November 19, 2007
It’s sort of amazing how the blogosphere has completely inspected and chewed up the Kindle in like eight hours. Done and done.
Tim has a great round-up of links which is worth clicking through. I generally agree with the consensus (“Not shiny! So expensive. Why closed?”) but I do think people ought to wait to touch one before completely writing it off. However bad the Kindle is, the Sony Reader was and is ten times as bad, and yet, when I actually held one, and flipped a page… I was intrigued. E-Ink displays are unlike anything else; it’s almost unsettling to see what you know is digital information rendered absolutely matte, just like a piece of paper. I think it’d be a trip to see a web page on a display like that.
And that indicates where I part ways with Tim, who thinks Apple could make the device that beats Kindle and its kin. Here’s my thing: I think the real revolution is going to be electronic paper — or at least electronic cardboard. That is: a display that’s kinda flexible, and matte, and cheap, and connected to the internet — but without much style or content of its own. Maybe it’s still five years away; but when it comes, I don’t think Apple’s going to make it. It’s just not… shiny enough, you know?
Also: The thing that’s really potentially interesting about all this stuff is that, per if:book, our very notion of the book could change: finding one gets faster, reading one gets more social, writing one gets… weird. This seems to be what got Stephen Levy excited in his Newsweek piece. But it also seems that, barring big changes, Kindle abdicates most of that, because it’s a closed system. Boo.