I've been reading lots of negative thoughts about the Amazon Kindle (mostly via Daring Fireball) and I just don't get it. Sure, everyone loves physical books, but I sure as heck don't feel the need to own every single paperback I read for the rest of my life. Some books I want to keep forever and ever, some I just want to read and be done with. The Kindle is great for mass paperbacks. Oh, and did I mention it does newspapers and magazines as well (at the moment the content is limited, but do you think Amazon can't get more publishers on board?)?
I can understand that folks bristle when Jeff Bezos suggests that the Kindle is going to replace books. Bibliophiles will always want to collect books, feel books, smell books, and experience books. I count myself amongst that breed of people (I'm typing this post up in a room that contains at least 250 books, so believe me when I say that I like books). However, let's face facts: most people don't read. Most people don't care about books in the least, and that's why the Kindle (or something like it) is going to succeed in the long run.
A general lack of interest in reading doesn't seem to be a point in favor of the Kindle. The Kindle costs $400 and then, once you're plunked that down you have to pay even more to fill it up with books from Amazon (though in reality you don't, but that's another post). Why would a non-reader buy one of these devices? They won't, but you know who will? The bleeding edge techies like me that produce content, read books, and love tech. We'll be the first people to love these things (and I already love my Kindle) and the next generation of devices will be cheaper, look better, have more functionality, and appeal to the mass market. Imagine a $100 device that looks like a piece of paper, but which contains your entire morning paper, all your magazine subscriptions, and that book you really want to get around to reading. It can also be used to look things up on Wikipedia, and in a pinch to check your email. That's the promise of the Kindle, and it delivers on every point today other than price.
The Kindle isn't perfect, but is a still a very interesting piece of technology that only very foolish people would write off from the get go.
I'll be posting more about my thoughts on the Kindle and the PRS-505 in the coming days since I own both of them. If you have any questions for me about either device let me know in the comments and I'll try and answer them all!