Being a bibliophile and a moderate gadget geek, I saw amazon’s kindle- released a while ago- as the ultimate dream come true. But like quite a lot of dream come trues the kindle continues to be out of my reach. While the fact that it was and continues to be priced at nearly the $400 range does vex me to a certain extent, the more distressing aspect of the concept and the device is the fact that it is available only in the USA.
The arrival of the newly revamped avatar of Kindle – the Kindle 2.0 has only made the situation worse for people like me who can only sit on the other side and complain loudly.
For the uninitiated- Kindle (released by Amazon- the online book retailing behemoth) is the sleek iPod of books (except that Kindle 2.0 is encroaching into ipod territory by letting users upload mp3 files into it and then listen to it while reading (yumm!). You can drool over the Kindle here (and if “lucky” enough to be living in the USA- buy it!).
The ipod has also made sufficient dents into the realm of the books- by offering podcasts and audiobooks and more recently, books to read through applications on the ipod Touch and the iPhone screens. Desperate enough that I was, I once also sampled the free application ‘Stanza’ (which helps read books on ipod screens) for my ipod touch. Effective as it is, the size of the touch screen and also the fact that the application needs wi-fi to do almost anything (as compared to being able to download something on to my pc and then sync it into my ipod) made me junk the application almost as fast as I had installed it.
Which still leaves me without a gadget to read my books.
I guess the market for books online is not quite similar to the market for online audio. You could buy audio in digital formats online or you could buy them in compatible offline formats (like on cds and then ripping them to your pc). You could buy the kindle format books (or read any off copyright free book in a compatible text format). But I dont see an equivalent offline format. When we buy books in reality, we actually buy the paperbacks or the hardcovers or we buy audibook cds. Text format cds for books are rare except for encyclopedias.
People are predicting that there will be something from the house of apple that will soon legally be the iPod of books. Until that device is out, or until the likes of Kindle are made available everywhere, people like me will have to stick to our paperbacks (not a bad thing by the way!).
(OR I could make someone buy a kindle for me in the USA, load some books on to it and then bring it to me here and then I could use the amazon account to buy books online ( on a slow broadband connection)and transfer them to my kindle via USB- leaving me with a functional kindle- but which would still not allow me to use any of the other snazzy wireless features on the device. I am not sure I’m that desperate …yet!)