Worldreader.org is a nonprofit organization that provides e-book readers such as the Kindle for children in poorer areas who have limited access to books and libraries. Their first trial took place in Barcelona, Spain, and they are currently conducting another trial in Ghana. Follow their blog for recent updates and testimonies by the children who received Kindles. According to their website, Worldreader.org“is a US- and Barcelona-based not-for-profit organization founded by Colin McElwee, ex-Director of Marketing of ESADE Business School, and David Risher, a former executive at Amazon.com and Microsoft Corporation.” It is certainly a plus to have an Amazon.com former employee on board.
Providing the Kindle for children in Spain, Ghana, and any future locations opens up a whole new world for reading. Providing books in print makes a small dent in crossing literacy barriers, but often leads to a limited selection because books take up so much space. The Kindle is the size of one book, but provides access to many, many books. Amazon’s Kindle store currently carries 450,000 books, many of which are free. The Kindle is a reader’s treasure trove right at your fingertips.
The cost is a factor, but Amazon donated ten Kindles to Worldreader.org to start their project. The organization currently purchases the Kindles with local government and donated money. With the e-reader competition heating up, the price of the Kindle will surely drop significantly. Once that happens, there is great potential for organizations like Worldreader.org to take literacy via the Kindle to many more areas that otherwise would not have a chance at breaking down literacy barriers.
Amidst the price wars of content between Amazon and Apple, Scribd, the giant content sharing site, has launched a program to make its 10 million books, articles and documents compatible with the full spectrum of readers and mobile devices. Once considered to be the “YouTube” of document services, Scribd has become a hub for authors who can’t afford to self publish, and a social network for readers of similar interests. The site is currently home to more than 200,000 books, and is growing by about 10 percent a month.
CEO Tripp Adler describes a two pronged “mobile deployment” program. The first part of the attack is to make Scribd books compatible with Amazon’s Kindle and other mobile reading devices. Currently, Kindle owners can download from Scribd by using the wireless connection. Amazon charges 15 cents per megabyte for the transfer. This month, Scribd will release software that can be embedded into devices to give users “two click” access to its catalog. The second part of the program is an assortment of device specific applications that will allow smartphones to store the books on the phone’s hard drive.
Even though Amazon and Apple might not welcome all that free content to compete with their not-so-free offerings, Scribd has found a way to get around their approval. And they’ve done it by cutting software syncing tools and extra computers.
The transition to electronic textbooks, once thought to the next big boon for publishers, is meeting with surprising resistance among students and professors. Studies conducted on the Kindle DX at business schools across the country showed an overwhelming–90%–support of the ereader by students for casual reading. However only the tech savvy “power users” embraced the device for academic work. Many students and their professors, used to highlighting text and making notes in the margins, were unable or unwilling to use Kindle DX’s annotation functions. But they may be forced to catch up.
With their relative low cost, electronic textbooks are an inevitable part of higher education’s future. Not withstanding the initial purchase price, the cost storing and maintaining electronic books is less than half that of paper books. Campus librarians have already foreseen the deathof the traditional library. Rather than a storehouse for large numbers of paper volumes, the library of the not-too-distant future will be place for students to use their laptops to access the college’s digital collections.
Technology aside, there are immediate benefits that are impossible to overlook. It’s easier to haul a Kindle than the hundreds of pounds of books and study materials it replaces. Even considering the initial cost of the device, it can save money on text book costs. And it’s greener on the environment, an important consideration for academics. Lev Gonick, vice president of information technology services at Case Western Reserve, likened the resistance to ebooks to that seen with any new technology. College students, recognized for their trend setting nature, will soon become converts.
At the moment the service if quite limited. You can see your notes and highlights but can’t edit or share or even email them as I’ve hoped but this is definitely step in the right direction and I hope more will follow…
This was one of the issues I’ve submitted feedback to Amazon in the past and it looks like I wasn’t the only one. So now I’m going to take some time to write them once more and thank them for this feature and hopefully it’ll get more traction… I encourage you to do the same.
I tried really hard to track down the source of this information but all I could find was indirect hearsay statement confirming it:
According to a reliable source in the know, The New Yorker’s Kindle split is divided 33% New Yorker, 33% Amazon, and 33% wireless carrier.
At first 12 cents / MB may seem a little steep given that most mobile companies nowadays offer 5GB wireless broadband plans for $60/month (1.2 cent / MB). However bandwidth economics are a bit more complex. Sprint already has a 3G network and costs of operating it are fixed whether it’s utilized as 1% or 100% capacity. Therefore it’s in the best interest of the carrier to sell all of the bandwidth even if some of it is sold at a huge discount. Most individual users would use only a fraction of these 5GB and will subsidize users who use it all. With wholesale customers as Amazon there is no subsidies and Sprint would charge highest price Amazon would be willing to pay.
Assuming 12 cents/MB is correct here’s what we get:
Average Kindle book is 0.7..2MB – Sprint gets paid 10..25 cents per download. Download doesn’t mean sale as customers can buy once and download multiple times.
Average Kindle book sample – 0.2..0.6MB – it costs Amazon 2..7 pennies every time you download a book sample. This is comparable to click price in pay-per-click advertising and given that customers “target” themselves, conversion rate should be very high
WSJ subscription – numbers are very similar to ones in MediaShift example – Amazon pays 4…5 USD per month for delivering the content.
Personal document conversion – you pay Amazon 15 cents per megabyte, Amazon pays Sprint 12 cents. Consider that resulting document same size or smaller than then original because of data compression and you get a sustainable revenue model for Amazon even in the unlikely case of bandwidth price going up.
Web browsing – free for users, same 12 cents per MB to Amazon. But how many customers really use it? I don’t. Whenever I need to browse the web on the go I turn to either iPhone or netbook if WiFi hotspot is nearby.
In 2002 1 megabyte of wireless data used to cost more than a dollar. If this trend continues, wireless data costs will stop being a significant factor in Kindle economics 3-4 years down the road.
However with current prices it’s quite possible that Amazon may get unhappy about Savory hack that allows users to download large PDF files and convert them on the fly directly on Kindle.
Today Amazon announced availability of Kindle DX: Amazon’s 9.7″ Wireless Reading Device. It will start shipping sometime this summer and is available for pre-order now. As I’ll definitely would like to write a hands-on review of it I’m preordering one right now…
2 major differences in Kindle DX compared to Kindle 2 are: 9.7″ 16 shades of gray eInk screen that runs at 1200×824 resolution and native PDF support. Other notable new features include iPhone-like auto-rotate and flash-memory upgraded to 3.3 gigabytes.
Kindle DX is actually much anticipated “Kindle textbook edition”. According to Wall Street Jounal Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland along with 5 other universities will start piloting Kindle DX as a universal textbook. With 4 major textbook publishers (Addison Wiley, Prentice Hall, Person and Longman) on-board long with several smaller ones it’s expected that Kindle DX will have 60% of textbooks available when it ships. Larger screen would also be a bonus to people who are used to reading regular newspapers.
Here are all features and specifications of Kindle DX that I could dig up so far:
Size: 10.4″ x 7.2″ x 0.38″ (Kindle 2: 8″ x 5.3″ x 0.36″)
I just had to exercise warranty on my Kindle 2. Hence the reduction of the number of posts on this blog…
The quality of the warranty service was a very pleasant surprise to me indeed. It goes way above and beyond of what I’ve experienced with other companies:
Phone wait was less than 3 minutes
The only thing I was asked to verify was that my Kindle 2 was fully charged and rather than telling me to do it anyway and call back in 3 hours like some other companies did. They took my word for it and emailed me the RMA shipping label. Easy and simple.
Now for the best part – Kindle warranty replacement uses one-day shipping and cross-shipment. This means that if your Kindle needs to be replaced – you’ll most likely get it within 24 hours and before you actually send the damaged unit back to them.
Since I wasn’t expecting such fast turnaround (in the past I had to wait for weeks for my electronics to come back from warranty repair) and I had several long trips planned for the next week I actually ordered another Kindle 2 with one-day shipping so that I’ll not have to spend days in planes, trains and automobiles without my books. When I called the warranty I was told “no problem”. They refunded me the shipping charge and set up RMA as return for refund.
Now does this rock or what? Hopefully other companies will use Amazon as example.
While I’m on the topic – there are some 3rd parties providing extended warranty for the Kindle:
2) http://www.squaretrade.com/ offers 2 and 3 year extended warranty options for almost all electronics, including Kindle 2. For K2 I was quoted $49 for 3-year extended warranty.
Both warranties need to be purchased within 30 days of Kindle purchase. Since my current warranty replacement is officially a return for refund and new purchase I’ll heavily consider using one of these options. I doubt that any of them would offer 1-day cross-shipping though…
Please let me know if had any experience with either of these warranties.
Electronic gadgets are nice but until Witricity goes commercial there is this annoying need to recharge the things. And even when it does I doubt there will be many Witricity hot-spots in Yellowstone National Park or more remote “in-the-middle-of-nowhere’s”.
It’s not that big of a problem if gadget in question uses regular widely available standard batteries like AA, AAA, C, D etc. But some don’t. Such gadgets turn to useless paper weights once the power runs out if you are away from the power-outlet or just don’t have the proper charger available. This was the case for my iPhone and Kindle. After running out of power caused one too many inconveniences I decided to do something about it.
I found myself another gadget that I never leave home without: iGo Universal Battery Operated Charger along with cables that connect to accessories that I carry. This was a real life-saver for me. Anytime a battery is about to run out in the middle of phone conversation or Kindle refuses to go online because it doesn’t have enough charge left to power the EVDO modem I just plug it in and it works. Because “Kindle battery charger” doesn’t need to be charged itself but runs on regular AA batteries itself I can always get more power. It also proved very handy during trip to Yellowstone National Park – I just stocked up on batteries and had all the travel guides and maps readily available on my Kindle and even internet access in select places.
There are dozens of iGo accessories available so you can pick the ones that go with your gadgets. What iGo did was a pretty obvious yet cool thing. They’ve created a modular power platform. Consisting of power sources (AA batteries, AC for pretty much any country in the world, 12V car) and power connectors for pretty much any device including all standard connectors like mini-B and micro-B USB.
After my last post about custom Kindle firmwares possibly making appearance soon, I received several emails with questions on how official firmware updates should be applied. Indeed there is very little information in the User’s Manual on how to update the Kindle software.
Normally Kindle 2 would automatically download appropriate software updates if it is connected to the WhisperNet and automatically intall it when Kindle goes into sleep mode. Update installation will be followed by a reboot.
If you are don’t have Sprint EVDO coverage and therefore don’t have access to WhisperNet update can be done manually by following these steps:
XKCD, “A Webcomic Of Romance, Sarcasm, Math, And Language” recently did a comic about Kindle which I couldn’t resist posting here especially since it mentions a book that I’m very fond of personally.
If you haven’t seen XKCD before I really recommend to explore it as you are sure to have some good time. I personally would love to see it available for subscription on Kindle Blogs but I guess because it is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License it will never happen.
Folks from iFixIt.com have disassembled Kindle 2 and here is brief scoop of what they’ve found:
Battery used is 3.7V 1530mAh Li-Pol battery model number S11S01A. It weights 1.1 oz which is 10% of total weight of the device. It has slightly less capacity than iPhone 3G battery which is 1400mAh. Freescale MC13783VK5 is used as a battery power management chip.
There is no protective cover on the display. So if you scratch it or break it repairs would be quite expensive.
Main processor used is MCIMX31LVKN5C M91E CTAH0850V. It is ARM-11 CPU that runs at 533 Mhz and is manufactured by 90nm process. This is an upgrade from Kindle 1 which used 400 Mhz Marvell PXA255 CPU marked with LUPXA255A0 G7171929.2 0744 KR C400.
RAM is represented by 128MB DDR Samsung K4X1G323PC chip. This is an upgrade compared to 64MB RAM found in Kindle 1.
Flash memory is 2GB moviNAND. Major upgrade from 256MB built in Kindle 1, but as we know it comes at a cost of not having external SD slot.
There is unused space on the PCB for SIM card. This hints to possibility of international versions of Kindle.
It is perfectly possible to access your Gmail account using Amazon Kindle browser. All you need to do is visit the mobile version at http://m.gmail.com rather than full version. Loading full version will cause some kind of error after you enter your login and password. I don’t think it would render well anyway.
So here you go: you can now send and receive emails using your Amazon Kindle anywhere there is WhisperNet (read Sprint) coverage absolutely free of charge courtesy of Amazon :)
I’ve got several emails from users asking how to hard reset Kindle. For some reason Googling for it does little good. So I might just as well do a post on this topic for those who are too lazy to read the manual or don’t have it handy (possibly because their Kindle that has it in a form or e-book froze).
Kindle 2 or Kindle 3 reset: This is easy – just hold the power button (next to the headphone jack) for 15 seconds and the device will reboot.
Kindle DX reset: Same as Kindle 2 – hold the power button (next to the headphone jack) for 15 seconds and the device will restart.
Kindle 1 reset: This is a bit more tricky since you’ll need a paper clip or something similar (it was reported that ear-rings work quite well). First remove Kindle back cover by pressing on it firmly while sliding the cover to the right with your thumbs. Then find the reset button above the battery compartment as shown on the picture and press it with the paperclip. After several minutes your kindle should be rebooted.
I can’t believe that I never did a post about Kindle easter eggs. Here is the most complete one. I’ve checked them all one by one and here are the ones that still work in Kindle 2:
Minesweeper can be started by pressing Alt-Shift-M in the home screen.
Picture viewer is hidden within Kindle 2. To activate it connect Kindle via USB cable to your PC and create “pictures” folder in Kindle USB disk. Create subfolders there and copy pictures. Subfolders will become “book” names and pictures will be pages. JPG, PNG and GIF files are known to be supported. Once you’ve copied the files, disconnect the USB cable and press Alt-Z in the home screen – you should see your picture folders among books now.
You can take screenshots of almost any screen in Kindle by pressing ALt-Shift-G. Screenshots are stored as GIF files in the /documents folder
Symbol shortcuts. When entering text folling shortcuts work:
Alt-6 – ? (question mark)
Alt-7 – , (comma)
Alt-8 – : (colon)
Alt-9 – ” (double quotes)
Alt-0 – ‘ (apostrophe)
Search commands. Typing @help in the search string will display other supported search commands like @dict, @url etc.
Hidden settings.While in settings type one of the following:
411 – shows diagnostic data
611 – shows current radio diagnostics data and keeps refreshing it
Sadly, all location based Google maps services in the browser seem to be disabled.
I meant to publish this post yesterday but got carried away by other business. First of all – kudos to Amazon for timely shipment and large supply. I don’t think that anyone who ordered Kindle 2 was left without one. Sony should take the time to learn from this good example. A friend of mine was sitting on the fence until the last day and finally placed his order at 3PM pacific time on the 23rd and he received his Kindle about the same time I did – around 3PM pacific time on the 24th. I checked the Amazon website and looks as of today (February 25th there is no backlog) – you can still order and get it on the next day (or later if you want to save on shipping).
Here it is…
First impressions are really good. Amazon Kindle was a good thing to begin with and they didn’t do anything wrong in the second version. In fact I wouldn’t call it v2 (nor does Amazon say so anywhere on the device itself) – it’s a nice evolutionary development of well engineered device:
Photos and pictures look better with 16 shades of gray rather than 4
5-way button is a bit more convenient than scroller (but that’s just my opinion)
The geek in me misses the SD card slot as it (the geek) would like to eventually stuff entire library of congress in the device but the rational part of me realizes that 1.4GB is quite enough given that device is almost always online.
These are just my first impressions. I’ll keep using Kindle 2 and will post on my impressions again in 2 weeks, than in 1 month, then in 3. Of course I’ll post about other related topics much more often… Stay tuned.
And speaking of good sweepstakes… SHOP.COM is running Amazon Kindle Sweepstakes right now and until 2/28/2009. Visit this page for more information. One entry per household and they will sign you up for their newsletter. If you don’t like it you can probably unsubscribe at some later time.
I realize that most of my readers already have the Kindle device but you can always give an extra one to someone as a gift. Unfortunately this particular contest ends after the Valentines Day…
I just returned from a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii where I spent some time relaxing under the sun. Well my problem is that max time I can stay on the beach and do nothing is about 30 minutes. After that I get completely bored and need to do something different. This problem seriously disappoints my wife because she is a big fan of sun tanning.
Since this time I knew about this problem beforehand I had my 2 anti-boredom devices with me: Kindle and IPhone. While kindle allows me to read books and pre-downloaded blogs, IPhone gives me a real time access to the internet. The problem with IPhone is that it’s screen is small and it is quite tough to read anything longer than a couple of paragraphs on it. Kindle is great for reading books and already downloaded things on internet but the problem is that wireless is not yet available on the beaches and it is impossible to browse internet on it (which I like the most).
Amazon, Apple, please produce a device which will have a 3G internet connection like an IPhone and a reading comfort of a kindle. Or just let the other devices connect to an IPhone and get cellular internet connection through it. And please make it sand resistant too…
Recently I stumbled upon a blog which describes how to hack Kindle in great details. Even though I’m not a big hacker myself it is quite interesting to see what is going on in my Kindle internals and what steps I would need to take in order to modify it.
Whenever you purchase an expensive new gadget you dread about dropping it, you take it out of the packaging with care and handle it like a newborn child, but as the novelty wears off and you start using, odds are that you will occasionally drop it – eek!
Now it’s a good to know that just in case you drop your Kindle, your device wont be smashed into a million tiny pieces, to put your mind at ease Amazon did a drop test for the Kindle, now the video has been around for a while, but it hasn’t been posted on this site, so here is the Amazon Kindle drop test from 30 inches (76 cm).
Does Amazon have a problem with the Kindle replacement battery? There seems to be a mixed bag when it comes to the Kindle battery, while some people get awesome battery life it seems like others get a raw deal with the battery.
As you can see, the Kindle battery is out of stock which tells my that there is a real problem with the battery and it isn’t just effecting a handful of people. It scores a pitiful 2.5/5 in the customer satisfaction review which also backs up the theory that the Kindle battery is somewhat volatile when it comes to consistent performance.
The reviews paint a worrying picture:
J. E. Link writes:
My Kindle battery failed within 3 months. It is yet another poor quality Lithium Polymer battery manufactured in Communist China. I had hoped that Amazon would have done better with it’s Kindle product. This is not encouraging.
Michael T. Earle
While I love my Kindle, the original battery that came with it only lasted a mere three months (and not real heavy usage) and is now dead and won’t recharge. And now I see Amazon is sold out of replacements!
James Mueller “Gadget Head”
My battery is dead after only 3 months as well. Based on the comments I have read others are having the same issue. Is Amazon looking into this? Are they going to make good on the replacement batteries for customers who have this problem? It’s a shame, the device is great. I hope they don’t let this issue overshadow the device’s good points. Take a lesson from Apple when the iPod had battery issues when it first came out. FIX IT!
When the iPod came out it was plagued with battery issues, it Apple took a long time to fix them and it definitely hurt iPod’s image – its time Amazon learned from Apple’s misfortune. Lets hope its not as as bad as it looks, how is your Kindle battery, have you had to have it replaced?
Have you ever wished that you could use a stylus to write notes on a page or use your fingers to turn the virtual page on your Kindle? well your wish might be about to come true, the company which supplies Amazon with its Kindle EInk displays, PVI (Prime View International), has partnered with a company called F-Origin (of which it owns a 20 percent stake) to incorporate zTouch, a proprietary touch screen technology, into EInk display panels.
From the F-Origin press release:
The functionality and flexibility in design provided by zTouch is the perfect solution for ebooks and other products that utilize PVI’s ePaper displays. zTouch enables users to control book navigation and numerous management functions, such as turning pages, making selections or simply making edits or comments via touch and through gestures and hand writing recognition. The ease of use and high-functionality of zTouch are an ideal match for eBooks by PVI.
From the separate PVI press release:
When a user touches the display, proprietary software calculates the location and intensity of the touch with input from the sensors. There is no additional layer of materials on top of the display as there is in traditional touch technologies; as such, there is no impact to the reflective qualities of the display. This technology requires no ITO (the most fragile component in traditional touch panels), hence exhibits superior robustness. Unlike capacitive touch panels which requires the touch medium be conductive (such as a finger), this force sensing technology works with either stylus or fingers
You can read the full accompanying press release from PVI’s perspective on their website and you can read up on the zTouch 3.0 Technology [PDF warning] with this product information guide provided by F-Origin.
What does this mean? will the next Kindle offer a touch screen interface as standard? The Kindle isn’t mentioned by name by either PVI or F-Origin in the press releases, but its hard to see this technology not making it onto any future incarnation of the Kindle. These certainly are interesting developments and would strongly suggest that Amazon is working on a Kindle v2.
As you may have noticed, there have been a lack of updates recently, however that doesn’t mean we have take our eyes off the ball. Amazon updated their website today and it shows that the Amazon Kindle is now now available to order.
I know a lot of you had grown inpatient with Amazon and been waiting for this news for quite a while, so now is your chance to grab a Kindle device before (inevitably, I think) the stocks run out yet again.
Believe it or not the above picture is not that of a fine old book, but rather a modified case cover for the Kindle! This beautiful piece was made by a user on the mobileread Kindle forum, it features a hand made leather book case, marbleized paper for the end papers, gold leaf to give the impression of gilded pages and a felt-lined holder which keeps the Kindle securely in place. You still don’t believe me do you? in that case I suggest you scroll down the page and have a look at other the images.
Whilst it does look pretty, a few readers on the forums have pointed out that there seem to be some usability issues. For instance on this particular case-mod the cover does not fold back upon itself which may cause readers to use both hands whilst reading content, however the creator of the case mod assured them that it is not a big issue. I guess the only way of telling if it affects usability is by actually using it.
This case-mod simply blows the standard case you get with the Kindle out of the water, or for that matter any other case out there. I think a commercial venture which would offer this to Kindle owners would be an excellent idea, apparently this case-mod it has already fooled some people into thinking that it is a real book!
Now here are some more picture for you to drool over:
Since I assume that Kindle is only the first generation of mobile ebook readers, it got me thinking of what the next generation of Kindle ebook readers might look like.
Then by accident the other day I stumbled upon this forum thread which explored the idea of what a next-generation ebook reader might look like. Whilst some of the designs are outrageous, others have obviously had a lot of thought up into them and could work. I have attached a few of my favourites designs.