CNN has a write-up about Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader today, which is celebrating its first birthday this month.
With more than a quarter million units sold and often being out of stock, it seems like the Kindle might be a success story on the eBook front, which has been looking to gain serious traction for a decade. CNN attributes the success to (1) the marketing savvy of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, (2) endorsements by Oprah Winfrey, author James Patterson and others, and (3) the world finally being ready for an electronic version of a book.
That last one is a great question: Is the world finally ready for eBooks?
I have to admit, despite some initial reservations reading eBooks, I have warmed up to the technology. (I’m not including PDF files as eBooks – don’t get me started on PDF files.) I don’t own a dedicated eBook reader, instead I read on my phone. I still prefer physical books, but being able to read on my phone is nice – but only for short stories. I would prefer the bigger screen of a dedicated device for novels. And to be clear, I really don’t do a whole lot of mobile reading, just here and there when I find myself with some free time away from a book. To me, eBook reading is a fallback plan when physical books are out of reach. That may not be an eBook endorsement, but it’s a different opinion than I had a few years ago.
As for the Kindle, the article cites some of my hesitations, namely missing the tangible quality of reading and the high price. A new Kindle costs around $360. (A next-generation Kindle is due in 2009 which fixes some design flaws like button placement that makes it easy to accidentally turn the page.)