Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Thursday, November 22, 2007



Imagine you are watching one of those futuristic movies like "Minority Report" by Steven Spielberg. A man traveling on train, read a newspaper and the titles and the news get updated every one minute or so. You would have said to yourself "Shit! This is not going to happen in my life time. All that, sci-fi crap".

But the day is not so longer far away, that you can read your favorite newspaper or magazine on the go, and get the latest updates every few minutes.

Amazon.com, the world's largest book retailer announced the launch of their latest product "Kindle", the Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device.

In fact, it's not the first of it's kind, but a slightly improved version of the Sony's Reader, the e-book reader. Initially, with the Amazon Kindle you will be able to access over 80,000 e-books from Amazon store, and straight away buy, download and read them on your Kindle.

From the information I have gathered, here are some key attractive features of the product.

Paper-like Screen

On Amazon.com home page, they've featured a letter to the customers announcing the launch of the product (Signed by the founder CEO Jeff Bezos)in the same look and feel of this new e-paper solution. In fact, it was a PNG image and reading it on my laptop gave me the same impression, as I was reading a paper printed book.

They call this electronic paper. You will not get the usual glare you see when reading something on a computer screen. Looking at the Kindle's screen will make you feel, like looking at a page of your favorite high school textbook. James Patterson, author of You've Been Warned says "I think people are going to be very, very surprised and delighted. This is a lot easier to read than a lot of books are these days."

No Connection needed
No connecting to the internet through any wired or wireless network. It operates on it's own network, connected through a 3G mobile network.

Shop directly at Amazon's Kindle store

You can shop for any book, directly via this device and buy it, download it and save it to your library.

Search function

You can easily search for any term, and Kindle will find every instance across your Kindle library where that word appeared. How many times you wasted hours for finding a paragraph you lightly remembered on "some ones" book?

Bookmarks and Annotation
By using the keyboard, you can add annotations to text, just like you might write in the margins of a book. And because it is digital, you can edit, delete, and export your notes, highlight and clip key passages, and bookmark pages for future use. You'll never need to bookmark your last place in the book, because Kindle remembers for you and always opens to the last page you read.

Built-in Dictionary

Wireless Access to Wikipedia

Adjustable Text Size

Above all, this device will enable you to store all your favorite news papers and magazines in e-format. For me, it's a headache to manage my book shelf, with every month I add couple of new books or mags into it. And, that same hassle kept me "reading less". With a device like this, I'm sure I will become a more "reading person".

Oh I almost forgot about the blogs! You can read your favorite blogs on Kindle, and you will never miss an update from boingboing or slashdot anymore.

How will this affect the world we live?

This will definitely affect the definition of "publishing industry". For decades, we were waiting for the real e-paper solution that we were promised in the sci-fi movies. Some people thought, PDF and E-Fax going to be "it". But, not at all! Kindle and Son'y reader has redefined the word "e-paper" and it's much more closer to the thing that we were promised in the sci-fi movies. A "publisher" is not anymore going to be a "person who take contracts to print books".

Secondly, this will change the way people read, and how much people read. With the popularity of audiovisual media like TV and mobile phones, in recent decades people spent less time on reading the old fashioned "print media". Who wants to read the same news you watched on TV?. But, this initiative will enable the newspaper publishers, to update their papers in regular intervals, and by doing so bringing back the people around them.

And for people like me, who doesn't have enough space at home to store a large collection of books, this is going to be a sweet news. You can store may be 25,000 books in a space of 7.5" x 5.3" x 0.7"

Another field that will get affected by this is education. Especially in the higher education level, where you have to read, research, add notes, extract from, a huge number of books, this is going to be a really helpful device. Institutions like universities and colleges, can make their students compulsory to carry an e-book, and the weekly lecture notes are delivered directly to their books. Who wants to be in the classroom?

And last but not the least! The marketers will look at this as another good platform to be in touch with their customers. People thought, when internet was introduced "Oh! Thank god, I can now get rid of those crappy advertisers on TV". But, it was never happened that way. Marketer found their way out, how to reach their customers (of course with less interruption) through the internet.

Here are some links you can read further, to get mixed opinion about the Amazon’s Kindle
P.S.
Kindle, at the moment is available in the US market. The connectivity is powered by a new technology Whispernet™ and connected though the telecommunication giant, Sprint Nextel. Not too sure about how the Amazon’s expansion plans going to work. It may take few years even, to come to Sri Lanka. But we have local companies boasting about “Future Today” and “Latest in 3G technology”. I hope, this is a great opportunity for companies like Dialog, Mobitel and Airtel to prove themselves. To prove that they are really in the business!

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