Kindle Becomes Kindling

London, Observatory, Reading & Writing

Having seen the iPad it becomes pretty obvious where you can stick the Kindle. It’s dead, gone, flushed away.
Except that the iPad is really big to carry around, and as I already travel with a dedicated high-gig iPod, an iPhone and a MacBook Air, plus all the requisite charging cables, I’m going to end up like a pack donkey – and that’s before adding real books to the mix.

And as a browser, there’s a big problem. It can’t play Flash sites, which will rule out most creative sites (this site runs Flash). And it has no camera, so no Skyping.

Still, it’s a genuine alternative to real books. Now, more than ever, publishers need to respond fast to this challenge to real books. (ha, that’ll happen!)

What they could do is;

Reduce the format window by releasing hardbacks and paperbacks simultaneously.

Reduce paperbacks to a more portable size and shape.

Get rid of that damned dumb airport edition size.

Raise up the quality of design and improve paper quality to make books desirable and attractive gifts again.

Suddenly the shelves of WH Smith look like a Victorian junk shop.

But books can of course be stylishly designed. Check out the wonderful ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ edition currently available.

12 comments on “Kindle Becomes Kindling”

  1. Gryphon Jackson says:

    As son as the iPad hits the shelves I will be getting one – that way I can write while I’m at work.

  2. Brian says:

    Well, I think I might wait for a later version before I will even consider buying an iPad. As well as the shortcomings mentioned in your post it also lacks USB and HDMI ports and doesn’t have facility for any form of memory card. Also, being an Apple product, the user is tightly restricted in what apps can be used and from where ebooks and other downloadable content can be sourced.

    I was also surprised to read that it can only run video in 4:3 and not 16:9. Don’t know if that is correct (some odd reports have been printed in the hype rush) but if so that might explain the lack of a HDMI port.

  3. Cid says:

    Hang on a minute. The main criticisms against the Kindle if I remember rightly were that it made books feel impersonal, it wreaked havoc on the attention span reading from a screen as happens with computers and it lacked the look and feel (and smell) of a book in your hands.

    Explain to me how this new device combats any of those criticisms? Or are they now invalid because this one’s made by Apple?

  4. I.A.M. says:

    Brian: while it may not be possible to read your iBooks purchased title on your Sony Reader, it’ll be more than possible to read most books purchased elsewhere on the iPad; especially ePub files, the most popular file format of electronic books. The wonderful people at Kobo are already working on an application for the iPad to compliment their iPhone and iPod Touch apps. Read more there.

    Cid: nothing will replace the feel of paper in your hands, let’s face it. However, what are you doing, spending time with a fetishist object or reading a lot of words? It’s about “purpose” not necessarily “experience”, just as the Scroll was nothing like that new-fangled Book thing.

    And, yes, the fact that Apple’s made it means it’s far better and actually will work, but the colour screen is a bit plus.

  5. admin says:

    If the iPad doesn’t have 16:9 I’m not buying one – why would you watch anything 4:3 on a large screen?

  6. I.A.M. says:

    ADMIN: You can watch 16:9, it’ll just have the typical letterbox formation for the display. The screen is a 4×5 rectangle, obviously, but the wide-screen doesn’t become an awful ‘pan and scan’ or derivation thereof.

    Quite recently a friend’s mother complained about how “there was something wrong with that DVD you lent me: the top and bottom of the picture was cut-off! Ridiculous!” Hello? Did the ’90s leave someone behind?

  7. Helen Martin says:

    And the size problem? That thing wouldn’t fit in any pocket I have, nor in my purse, and if I wanted to carry something I have an entire room full of books.

  8. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a replacement for my main laptop when I’m travelling (lighter, smaller, easier to faff around with at security, and a reason not to have to carry half a dozen paperbacks around with me, as long as they sell the books I want to read that week in the right format)

    But do I really want to be pulling one out of my bag to use at the bus stop in a small village in Kosovo?

  9. I.A.M. says:

    Helen Martin: it’s aimed at doing far more than merely books, so to have an acceptable parallel you’d have to shove in your purse not just a book but also your TV, a DVD player, and your computer. Or, I suppose, just your computer because it can replace all of the previous three items.

    hampshireflyer: Yes, it can easily replace your laptop, and it’s only 1.5 pounds and 1/2 an inch thick. At that rate, you might find it easier to tote around and use no matter where you are. As for “as long as they sell the books I want to read that week in the right format”, the format they’re using for books seems to be (as that wasn’t clearly stated in the presentation) ‘epub’, which it the single-most wide-spread e-book file format around; even the Kindle can display it.

  10. Peter Lee says:

    You do know the UK version won’t support ebooks at launch, don’t you? See here:

  11. Peter Lee says:

    I’m still sticking with “real” books anyway. I’ve no desire to go down the ebook route, really don’t see the appeal, and above all else should Christopher ever return to Manchester to do a reading it would be difficult for him to sign a PDF.

  12. Mike Cane says:

    Chris, talk your web guy. Dump the Flash. Most of my web access will be via the iPad when I buy it.

    Also show him this:

    Web Designers: Wake Up And Smell The Touchscreen Coffee!

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