Amazon is supposed to launch an e-book reader named Kindle tomorrow. According to Steven Levy's article The Future of Reading in Newsweek, the Kindle will use e-paper, allow full text searching, hold about 200 books, and have wireless connectivity. Levy's full article is worth reading for it also talks about the potential changing role of writers. The counter-point view of the Kindle at Information Week is also worth a look.
I've been writing about (and hoping for) an affordable and practical e-book reader and its potential impact on schools and libraries since about 1995, So far I've been disappointed. Despite the logic of moving from cellulose to silicon, things have just not moved at the pace for which I'd hoped.
But one thing that excites me about this gadget is not the device itself, but that Amazon reports to have worked out deals with major publishers to sell e-versions of their best sellers for $9.99. This may do for e-books and e-book readers what the $.99 song did for iTunes and iPods. At less than ten bucks, you aren't paying much more for that latest Daniel Silva or Clive Cussler than for an ad-filled magazine. Oh, with its wireless connectivity, a truly electronic version of magazines can be sent to the Kindle as well.
I've always held the hope that e-book readers just might prove to be of real benefit to struggling readers with the potential for truly differentiated reading materials, built in glossaries, text-to-speech synthesis, etc.
I've darned well waited long enough. This puppy better be good. And at $399, come down in price real soon.
Thanks to Will Richardson's The iPod of Reading post for this head's up about these articles.
Prototype from Engadget Sept 2006. Sorta buh-tugly, unfortunately