(Re)Kindling a Flame to Read

Sure it's Thanksgiving week and you'd expect any major product release to be worried about turning into, well, a turkey, right? Hold onto your hat, because today is the day that one doozey of a product is being released. While digital e-book readers have been traditionally treated like foul fowl, a new venture from Amazon.com might turn the tide from e-book flop to electronic book wonder.

Known as Kindle, this is the Amazon.com take on the electronic book and it reads pretty good:

  • Sprint EVDO wireless connectivity--no Wi-Fi; plus no wireless connection fees or rate plans
  • Removable SD storage media; but purchased books are stored @ Amazon.com, plus unsubstantiated rumors indicate that you can't transfer books between Kindles.
  • Lightweight; 10.3 ounces
  • Built-in book buying interface; typically priced at $9.99 each
  • Built-in keyboard
  • Includes bookmarks, search, annotations, and The New Oxford American Dictionary
  • Access to Wikipedia.org
  • Built-in newspaper, magazine, blog, Audible.com audiobooks purchase interface
  • E-mail retrieval of MS Word, HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC, and MOBI format files

Priced at just south of four hundred bucks, Kindle seems overpriced to me (e.g., Sony Digital Book costs $299.99). Also, the price break for downloaded media (e.g., books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs (!??!) doesn't seem great enough. And hey, how about including a Crossword puzzle game with Kindle? Whether Jeff Bezos likes to admit it or not, the future of Kindle could depend upon how well it can be hacked. Who's going to be the first to tether it's unlimited free EV-DO data to a PC? Then we'd really have a disruptor. —Dave Prochnow

(Image: Amazon.com)