For the moment, I have little enough to say about Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, either as product or service, except to note the following:
– Post iPhone, especially, the physical product looks dowdy and retrograde. I’m not surprised, given that it’s been in development so long, but the sharply-canted bevels look distinctly mid-90s. To my eye, anyway, Kindle looks something like what we might have been offered had GRiD made it through the dot-com years. Haw.
– And those thick margins. Objectively, there may be a legibility advantage to them. But doesn’t Jeff know the visual rhetoric of ubiquity is frameless displays?
– Unless something comes along to radically reorient my thinking, I’m willing to bet Chris Heathcote has nailed it in eighteen words: “Kindle is what happens when a non-cool company attempts to do a closed service: a car crash.”
– I’m not sure that any product with a full, physical keyboard has ever had less justification for one. Sure, it’s nice to be able to take notes, and I’m far from blind to the e-commerce angle. But primarily, what I’d like to be able to do with all such devices is read. In this light, chosing to sacrifice a full third of the expanse available for display to the keyboard seems like a curious decision.
– I’m also perplexed by the presence of so many hard buttons. If ever an application has ever cried out for an iPhone-style gestural interface, actually justifying what might otherwise be a lazy, component-availability-driven, flavor-of-the-week decision, it’s this one. “Leafing” through a book? Come on, it’s a gimme.
– I’m fascinated by the way Amazon’s explaining and simultaneously merchandising e-paper technology to an audience for whom it’s presumably quite novel: “The screen works using ink, just like books and newspapers, but displays the ink particles electronically.”
– Above and beyond any other consideration, validating Michelle Malkin by including her in your first round of invited bloggers is a deal-killer for me. If it’s balance you’re trying to achieve, surely the right offers one or two more qualified voices.
– Hard to filter this from the background radiation, but it sure seems like Everyware is selling unusually well at the moment. The Kindle edition, especially. I’m not silly enough to think this necessarily has anything to do with the fact that Kindle as conceived is a pretty everywarish object, but it’s not impossible either. (Which reminds me, I need to check my contract to see what, if anything, it specifies about royalties for proprietary-format electronic-edition sales. How much do you want to bet it’s not to my advantage?)