Strong opinions, weakly held

Random Kindle thoughts

The big news of the day is that Amazon.com has officially released Kindle, its electronic book reader. The device sells for $399, and the default price for books is $9.99 apiece. You can also subscribe to newspapers on the Kindle — the New York Times is $13.99 a month, and the Wall Street Journal is $9.99 a month. Here are a few things that struck me:

  • Wow, the device is ugly. Really ugly. What’s with the angles? What’s with the ugly keys? I imagine it’s probably pretty nice to use once you have it in hand, but in photos it looks awful.
  • I can’t wait to see the screen in person.
  • What do people think of the $399 price? That’s the same price as the iPhone, and the Kindle is a much more limited device. (I can read the New York Times on my iPhone for the price of $0 per month.)
  • The EVDO-based networking capabilities look really interesting, especially given that there’s no monthly service charge. I assume that the free networking is the reason why there’s no email client on the Kindle.
  • They make a point of saying no syncing is involved in using the Kindle, but how do you get the notes you enter about what you’re reading onto your computer?
  • Amazon was smart to include a blog reading client in the Kindle. The fact that they feature Michelle Malkin’s blog specifically on the Kindle product page is incredibly galling.

I can’t wait til somebody I know gets one so that I can play with it, but I don’t see myself buying one.

Update: I didn’t notice that there’s a $0.99 to $1.99 monthly fee per blog subscription for the Kindle. No word at all on whether any of that money goes to the blog publisher, or how you set up your blog so that Kindle users can subscribe. If anyone sees any links for blog publishers or publishers in general, please post them in the comments. (I looked at the Web site for Amazon.com’s various programs and they don’t seem to have any Kindle-specific information available yet.)

Update: Joel Johnson has posted some actual facts about the device. Blog publishers do get a cut of the subscription fee Amazon.com charges.

Update: Kindle does include a Web browser, and you can use it without paying any additional fees to Amazon.com. I wonder which browser it is? Are we looking at yet another device that uses Webkit?

Update: John Gruber has some concerns about the file format and DRM used by Kindle. I don’t want to buy books that are copy protected and locked to a single device.

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