View Full Version : Why hardware ebook readers are a dead end (for now, anyway)

03-05-2008, 07:11 PM
Frankly, book reading just isn't important enough to qualify for priority treatment in that marketplace. E-book readers to date have been either badly made, expensive, out-of-stock or some combination of all three. No one's making dedicated e-book readers in such quantity that the price drops to the cost of a paperback the cost at which the average occasional reader may be tempted to take a flutter on one. Certainly, these things aren't being made in such quantity that they're being folded in as freebies with the Sunday paper or given away at the turnstiles at a ballgame to the majority of people who are non-book-readers.

I'm linking the Boing Boing post which will take you to the article:


03-05-2008, 07:22 PM
Um, the Kindle is doing rather well, thank you very much.

03-05-2008, 07:59 PM
What about Sony's Reader (http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=8198552921644523779)? It uses e-Ink technology like the Kindle but it's much more stylish and easy to use. As long as Sony keeps releasing new versions to keep up with the advances e-Ink are making, it could become as successful a product line as the iPod.

If e-Ink (http://www.eink.com/) is marketed properly, it will revolutionize the entire industry. I've been following the company for years just waiting to see what applications their technology is used for. Things are finally starting to happen and I've got to say, I'm excited.

03-05-2008, 08:15 PM
Um, the Kindle is doing rather well, thank you very much.

:) I'm excerpting here:

Both devices had the same problem: they sold out completely and new units could not be manufactured in time for Christmas. Both devices spawned entire Internet tool-suites dedicated to helping frustrated would-be purchasers locate their own unit. Amazon was selling 17 Wiis per second at the height of the fever, and more than one enterprising hacker whomped up a little pinger that would obsessively check Amazon for notice of new stock and then IM, email or SMS you the instant the Wii went back on the block.

No one knows how many Kindles Amazon sold. It's safe to say it was less than 17 per second. Far less.


China has experienced the largest migration in human history 160,000,000 people moved from the inland farms to the coastal manufacturing cities but it is not endless. Most of the world has shut down most of its factories, shuttering domestic manufacturing capacity in favor of the cheap labor, poor working conditions and environmental controls of China's factory cities. When you go to China to get your Kindle or your Wii produced, you're competing for space among the factories that produce socket wrenches, Happy Meal toys, laptop computers, prison cafeteria trays, decorative tin planters, vinyl action figures, keychain flashlights and cheap handguns.
The axiom, I surmise, is one of economics, not the reader itself. In that sense, the essay is spot on. He's talks about the delcination of readers and reading (flat or trending downward). He talks about the competition for the production of devices. And he intertwines them ans the point is salient. That the wii or the Kinlde is selling well is irrelevant. That the Wii is positioned to sell well an the Kindle is not is.

That Kindle sold well is a matter of debate. Only Amazon has the numbers for this and no one's released them. As to other e-readers, again, no numbers. My hands on experience with the Sony e-reader just Tuesday can be summed up like this: black and white 1980s Galaga screen; clunky interface; large gadget to haul around with a bevy of other gadgets in tow (Zune, GPS, two cel phones). But I don't want to et tu brute e-readers here. Just adding a personal anecdote.

I think the economics model he explains is fascinating though.

03-06-2008, 04:35 AM
Honestly, I'd rather read an e-book on my Palm--for one thing, I can annotate a book and even transfer my notes, and passages from the book--to a word processor file or email.