Monday, July 5, 2010

"The Abominable Kindle Wins?"

Thought I'd pass on an amusing but insightful article from Mike Cane's iPad Test blog, which I'll quote from liberally, hoping that's okay with him.

He starts out by saying he's always hated the Kindle and has been very public about it, because (1) the Kindle 1 was "fugly" and he'd "never be seen in public with something that looked like it was designed by terrorists" and (2) most egregious of all, it didn't use ePub, the file type that has been "emerging as a 'standard'" while Amazon has been going its own way.

And then Amazon announced the Kindle Previewer, the coming WEB-based previewer of Kindle books.  He explains:
' Yesterday, Amazon announced its upcoming Kindle Previewer feature.  It will allow people with HTML5-compliant browsers to see fully-formatted Kindle eBooks on the web.  With that, Amazon has stepped into the future I’ve described here.  Amazon is now poised to take on Google and its eBook-dominating plans.

And today I just had this thought:
How many Kindles are now out there vs ePub devices?  If there are MORE K, then isn’t *K* the goddammed “standard” for eBooks now!? '

That's an interesting thought, no? --

He goes on to expand on this, and I'll quote more than I should, but if you enjoy or have a reaction to his ironic take, drop by his ipadtest site to add a comment to his unique line of thought.

' There’s a Kindle app for the iPhone and iPad.  So those tens of millions of devices are now Kindles too.

And Amazon just let loose Kindle for Android this week.  So those millions of devices can now be Kindles too.

Add up all those numbers and the population of devices that support ePub — Adobe DRMed ePub — are just crushed.  (Note: You cannot count the iPad as an ePub device because it does not do Adobe DRMed ePub — and that’s the flavor of ePub that’s been the “standard.”)

For the IDPF to continue to bray about ePub being an “eBook standard” is just desperate PR now.  The numbers are no longer there.  Hell, even writers have jumped on publishing for Kindle rather than ePub.

The numbers now support Amazon’s Kindle format as the eBook standard.

You don’t know how much I hate having to admit this.'

He goes on to talk about the situation with Amazon and public libraries, and the OverDrive program, and has an interesting take there that Amazon should actually read and consider seriously for the effect it could have.

 So, I've left a bit for you to read at Mike Cane's site,

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  1. Here's an interesting article from CNN:

    Personally, I find that I am reading a lot more since I got my Kindle. Not necessarily related to speed tho - I suspect it is more that I can now afford more books!


  2. Karen,
    Yes, some of us were discussing that article at this morning.

    Here's the direct link to one of the two discussions. I added comments there too.

    There's another discussion on this somewhere there, listed in the right-most column too.

    It makes sense that in the gaming gadgets section of CNN they'd be testing for speed when reading, rather than for other factors, and without controls on equivalent conditions such as no 10" screen vs a 6" in. screen with smaller characters and needing to turn more often.

    Thanks for making sure I knew about it.

  3. I've always been annoyed at the constant bashing of Kindle because it didn't support ePub. The implication always is evil Amazon won't support it because it is "open". Well ePub is no more open than Amazon's format. If the publisher requires DRM then it is DRM'd, period. The article you present makes a seriously interesting point about the number of Kindles and Kindle software running devices out there in the market. It made me think of an analogy. While there may have been pressure to declare betamax as the standard for videotape the number of VHS machines sold in the market eventually decided the "standard". I also liked his notion that devices running Amazon software (like iPad) actually are Kindles! Steve Jobs would really like that one! It all goes to show just how smart Bezos and his team really are. While others point to iPad and its millions of units sold as the death blow to the Kindle, Bezos smiles and sees millions of units that can buy books from his store.

  4. Sounds good to me. Amazon is the best interface between authors and readers right now.

    Scott Nicholson

  5. Hi, Scott,

    Hope the new author share program will be helping you.

  6. I LOVE my Kindle!! That's all I have to say. I don't need a bunch of extra apps when I'm reading books. But that's just me, an "old bookworm."

  7. Christa,
    If you mean the apps for iPad, I'm with you, only because I have a great 10" netbook (a Samsung w/matte screen) that does so much more than an iPad when I want color and video, and costs less, and I can't abide the reflections on the iPad in the daytime.

    Great looking bookcovers on your site.

  8. PaulGuy,
    Sorry that this one was inadvertently missed earlier.

    I too would like Amazon to support the non-DRM'd version so we can get that type of ePub book without having to do a conversion. Since they own Lexcycle, the makers of Stanza, and focused on ePub, I don't see why they don't let us at least directly read non-DRM'd ePub.

    There may be technical problems involved with combining that with what they have, for all I know, though I doubt it.

    I agree that a lot of not-knowing people actually say that Apple's files are 'open ePub standard' when they're no such thing and almost no one sells non-DRM'd contemporary books. Almost.

    But I also admit that ePub using Adobe's DRM can be 'standard' in that if they're using the same mechanism, any DRN'd ePUb book bought from one online store can be moved to another ebook-reader and it can be read there.
    That's what many people want. I'd hate it if I could play my DVDs only on the machine they were made for.

    As it is, Nooks can read Sony-bought books, which is how it should be if you've paid for it. But Sonys cannot read Nook-books because of B&N using that weird credit card form of DRM which is also an option with Adobe.

    Never mind that all would be at the mercy of Adobe's idea of licensing $ and restrictions, so I can see why that has not had more solid support.

    One thing about the ironic thoughts in the article. B&N and Kobe have both now made apps for all the Smartphones so one could say their apps on smartphones or pcs and macs are Nooks or Kobes also.

    But the key for him was, are there more of any one of them than there are Kindles.
    Almost surely, no. The ludicrous story about more Nooks sold in March-April was about Nooks sold to ramp up the new in-store presence of Nook at Best Buy stores nationwide and of course B&N had to order supply too. So these were sales to vendors, and not to consumers.

    I preferred Beta, having both, with VHS on a highly-rated VHS machine clearly inferior as a picture to my Beta ones, but Sony didn't price them right. That's not unlike Apple pricing their computers too high when they then let Microsoft take over the business market so that about 7 years ago, Apple computer presence in business was only about 5%.

    I don't like the idea of Amazon's Kindle as inferior in quality to the other e-readers while selling more, because in my opinion, it's the opposite re quality.

    Your last paragraph is spot on (although he clearly values the Kindle product much more than analysts have thought).

  9. Sorry there were so many copies -- I kept getting error messages and didn't realize until later that the reply to Paul actually made it through each time.

  10. I "knew" Mike when we were both active on the "Writing On Your Palm" community (yes, I actively read ebooks on my Palm devices before I had a Kindle). Nice to know he hasn't changed much...

  11. Lee,
    Mike definitely has personality... or a very personal style ... :-) in his writing. Nothing blah there!

  12. I'm surprised no one has yet brought up the point of online public libraries. In my area, the vast majority of content available for checkout is in Adobe DRMed ePUB format (Digital Editions). This format can be read by just about every reader on the market *except* the Kindle, and for a library fiend like myself this is a very serious disadvantage.

    My library branch does offer some MOBI Pocket formatted books, but they're significantly fewer in number and require you to strip the DRM before you can read them on a Kindle.

    If ePUB isn't a standard, someone needs to clue in the municipal libraries (or more specifically the Overdrive Media company that handles their online catalog) and tell them about it.

  13. Maurice,
    It was brought up in the last part of the article.

  14. *blushes* Umm. Yeah.. What they said. Thanks for the heads up!

  15. Maurice,
    No problem :-) Very easy to miss.


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