I love my Kindle. I am happy with it. I thought the Kindle 1 was a great device, and I like my Kindle 2 better. I fully expect that Amazon is going to give us continuing innovations in the future.
I want to be clear that I’m not dissatisfied with the Kindle. I always find it odd when people won’t buy a device because a better one is coming in the future. That’s almost always going to be true. The question is, will you enjoy it in the meantime? I always picture some person who didn’t buy a Model T in 1908…and is still waiting for them to perfect the car. It’s not going to happen. After 100 years of walking, they are still not going to be ripped off by a car until it can drive itself. I’m a big believer in enjoying the now.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with speculating about the future and what might come down the pike later.
The first thing I’d always say is look at what defines the success of the Kindle. Amazon has three basic tenets: convenience, selection, and price. Those seem like good ideas to keep in mind.
Another thing is that I believe the Kindle opened the e-book market in an unprecedented way because it succeeded with people who just wanted to read books, and weren’t necessarily techies. For another fifty years or so, there will probably be a large group of people who grew up with paperbooks, and want an experience that emulates that. I wouldn’t move away from the simplicity of reading.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t think devices that are dual screen in some way (backlit and not backlit) will do well. I use my Kindle to read, yes. I like the experience of reading on it. However, if I could hit a switch and see video or animation, I’d be dishonest if I said I wouldn’t do that. It’s not why I like the Kindle, but integrated devices like that are at least a ways off. My guess is that is what will eventually take over the e-book market: devices that can give us the e-book reader experience…and do everything else we want as well.
That’s for later, though. Let’s look at some less extreme changes.
More character sets
This is an obvious need. Many people want to read books in Russian or Japanese on the Kindle. We’ve had one update of character sets so far, and I’d like to see more. The best thing, probably, would be to let people install their own character sets. We know that can be done. They could even charge us for them, and send us a file, if they are worried about the Customer Service calls that might happen otherwise.
I can’t put some work files on my Kindle without violating my company polices (so I don’t do it). That’s because the Kindle isn’t password protected. I understand that it would complicate things and move it away from the book experience. I think the best way to do this would be to make it an option in the Manage Your Kinde page. That way, people who were more techie could do it, and those that weren’t wouldn’t be bothered by it. The simplest thing would be to make it a password to wake up the Kindle.
I understand why Amazon doesn’t want people to remove all of their records that they bought a particular book. Again, this could be managed in the Manage Your Kindle page. The idea here is to be able to move a book you bought into a place where it doesn’t show on the Kindle. That way, when there are multiple devices on the same account, you don’t all have to see what has been purchased. With the Kindle bookclubs I described in this earlier post, only Managers would have access to them…but could move them back into the main archives.
More sleep mode options
With the Kindle 1, we could add our own pictures to the sleep mode pictures, as I described in this earlier post. Barnes and Nobles’ nook allows people to customize the sleep mode pictures. I think that allowing customizing is a good idea. I also think they could allow us to buy sets of images. For example, I’d pay buck for one hundred pulp covers. Amazon could over sets like that, or allow other people to sell them.
It’s frustrating that the Kindle is such a huge step forward for people with print disabilities, but they can’t select books easily. I think voice navigation may be the best way to go. I’m not looking at the cost or technology here, but it certainly exists on computers and cell phones.
Allowing independent publishers to publish public domain books to the Kindle store
This is something we used to be able to do. I understand that there was a problem in having one hundred identical versions of Pride and Prejudice. However, I think just wholesale blocking them all is a problem. Content is going to be one of the things that differentiates e-book stores. If independent publishers could put public domain books into the Kindle store, we’d get unprecedented digitizations. I’m fine with them saying that the “first in wins” in that case. They can always kick out a book that is poorly formatted or based on customer complaints, opening the way for another publisher.
Giving Kindle books as gifts
I know Amazon has said this one is coming soon, but I can’t wait! I’m sure there are millions of dollars waiting for Amazon when they get this one working.
Kindle book reviews in mainstream sources
Amazon doesn’t control that, of course, and it isn’t really “in the Kindle”, but I still want it. They should also count in the bestseller lists. I know that’s hard when Amazon won’t release sales figures, but I’d like to see Entertainment Weekly or the New York Times list bestsellers in paperback, hardback, and e-book.
This is just a starter list…I’ll do more in another post. Feel free to leave me comments with what you would like (or not like) to see!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.