Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FAST Company: a couple of questions to Amazon are answered, in a way

First, Dan Nosowitz's report for FastCompany is primarily on his first few days with the Kindle 3 review copy and on his 3 months with the Kindle itself (2nd generation).

  But we've seen a number of reviews of that Kindle 3, and they're fairly glowing.

So I'm going to start with the questions Dan had for Amazon.
' ...Kindle users can't rent ebooks from their local library.  Amazon told me that the process for getting library-rented ebooks onto ebook readers is cumbersome, which is why they left out the feature.  Well, why not just fix the process, rather than ignore it altogether? '
[I agree, since sending personal docs to our free.kindle.com device-address to save personal-doc-transfer fees requires a very similar 'cumbersome' process to get the doc onto our Kindles.]
' Amazon told me that 80% of its Kindle ebook sales are sold on the Kindle device itself, so an affordable, well-made ebook reader is a major help for ebook authors. '

'...the best ebook-reading device on the market.

Its web browser, now based on WebKit (like modern smartphone browsers) is much improved, but due to the limitations of the hardware (most importantly the greyscale e-ink display) it's easily bested by any modern smartphone

But for reading books and newspapers, it can't be beat. The newly revamped e-ink screen is startling in its clarity and contrast; gone are the days of dull greyish screens. The Kindle's text absolutely pops. The screen is also the fastest in terms of page refresh times of any e-ink screen I've used.

The screen almost glows outdoors. In comparison to the iPad, which turns into a pretty but useless mirror in sunlight, the Kindle only gets more readable. This is a gadget that loves the beach.

What's hard to get across to someone who hasn't owned--and having picked one up doesn't count--an ebook reader is how enjoyable the Kindle is to use. I've bought more ebooks in the three months I've owned an ebook reader than I've bought physical books in the last two years. I've certainly read more in those three months than in any other three months since I was in college. You remember how fun it is to accumulate books, to read them, and to talk about them '

He did puzzle over the location numbers and found them not particularly useful and definitely he misses page numbers.
  I wrote a comment to his article, explaining them a bit, and that awaits moderation.  I'll include it here for others who wonder what is up with those Location numbers and why Amazon doesn't just use the traditional page numbering system.
' ... As for Locations -- traditional page numbers are less meaningful on an e-reader because they can't match up with whatever edition of a book you're interested in. If you increase the font [size], there are less words on a page, and the page numbers change as a result, giving you somewhat different content.

NOW, if publishers hardcoded Begin & End page info for each page digitally, then there could be a 2nd number indicating what original book-page you're on if that's wanted.

In the meantime, a location number is an absolute number or range identified which will always bring you to the same paragraph(s) - no matter what your font size is.

It's very much like page numbers except that there will be 4000 of them instead of 400 and will usually indicate a range, like 2568-74, meaning location area 2568 to 2574. I always choose the first number.

In comparing two versions of a DX today (one being sold), I brought up a page I wanted to make a photo of and then looked at the location number. On the other DX, I pressed Menu button, then on "Go to" and typed that location number and then clicked on "Location" and was on the same 'page' as a result.

The status line will indicate your location number at any time, as is done with a page number, and the percentage bar below tells you how far you are into the book. The one I'm on was 72% so I know I don't have that much further to go. '

Kindle 3   (UK: Kindle 3),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. It is not that difficult to load Overdrive books from the library onto a reader. Sheesh. Even a caveman can do it. Amazon, you are missing the boat on this one, despite my intense love affair with my Kindle2.

  2. I have to take issue with "Anonymous" here: it is *quite* difficult to load Overdrive books onto a Kindle, at least my Kindle 2. The files for my local library are available in 2 formats: DRM-protected MOBI and DRM-protected ePUB. The latter is impossible to load at all (requiring Adobe Digital Editions) and the former requires a python script hack and a PID number you generate from another script. That's hardly caveman faire to me.

  3. I find the dots across the bottom of the pages as useful as a page number in a paper book. In a paper book, I don't use the page numbers, because I just see how far I am into the thickness of the book and that has about the same crudity as the dots. On the other hand the percentage is much more accurate. 71% is more accurate than "about three quarters". Since I have no use for referencing the page number, I don't miss it. If someone with a paper version asks what page number I am on, I can always counter with, "which book are you using, hard copy, trade, paperback or large print?"

  4. Al,
    I'm with you on the dots and the analogy to the thickness of the book. And we have the percentage, which, as you say, is even better.

    Apologies I missed this one -- haven't even done a blog entry today as I am too far behind and my k3 order was stalled besides, until now.


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