“Dear Kindle Owner,” begins an e-mail received by anyone who owns one of Amazon’s much sought after e-book readers earlier today, “We are excited to introduce Kindle 2—the next generation of our wireless reading device.” As a current Kindle owner, it goes on—and this doesn’t apply to anyone here the UK, where it isn’t for sale yet, or indeed anyone in America who tried to buy it for Christmas, because it sold out—to offer a “special opportunity” to “be among the first to experience Kindle 2.”
Having been chatting a lot about this for various reasons with my colleague Tom Chatfield here at Prospect Towers, I’m increasingly convinced that the Kindle is the real deal. People have been talking about e-books for donkeys years; its never happened. But last week i got to see one—a Kindle 1, mind you, not the sexier Kindle 2—and was completely won over. It feels like a book, it holds like a book, and people will use it like a book. My mother won’t be won over, but i’m guessing within 5 years a good proportion of high end book readers—10%? 30%? More?—will have one. The choice between taking one book reader on holiday, or packing 10 books? Having all your magazines in one place, not all over the place? The fact that book and subscriptions are basically half price? While people won’t stop reading books or buying (especially high quality monthly) magazines, this is going to have a seismic impact.
But, don’t take my word for it. I got in touch with a friend—my partner’s brother, who works for Disney, since you ask—in LA, who in turn put my in touch with a friend of his—Jennifer Freel—who send me an mail explaining why she liked it. She is a book lover as much as a gadget person. I reprint her message in full below—while it shows that these things are by no means perfect, in terms of the direction of travel for the book industry, I think it rather speaks for itself.
Hi James! I’m so happy to help—
Before deciding on the Kindle, I compared the Kindle to the Sony Reader (with touch screen). There are obvious advantages to the Kindle (for instance the “whispernet,” of which more in a minute) but at the time, the…