Amazon.com isn’t resting on it’s laurels with the Kindle.  The Kindle 2.0 was only just releases in February, but less than 3 months later, they already have a new model out, the Kindle DX.  It features a larger screen, 9.75 in, integrated PDF support and auto rotating from portrait to landscape.

kindle-dx-hero-top-right-05Now, Amazon.com is positioning this for the textbook and newspaper market, where the larger screen and pdf support would be most advantageous.  Screen size is always the first thing brought up when discussing these formats on a digital device.  2.0 already added highlighting and annotating features to the device.  Integrated PDF guarantees the format of PDFs will be kept intact, a problem with the other versions.  Amazon has formed alliances with textbook publishers and colleges to get these out for the fall semester as well as with newspapers who will help subsidize the cost with lengthy Kindle subscriptions.  (Think cellphones).  The DX will be available in the summer, though Amazon is taking pre-orders now.

The advantages of this new device  for manga readers and publishers are:

  • The larger screen makes for a “closer to book” experience. The pages should be easier to read with little to no need to zoom in.  A whole page can be displayed easily.
  • PDFs mean publishers can use an already established format for their titles, that can also be DRM’ed. (Not something I endorse, but publishers still need some hand-holding).
  • Auto rotating can make two-page spreads a reality, again with little to none zooming.

There are, unfortunately, some disadvantages to this new Kindle:

  • Price. Right off the bat, this device is $489.  That $130 more than the smaller screen devices.  If you thought the other versions were expensive, then this will probably seem down right outrageous.
  • No color. I know a lot of people have been complaining about the lack of color and/or contrast on the Kindle.  I honestly don’t see this as a big deal.  The increased grey scale of the Kindle 2 which transfers over to the DX give pictures a nice range of depth.  And as for the black text on white paper…look through you manga collection and tell me just how many of those are printed on white paper.  Most of mine are on a more beige colored paper.  I don’t hear any calls for manga be printed that way.  Why should the Kindle?

On the whole, the Kindle DX is a good step forward to getting the digital reading experience the same as reading a book.  The biggest hurdle, just kindle-dxlike with all new technology, is the price.  It will go down.  It’s only been 18 months since the original Kindle came out.  That there are now three devices, each with improvements, shows that Amazon is in for the long haul.  And they aren’t the only ones.  Sony will no doubt have something to announce soon.  The Heart Company, who is the largest newpaper publishers is looking seriously into digital distribution and making it’s own e-reader as well.

The big question now is, what is Apple and Sony going to do in response.  Rumors have been running abound about a Media Tablet from Apple that may be announced with the new iPhone next month (do we really need another iPhone?)  But that doesn’t sound like an e-book reader, but a bigger screen iPhone.  And, as I’ve thought about all the devices that are available to be used as a e-book readers, the more I think a dedicated device isn’t such a bad idea.  Phones, netbooks and laptops can all be used to read e-books, but always with more cavets than an e-book reader. While the screens have color and the black/white contrast demanded by many, they are also trying on the eyes.  Phones need the books to be reformatted to fit the smaller screens.  And all compete for your attention to do something other than reading.  A device dedicated to e-books will have you doing just what you intended to do when you picked it up.  Read.

And with 3 gigs of memory, which is worth 3500 e-books, if I can’t have a dedicated library in my house, then I’ll take one that can fit into my purse.

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8 Comments for this entry

  • The problem is, this is still a piece of technotrash that has no real demonstrable need. It’s a toy. There is no place on this planet where you could ever go that you’d need to take 3500 books with you, any more than people need to carry around 5 years worth of music. It’s a gadget for people who need to get a life and an expensive gadget at that, especially since we already know that you’re not going to save anything significant on the electronic versions of the books to begin with and you lose pretty much everything wrothwhile yhat you get from them. Amazon is banking on the idea that people are going to want another piece of whizbang electronic junk that’s really only good for ego-stroking.

    Count me out.

  • Bit harsh there Brian :)

    Lori, there have been several publishers that have releases series on white paper. TP, Yen Press, Infinity to name a few. The yuckky coloured paper we get usually is used because it’s cheap. But there are a lot of white paper manga out there, and they look a hell of a lot better in white :D

    My issues with it are that it’s crap, expensive crap at that. The rpice would need to fall considerably before it becomes worth while.

    Brian, i disagree with you on several points really. For people like me who are compulsive collectors, having an option to have all my manga and books on one device would be a godsent. I’m at the point now where i literally have to climb over piles of manga to get to the front door hehe.

    Also you may not save much on the cost of the ebook, but when you factor in the costs of not having to buy new book shelves and stuff i think it ballances out. Also means i get to take my manga collection in it’s entirety on holidy with me, rather than just a dozen volumes of it.

    Same with the likes of ipods. Think of the space saved from having 5000 songs on 1 device, over having the same number of songs in CD form.

    Though i agree with you that at the minute it’s technotrash :P

    • I have to disagree about the white paper. I have one series that comes to mind on white paper, Murder Princess, and I didn’t like how bright the white paper was. It called attention to the paper when I should have been paying attention to the story. Bright white isn’t good for paper or digital.

      While the Kindle and Kindle DX aren’t ideal, they are the foundations that other companies can build on. Amazon is not in the hardward business. They are a content seller. They want to sell books, paper and electronic. And let’s face it, for business, electronic is easier and cheaper to store and distribute. If you’re a web company, which would you rather stock? Amazon is trying to jump start the e-reader business, and if someone else comes out with a better product, that won’t bother them, just as long as they can sell their books on it. Why else would they put a Kindle app on the iphone?

  • The problem is, it doesn’t really balance out, most books aren’t re-read, you read it once, you get rid of it and buy something else. Most manga is read once or twice and never again, what’s the point of keeping things that you’ll never touch again in your life? But with an electronic version, you paid just as much for it as a paper version, but you can’t do anything with it. You can’t sell it, you can’t give it away (depending on DRM), you can’t donate it to a library, all you can do is delete it. What’s teh point in that?

  • tg says:

    I re-read a lot of my books/manga/manhwa more than two times. I only buy the ones that I feel are the most interesting to me.

    The only manga I really regret in my collection is the first volume of Pixie Pop/Gokkun Pucho. Agh… The characters aren’t too likeable. I should’ve previewed it in the bookstore! >.< The book, that I regret getting, is a tie between Endymion Spring and Grimpow.)

    I’m not really into this whole digital age of reading books in a portable computer. I prefer the old fashion paper, thank you very much. I don’t want to see books become extinct (or a “Library Wars” scenario will be playing in front of me).

    • Manga, and books in general, have a lot of re-readability. There’s many a time when I just wanted to look up something in a book, and ended up getting sucked back in and reading the whole thing. I don’t know that I’ve ever regretted a manga purchase, but there are definitely titles that I don’t think I would read again. Comics are another story all together…

      While I do enjoy paper books, I also realize we can’t keep going as we have forever. Paper, ink and distribution has been very expensive. And then there’s the whole greeen movement. Newspapers are already starting to disappear, and while I don’t believe books will be anytime soon, it’s better to have other alternatives in place. The transition may be tough on those of us that computers are technology for, our kids that grew up with computers and iphones as every day devices probably won’t see things the same, and they are the future.

      This is something we should keep looking ahead for, and not try to lag behind. It’s the reading that important, and not so much the format.

  • In theory yes, but we both know that the number of manga you actually sit down and read through cover-to-cover more than once is pretty much nil, at best you might page through it when doing a review, but we’ve got a house full of manga doing nothing but gathering dust that you will *NEVER* re-read. The same is true of all the thousands of scanalations you’ve gotten, you look once, you move on, it’s not something that gets read over and over and over. Now I can understand how some books might be, when I was a kid, there were books that I read again at least 2-3x a year because I enjoyed them so much, but those days are gone for the overwhelming majority of people, especially adults.

    Now I might not disagree with you if these digital copies were significantly cheaper than their paper versions, but we both know that, at least at the moment, they’re not. Solely digital versions also suffer from a lot of drawbacks that their paper cousins do not. So you’re paying as much, or in some cases more, for something that you can do less with and that’s not even taking into account the cost of the reader. I’ll agree that someday, e-readers might have a viable place in the home, school and workplace, but that time is not today. You can do everything that you can reasonably do with an e-reader with a physical book, cheaper, faster and easier. Technology is supposed to make your life easier, it’s not supposed to make you justify a purchase doing things you’d never do in real life. Sure, your iPod can hold 5 years worth of music, how often do you actually listen to the vast majority of it? An e-reader can hold 3500 books, when are you actually going to read most of them? Come up with something that will actually make the things I do on a day-to-day basis easier, cheaper and better and I’ll consider it. Otherwise, it’s just another pointless piece of techno-crap that doesn’t solve any problems.

  • Gary says:

    I’m buying a DX for my Mom who is 84 and suffering from macular degeneration. I’m splitting the price with my Dad and brother. Mom loves to read and can only read her books now with a magnifying glass and a strong light. The large format, variable text size, easy-on-the-eyes e-ink and landscape capability means she can now enjoy her favorite novels and not feel like she’s ‘going blind’. It will give back her independance and pride.
    In light of all this, it’s more than worth it!

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