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Posted on Monday, November 19th, 2007

Dave!So Amazon has finally released their long-awaited electronic book reader, which they've name "Kindle." Given how often I travel, I've long been waiting for this day. The idea of being able to download books at a moment's notice is appealing to somebody whose entire life is lived "at a moment's notice." But, as a lover of books, giving up the printed word is a scary prospect. Reading a computer monitor is not nearly as comfortable as reading ink on paper, no matter what other advantages an "e-book" might have.

Then comes "electronic paper" or "e-paper."

This invention allows for a display which is much more like a printed page than a computer monitor. Suddenly the technology to create an e-book that reads like a real book has arrived. A few companies jump on board, like Sony, who creates a product that looks like a winner. Except it's not Mac compatible, and so I wouldn't know.

But Kindle doesn't need a computer... PC or Mac... because it connects to the Amazon store wirelessly. That's a pretty smart move.

Unfortunately, it's about the only smart move Amazon made. Kindle is way too expensive ($400!), it can't accept open formats like DOC files or PDFs without paying Amazon for conversion and, most important of all, IT'S BUTT-UGLY! Seriously butt-ugly...

Kindle Reader

In a day and age when Apple is making a killing by creating devices so beautiful that they're practically a fashion accessory, Amazon has chosen to release a product that looks like something out of 1970's. And not in a good "retro" way, but in a "holy crap does that look like shit" way. The asymmetrical lines are horrifying, making the device look like somebody sat on it. I suppose it was designed this way to facilitate better usability, but watching the demo videos doesn't give me this impression at all.

Perhaps if Kindle was half the price, I wouldn't mind so much. But $400 for something that looks like this?

No thanks. For that kind of bank, it had better be iPhone-like beautiful. Because I'm vain that way.

If only Apple designed the world, we wouldn't have to be made to suffer like this.

Categories: BooksClick To It: Permalink


  1. Göran says:

    I´m going to school today and for four days. I´ll be designing the world from now on so no worries. It will be a better place to live in!

    No, I Swear 🙂

  2. Kirsten says:

    They should have put more money into coming up with a better design. That’s just horrid.

  3. Iron Fist says:

    I’ve heard about this reader, but this is the first time I’ve seen it. Ugh. It kind of reminds me of this old Brother Electronic Typewriter I used to use, only less aesthetically pleasing.

  4. Suzy says:

    When the actual book has gone by the wayside, we are all the wrong track.

  5. Bre says:

    Agreed – I go back and forth on readers like this. I’m fairly certain I would adore it, and this one seems to be the swankiest out there, but I can’t get over how clunky and unusable it looks.

  6. Lisa says:

    I agree that Amazon’s new e-reader isn’t attractive at all. Are they limiting the use of reading e-books only to their reader? If that’s the case I would imagine that the idea will flop. Now if I could read from my iPhone then that would be great.

    A lot of my undergraduate courses used e-books. I actually didn’t mind that so much. I downloaded each chapter in a pdf file. When searching for a particular topic it was a breeze.

    Right now I’m reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand which was written in 1934…a classic…and I wouldn’t give up the paper of the book for anything.

  7. ssp says:

    This ‘design’ really is a bad joke. And doesn’t a device of this type just _cry_ for an iPhone style touchscreen? If it’s made for _reading_ why would you want that many keys? Beats me. I also don ‘get’ the need for such a wide bezel. And, reading other reports, it sounds like the thing is quite heavy as well. To be attractive I would have expected it to be the thickness of an iPod nano or so

  8. Michelle says:

    I got excited when I found out I could download books to my Palm E2 … until I started reading the book. Not the same, and I think, just a bad idea.

    I realize with “progress” that we will be done with books in the near future. Especially once Al Gore leads the wagon to read an eBook (or iBook) instead of chopping down a tree for paper, but I tell ya, nothing excites me (in a good way) like walking into Powell’s. Just … the smell of a book. It’s like good music, it just sets a mood.

  9. kilax says:

    Bleh! It is ugly. Someone else makes one that looks better but I can’t remember who… of course, that one doesn’t have the amazon integration!

  10. Mr. Fabulous says:

    You know, some butts are not ugly.

    For example, yours is marvelous.

  11. Gecko Rock says:

    Amazon needs to show they truly believe in this product by a) selling it at a deep discount and b) giving store credit with purchase. Let the profits roll in on downloads. If it were $100 with $50 store credit (good toward downloads only), then I would buy it. If Amazon believed this to be user-friendly, then they would have confidence that consumers would actually, well, continue to purchase and download their e-books and provide the profit on the back-end.

  12. kapgar says:

    Yikes! I’d have to agree on that. This thing is fugly. I think I’ll stick to the printed page.

  13. Yeah, I heard the NPR interview yesterday with the Amazon CEO on this. Seems one blogger compared it a 1970s Battlestar Galactica Pong Player…or such like, such like. And, in the interview, the exec. just laughed and insisted that it was a very beautiful device.

    Uhhhhhhh….not so much, dude. Sorry.

    But whether it will do better than all the other electronic book readers and actually catch on? I don’t know, I’m skeptical. The display is an improvement, from what I’ve seen, but I haven’t seen one of these things yet that’s really gotten the right mix of cool and functional. Not that companies won’t keep trying…too much money to be made, apparently. Odd, since some folks keep saying the written word is dead and we’ll all be IM speaking it in a couple of years. *insert eye roll here* Yeah, whatever.

  14. Avitable says:

    I still don’t quite understand what it is. Is it the length and width of a piece of paper or is it smaller? I don’t know how I’d deal with not having an actual book to read.

  15. Miss Britt says:

    To a non artsy designer – meh. I don’t see the heinousness.

  16. Webmiztris says:

    it is weird looking, but I really like the idea. but no way I’d pay $400 even if it did look gorgeous.

  17. delmer says:

    Just about every book I read I read from my Palm T/X. It was well under $400 and does much more than just allow me to read books from it. With WiFi I can download books right to it.

    The screen is smaller, but when you get caught up in whatever it is you’re reading you don’t notice.

    I don’t like the fact that books bought from eReader are locked to my credit card and user name, making them unlendable … but without that feature they’d be too easy to pirate.

  18. ADW says:

    I will NEVER give up the feel of a book in my hands. I love the way that books smell and feel. I have only tasted them once, but it was heavenly.

  19. Mark says:

    I heard the interview on NPR. It weighs 10 oz. I don’t understand the fuss about the looks. Is it functional?

    Price is too high. I though Bezos said $300 in the interview.

  20. aka_monty says:

    I’d really been looking forward to checking this thing out…then I SAW it today on Amazon.
    Bleh. It’s like they tried to make an Xbox into an Atari.

    I like my books the old-fashioned way…

  21. Michelle says:

    I’m rather fond of good old fashioned books. I dont think another electronic gadget is gonna do it for me. Ugly or not.

  22. yellojkt says:

    I can buy a lot of real books for four hundred bucks. And a bookshelf to put them on. No thanks.

  23. Wayne says:

    That’s why I have my kids put my favorite books onto my etch-a-sketch. It’s light, functional, and if I need to reboot, I just pick it up and shake it!

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