How Low Can They Go? New Kindle Priced at $139


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While the publishing industry, and indeed readers themselves, are still figuring out just exactly what to do with e-readers and e-books, Amazon’s certainly not flagging. Engadget, and about 200 other media outlets, reports that Amazon’s new Kindle—in WiFi only format, of course—is going to be a paltry $139, just in time for the new school year.

Engadget reports a good smattering of improvements in the device itself, including better storage, purported quicker loading, and availability in two different colors (white and gray—oh, wow… such choice there, guys…). It’s also lighter and smaller than its predecessor. And, as always, if you want to continue selling your soul to AT&T, just as before, you can go with the $189 version that supports3G.

But still, we’re talking about the Kindle here, which by and large is very much built for one thing: reading books. I don’t own a Kindle, but there are plenty of folks out there who do—and I’ve probably heard more people go on about the joys of their special brand of e-ink than any other. Sure, other e-readers out there can juggle more things at once, including colors, but for the true bookish geek out there, the Kindle seems to be the way to go if you want your page to look as close to real print as possible. Apparently there will be a Webkit based browser with the new Kindle, but this is, as Engadget indicates, totally experimental. We’ll see what the verdict is on that, later.

As we’ve updated on the e-reader wars here at Geeks Are Sexy, you—the readers—have offered a number of options. Many of you prefer to read on your iPhones/smartphones, others take the Kindle anywhere including the beach; some just go with netbooks, while others are adamant about never giving up paperbacks (from your cold, dead hands… we know, we know!). And for those of us left over who just haven’t decided (myself included) or think you even have to decide (does getting a Kindle mean you have to burn all your books? … um, no) the price war is quite amusing to watch. How low is so low that these gadgets just become as common as iPods or cell phones?

One particular facet that the Kindle hasn’t really jumped on is the multitasking bandwagon, as with gadgets like the Nook or, of course, Apple’s iPad. But that’s just not what Amazon is about. Engadget is a little more tongue in cheek about it, but they do point us to this quote by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos:

“For the vast majority of books, adding video and animation is not going to be helpful. It is distracting rather than enhancing. You are not going to improve Hemingway by adding video snippets.”

On a level, I agree. A book is absolutely about imagination. But the Kindle, and e-readers, are not books. They’re gadgets. And for gadgets to really become integrated into the daily lives of people—even those in the non-geek crowd—I think inherent flexibility is paramount. As lovely as the ink looks on a Kindle, and as enticing as the price is, I’m just not willing to buy something that’s for one single purpose. Maybe if I read 100s of books a year, I’d consider it. But as it is, I manage a handful a year.

And just to serve by way of anecdote. I recently finished my current novel, and was in discussion with my very geeky, gadget-minded husband as to the easiest way for him to read it. The conversation ended up with him going, “Can you just print it out? Y’know, make it look like a book?” I rest my case.







12 Responses to How Low Can They Go? New Kindle Priced at $139

  1. As a fairly voracious reader (I read about 6 books a month), I have absolutely no interest in an e-reader that does anything other than let me read books. When I want to read, I don’t need the distractions something like the iPad brings into the equation.

    When you say that you’re not willing to buy something that’s for one single purpose, that’s exactly how I feel about iPods. I don’t really listen to so much music that I need a single gadget for it. I have an Android phone that does it just fine. I do, however, read enough to justify a single purpose device for that. That said, I don’t feel that eReaders will ever be anything but a niche market, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

  2. As a fairly voracious reader (I read about 6 books a month), I have absolutely no interest in an e-reader that does anything other than let me read books. When I want to read, I don't need the distractions something like the iPad brings into the equation.

    When you say that you're not willing to buy something that's for one single purpose, that's exactly how I feel about iPods. I don't really listen to so much music that I need a single gadget for it. I have an Android phone that does it just fine. I do, however, read enough to justify a single purpose device for that. That said, I don't feel that eReaders will ever be anything but a niche market, but there's nothing wrong with that.

  3. Obviously the Kindle isn’t a device you’re interested in getting, so why the heck do you keep writing about it? There is obviously a large portion of the population who are readers, and it’s just as obvious that you’re not one of them.

    I *am* a huge reader on the other hand. I read through at least a book a week, sometimes two. The Kindle is an awesome device for people who want to read books, while the iPhone, iPad, smart phones, and all other kinds of multi-tasking devices really are awful. The battery life sucks, reading in any kind of sunlight causes eye strain because the screen washes out, and the interfaces are often awkward.

    You know what simple feature of the Kindle made me the most excited? It wasn’t the storage, the instant availability of books, the ease of reading on the e-ink screen, or the ability to carry several books around with me without having to bring a huge heavy bag. It was the fact that when I’m reading I can set the device on a flat surface, walk away, and not worry about having the book close up on my and losing my place. That’s got to be the most frustrating thing about reading standard books. Your hand gets tired holding this monstrous pack of paper, you accidentally drop the book, or you simply have to set the book down and the bookmark falls out of your spot. Now you have to spend time figuring out exactly where you were.

    If you want to curl up with an electronic book for a few hours like you would with a paperback, then the only way to realistically do that is with a Kindle, Nook, or other kind of e-Reader. The iPad is too bulky, and the batteries die after a few hours, the iPhone is just too small to fit much text on the screen at a readable size (a problem that other smart phones share), and reading on a computer for any length of time is just not comfortable.

    If you do insist on a multi-tasking device to read your books on, feel free to download the Kindle software to your device of choice. You don’t have to own a Kindle to purchase books to read on these devices. You just have to have the Kindle software. Then you can read the whole e-book library available on Amazon.com on whatever inferior multi-tasking device you choose. In fact, from reading some of your other articles, I see that’s what you’ve done. Now stop dogging the Kindle, a device you admittedly don’t own and have no intention of purchasing.

    • …you got an e-book reader because you didn’t think to put the book cover-up on the desk? IE – “/” not “/”.

      Wow, just wow.

  4. Obviously the Kindle isn't a device you're interested in getting, so why the heck do you keep writing about it? There is obviously a large portion of the population who are readers, and it's just as obvious that you're not one of them.

    I *am* a huge reader on the other hand. I read through at least a book a week, sometimes two. The Kindle is an awesome device for people who want to read books, while the iPhone, iPad, smart phones, and all other kinds of multi-tasking devices really are awful. The battery life sucks, reading in any kind of sunlight causes eye strain because the screen washes out, and the interfaces are often awkward.

    You know what simple feature of the Kindle made me the most excited? It wasn't the storage, the instant availability of books, the ease of reading on the e-ink screen, or the ability to carry several books around with me without having to bring a huge heavy bag. It was the fact that when I'm reading I can set the device on a flat surface, walk away, and not worry about having the book close up on my and losing my place. That's got to be the most frustrating thing about reading standard books. Your hand gets tired holding this monstrous pack of paper, you accidentally drop the book, or you simply have to set the book down and the bookmark falls out of your spot. Now you have to spend time figuring out exactly where you were.

    If you want to curl up with an electronic book for a few hours like you would with a paperback, then the only way to realistically do that is with a Kindle, Nook, or other kind of e-Reader. The iPad is too bulky, and the batteries die after a few hours, the iPhone is just too small to fit much text on the screen at a readable size (a problem that other smart phones share), and reading on a computer for any length of time is just not comfortable.

    If you do insist on a multi-tasking device to read your books on, feel free to download the Kindle software to your device of choice. You don't have to own a Kindle to purchase books to read on these devices. You just have to have the Kindle software. Then you can read the whole e-book library available on Amazon.com on whatever inferior multi-tasking device you choose. In fact, from reading some of your other articles, I see that's what you've done. Now stop dogging the Kindle, a device you admittedly don't own and have no intention of purchasing.

    • …you got an e-book reader because you didn't think to put the book cover-up on the desk? IE – "/" not "/".

      Wow, just wow.

  5. I came here on StumbleUpon. I don’t think the kindle will ever be mainstream with anyone except those who are about 14-16 now because they have grown up looking at screens.

    I’m 31 and I read a lot of websites but like the tactile quality of a book. If its art it deserves to be printed on paper.

    But again, the younger generation seems to love staring at their goddamned cellphones so maybe they’ll like it.

  6. I came here on StumbleUpon. I don't think the kindle will ever be mainstream with anyone except those who are about 14-16 now because they have grown up looking at screens.

    I'm 31 and I read a lot of websites but like the tactile quality of a book. If its art it deserves to be printed on paper.

    But again, the younger generation seems to love staring at their goddamned cellphones so maybe they'll like it.

  7. My wife and I are both over 50, both of us are enthusiastic readers, and we both have e-readers we use extensively. She’s got a Kindle, I’ve got an older Sony reader that we use every day, primarily because of the convenience and portability. The biggest negative issue we have is getting e-books we can both read. Perhaps we’re an edge-case (maybe just a nut-case) but our experience seems to belie the idea that “more mature” individuals won’t adopt e-readers. I agree, though, sometimes there’s nothing like the feel of a real book.

  8. My wife and I are both over 50, both of us are enthusiastic readers, and we both have e-readers we use extensively. She's got a Kindle, I've got an older Sony reader that we use every day, primarily because of the convenience and portability. The biggest negative issue we have is getting e-books we can both read. Perhaps we're an edge-case (maybe just a nut-case) but our experience seems to belie the idea that "more mature" individuals won't adopt e-readers. I agree, though, sometimes there's nothing like the feel of a real book.

  9. I was an early adopter of the kindle and was devastated when my partner stepped on my reader and broke it. Since I was also in the market for a netbook at the time I got an iPad as a sort of 2 in 1 solution, since I could read my kindle books on it. Having done so for a while now (5 books) I’m back in the market for another Kindle. Which by the way, you do not have to pay AT&T in order to use – the on board whispernet is free. Why? Because reading on the iPad is harder on my eyes, the battery does not last as long as I’d like, and it is much heavier than even a fat hardback book, so it is wearing to hold up after a while.
    If you think of a kindle as a “gadget” you are bound to be disappointed, it is a single purpose interface and as such, it performs its function beautifully. But it is not anything more than a way to read books in a smaller more efficient delivery package than paper.
    Like the other commenters, I have a smart phone (too small to read for any length of time on) that I can make notes, make calls, guide me to a destination, txt, and google stuff while I’m out and about. I also have an iPad, which because of its form factors is a big improvement over a netbook for browsing and email, though I do wish it would play Flash.
    I think the idea that having “everything” in one package is silly. Different devices do different things well and form factors have to adapt to function. A Kindle is better than a book for the action of reading a couple hundred or thousand pages of text. As it turns out, an iPad is no any better than a regular computer for that.

  10. I was an early adopter of the kindle and was devastated when my partner stepped on my reader and broke it. Since I was also in the market for a netbook at the time I got an iPad as a sort of 2 in 1 solution, since I could read my kindle books on it. Having done so for a while now (5 books) I'm back in the market for another Kindle. Which by the way, you do not have to pay AT&T in order to use – the on board whispernet is free. Why? Because reading on the iPad is harder on my eyes, the battery does not last as long as I'd like, and it is much heavier than even a fat hardback book, so it is wearing to hold up after a while.

    If you think of a kindle as a "gadget" you are bound to be disappointed, it is a single purpose interface and as such, it performs its function beautifully. But it is not anything more than a way to read books in a smaller more efficient delivery package than paper.

    Like the other commenters, I have a smart phone (too small to read for any length of time on) that I can make notes, make calls, guide me to a destination, txt, and google stuff while I'm out and about. I also have an iPad, which because of its form factors is a big improvement over a netbook for browsing and email, though I do wish it would play Flash.

    I think the idea that having "everything" in one package is silly. Different devices do different things well and form factors have to adapt to function. A Kindle is better than a book for the action of reading a couple hundred or thousand pages of text. As it turns out, an iPad is no any better than a regular computer for that.