cared for today. I love the smell of old books. It may be a sign that they aren’t in tip top condition, but it is also a lovely sign of their history.

    Regarding your second comment, assuming that you are the same Mark, I agree that there are things that you can do with e-books that you can’t do with a print book. One of them is search. That’s why we created Safari as a library *service* not just standalone books.

    But you’ll note that there’s no reason that Amazon couldn’t adopt the subscription business model as well. And you’ll also note that they do have a searchable repository — and they’ve separated the act of search from the act of purchase. So even though there is DRM on the books themselves on the kindle, you get many of the benefits of free access without paying or DRM.

    This is an industry that’s still in the process of reinventing itself. It will take time for all the models to work out, especially since there are multiple players, each with their own positions on these issues.

    Sometimes it’s the publisher who’s requiring the DRM; at other times, it’s the authors. (And in fact, I can attest that we get way more requests for stronger DRM from authors — or even requests that we not make their books available online at all — than you might think.) So don’t blame Amazon for this. They are having to bring a lot of people along with them for their experiment.

  • gregory

    mark, of course books smell, new ones have a different smell than old ones, just open a box of either and, to me, at least, odor is there…

    but the kinesthetic qualities of books is also true, more so if one’s mind works that way…. but holding a book in bed, wouldn’t it be nice if the book hovered in the air at the proper angle about 20 inches above my head? wouldn’t have to change hands every time i turned a page, or support the weight…

    something will come in this category… what it is, we don’t know.. glad amazon is trying, and trying to innovate, not like some of those other northwest mega companies…

    enjoy

  • A single purpose, bulky, proprietary device is unlikely to last.

    What is intriguing will be the evolution of the SCREEN during the next decades that will impact which tech model becomes preferable for reading.

    It’s likely that a strong, wafer thin, multi-purpose, foldable screen device might dominate the market out of practicality.

    Perhaps the screen will be an optional attachment

    Consumers will download books just as any other software to whatever hi tech device and drive will be current at that time.

    Perhaps publishers will have remote hosting or subscription options, allowing consumers to SAVE books as one now saves videos on YouTube or visit books like one now subscribes to the Wall St Journal.

    Eventually, hard copy books will become as much in demand as LP vinyl albums are today.

  • Kindle schmindle.

    Yet another uni-purpose device in a world of smart phones and UMPC’s.

    Remember: when you start hearing from anyone, even a wildly successful CEO from Amazon Books, “this isn’t a device, it’s a service,” it’s time to start running for the exits.

    Much of the material on hypertext (the “always-on book”) could have been written by Vannevar Bush.

    As far as his argument about books and dead trees is concerned, how many dead trees does it take to make a Kindle?

    If we’re about to abandon books in favor of electronic reading, it’s hard to imagine it would take this form. There are much better alternatives.

  • Srinagesh Eranki

    Smart move! Jeff Bezos is growing the market. He is targeting the long tail (e.g. out of print books) and non-consumption (“bite-sized” sale of individual chapters as opposed to the whole book). He is looking to “tip” the e-books trend.

    It is all reaching an inflection point. I can’t wait for all the innovation (e.g. multimedia capabilities) in e-books and e-book readers that moves like these will trigger.

    Somehow I get the funny feeling that it is all going to play into Steve Jobs hands!

  • DRM is not a problem as long as open unprotected formats also are supported.

    Paying for Blogs is not a problem as long as there is also the possibillity to read any other open free RSS feed from the Internet.

    A special Kindle email is not a problem as long as one can also configure ones own POP email account or access ones Gmail account through a browser.

    The tiny thumb keyboard is not a problem as long as it is also possible to connect a full sized foldable external keyboard.

  • max

    whow, i’m really speechless that it is possible to talk with tim o’reilly in his blog! this is really cool.

  • Tim,

    The Kindle supports yet-another-proprietary-format and also DRM. How can you you support that?

    Again, I’d invite you to talk about (and think about!) freedom and free software.

    Your publishing company is not insignificant – you could do something about the DRM, if you stood up for it, instead of accepting it.

  • Max —

    Isn’t that the point of blogging?

  • Matt —

    I have to say that I’m getting disgusted with the FSF and the rhetoric that I should be “thinking about freedom.” I’ve been talking about freedom my whole career, and just because I’m not spouting your particular party line, you put me in the “enemy” camp.

    I’ve been talking for the last ten years about the change in the nature of the threat to software freedom. In the age of Web 2.0, the greatest threat is the concentration of power in huge network-effects databases. I’ve challenged the FSF to think about this issue for years, and been ignored — told it was irrelevant. (See my conversation with Stallman in Berlin in 1999.) Now you’ve upped the ante, and when I got Eben Moglen to come, supposedly to talk about this issue, he chose instead to attack me as “ignoring freedom” rather than coming to grips with this issue.

    My fundamental argument since my very first talk on open source in 1997 was that free software advocates were missing the real threat: that just as the “open” hardware standards of the PC had led to a new software monopoly, the open standards of the internet and free/open source software, was going to lead to new monopolies in what I at first called “infoware” and now call Web 2.0.

    I’m fine if you don’t agree, and want to talk about the issues. But please stop telling me that you “invite me to talk about freedom.”

    DRM is a tiny issue compared to the one I’m highlighting. It will go away.

    I ultimately believe that the market will punish people who use DRM, and so it’s not that big an issue. I don’t support it. I do in fact speak out against it. (But I don’t suppose that you’ve actually read much of what I’ve written on the subject before posting your holier than thou comments.)

    Meanwhile, market trends *support* the things I’m worried about, which is why making people aware of the threat seems important.

    Sorry to be so strong in my response, but please do read and think about some of what I’ve written before trying to school me in issues of freedom.

  • Alex Tolley

    Having looked at the Kindle details on Amazon I think this will have mixed success.

    The downsides are obvious:
    1. expensive ($399), “single use” machine
    2. B&W only
    3. DRM for purchased books.
    4. Doesn’t support PDF (wonder why that is?)

    The innovative stuff:

    1. Cellular connection rather than WiFi (and Amazon pays).
    2. Email transmission of documents (“small fee”.)
    3. The coolest feature – Wikipedia availability. Frankly this is the most useful part of the device – more interesting than the storage of reading material. This feature I could really use.
    4. Titles are far better priced – NYTimes bestsellers at $10 each.

    It strikes me that if Google mapping was accessible too (at a very low cost), this would make a killer little machine – a better platform for map reading than the tiny screens on cellphones. I could see a natural evolution to adding WiFi down the road, allowing free/paid for web access making this a very useful portable device.

    Just one final thought – could Amazon get a better designer – it isn’t a very stylish and looks a bit clunky in the demos.

  • Tim,

    When might we see O’Reilly books on the Kindle?

    Danny

  • I’ve thought about buying an e-book reader because the e-paper thing seems to be progressing well enough to make the idea palatable. Then I saw the price. Until the price of readers goes south of $100 I’m not going to bother going any farther.

    I love books and I love to read, but at $400 just for the reader, it’s not worth my time or money. For $100, if it is stripped of features and all it does is display text on e-paper, it would be worthwhile.

  • Jean Philippe

    I am highly interested by the kindle, but why I would invest in a Kindle appliance when I can have a eeePC for the same price ?

    Why not a software version of the kindle, rather than an hardware version of it ?

  • One of the things I miss about having CD’s is having a shelf of music I can walk over and look at, or show off to my friends and have them look at. I got two things from this. I got the ego gratification of the space my music collection was taking, and I got non linear random searches that allowed me to stumble upon my own music collection in surprising ways.

    I think both of the qualities are MORE important for books. With music, I can get ego gratification from the size of my collection in songs or days or GB, and shuffle allows me to access it is surprising ways.

    Perhaps one day I will be bragging about the 100 GB of ebooks I have, but I can’t see how shuffle would work for an ebook. I’d rather have them on a shelf.

  • Hi Tim,

    I’m awaiting a 3.1 version of this device which, then, will be ready for me. I’ll let the early adopters fix the price and bugs for me. $150/$200 seems like a good price for such a device — even bookOphiles like me will find $400/ a lil too expensive.

    Sure, something like this which can also play a DVD will be cool to keep one’s kids quiet while travelling.

    BR,
    ~A

  • Frank Daley

    Google’s mobile Android platform provides the perfect framework for a competitive device that will support open standards and any open file format that developers choose to support.

    When an Android-based device hits the market at the right price and with an attractive design, the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle will fade fast unless they too offer transparent support for open file formats.

  • > Regarding your second comment, assuming that you are the same Mark

    Actually only the second one was me, but thanks for the reply.

  • Charles Platt

    Interestingly to me, about 10 years ago, at a meeting of the Association of American Publishers, I was on a panel where I outlined a specification almost identical to that of Kimble, except that I suggested it should cost no more than a GameBoy. After all, we’re talking about a reading device with little processing power.

    I also suggested that if publishers could eliminate the existing inefficiencies and costs of retailing, they could make money by allowing access to their huge backlists for maybe 99 cents per book.

    I still think it could have worked at that time. But Kimble is now a late entry in a world where online access is already ubiquitous, and it is charging about 10 times the purchase price and per-copy price that I imagined, while offering only a subset of book titles available elsewhere.

    Text has become as ubiquitous and as cheap as water. Some people prefer to pay for fancy water; others get it free from the faucet. Anyone trying to sell text has to grapple with this unfortunate situation. (I am a text seller myself, in that I write it–some for O’Reilly publications incidentally).

    To get people to pay, you have to provide added value. The obvious source of added value online is to provide more choice (which is how Amazon succeeded as a bookseller).

    There are literally millions of out-of-print books out there. If the publishers and individual writers who own electronic rights to those titles could ever be induced to share them in one huge repository of electronic text, THEN a portable wireless reading device with instant access to that store would have an advantage, especially if the entire library was content-searchable.

    But bearing in mind the notorious phobia shared by New York publishers toward anything electronic, and the even deeper fears shared by many writers, I won’t hold my breath.

  • Mark

    Bezos’ vision 5 years from now is to have every book ever written on kindle. Now you are talking about sensory overload. Reading will become read surfing. No one will finish a book who owns one of these things. IT invasion into a sacred domain in my opinion.

  • jonscot

    Sony has had this technology for 2 years – its called “Libre”

  • Kindle? For books? Am I the only one for whom this invokes unsettling Fahrenheit 451 images?

  • > That’s why we created Safari as a library *service* not just standalone books.

    I would love see the Kindle, Iliad etc. as rich clients for online services like Safari. At most places where I want to read wireless internet is available (home, work, hotels, cafes, train stations, airports,…). With the Mozilla Minimo browser for the Iliad that would be possible already, although not quiet the user experience I would expect.

  • Gerall

    What gets me interested in this is:

    1) the fact that Amazon is rolling the costs of the bandwidth for delivery into the cost of books, giving us wikipedia for free.

    2) the wireless network they’re keying into is as ubiquitous as your cell phone’s.

    3) the device supports flat text files.

    This last bit leads me to think that DRM will eventually go away.

    As for the first two points; Who can guarantee you’ll be near a wifi hotspot when you want to buy a book? I can, however, get a pretty clear signal on my dad’s farm ninety miles from anywhere…

    I don’t necessarily want unlimited browsing on an ebook device. I want to read, bookmark, and annotate my ebooks. Kindle does that.

    What drives me away from the idea is its expense. I hope the device survives the current consumer market and continues to evolve. I’ve been waiting for a good ebook reader for years.

  • e-Book readers are more dependent upon the application and the quality of the design considerations that are placed with the actual e-Book.

    Examples for e-Book design are O’Reilly’s stuff. Table of Contents and Indexes are all hyperlinked.

    As far as application, Adobe’s Digital Editions.

    Am waiting not so patiently for a handheld device that will support Adobe Digital Editions. The rest is up to e-Book publishers to get it down right.

  • Post Script:

    O’Reilly–

    Do some vertical integration. Get a hold of a good hardware design firm, manufacturer and Adobe.

    Build a good e-Book reader. Keep the design and application open enough to build in, down the road, that “Its all in the data, stupid” thing.

    Dramatically expand your market.

    When you get it done, e-Mail me. I will send you the billing information.

  • I think Mark hit the nail on the head with his “going against the grain” comment. For an e-book to be worth the upcharge, you need to provide some significant additional benefit. What could that be with an e-book? The first thing that pops into my head is that an e-book is a computer, so you should try to leverage the available compute power. Textbooks are a good match. Imagine a calculus textbook where you can change a function and see a graph of the result. A biology book where you can move through cross sections of a human body. A C# reference where you can change the code and see the result. (For this last one, I can’t wait to see the first O’Reilly programming language reference that makes the leap to interactivity). I would expect that this kind of functionality will require a lot of work on the part of the publisher and author, but it would be a real differentiator for e-books.

    That being said, I’m not sure what significant benefit this would provide to fiction or other books where interactivity isn’t obvious. We could see an evolution in fiction, where interactivity is part of the experience. But I’m not hopeful (just think about the trainwreck that was interactive movies, where audiences could pick the ending).

    Without interactivity, there are a lot of negatives with the Kindle. Unlike a paper book, I can’t share it or sell it. Amazon’s choice of 3G network connectivity is interesting, but costly and probably overkill (WiFi would have probably been enough). And a lack of support for other formats like PDF is an unnecessarily limitation.

    I’m hopeful that the Kindle is a stepping stone for a better e-book, but for the time being I’ll be sticking with paper.

  • You’re exactly right that the real issue here isn’t the Kindle but that Amazon – and ultimately publishers – have gotten behind electronic books. There are plenty of people that can design a better gadget; what’s been missing to date has been the business case that electronic books make sense. (I’m purposefully overlooking the Star Trek series and Harlequins in making this point….)

    http://tome-reader.blogspot.com/2007/11/publishers-electronic-opportunities.html

  • I’d like to second Daniel’s question. Will we see O’Reilly books on the Kindle? One great advantage I see to the device is the ability to easily carry an entire technical reference library, and I like that to be next to my laptop and not on my laptop. Since 99% of my technical references seem to be O’Reilly and Microsoft Press, I’d love both, but I’d be happy with your Regex tome, since that’s just fun reading.

  • @ David Kearns —

    As people note, you can load PDFs by emailing them to your kindle address. (I hadn’t realized that.)

    We aren’t currently planning to offer books for sale directly on the kindle, but that could change if the device really takes off.

    We really aren’t interested in producing books in more and more formats. There’s a real maintenance nightmare, as you have to update across the set every time you make a change.

    Even supporting HTML and PDF/print is a hassle. So we’ll add kindle when we know there’s a significant market for it.

    But hopefully, before then, Amazon will allow you to connect to other sources to buy PDFs directly, even if they don’t want to sell them themselves.

  • The Kindle has its flaws but,

    a) it does support two non-DRMed formats (plain text and non-DRMed Mobipocket)

    b) it does an excellent job of implementing search on the device which is a godsend for those of us with very large e-book libraries

    c) unlike the Sony Reader and the Cybook, which are its main competitors in the e-ink e-reader market, the Kindle supports easy annotation. The only other e-ink reader I’m aware that does that is the Iliad which is several hundred dollars more expensive.

    The wireless network is nice, but is a *major* battery drain even when you’re not accessing the network. I turn my Kindle on fully charged and in about 24-36 hours it will be completely drained without being used at all if the wireless is turned on.

  • Brian —

    Saying that an e-reader is open because it supports plain text is a bit like saying people should still be happy to use lynx as a web browser.

    I’ve never used mobipocket, but you shouldn’t underestimate the cost and hassle of supporting multiple formats for complex documents.

    PDF and HTML/XML are the only open formats that matter for ebooks, with epub coming up as potentially important.

    Text is great as a fallback, but it shouldn’t be seen as a primary format.

    Lack of support for PDF is a major flaw, or rather, to use the term that used to be used at Microsoft, “strategy tax.”

    And re my comment to David Kearns, where I affirmed what someone said about PDF support, I was wrong.

    We should have one in our hands tomorrow, and then I can say more first hand.

  • Darryl

    Ideal would be some kind of Safari interface (and subscription) available on the Kindle itself.

    If PDF is supported via a conversion tool, seems like something could be glued-together to allow for ORA book delivery to the Kindle.

    Although I just want Matering RegExps and the Perl Cookbook on mine. Oh, and maybe a PHP book too… :-}

  • “I’m rooting for Jeff and the Kindle.”

    And yet there appears to be no O’Reilly titles in the Kindle bookstore and, even more disappointing, there doesn’t appear to be a Safari “story.”

    For the IT and software development professional who _must_ spend several hundred dollars per year simply to have contemporary references (much less cover the field of interesting and worthwhile self-improvement), the Kindle _could_ be a must-have. Yet the available tech titles are pitiful, with only A-W having a real presence in the Kindle store (but hardly ubiquity).

    More in my review at http://www.knowing.net/PermaLink,guid,541642b8-3bc7-464f-adc6-f797b94cb7e2.aspx

  • Why no O’Reilly books on the kindle? Well, Amazon has chosen to use a proprietary format, with a conversion cost of a couple of hundred dollars per title to that format. Multiply that by 500+ O’Reilly books, and it would cost us $100,000 to have a strong presence on that new, unproven platform.

    Even apart from the costs, conversion to every new format adds complexity. When a book is updated, all the formats need to be updated.

    It was this very problem that led us to develop the Docbook DTD in the late 80’s, when vendor after vendor was asking us to put our books into their proprietary workstation-based online reader platforms (all now long dead.) We chose instead to try to create a standard format that multiple readers could support. Pursuing that goal led us not only to start the docbook effort, but also to invest in some of the earliest web browser technology (Pei Wei’s Viola) and ultimately to build the web’s first commercial web site (GNN.)

    So I’m rooting for the kindle to take off at a level that would justify that investment in conversion, or for Amazon to open up the platform to read more formats that we already support, like HTML and PDF.

    Now, I understand that PDF is a sub-optimal experience with respect to reflow. But we’re hopeful that there will be a standard, multi-vendor format for that, so that we only have to support one more format, rather than dozens of competing ones.

    Of course, we may run some experiments on the kindle, and if it takes off, we will certainly support it, as their format will become a de facto standard.

    We’d also love to experiment with models in which people who are Safari subscribers could access that content on the kindle. We’d be very eager to have a reseller relationship with Amazon, such that they resell safari subscriptions on the kindle.

  • “Amazon has chosen to use a proprietary format, with a conversion cost of a couple of hundred dollars per title to that format. “

    While I can’t dispute your assertion of the all-in labor cost, it appears that AZW is a specialization of Mobi format, which in turn is a specialization of the Open eBook Publication Standard. I’ve just put a .MOBI file on an SD card, put it in my Kindle, and it came up fine.

    So the meme that the Kindle uses a highly proprietary system may be overstating the case and it may be that Kindle generation could be incorporated into the general publication workflow without great expense(especially if that workflow involves targeting Safari).

    As a customer, I’d certainly love to see some experiments with the format (*cough* Programming Erlang *cough*).

  • Note that the mobipocket software utilities are free-as-in-beer proprietary windows-only software, though apparently it is possible to run the mobigen command-line utility under Wine.

  • bowerbird

    tim said:
    > you shouldn’t underestimate the cost and hassle of
    > supporting multiple formats for complex documents.

    tim, i can show you how to minimize the cost and hassle…
    who knows? of all the dinosaurs, you might be the birds…

    -bowerbird

  • What I have found that converting normal or easy text, word doc or pdf file to kindle is quite easy but if the pdf file consists of lot of images and tables the conversion process does not work properly and the whole layout of the ebook gets change.

    Kindle is still in experimental stage in converting the complicated pdf file to kindle format, but very recently I came across one website which provide ebook conversion service along with kindle ebook conversion at very affordable rates, mostly for the PDF ebook which consists of tables and images which are quite tough to convert them to ebook format such as mobipocket, kindle or MS reader, but I have found that the above ebook conversion company converts these type of ebooks in more profession and efficient way at very reasonable rate.

    http://www.itglobalsolution.com/mobipocket/amazon-kindle-ebook-conversion.htm

  • jp devries

    Tim,
    I’m a huge O’Reilly fan! One way or the other, I’m holding out on the kindle in hope they will soon be available!

  • I’m too rooting for Jeff and the Kindle.

  • Tim,

    I’m a Safari Online Premium subscriber, and I love it, couldn’t do my job without it — BUT *reading* (as opposed to referencing) books on Safari is not a pleasant experience (too choppy), and even if it were, the distractions of a laptop (e-mail, work, etc.) get in the way of really studying a book.

    Further, Safari doesn’t even begin to address my need for offline reading — on planes, in the ah — “library”, and when going to sleep — the KINDLE (and it’s ilk like the PRS 505) DO.

    I was so desperate for eReader access to Safari books that I burned a few PDF tokens to try putting a PDF on the PRS505, openable, etc. but not readable when things are resized down to the reader’s form factor, even with zoom.

    So, if you’re wondering if there’s a market — count me in! I own well over 100 O’Reilly books (best written technical books on the market for my personal learning style) and just looking at my library right now I’d say that I would happily re-purchase 50% of them *today* if they were on the Kindle — even if they were only $5 less than the hardcover price…

    Heck, even for my current Flex-centric project I could lug a 10oz Kindle instead of a couple pounds of O’Reilly books (Flex 2 Programming, Essential ActionaScript and ActionScript Design Patterns).

    I also have 7 employees and quite a few co-workers (I’m in a company with 8000+ employees, and a random sampling of the engineers around my office suggests 70% of them feel as I do) who would do the same thing.

    Thanks for listening!

  • Niall Riddell

    What I’m particularly interested in is being able to print directly to an eReader instead of a printer. From what I’m reading there would be viewing problems with re-sizing a standard A4 or Letter format document.

    I think that a rollable A4 size document reader using eInk technology could be game changing in the enteprise space – especially if you could annotate it. The iRex iliad looks closest to this but has the re-sizing problems for A4 or letter docs.

    No-one really seems to be focusing on the enterprise space where I believe there could be a huge market and a provide a big leap towards the elusive “paperless office”. The paper cost savings alone could justify the cost of the device .

  • CD

    I’d like to register a vote in favor of O’Reilly content for the Kindle. I probably buy 1-3 technical books a month, many of which are O’Reilly titles. The reson I found this discussion was because I was specifically looking for information on the availability of O’Reilly titles on the Kindle. It is an important factor in my decision to buy the device. I suppose my point is that there exists a chicken and egg situation between the availability of content and a critical mass of readers of that content. In short, I’m anxiously awaiting O’Reilly books on the Kindle.

  • Mike

    I am still holding out hope for O’Reilly books on kindle. Has anyone tried the pdf conversion?

  • Jason Houx

    I have been watching the kindle for some time. I owned a Sony PRS and would put pdfs on it though the conversion was only so so and it didn’t handle large pdfs very well and I had to break them up. I buy a lot of technical books on Unix and Networking all the time. I was very disapointed when I noticed that Amazon Kindle Computer Science Books were the same cost as their dead tree versions. My company purchases a subscription to Safari for me and I have started using this a lot with a small sub notebook around the house and on the road. I would prefer to carry a kindle and just access the reading via SafariBooksOnline and buy what I needed from Amazon. A partnership would cause me to overnight a kindle… Somehow I am afraid its going to take Kindle 2.0 or something before Safari and Amazon can get in bed together on this considering I am seeing Kindle everywere and still no Safari Books support =(

    Seriously you can browser Wikipedia on it and not Safari… seems like a win win for both companies if there can be some form of payment plan for the evdo access.

  • Rachel

    @Mike, many O’Reilly books are available directly from O’Reilly as ebook bundles, which include the Mobipocket format as well as ePub and PDF. You can read more about ebook bundles at http://oreilly.com/ebooks/.

    Also, as of April, more than 160 O’Reilly books are available in the Kindle store: http://toc.oreilly.com/2009/04/over-160-oreilly-books-now-in-kindle-store-without-drm-more-on-the-way.html.