The Kindle

I know this is late (what we call in Dutch, for some odd reason “spuit 11”), but either way, here’s my brief take on the Kindle.

The Kindle is Amazon’s new e-book reader. Personally I think it looks like crap (probably everybody agree on that), it looks like a ’90 PC crushed by a fridge falling from 10 feet high. But that’s not the point. The point is that it might just be the first mass-market e-book reader. The question really is are e-book readers a good idea. And I think they are. Although I do have to admit it’s kinda nice to be able to fill up a number of shelfs with books, at a certain point you just have too many of them. I myself have about 7 boxes full of computer science book still at my parents’, I don’t have room for them in my new apartment and, honestly, it’s unlikely that I will every need them again.

E-books solve that problem.

What I’ve wanted for a long time is a cheap e-book reader to come out, nothing fancy just a reasonably sized device with a nice-to-read screen on which I could put PDFs to read. That would be great, especially now that I’m a Ph.D. student the papers on my desk just keep piling up and it doesn’t look pretty. In fact I found that it’s generally a better idea to throw out a paper after reading it, because in this huge pile it’s faster to find it on my hard drive again and print it, than to sift through all these old papers in my drawer.

E-books solve that problem.

What I found the most interesting about the kindle as an instance of an e-book reader (God, I’m such a computer scientist, talking like that), is its wireless capabilities. It doesn’t use Wifi, it uses the mobile phone network for connectivity. Using that you can order books from Amazon and read them on your Kindle straight away. Apparently, you can also e-mail a PDF to some special e-mail address and it will appear on your Kindle as an e-book.

Whether this is a good model remains to be seen, and the Kindle might just flop (as most people seem to be expecting), but either way at some point there’s going to be an e-book reader that will work.

And does not cost $400.

Now it’s time to clean up my desk.