Kindling a passion for reading

Over the last couple weeks I’ve been talking about some great new products which I got to see.

They were a compact non-Windows laptop and an electronic book reader, which particularly took my fancy. You can find the original articles in my archive at the address given at the bottom of this article.

During the course of my research on the iRrex iLiad reader, I came across the information that there were a couple of other similar products available including one from online retail giant Amazon.

The Amazon Kindle has only been available in the USA but is apparently due for release in the UK sometime soon. It is currently out of stock so I guess that the launch will happen as soon as more become available.

The main difference between the two readers is that, with the Kindle, you do not even need to own a computer. It communicates with Amazon’s book, newspaper and magazine store using wireless technology.

You can buy your reading material from anywhere where there is mobile coverage and it is delivered wirelessly to your unit. There is a wide selection of stuff available ranging from bestsellers to newspapers and magazines, such as Time and Fortune, and a selection of popular blogs.

The unit will display most types of text document and you can get them onto your Kindle by sending them to Amazon by e-mail which converts and relays them, at a small charge, to your unit via wireless.

Amazon mean you to use the wireless function but you can transfer files, including audio books, manually from your computer to the unit. Documents still have to be sent to Amazon to be converted and are mailed back to you so that you can put them on your machine.

The use of wireless is pretty clever and convenient if you happen to live in a service area but, for the rest of us, the Kindle is just an interesting idea. It would have been so much better if it had also had a web facility built-in so that it could be used anywhere in the world.

I suppose Amazon thought there would be more money in limiting the product to wireless and in forcing you to convert documents before it will display them.

It’s a diametrically different approach to that of iRex who made the iLiad reader as open as possible and capable of displaying web feeds and just about any document you can throw at it. The down side to that, for some people perhaps, is that you do need a computer to upload stuff to your iLiad

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t write off the Kindle if I had the opportunity to own one and would certainly enjoy being able to pick and choose between various models of electronic reader. I’ve said before that, having seen the technology, I’m convinced its going to take off like a rocket when the readers come down in price.

If I ran a bookstore, for example, I would be looking closely at the technology and figuring out how I could get involved and avoid being one of the ones who get left behind.

Previous columns at allan-fishnet.blogspot.com.

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