Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kindle Sopresa

I've been busy with a few things recently.

As I got my credit card, one of the first things I did, was to go on and see about ordering a book about RenderMan, to help me with the development of RibTools.
Instead I've been seduced by the announcement of the upcoming "Kindle International" (Kindle 2 sold abroad) and I ended up buying that and no books, hoping that I'd get them eventually on the Kindle.
The Kindle started shipping on the 19th of this month, and I got it the 23rd morning, after some apparent misunderstanding with UPS (they left me a voice message saying they didn't have my address, though eventually they clearly found me 8).

Recently I haven't been reading graphics papers, so my purchase was not to read PDF files. There are ways to convert PDF to the Kindle format. One being mailing an Amazon system that will mail you back the kindle version for free at your home mail, or for a charge directly on the Kindle.
Anyhow, forget PDF 8) ..some people hacked the Kindle to run a PDF->PNG conversion on the hardware itself. I'm not sure how it works, but I don't see it working well for a large number of pages.. and PNG clearly excludes highlighting of text, resizing of fonts, etc etc.

Kindle DX will natively deal with PDF files.. however it still doesn't allow one to take notes, plus the DX costs A LOT of money and isn't even shipped outside the US.

The Kindle 2 itself is cool, small, and it came with 3G cell network out of the box. It has a list of common sites, such as Google and Wikipedia, the mobile editions. It can also go to normal websites.. though the browser is rather limited (no JavaScript and such) and is really meant to more for mobile edition of sites.
I'm not sure, but I've read that browsing of web sites may not be possible in other countries.. ..myself I could connect without any tangible restriction so far.
Overall, it's really nice that I could unbox the reader and be connected right away.

One thing that disappointed me so far is the limited quantity of books available in Kindle edition.
Connecting from the US, one has a selection of about 350,000 books. Here from Japan the selection is down to "over 290,000". From what I've seen, it's actually more than 298,000..
..still, that's 50,000 less books.. quite possibly a superset of all the books that I would like to read on the Kindle but that I have to buy on paper ;)
Even if I could choose from all the 350,000 , most of those books are novels, fiction, all that crap that I really don't care about !

Suddenly, as my Kindle was landing in Japan, Barnes & Noble came out with some really cool next gen book reader.. and Apple is now clearly ready to make a super iPhone/iPod for books (e-ink displays are really nice, but being able to flip pages quickly is probably nicer..).

Still, I'm glad that I bought the Kindle. I've been waiting long enough already ! To me it's a bit like buying the Aibo.. only much cheaper 8)
My hope is that more books will become available, or proper PDF support so that I can download by means of P2P what I can't buy because of lame distribution issues ;)



  1. Kaz e-book user!

    I've been wanting to get one myself ... then I saw the specs on B&N's "Nook" ... then I realized I'm better off waiting for Apple's "solution" ... which will probably cost more than the Kindle or the Nook, but I have a feeling that I'll be able to do a bit more with that device than just read e-books.

    The other reason why I'm putting it off is because (currently) the devices seem to be tied only to their own bookstore. I can't buy a digital book from Amazon and read it on the Nook. :(

    My hope is to gradually start moving towards more of a digital library for what I call "short life" books which are the one's that have technically relevant information at present, but in ten years, that information has either become obsolete or has been superceded by something better. I already have a number of these kinds of books and it's a nuisance hauling them around or having to have bookshelves for them. :(

  2. Noooooo!!! Not the Kindle...

  3. Freddy ....Yesssssssssss !!!!!!!!! I Kindle You !!!


    I understand your point of view. To be honest, the Nook announcement surprised me.. suddenly everyone is on board !
    However the competition isn't going to beat Amazon over night. Additionally, all that stuff comes out in US first, so, chances are that before any real alternative comes to Japan it will be 1 year (maybe 6 months, with some optimism).
    I feel a bit like an early adopter.. though the Kindle is not new, but surely it is outside the US 8)

    Interestingly, Amazon is developing a reader software for PC/Mac.. the mykindle kind of page already allows to transfer books between Kindles I own (somehow I have 2 in list). This shows some democratization.. one step towards untying the books from the device !

    The Kindle hooked to a PC via USB is meant to be used as a drive.. and a book is nothing but an .azw file. Sure they are encrypted, but they can also be decrypted ;)
    The base format of some books (files ending for .azw) is the standard MOBI.. so, not really a closed format.
    The problem currently is that some (don't know how many) books instead are encoded with a completely different format, called Topaz, a format apparently proprietary of Amazon (the file extension used for those is .azw1, .azw2).

    Hopefully all this DRM BS will fade away with time.. if there is a will, there is always a way.. 8)


  4. graphics programming books, have color illustrations though.

  5. Paul,

    That's true.. and also technical books are nice if one can very quickly flip around pages, or place bookmarks with random pieces of paper found around the house.
    Some changes in the reader behavior can be for the best (trading physical bookmarks for text searches).. but the ebooks right now are pretty limited.
    I try to take this as an opportunity to read different books.. for example I'm trying (still not bought) The Mathematics of Relativity for the Rest of Us. The Kindle version costs only $10 (or $9.99 if you want to be precise like infomercials and Apple Computers' prices).
    I already saw something that looks like a missing symbol (Greek letter ?) in the text.. but, still, I have a book about something different and that I want to learn about.
    That and 2-3 more valid books could be well worth the price of the Kindle... the point really is to try to make the best of something new, rather than waiting for exactly what I need in an ebook reader.. because chances are that the "perfect" reader will come in 10 years or so 8)

    ..but yeah, I think that for graphics books I'm still going to have to buy the actual paper version..

  6. Hey Kaz,

    I saw the Kindle reader for PC/Mac ... so I'm more likely to buy eBooks as a result. I'm happy that Amazon sees the merit of this. I have the Kindle Reader for my iPod touch. It works pretty well for the simply fiction books I read, but there's no way I'd read a technical book on that. :)

  7. ummm.. interesting, I don't see a Kindle reader on the iPhone.. I have the Amazon app, but not the reader. Maybe it's not available on the Japanese iTunes yet ?
    I signed up for the PC and Mac application, but I guess it's not out yet.
    Anyhow those are positive steps.. at least being able to share across different readers on different platforms.. interestingly, those readers are a bit like game consoles.. the goal is really probably just to get one to buy books, regardless of the hardware.