Decade 1: the first ten years of the Kindle

Decade 1: the first ten years of the Kindle

Amazon’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Jeff Bezos, has referred to the company still being on “Day 1”. In fact, in this year’s letter to stockholders, Bezos said

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
Amazon site with letter and video

Well, if Day 2 is stasis, that means Day 1 is change…and since Amazon first introduced the Kindle

Introducing Amazon Kindle (press release)

on November 19, 2007 (ten years ago), a lot has happened!

I’m working on a book, Because of the Kindle, which will cover the period (largely reproducing posts from this blog, but also including new material). It’s important to me that other people’s opinions also be included, and I’ve extended the amount of time that people can share them with me for possible inclusion at first publication through Monday November 27th. I had originally thought I would have the book out for today, but I had a big technical problem…and quite simply, the book is going to be much bigger than I originally thought. Thanks to everyone who has already given their opinions! Please consider adding your own (or more of your own…more than one is okay), and let other people know! I’m not reaching out to current Amazon employees, but I would love to include more authors, bookstore owners/managers (I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager myself), bloggers, podcasters, reporters, publishers, and of course…readers.

As I’ve been going back through the blog, and doing some other research, I’ve been reminded about some of those things and events. In this blog, I’ll hit some highlights, some things which may spark some memories for you, or illicit some curiosity. I’ll also give you some stats because, hey, who doesn’t like statistics? ūüėČ

Let’s start with this easy one:

Amazon Devices

The Kindle was the first Amazon device. It was actually considered quite a risk: Amazon was a retailer, not a manufacturer. It’s safe to say that it was “Because of the Kindle” that Amazon was able to go on and try other devices. As of today, it stands at twenty. That’s also based on how Amazon displays them¬† when I click on the categories from the

Amazon Devices page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I could count them as a lot more if I broke it down to “flavors”…memory size, communication methods, and so on, but I think that works. The most recent Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader) is considered ninth generation…so they’ve introduced a new generation about once a year (and I’m actually writing this on November 18th…could be interesting things tomorrow).

Nostalgia break: do you remember…?

  • The scroll wheel? It was the first way we interacted with our Kindles. You turned a wheel to move the cursor only up and down on the “page”, then pushed it to select
  • The 5-way controller? It was the mighty follow up to the scroll wheel. It was like a little joystick
  • Now, we use touch screens…

Decade 1 titles in store

When the USA Kindle Store debuted, there were fewer than 100,000 titles…now there are about 5.8 million. That’s an average of about 1,500 titles added…per day! Note also that there are now fourteen Amazon country sites. There is significant title overlap between the stores, but I believe there are also titles unique to each store.

Nostalgia break: do you remember…?

  • Kindle NowNow?¬†On the first generation Kindle, you could enter a question (about pretty much anything) and a paid human being would answer it. They also later tried live human Amazon device support with the original Mayday, which was highly promoted. Pretty quickly, the “face on the screen” went away
  • Playing Minesweeper?¬†Alt+Shift+M started a Minesweeper game…and Gomoku was also available. Of course, we had “Active Content” in early models, and some of those were free and some you purchased. For a while, that was a big part of the Kindleer experience.¬† January 19, 2010: It‚Äôs the games Kindles¬†play

EBR Price

With the Kindle 1, the most expensive price and the least expensive price were the same, since there was only one: $399. Currently (and everything I’m doing here is based on what is available new directly from Amazon), the least expensive one is $79.99 and the most expensive one (with all the options) is $349.99. There have been cheaper Kindles, too. You do get a lot more, including the front light. Memory is another obvious difference. The Kindle 1 had 250 MB of internal storage, which they said could hold about 200 books (non-illustrated, really). The version I listed as most expensive above had 32 GB…based on the same book calculation, it could hold 128 times as many, roughly.

Controversies and We Asked For It

  • We originally couldn’t gift books to people…we can now
  • The Kindle was originally only available in the USA…it’s now available in many countries
  • We couldn’t lend books…we can now (but I don’t think it happens very often)
  • Amazon added text-to-speech in the Kindle 2…and the publishers pushed back. There were actually demonstrations over it
  • Amazon removed an edition of 1984 from people’s Kindles…they later apologized
  • The Department of Justice and (separately) States Attorneys General took action against Apple and big publishers for pricing policies under something called the Agency Model. Customers eventually got settlements
  • Amazon removed the “Buy” buttons from Macmillan books in a dispute…it had to do in part with “windowing”, delaying the release of Kindle books after the hardback’s release
  • Publishers restricted public library e-book use…there was a lot of variability on that
  • Some authors resisted having their books in e-book form initially, notably J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter books were later available through a special website), Audrey NIffenegger (available now), Harper Lee (books now available), and Ray Bradbury (who reportedly said that e-books “…smelled like burned fuel”…books are now available)

That’s a bit of a random summary of the first decade!

I want to really congratulate Amazon on the success of the Kindle, and thank them for everything it has done for me!

The book will go into a lot more depth…remember that you may be part of it if you complete the thought, “Because of the Kindle…”

Just for a fun finish: do you know what these mean? I’ll link to my posts with an explanation:

You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.



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