Amazon Kindle: Flop

Amazon is excited about the prospects for its Kindle e-book reader. But Don Reisinger has some news for them: it'll be a flop.

Amazon Kindle
Uh, sure, if you say so. Crave

With Amazon's decision to become a hardware company and release an e-book reader, for some odd reason, the Internet has been abuzz discussing the possibilities of this "grand device."

In fact, a number of people are already calling it the future of book publishing and they expect it to supplant ink and paper.

Sure. Keep telling yourself that.

Reason 1 for why the Kindle will be a flop: It's ugly

Honestly now, take a look at this homely device and tell me it isn't one of the ugliest products you have ever seen. It actually brings me back to the mid-nineties when disgusting beige PCs dominated this business.

Hasn't Amazon learned anything from Apple? If nothing else, it should have known that part of Apple's success over the past few years has been due to its ability to bring good looking products to market.

Personally, I'd be a bit embarrassed to carry this around. Undeniably I would get a few inquiries as to when the device was made. Invariably my answer would be "1989."

Reason 2 for why the Kindle will be a flop: Look at its competition

Has Amazon learned nothing from the Sony Reader, the Hanlin eReader or the Cybook? Each of those devices were flops because people found no reason to have one. When bookstores are within driving distance and Amazon.com is a click away of most people, what's the impetus to use one of these?

Everything I've heard from the proponents of this device attempt to glorify it as the "21st century's book." What a crock. E-book Readers provide few valuable experiences. And out of that list, the Sony Reader is easily the best device, but by and large, it's clunky to use and there aren't enough benefits of ownership to justify a purchase.

Reason 3 for why the Kindle will be a flop: What's the big deal?

If for no other reason, electronics sell because they offer the consumer a unique experience that makes life just a little easier or a bit more enjoyable. Does the Kindle do any of those?

First off, it's not that unique -- it's an e-book reader that can connect to Wikipedia and allow you to download books on the fly with the help of EVDO. And if you really like to read, you can carry 200 books at one time. Great.

Secondly, are e-books that much better than books? I certainly don't think so. I don't know about you, but I can only read one book at a time and carrying a stack of paper is just as easy as carrying a 10 ounce device. Would it be nice to download books without going to the store? I guess. But if I buy my books from Amazon, I don't need to leave home anyway.

Reason 4 for why the Kindle will be a flop: Its price

Maybe it's just me, but why would I pay $400 for a device that will allow me to read a book? Don't I have eyes for that?

In the end, it seems like the writing is on the wall. Not only will Amazon's Kindle be a flop, it provides no added benefit of ownership. The ink and paper book industry may not be as strong as it once was, but e-book readers will not put the nail in its coffin.

Stick to retail, Amazon. It's safer that way.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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