Things keep getting better #1
I’m an optimist.
Really…is it that obvious?
While there are certainly terrible things that happen in the world, and we have the increasing problem of individuals who want to do bad things being able to hurt more people in more ways more quickly at the same time, generally, I think the world is good and getting better.
Even when we look specifically at the Kindle and e-books overall, we can see it.
One way is to look at things people about which people have complained in the past, and see if they have been changed.
In many cases, they have.
That doesn’t mean everything, of course…there are a lot of things which haven’t been remedied…yet.
I’m also not somebody who says something is bad just because it isn’t everything I want. I figure if I’m hungry and somebody gives me a third of a meal, that’s a third I didn’t have before. I don’t get mad because I didn’t get that full meal.
That said, let’s take a look at some of these improvements.
First, generally…Kindles are cheaper and do much more than they used to do. When the Kindle was introduced on November 19, 2007, it cost $399, and held about 200 books. There were only about 80,000 books available in the USA Kindle store (which was the only Kindle store there was).
Now, the least expensive Kindle is $69 in the USA (you can buy more than five of them for the price of one of the original Kindles), holds about 1,000 books (five times as many), and we are closing in on two million titles in the USA Kindle store.
Next, let’s look at some of the big improvements in chronological order:
Text-to-speech (February 9, 2009)
I don’t think people had really been asking for this: it came as a surprise to me and many others. This has been a long and bumpy road: initially, it was for all books, than Amazon allowed rightsholders to block it, and some did so…big time. However, it appears to me that has been reduced over time, and Amazon encourages independent publishers not to block the access.
SmartPhone access (March 4, 2009)
While this ability to read e-books without carrying an EBR (E-Book Reader) with you was originally just for the iPhone and iPod touch, free apps eventually let you read on Android devices, Blackberrys, Windows Phones…a wide variety.
Kindle Publishing for Blogs (May 13, 2009)
Amazon has given creative people many ways to make money with their art. This was one of them that was relatively simple. While you might not consider every blog “art”, it does allow people to get their ideas out there and get some compensation for it.
USA Today includes e-books in its bestsellers’ list (July 23, 2009)
There was a lot of talk about when the mainstream media would start recognizing e-books, giving readers of that format more information and authors more exposure. This is really when it happened.
Kindles go international (October 7, 2009)
People outside the US get Kindles, and this is when the announcement was made. Oh yeah, they also lowered the price on the US-only model with this announcement.
Kindle for PC released (October 22, 2009)
This greatly expanded access…in 2009, not everybody had a SmartPhone.
Kindles come to Canada (November 17, 2009)
I’m not going to mention every time the Kindle began selling through a region-specific Kindle site, but people had been clamoring for this…well, perhaps asking nicely for it repeatedly.
PDF support and landscape mode (November 25, 2009)
I wonder how many people remember that these weren’t available initially? It part of a free update…those have brought us so many features!
Barnes & Noble introduces the NOOK (November 30, 2009)
Yes, I consider this an improvement for the Kindle…the competition has been good for us Kindleers.
Permanent delete from the archives (December 9 ((?)), 2009)
That’s right…for the first two years, we could not delete books from our Kindle accounts (we could delete them from our devices). People had really wanted that!
Add to Wishlist button added to Kindle book product pages (December 11 ((?)), 2009)
Many people use this functionality for tracking, and they had been asking for it.
International rightsholders get Kindle publishing (January 15, 2010)
It was called the “Digital Text Platform” at that point…it became Kindle Direct Publishing later.
Amazon doubles the possible royalty rate for indie publishers (January 20, 2010)
It goes up to 70% from 35%.
Kindles become available in brick and mortar stores (April 25, 2010)
This was in Target…they were the first.
Collections (book “folders’) come to the Kindle (June 14, 2010)
In another free update, we get one of the most requested features…a way to organize our books on our Kindles.
Active content (games and apps) come to the Kindle (August 3, 2010)
The first two games were Every Word and Shuffled Row. There had been hidden games on the Kindle before that, but these were actual downloadable titles.
Gifting of Kindle books (November 19, 2010)
Wow, did people want to give Kindle e-books to people! Before this, you could do gift certificates, but this was a huge improvement.
Lending books to friends (December 30, 2010)
People wanted to lend e-books, just like they could p-books (paperbooks). Sure, it’s limited, just as it was for the NOOK, but that’s an improvement.
Ad-supported Kindles (April 11, 2011)
Okay, okay…nobody was walking around with a sign saying, “Please put advertising on my Kindle!” However, this did lower the prices, and the ad-supported versions tended to outsell the full price ones, showing a preference.
Reading e-books in a browser (August 10, 2011)
The Cloud Reader was announced on this date, which would lead to the ability to read your Kindle store books without downloading and special software.
Borrowing books from public libraries (September 21, 2011)
There still is work to go on this, but we can now borrow e-books from public libraries for our Kindles. The Big Six publishers have all at least announced plans for some representation in public libraries.
I’m gong to stop there in this post…the next big era comes with the release of the Kindle Fire. That doesn’t mean improvements stopped at that point, though! They just keep coming. I fully expect to get comments pointing out the things that haven’t happened yet, and maybe I’ll address those myself in another post. I just wanted to leave you with this list of improvements, often at a lower cost.
See? Things are getting better.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.