Google is holding a sweepstakes called the 10 Days in Google Books Game. For every day of the contest, Google will choose 3 winners to receive Sony Readers. In order to play, you need to first answer 5 simple trivia questions and then write a 50 word essay about eReaders.
The contest seems to be Google’s attempt to advertise their eBook offering. Right now, Google Books can hardly be considered a hot spot of activity. Giving out Google Books compatible Sony Readers is one way to get people interested. Also, the trivia questions involved are too simple to actually create a challenge, but they do showcase the capabilities of Google’s book archive. Every answer can be found by clicking a link to some online book or using Google’s book search capabilities.
You are allowed to enter once a day. Winners will be announced in 2-3 months.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding Amazon’s deletion of George Orwell books the Free Software Foundation is readying a petition against remote deletion and DRM. This news is somewhat significant, as the Free Software Foundation is an organization that has some weight in the world of software activism. Most famous for the GNU Project(and the related GPL license), the foundation can be thought of as the de facto head of the open source and free software movements.
The Free Software Foundation has acknowledged Bezos’ apology, but feel that it isn’t enough. The petition will ask that Amazon completely relinquish the ability to make changes to users’ Kindle libraries. One interesting point up is how the technology could provide a tool for censorship, especially as the Kindle enters new markets. This argument is likely inspired by other companies. For example, Google has taken criticism in the past for how it has assisted China’s government in censoring the internet.
For good measure, the petition will also ask Amazon to reevaluate the use of DRM. I have to say that this seems unlikely. Amazon’s view towards DRM is completely irrelevant: if the Kindle didn’t have DRM, the major publishers would stop supporting it. While DRM has its downsides, Amazon doesn’t really have a choice in the matter.
Still, the petition has gotten somenotice. Once signatures have been assembled and the Free Software Foundation presents the petition, it will be interesting to see how Amazon responds. So far, Amazon has been pretty good about responding to their customers, so it is possible that they will try to listen to the petition (except of course the DRM). Then again, Microsoft has ignored the Free Software Foundation for decades and it hasn’t really been that difficult for them.
Samsung has revealed their entry into the eReader market along with the stated goal to “become a bigger player than Amazon or Sony.” Too bad the device itself, the SNE-50K, seems to be a bit lacking. Although about the same price as a Kindle 2, Samsung’s reader lacks some of the Kindle’s key features. Most noticeable are the lack of wireless and the smaller screen size, both which would be fine on a budget device but seem odd when price matching the Kindle. The other downside is the lack of content available for the device. Right now, the device is only available in Korea and even though Samsung has a partnership with Kyobo Bookstore, Korea’s biggest bookstore, there are only about 2,500 books available. In order to have success with the device in the US, Samsung will need to find a way to make more titles available.
One upside is that the device features handwriting recognition. But this isn’t something that I can imagine being a killer feature on an eReader. Any sort of touchscreen feature usually means a sacrifice in the paper like readability that one expects from an eReader. Part of the reason for the Kindle’s success is that Amazon created and marketed a device for reading books. Nothing more and nothing less. I don’t have access to a Samsung reader in person, however, so I can’t really be sure of how handwriting feature could make up for the other missing features.
Financial services company Credit Suisse has issued a report that predicts eReader ownership by one third of adult book readers within 5 years. This would be a huge jump from their estimate that only 1% of the target market owned eReaders in 2008. It should be noted that this report is specific to the US. Also, the target demographic of literary adults that Credit Suisse is referring to consists of 42% of Americans 15 or older.
Amazon in particular is predicted to do well. Credit Suisse believes the number of Kindles sold each year will skyrocket, until Amazon is selling 8.5 million a year in 2014 (equaling $1.8 Billion in revenue). As the report seems to have been completed before the recent news about Barnes and Noble’s upcoming eBook store, there’s no prediction as to how they may make a dent in Amazon’s profits. Credit Suisse has, however, jumped on the Apple tablet speculation bandwagon and suggested that it would have a major effect on the eReader market. I’m not sure if I agree with that analysis, as a tablet computer and an eReader aren’t really the same thing. People use eReaders because they simulate a normal paper reading experience, not because they want a full out computer. We’ll have to wait for it come out as Apple has a way of creating surprisingly usable revolutionary devices (iPhone being the most recent example).
Overall, there’s nothing too surprising about Credit Suisse’s report. At this point, I think everyone expects eReaders to be poised to take over the publishing industry. What’s incredible is how fast Credit Suisse expects it to happen. One third of the market in 5 years? An adoption rate like that is equal to a full out revolution in the way people look at books.
Amazon received a lot of flack when they reached into their customers’ Kindles and, without any real warning or prior notification, deleted copies of George Orwell books. The reasons for the deletion weren’t entirely Amazon’s fault, but it provoked nothing but outrage nonetheless.
Although Amazon issued a sort of PR apology/promise, it was hardly enough to satisfy all of Amazon’s angry customers. Now, CEO Jeff Bezos is trying to make amends by issuing a full out apology on the Kindle forums. The full text of his apology is as follows:
This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.
With deep apology to our customers,
Founder & CEO
This is actually a really smart move by Amazon and, judging by user comments on Bezos’ thread, is receiving a positive reaction. I’m glad Bezos is saying that he sees what people don’t like and Amazon won’t do it. Period. No PR speak or dancing around the subject.
As a side note, the post made me notice Bezos’ Amazon profile, and it was kind of fun seeing his reviews and what books he wanted to buy. He gives good reviews to milk and cookies products, but only 1 star to The 13th Warrior. I guess even Bezos doesn’t endorse everything Amazon sells.
This move is also a great way for the USA Today to increase the influence of its best seller list. For most people, best selling books is synonymous with with the New York Times Best Seller List. The New York Times list the one recognized by Amazon (where Best Sellers are discounted) and most other retailers. Not to mention the fact that you usually don’t see advertisers quoting a book’s position on the USA Today Best Seller List. But by adding Kindle sales, the USA Today is trying to anticipate current trends and make headway against the Times list. So far, the USA Today is the only publication to have done this, which might mean that their list will be more accurate.
Unless of course The New York Times already counts Kindle sales. The data used to compile their list is a trade secret, so its possible they already include electronic sales and just haven’t told anybody.
If the battle between Barnes & Noble’s store and Amazon’s comes down to the eReaders themselves, this is a significant step in Plastic Logic catching up. They’ve even one up’ed Amazon by adding WiFi to the device (although WiFi might not be too far off for the Kindle).
The catch is that no details have been revealed as to what kind of pricing plan will be in place to use the network. Unlike Whispernet, which is free excluding the upfront device costs, Plastic Logic could decide to go in a different direction. Whispernet doesn’t cost anything because Amazon pays every time you download something. If Plastic Logic didn’t want to make that kind of commitment, they could defer payments to the customer.
Either way, the plot has thickened with Barnes and Noble and Plastic Logic. It seems like the best way to compete with Amazon is to find a way to copy their model.
Barnes & Noble has announced that they are planning to open their own ebook store. That the brick and mortar chain would make moves to compete with the Kindle isn’t much of a surprise since, like Amazon, they already are a major retailer with deep-seated ties in the publishing industry. In order for Barnes & Noble to ensure that they retain their massive share of book sales, it only makes sense that they would move in on digital media.
What is interesting is how Barnes & Noble is setting themselves up to be competitive with the Kindle platform. As of now, they are planning to price match Amazon’s standard $9.99 pricing and supply a library of 700,000 books. These books, however, can’t be read on either the Kindle or Sony’s eReaders. Instead, a partnership is being made to use Plastic Logic’s upcoming reader.
It seems like in the future Barnes and Noble and Amazon will offer very similar eBook platforms, with with similar stores and exclusive formats/DRM. The only real difference could end up being the Plastic Logic versus the Kindle. Amazon shouldn’t be too worried yet, however, since the Plastic Logic Reader doesn’t come out till next year. The Kindle is already at the forefront of eReader competition, and its household name status won’t be any different a year from now. Also, Plastic Logic designed their reader with business uses in mind, unlike the Kindle which was planned for the everyday consumer all along. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.
There are two major updates to the story about Amazon deleting George Orwell books from customers’ Kindles.
First off, the reasons for the deletion have become more clear. The books were added to the Kindle store by MobileReference, a company which focuses on the publication of works already existing in the public domain. While Orwell’s works are public domain in most countries that MobileReference sells in, they still fall under copyright in the US. Which just so happens to be the only country where Amazon sells the Kindle.
The second piece of news is that Amazon is claiming this will not happen again. The company issued a statement, sent as an Email to various tech publications.
We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances.
It’s good to see that Amazon is reacting to the negative reaction they have received.
Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a think tank made up of Democratic Party members, thinks that education’s future lies in the Kindle. Their proposal, entitled A Kindle In Every Backpack, makes the argument for moving towards an eTextbook environment for K-12 education.
Their argument is a compelling one. Hardly anyone would disagree that the dominance of eReaders is inevitable, and the DLC is simply arguing that there is no point to wait. Although overhead costs at the start of the project would be high, eReaders would save the government a lot more money in the long run. Also, giving every student an eReader would help address the discrepancy between well-funded schools and those in disadvantaged neighborhoods by making textbook access universal.
Here’s exceprt from the paper by Thomas Z. Freedman explaining long term cost benefits of textbooks going digital:
Over time, this could provide enormous savings. Over the first four or so years of an eTextbook system, we would spend about $9 billion more—in total—than the traditional textbook scheme. Yet by the last year of that initial period, we could have already supplied Kindles, or the digital equivalent, to 100 percent of our students. At that point, the savings would kick in, beginning at over $700 million in the fifth year before holding steady at around $500 million annually in the years immediately following.
I don’t think the plan will be launched within the next couple of days, however. With the current recession, any multi-billion initiative is going to have trouble getting off the ground. Also, the price estimates offered by the DLC are based on assumed drops in manufacturing costs and not really indicative of the cost to roll out the plan today. The accessibility issue would also need to be taken care of before any national plan could be enacted.
But once these issues are resolved, it won’t be long before every child does have some sort of eReader. Hopefully, one that’s is somewhat child-resistant too.
Earlier on this blog, George Orwell was featured for Good Kindle Books at a Glance. If you downloaded the Kindle edition of either 1984 or Animal Farm, I hope you have gotten the chance to read and finish it because Amazon has remotely deleted the books from your Kindle.
Based on what has happened with Orwell’s books, Amazon’s policies seems to be this: if a publisher changes their mind about offering an electronic version, all downloaded copies of the book have to be retroactively deleted, without any warning to or permission from the owner. You have to wonder if Amazon saw the irony in doing this with 1984.
Having worked in eBook/book digitization industry myself I can say that book copyrights are complex and messy and publishers try to hold on to their rights with any means possible. Fines for violating copyrights are substantial. Therefore such unfortunate incidents are unavoidable.
To be fair I’ll note that of course Amazon has refunded the price of the books that were remotely deleted.
Amazon will soon have a UK launch date finalized for the Kindle, according to British mobile phone trade publication, Mobile Today. Although its not currently clear when this date will be, the launch should occur in time for the holiday season.
Of course, just because Kindle has been slow to leave the US doesn’t mean that Amazon’s competitors haven’t already cracked the European market. Part of Amazon’s strategy will now have to be winning away users who already have experience with other eReaders.
What may be the Kindle’s largest selling point is also the reason for the delay: Whispernet. The reason Kindle isn’t yet sold in the UK is because problems arose in finding a wireless carrier (Orange and Vodafone, 2 major cellular companies in Great Britain, are working on their own wireless-enabled eReaders with Vodaphone planning to release as soon as this fall). Qualcomm has taken over negotiations for Amazon, and has apparently found a solution to the wireless problem.
One question on my mind is how the UK Kindle’s will work in the US and vice versa. Most likely it will not be possible to use wireless connectivity outside your own country. In order to make this a reality Amazon will need ot install universal wireless chipset that would support both CDMA (Sprint) and GSM (european operators). This will incurr extra cost while not making a great difference for 99% of the users. I may be wrong though. We’ll see…
The Kindle is an expensive gadget, so many owners take precautions to protect it. One popular Kindle accessory is Amazon’s own leather cover, which adds a layer of insulation to prevent everyday mishaps. The only problem is that the hinges on the cover have apparently cracked the cases on a number of Kindle 2′s and Kindle DX‘s, with the damage sometimes even resulting in a frozen display.
After a $5 million lawsuit filed against the company, Amazon agreed to replace Kindles that have been damaged by the cover. This is a reversal of Amazon’s previous practice of charging $200 for the replacement. Even though Amazon’s now trying to address the issue, the lawsuit has yet to be withdrawn. The company, however, refuses to comment on the suit itself since it’s against their policy to discuss ongoing litigation.
So far I don’t see any traces of damage on either of my Kindles but this piece of news has got me strongly considering investing in another kind of Kindle cover. On the other hand should 3rd party cover crack my Kindle, Amazon would be reluctant to exchange it for free. I’m curious, has anyone run into these problems with the Amazon case?
Kindle support is being added to Blackboard, a leading Course Management System (CMS). They’re an important ally for Amazon to have, since Blackboard software is widely used by schools at all levels of education as the primary means of supplying course materials online. Even at the university level, Blackboard (along with their competitors) is used to distribute notes, quizzes, lectures, etc. online.
Kindle support is being added by the release of a new “building block” for Blackboard. All that a school’s web developer needs to do is add the block to their Blackboard server and presto, Kindle owners can now download their class materials directly to the device. Little work for the school, and no effect for students that don’t own Kindles, but a small, nice benefit for the Kindle users. This is the type of educational use that has the potential to be, at least for now, the most successful on the Kindle and will avoid any potential legal troubles.
It looks like Amazon is rallying business partners (another example being Microstrategy support for Kindle) to create an eco-system around Kindle as it’s starting to face increasing competition.
PC World’s James A. Martin has posted an article about the positive experience he’s had flying with a Kindle 2. He gives three main reasons why any traveller could benefit from taking along a Kindle:
Don’t Have to Sprint to the Airport Newsstand
Can Comfortably Read a Newspaper in Coach
Can Read Documents and Web Content
And I completely agree with this and can add #4: you don’t need to sit on the floor next to toilet door because that’s where the only free AC outlet happens to be as Kindle can run pretty much forever on a single charge.
When it comes to flying, the Kindle is an indispensible companion. Unless, of course, you just happen to have incredibly bad luck like I did a while ago.
I’m still surprised that why Kindles are still not sold in the airports.
East Asian technology site, Tech-On!, was recently at Digital Publishing Fair 2009 in Tokyo. While there, they discovered the prototype of an oddly familiar eInk device. Here’s an image of it side by side with the Kindle 2. It’s kind of like one of those puzzles where you’re supposed to spot the differences between two pictures.
Totally, Completely Different
The weFound, manufactured by Founder Group (a major Chinese conglomerate), seems awfully Kindle-like. Not only do the devices have a near identical control scheme and aesthetic, they also share 6 inch displays manufactured by E Ink Corporation. Also, while wireless isn’t active by default in the weFound, all it takes is the insertion of a SIM card to download books on the go. Of course, the superficial similarites must be coincidental since its developers claim, “Peking University Founder Group independently developed this terminal, and it has nothing to do with the Kindle.”
On the bright side, the weFound doesn’t appear to be some sort of cheap knockoff. Since the eInk screen is literally the exact same one as the Kindle 2, it most likely has a similar display quality. Also, while currently only a prototype, Founder plans to eventually deploy the device in both the Chinese and the Japanese markets. Not a bad move, considering that the Kindle is still unavailable outside of the United States. Rather than trying to fool people into thinking they’re buying a Kindle, Founder wants to preemptively take its place as the leading eReader in the East Asian market. Likely to avoid legal issues due to China’s notoriously lax enforcement of intellectual properties, the weFound has a definite chance for success.
Once again I forgot to restore full-text feed after WordPress update so Kindle subscribers could have gotten snippets today instead of full posts. I’ve fixed the error and wrote a 12 posts-its to myself to it doesn’t happen again. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Business intelligence software vendor, MicroStrategy, has decided to make its reports available to the Kindle DX. Now, any company that is a client of MicroStrategy’s services has the option to download Kindle DX friendly pdfs directly over Whispernet.
While this announcement only applies to those who already buy services from MicroStategy, I think it’s worth mentioning for a couple of reasons. This is an example of a company targeting the Kindle specifically for use in a business environment. This is markedly different from the current, consumer-centric marketing Amazon has done. Thus far, eReaders have been essentially thought of as a toy (not that that is a bad thing) that people use for their own enjoyment. Using the Kindle for work is a somewhat novel idea, if only for the moment.
But while the Kindle’s use by MicroStrategy is fairly rudimentary, it demonstrates the potential of eReaders. They have turned the Kindle DX into an office on the go. The wireless capabilities allow employees to download needed documents from anywhere, and the large eInk display provides and easy to view and easy to share alternative to office paper.
Right now the only downsides are lack of color and the general spottiness of the Kindle DX’s PDF support. These are temporary issues, however, as eReaders will continue to develop. At some point in the future, it’s likely that more and more businesses will move towards some sort of eReader standard. The idea of a paperless office, which has long seemed unlikely, may not be too far off.
A bit old but funny. A sketch from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon which has the Kindle 2 reading passages from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe and Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama. All set to candlelight and classical music. Oh, and it tells jokes too!
The patents specify a number of hypothetical advertising practices that seem like many readers’ worst fears. One example: “If a restaurant is described on page 12… [then] page 11 or page 13, may include advertisements about restaurants, wine, food, etc., which are related to restaurants and dining.” In addition to full page ads, the patents also describe adding ads to the margins of a book and fitting in extra ads if the book has larger margins.
It’s interesting to imagine what long-term goals of Amazon this may reveal. Since the Kindle and the books read on it are already purchased up front, I can’t imagine very many consumers would be happy about ads. It seems unlikely that ads will be added anytime soon, as Amazon is already getting bad press for this and wouldn’t want to lose its customer base.
One possibility, actually mentioned in the first patent, is for Amazon to create some sort of two tiered bookstore in the future. In addition to the current, ad-free books, Amazon could start offering discounted, or even free books that rely on advertising revenue. Another thing to consider is the use in newspapers and periodicals. Papers are already primarily ad-supported anyway; Amazon could be hoping to license their ad service as news makes the transition away from traditional print media. Any paper being published to an eReader format could mostly shop between Amazon, Google, and others to choose an advertising provider.
Another possibility is that these patents are defensive move meant to keep Google with their successful ad-based revenue model out of digital books while Amazon itself has no immediate intention of putting ads into books.
First I would like to state that this post constitutes my humble opinion and nothing more. You may consider it wrong, it may be wrong, I respect Stephen King fans so lets not get personal about it. This post may also contain what some may consider spoilers although in very general sense. No plot details are revealed here. However if you are someone like me it can save you quite a bit of time…
I’ve started reading the Dark Tower series even before I got my Kindle 2, read it for a while when I got my Kindle DX and then quit after reading around 70% of the Wolves Of Calla. I actually stared hating Stephen King passionately around the end of The Waste Lands… and here’s why: as he himself admits in the introduction he set out to write an epic “and in some ways (at least in size) he succeeded” but at a cost: at first The Dark Tower series books are very fascinating read because the world described is so self-contradicting that you can’t help to wonder how is he going to pull it all together in the end. But as the books progress contradictions only increase but what is more frustrating is that there are still a lot of interesting and fascinating parts that are buried in completely boring passages or outright retelling (sometimes to the point of copy-paste) of events already described. This becomes even more agonizing as you wonder more and more about how is it going to come together in the end but also as you try go though increasingly lengthy boring stuff as you try to get the interesting parts. For me there was just barely enough of the later to keep me from giving up on the book altogether. That’s what made it so agonizing.
So recently as I was reading though Wolves Of Calla, my wife asked me what I’m reading about currently. As I mustered all my “Uhm”s, “Well”s and “You know”s I’ve realized that I have nothing of interest to say about probably last 100 pages that I’ve read and this was the point when I said – enough is enough. I turned off my Kindle, turned on my notebook and went to wikipedia (god bless it) to find out how does it actually end. Ok, now here comes pseudo-spoiler: at the end it doesn’t all come together and become clear and whole picture – it becomes much bigger self-contradicting mess than you can imagine. I sighed with relief as I’ve realized that I’ve saved myself dozens of hours worth of reading Song Of Susannah and The Dark Tower.
Don’t get me wrong – these books aren’t the worst literature that I’ve read in my lifetime however I don’t think that mr. King’s desire to “outwrite” J.R.R.Tolkien justifies all the suffering he inflicted on humble readers like me. If I were to choose one book of the 7 book series that I were to recommend to someone to read, I’d choose Wizard and Glass. My second choise would probably be The Drawing of The Three with first part of The Wastelands added.
Here’s a piece of news most of you were waiting for! How do I know? Well, on a daily basis I check list of search keywords that you used to find my blog and “Kindle price drop” was the one I saw quite often.
Kindle 2 now sells for $299.00, $60.00 down from original price of $359.00 that endured for very long time. It’s ready to ship on the same day you order it. Kindle DX still sells for $489.00 and is still on back-order. Though wait time is now reduced to 3-5 weeks from 4-6 one week ago.
I believe that much more people would now buy Kindle 2 because psychologically there is a big difference between these prices. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kindle 2 would become backordered just as Kindle DX unless Amazon was planning this move for a long time and stocked up before they announced it.
Do I foresee more price drops for Kindle2? Not in the near future. Amazon is already selling the device very close to what is speculated to be manufacturing cost and they are not making much profit on books either because they are paying publisher commissions based on the paperback price of ~$20.00 per book.
Why are they doing this? Definitely not because they feel altruistic. Amazon is the leading player in the eBook market right now but they are still not as secure and established as Google is in Internet Search or Microsoft is in Operating Systems and Office Software. Amazon is trying for it very hard, just as there several other players that are trying hard to dethrone Amazon. That is why (in my opinion) Amazon hardly makes any profit on Kindle devices and eBooks right now – they are trying to grab the market that is currently exploding as fast as the Internet was before. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google’s announcement about their digital bookstore had much to do with this price drop.
Will there be price drops for Kindle DX? Definitely not before it will be in stock again. Which will be for at least another month if not more. If we’ll finally see Kindle Textbook Store by the start of the next college year it will cause another spike in demand and DX might go on back-order again thus eliminating chances of a price drop. On the other hand should Amazon increase their manufacturing capacities a price drop for Kindle DX when textbook store will open would be a logical move.
In case you just paid $359.00 for Kindle 2 there’s good news for you too. If it was less than 30 days ago you can contact Kindle support and get $60.00 refund. Here’s how to do it:
6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific Time, seven days a week. You can also reach us by calling one of these numbers: Inside the United States: 1-866-321-8851; Outside the United States: 1-206-266-0927.
Or go to this page and click the ‘Contact Us’ button to have them call you back.
After using Kindle DX for a while I would like to add to my first impressions. In my original review I’ve described large screen as more of a disadvantage because of the reduced mobility rather than something good. After Almost a month of usage I’ve changed my opinion.
I’ve actually come to like the larger screen. Reading experience is more book-like. I’ve used second smallest font on both Kindle DX and K2. With DX I have to slip pages less often and I actually like it this way because this actually distracts me a little bit from the process of reading. I’ve also found that additional weight doesn’t tire my hand this much and that I actually read at home much more than I do on the go.
Then there was another occurrence that elevated my opinion about DX even more. My eyes can hardly be called perfect. I wear +4.0/+5.0 glasses or contacts on constant basis. There was this evening when I already took out my contacts and then decided to read a little bit before going to sleep. Yet, alas! My glasses were nowhere to be found. I took my DX and set the font size to second largest that turned out quite comfortable to read with my uncorrected eyesight. With Kindle DX even at such large font size there was enough text on the screen for me to enjoy reading. I tried the same trick on Kindle 2 later and there were only 2 or 3 sentences on the screen at a time so I had to flip pages several times a minute.
I realize that this is all not rocket science but perhaps this first hand experience will help someone to decide Kindle DX vs. Kindle 2 dilemma :)
Currently, the only non-kindle device with access to the book store is the iPhone, through the Kindle for iPhone app. I would guess that some of the new devices getting Kindle support would have to be the iPhone’s competitors, most likely Palm, Blackberry, or Windows Mobile.
But the most strategic platform to cover would have to be Android. If Amazon hopes to compete with Google’s upcoming bookstore, it would make sense to first push their own books onto Google’s mobile OS.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Amazon has any current plans to share their eBook format with everybody. I’m guessing this will at some point be a necessity, however, as eReaders and competing bookstores become more prominent. Sure, extra support for mobile devices will help the Amazon bookstore, but it won’t affect the buying habits of a Sony eReader user. Eventually, Amazon will need to open their bookstore to all eReaders unless it wants to lose business to someone like Google.
In regards to the lawsuit against Arizona State University, over the Kindle DX‘s inaccessibility for blind people, a quick search for braille eReaders brought up this prototype design.
Unfortunately, no such device is yet in production, but the basic technology already exists. Braille displays for blind computer users have been around for decades, and it’s only the prohibitive cost that has kept an eReader like this from being developed. As research continues, it can be expected that something like this prototype will one day exist.
A braille device that fell under the Kindle brand, or at the very least had support for the Kindle Store, would solve any problems surrounding the current suit against ASU. But even more important would be the larger effect a braille eReader would have. Unlike the purchase of a normal eReader, which essentially comes down to a consumer’s personal preference, a braille eReader would have near universal acceptance in the blind community. With braille, a refreshable eReader with a limitless digital library would have clear benefits over the limited supply of bulky paper braille books. If such a device could be developed at a reasonable price, the maker would not only stand to help the disable but also to make a huge profit.