Why I Want a Kindle DX – PDF Support

by Taylor Brooks on June 18, 2009

The next big tech trend will be eBooks and Amazon is leading the way with its latest version of the Kindle DX.  I believe the Kindle DX will revolutionize our consumption of print media — just as the iPod revolutionized our consumption of audible material.

In 1999, Napster broke the mold of peer to peer file sharing, was sued, and quickly shut down by the RIAA.  Two years later, Apple released its one-two-three punch of the iPod, iTunes, and the iTunes music store.  They were the first to deliver music digitally and make money. 

Amazon is trying the same trick: a beautiful device (Kindle, iPod), a simple delivery system (Whispernet, iTunes), and a cheap marketplace (amazon.com, iTunes music store).  Many say that Amazon's greatest strength is Whispernet.  Maybe so. 

The first two iterations of the Kindle were complete shit in my opinion.  And the UI is still pretty crappy on the DX.  That doesn't really matter because Amazon's smartest and biggest move was native PDF support.  Other book readers, I'm thinking of the Sony PRS-505, claim to support the PDF format.  But they don't.  The PDFs are shrunk down for the small screen size and when you use the magnification feature, the document loses it's resolution and words become blurry.  Not so with Kindle DX.

Why is the PDF feature a such a big deal?  Two reasons.

  1. Authors are giving away their books for free
  2. Piracy

Authors are wising up and seeing that publishers don't offer much value in terms of marketing/distribution.  Take John Piper for example.  Here is one of his books on Amazon.com with a Kindle version for $7.19.  And the same book (below) on his own site for free.  

My suspicion is that, just like artists and record labels, authors will drive readers to their own site by offering their content for free — in hopes of exposing them to more information.  Author wins.  Reader wins.  Publisher fails.

Now onto the second reason to purchase a Kindle DX, piracy

Amazon has marketed the DX as the "eBook reader for college students."  There is nothing parents and students hate more than shelling out $1000 each semester for textbooks and returning them to the college book store for a quarter of the price.  The new Kindle is no steal at $489, but textbooks will soon appear, for free, on The Pirate Bay and other torrent sites.  And when that happens it's game over for textbook publishers.

Related Reading

Future of Reading in a Digital World

PDFs on the Kindle DX

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

elksrule June 18, 2009 at 1:46 pm

TB, I have to say that you are slowly starting to convince me that I need one of these devices…..but I am not there yet. My top 3 hangups:
I am using 4 books as reference for a paper I am writing. I have them open on my desk with highlighted text, notes in the margin, etc. Trying to use one device to accomplish this seems daunting.
Second, $500 for something that doesn’t even have a color display seems high. On average I am spending about $15 book (Amazon). If I order two books per month it would take me >4 years to break even. I rarely keep any of my gadgets for 4 years. If I set a book down and forget it, oh well. If I set the Kindle down and forget it, oh screwed.
Third, people who have these things seem a little pretentious to me. When I sit beside someone on an airplane who has one of these, I find myself wanting to beat them over the head with it.

Taylor Brooks June 18, 2009 at 1:58 pm

1. You hit the nail on the head with the first one. Note taking and highlighting are crucial to me as well. But I had to alter my reading “workflow” when I quit buying books altogether and starting using the library.
2. If I want an eBook reader with a color display I can use my laptop. As far as cost goes, I’m suggesting that you don’t spend any money on books and get them for free. :)
3. Mac users were/are pretentious as well, but that hasn’t stopped herds of people from switching.

CJ June 18, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Isn’t there something great about the feel of paper… the texture of the not only the story but of what you are holding in your hands. I think so…. I’m all about Free stuff so don’t get me wrong… But honestly… it has been my experience that nothing in life is really for free… somebody down the line is having to pay… Maybe it’s not the person that is getting the free product… but… quite possibly it’s the paper supplier, or maybe the local Mom and Pop Bookstore that has been there for years… that we all have at sometime gone into just to look around and “feel” what is there….

I’m just saying….. Cj

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