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Friday
Jun202008

Kindle and questions

I finally bit the bullet and ordered a Kindle. Recent posts by Kathy Schrock (1,2), Seth Godin and Lee LeFever along with two upcoming workshops at ALA and NECC about the impact of ubiquitous computing on education finally moved me. (Despite no small controversy over DRM and privacy issues raised by Peter Rock and Jason Griffey among others.) Oh, Amazon dropping the device's price didn't hurt either.

My biggest question right now is just what sort of titles I will purchase for the device. In our house, a paper fiction book usually gets a good workout - often read by both the LWW and me and then passed on to various relatives. Every now and then I clear my bookshelves by donating a few dozen books to the public library for their collection or book sale fundraiser. I suppose I could purchase a second Kindle for my wife (her birthday is coming up but then she seems to have her heart set on a new trash compactor) since multiple readers can be tied to a single account, but that seemsplasticbooks.jpg excessive and expensive.

My thought is to read primarily non-fiction on the device - books on educational technology, social computing and the like that normally only I am interested in. I can see the advantages of being able to search such titles. What I don't get is why some of these titles are MORE expensive for the Kindle than in print. I checked my next planned book purchase, Clay Shirkey's Here Comes Everybody only to find I could get it for $10.88 in paperback, but it costs $15.42 for the Kindle version. Blows my "pay-back" theory to kingdom come.

One of LeFever's comments did resonate and hope he is correct when he wonders about "how Amazon will use it and it's Digital Text Platform to create a micro-payment economy for authors." But then I wonder if he knows this ability is already present using Lulu, where content can be sold or given away both in print and non-proprietary digital forms. At the current time, the number of readers who can open pdf files must be several orders of magnitude greater than Kindle owners.

The success of e-books is looking increasingly dependent on how cost and copyright issues will play out. For many of us accustomed to the right to sell, borrow, lease, share or re-gift print books under the first-sale doctrine, a single use/user "book" doesn't make much economic sense, despite the convenience.

Buying dozens of Kindles for school libraries isn't making much sense to me either. And at least one librarian, K.G. Schneider, predicts, " If the Kindle’s DRM model becomes standard, you can kiss libraries goodbye."

If the Kindle winds up in my Drawer of Unused Toys, I'll at least have the cold comfort that it was neither the dumbest nor most expesive of its kind I've made. And the geek and book lover in me are excited.

Is the Kindle the future? 

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Reader Comments (10)

"Is the Kindle the future?"

I hope not. A local bookstore recently had a sign out front that I liked.

"Kindles" We don't need no stinkin' Kindles!"

June 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterteacherninja

It is just very important to continue highlighting the differences between spending an individual's money on DRM'ed content (I don't really care how you spend your money) and a library or school buying DRM'ed content.

And, we need to take into account what we should teach kids about DRM, without, I might add getting too hung up on hypocrisy. Even if you decide to do the wrong thing, doesn't mean you shouldn't tell kids to be smarter.

June 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTom Hoffman

Just read a related post by Cory Doctorow.

June 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

The Kindle isn't the future but it is one step in the direction of the future. I like the idea but the form factor is still not right and the DRM is completely unacceptable.

I'm hoping that the upgrade to my iPhone software that's coming next month includes a pdf reader. The iPhone screen is still a little too small for long reading sessions but it's very good for short documents.

The ideal for me would be something between the Kindle and iPhone, a media player with a screen big enough to make it an acceptable book reader. Actually, I could do very well without the phone part.

June 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTim

@Jim,

I bet the bookstore has the same sentiments toward Amazon in general!

Doug

@ Tom,

Given the opportunity, I hope my kids understand all sides of the issue, including that of the copyright holder, and make their own informed decisions and know all their options. As a teacher it was always my goal to make thinkers rather than believers out of my students.

Doug

@Peter,

Let's all hope DRM is just a nasty bump in the road of textual/audio speech recording like it has been for music. Great link. Thanks for sharing it.

Doug

@ Tim

Isn't an iPhone without the phone an iPod Touch?

Doug

June 21, 2008 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

"Isn't an iPhone without the phone an iPod Touch?"

Mostly. But I probably should have been more specific. I can do without the voice communications but I love having the data connection everywhere. It's my wife that wants me to have the phone part. :-)

June 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Hi Doug,
Just read an interesting post by Seth Godin on his blog about the Kindle. He thinks it's only round #1 and great marketing decisions will come including $1000 worth of free books with a purchase. Check out: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/06/random-thoughts.html

June 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Cornies

@ Paul,

Godin's is an interesting post and one reason why I put the device on order. I'm hoping it does for print what the iPod did for music!

All the best,

Doug

June 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Doug,
I am finding the Kindle to be a great tool for me in my work. I have quite a bit of reading that comes from my central office. I really find useful the ability to load up the Kindle with content such as articles, reports, district handbooks and such. I also find myself converting the print friendly version of articles on the web to PDF and then transferring them to the Kindle. The try before you buy aspect is really nice too. I have found myself sampling quite a few authors this way.

I also think it is kind of nuts that Clay Shirky’s book is more expensive in Kindle format than the paperback. I wonder what that is about? Finally I keep waiting to see who will have their book in up in Kindle format first, Richardson or Warlick... :-)

June 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTim Lauer

I find myself reading "fluff" on my Kindle - mostly fiction or recreational reading. Professional books I still buy in paper so I can dog ear the corners and bristle them with stickies.
My 55 year old eyes adore the fact that I can upsize the print!

June 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGuusje

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