Details on Amazon’s Kindle Reader (updated)

November 18, 2007

Newsweek cover on Amazon Kindle(updated with additional details from the Kindle User’s Guide)
Newsweek.com has posted a lengthy piece on ebooks and digital reading focusing on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the upcoming Kindle, entitled The Future of Reading.

Amongst prognostication about changes in the process of writing, distributing and reading books were a few facts about the Kindle:

display 6” E-Ink, 4 gray levels, 167 dpi
(like the Sony Reader)
weight 10.3 ounces
battery life 30 hours reading
2 hours recharge
storage 200 books onboard
additional via SD memory card
input keyboard, scroll wheel
connectivity EVDO cellphone-style broadband, USB2
Windows PC required for activation
file compatibility Kindle (.azw), unprotected Mobipocket (.mobi, .prc), HTML, text, MS Word (.doc), Audible (.aa), mp3
price $399

The wireless connectivity is used to connect to the Internet and the Amazon ebook store, where New York Times bestsellers and recent titles can be bought for $9.99, with older books priced lower. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are also available.

Notably, the device cannot open Adobe PDF or any other common ebook formats, including DRM’d files from Amazon’s own Mobipocket ebook store.

The Kindle is a bold entry in the dedicated reader field, with the always-on wireless connection and periodical subscriptions being the most intriguing twists. Comparisons with the iPod/iTunes ecosystem are inevitable. However, unlike the iPod, which could support content from users’ existing cd and mp3 collections, book acquisition is limited to Amazon’s own Kindle store and existing personal documents such as Word files — ebooks from all other sources are essentially excluded. With a steep $399 entry price and a largely closed supply of content, it remains to be seen whether a mass market really exists for this device…


  1. One thing I can say is that it would be awesome if Amazon let me have digital versions of the books I have already bought through my Amazon account.

  2. From the consumer’s standpoint, that certainly seems like a fair deal. I doubt that it will happen, though, given that Amazon probably would have to eat the cost of the both the downloaded book and the bandwidth. The publisher undoubtedly sees a book download as an additional sale in a different medium — like an audio book — rather than an extension of a previous print edition. Amazon’s potential financial exposure would be enormous.

  3. As long as it’s more a technical device than paper with additional features it will probalby only have a small influence on the market.

  4. Isn’t this kind of bulky for a handheld gadget? I see the convenience but I can’t get past that aspect…

  5. Liz, not having seen a Kindle in real life yet, I don’t have a hands-on sense of its size. However, it’s similar to (but somewhat larger than) the Sony Reader, which I am familiar with.

    I think the reaction to the size depends on your expectation. Compared to a handheld device like an iPhone or other slim phone, there’s no doubt that both reader devices are bulky — not pocketable except in the biggest cargo pockets, and not compatible with small purses.

    On the other hand, compared to a typical paper book — or more dramatically, a stack of books — it compares pretty well. My perspective of these readers came after attempting to do my book reading on laptops and tablet PCs. By these standards, the Sony Reader and the Kindle are actually quite svelte!

  6. I just heard about this yesterday, so excited about the wireless download aspect I researched for more information on the product. I think the makers of Kindle have an excellent idea, but I was dismayed to learn that you can’t use e-books you’ve already purchased on the Kindle, and the raters on Amazon kept talking about something called drm’d. I don’t know what that is, but the fact that they kept intimating that this prevents you from keeping the ebooks as long as you’d like was definitely a turn off. And it it’s not a big thing but a little color would have been nice.

  7. DRM stands for “Digital Rights Management,” better known as copy protection. Some DRM can be draconian, preventing the book’s owner from doing simple and legitmate tasks, like copying a file to another device that she owns. Some are a bit more user friendly, but they are often still tied to a particular vendor’s software. If software support ends, the file with DRM can potentially become unusable.

    Ebook formats like .pdf, .mobi and .epub can be either DRM’d or not, depending on the vendor. Non-DRM’d files are far more flexible. Even if a vendor ends support, the content can still be accessed by third parties for reader software or format converters.

    For example, the .pdf files provided by WOWIO do not have this type of DRM, and can thus be opened by third-party pdf software apart from the pdf reader software provided by Adobe.

  8. Kindle Wireless can switch back and forth between reading and listening, and your spot is automatically saved. Pages automatically turn while the content is being read, so you can listen hands-free. You can choose from both male and female voices which can be sped up or slowed down to suit your preference. In the middle of a great book or article but have to jump in the car? Simply turn on Text-to-Speech and listen on the go.

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