The Kindle Moment

No one can ignore that the hottest book right now is Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, a narrative history of the beginning of the Trump administration. It’s the best selling book on Amazon, even though it’s not currently available in hardcover. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) Originally scheduled for release on January 9, it was pushed up to the 5th to meet the demand that had been created by some carefully planned magazine excerpts, and a few tweets by the subject of the book, followed by some weak attempts to block its sale.

It’s a page-turner; I’ve read about half so far. It confirms that things are really bad in the White House, but also that they’re much worse than we could have imagined.

What’s interesting about this book is that it’s the first real Kindle moment. The first printing sold out in hours, and Amazon currently shows it as being available in 2 to 4 weeks. This estimate is probably exaggerated, because they should be able to get enough books printed in a day or two to satisfy the early demand, but it’s possible that they have so many orders already, that their next deliveries are already sold.

Unlike an iPhone, which is a physical product that often suffers from this sort of unavailability at launch, this book is also available in Kindle format. And Amazon is taking advantage of that, reminding readers that they can buy the Kindle version without waiting:

Fire and fury

You’ll note that the Kindle version currently costs more than the (unavailable) hardcover. This is a sort of surge pricing for books; why discount the hottest book of the season? It’s not a loss leader like the latest novels by Dan Brown or Stephen King, it’s a must-read that people want now, because it won’t be as interesting in a week, after many of the salacious elements are reported in the press.

It’s not often that a book like this drives demand so much that the publisher can’t keep up. Amazon is stepping in to help meet that demand, shifting a lot of readers from print to ebook. Even if they don’t have Kindles, they can read it on their phones or tablets.

Recent reports have suggested that ebook sales are sliding, but this is the kind of book that can give an unexpected bump to the format.

One note: credit is due to Amazon for policing reviews on this book. Following recent changes to Amazon’s review policy, this book can only be reviewed by verified purchasers. This weeds out the many fake reviewers that attempt to lower the ratings of controversial books. Nevertheless, at the time of this writing, more than 500 people have reviewed this book, giving it an average rating of five stars. I’m sure not all of them have read the book in its entirety, but many people are posting reviews just to say that, in spite of attempts to quash it, they’ve bought it.

There are currently 14 one-star reviews, including:

President has declared book illegal. If you read you illegal. America now great. Obey law or go gulag. Bad book. Bad writing. Go far away.

And…

VERY SAD!!!!!
I read a lots of books more than anyone and this book is a DISGRACE.Wolff is a loser A TOTAL LOSER and everyone knows it. you know it, I know it, everyone knows it.This book is NOT FOR SMART PEOPLE. Only a very for dumb people would read this TRASH. Only very dumb people like, not the kind of book I would read because I’m one of the SMARTEST PEOPLE.

And…

Sorry I made a mistake I want the actual book it is a present por my mom can you return it?

The Kindle Changed the Book Business. Can It Change Books? – WIRED

It’s now been a decade since Amazon unveiled the first Kindle to the world. The first model seems ridiculous in retrospect—what with the giant keyboard filled with slanted keys, the tiny second screen just for navigation, and the mostly pointless scroll wheel—but was wildly popular, selling out its initial inventory in less than six hours. Since then, the device has torn through the publishing landscape. Not only is Amazon the most powerful player in the industry, it has built an entire book-based universe all its own. “Kindle” has become a platform, not a device. Like Amazon tends to do, it entered the market and utterly subsumed it.

Interesting article about the Kindle. But I don’t see much supporting the “Can it change books?” question in the headline. The author points out the influence Amazon has in the publishing industry, but the only suggestions of change are vague and nebulous.

The Kindle they’ve always imagined is thin as paper, as light as paper, as flexible and durable as paper.

Perhaps, but a sheet of paper isn’t that durable, and I don’t think we’ll see a Kindle that thin for some time, at least until some sort of battery technology is invented that allows for paper-thin batteries. But the ideal Kindle wouldn’t be paper; it would be, perhaps, like the latest Kindle Oasis, perhaps a bit thinner, but still sturdy enough to hold on to.

Ebooks have been taking a hit recently, but I think this is cyclical. I know lots of people who swear by their Kindles, and many others, like me, who are avid readers and use read both the Kindle and print books. I find myself using the Kindle more and more, as publishers seem to be shrinking font sizes recently. Since a smaller font means fewer pages, and less expense, they are tempted, but they’re often making print books unreadable to those of us with aging eyes (the majority of readers). The Kindle allows me to set the font to a comfortable size, even one large enough so I don’t need to use reading glasses.

Source: The Kindle Changed the Book Business. Can It Change Books? | WIRED

Amazon Kindle Oasis (9th Generation, Waterproof), First Impressions

I’ve owned just about every Kindle, with the exception of the first, very large model with keyboard. As an avid reader, I have welcomed the experience of reading on a dedicated device, and the ability to store lots of books and read in many font sizes. The latest Kindle Oasis is the first model of this device to be waterproof (finally), and it also features a larger screen than the other current models. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

Being waterproof is a great idea, for the bath, the beach, and the pool (for those who have the latter). It’s still a bit pricey, but they’ve lowered the price a bit. And it comes with either 8 GB or 32 GB storage; the larger capacity is only $30 more. You won’t need that storage for books, but if you want to put audiobooks on it, it will come in handy. (That’s new to the Kindle Oasis too.) And you can get a cellular model for a bit more.

It’s an improvement on the first Kindle Oasis, which was a two-part device, with an additional battery in its magnetic case. The new Oasis is a standalone device, with a bit of a hump on one side, meant for reading one-handed. You can buy a case, which works like the older Oasis’s second part, and it might be a good idea to do so to protect the screen. (I’ve been putting my Kindles in sleeves or cases since I damaged one; miraculously, however, the screen damage healed itself some months after I dinged it.)

The new Kindle Oasis has the nicest display of any Kindle yet. In the past, Kindles have been plagued by uneven lighting; it was sometimes a crapshoot with different models, whether you’d see the LED bleed on the bottom or the side of the display. If you look at the photos in my review of the original Kindle Oasis, you can see that the lighting is uneven. But on the new model, it’s very smooth, with just some additional brightness at the bottom (which doesn’t show up in the photo below).

Kindle oasis

The new Oasis is also fast; page turns are fast, accessing menus is fast, and even typing is faster than before. It’s still got a bit of a lag, but you no longer have to wait to see a letter display before trying the next one when you’re searching for something.

I find the device well balanced, even though all the weight is on one side. It’s easy to hold in one hand – though I have large hands – and, like the previous model, it’s designed to use with either hand: the display flips when you turn it upside down. The buttons are tactile, and have enough travel (unlike on the Kindle Voyage), and you hear a satisfying click when you press them.

The latest Kindle software (which was not installed on my Oasis; I had to download it and manually update the device) adds some useful features for readability. There are more font sizes, and five font weights (levels of boldness), making it a lot easier to find a comfortable font. I’ve long appreciated the Kindle for the ability to use larger fonts; I’m able to read it without reading glasses, which is a lot more comfortable.

The screen – 7″ compared to 6″ on the other device – is a bit taller and wider, and this works well to make longer lines of text, especially with larger fonts. The bezels are a bit smaller, which, as you can see below, makes for much more text on a page.

Kindle oaisis2

You can also see above that the display’s color is a bit warmer, which is good if you read at night (or at least that’s what science seems to think these days).

All in all, this is certainly the best Kindle display I’ve seen, and, while the price is high, the added size makes it a great choice for people who read a lot, especially with larger fonts. If you can read with smaller fonts, you might want to opt for one of the other devices – smaller and cheaper – but if you want the most comfortable display, then this is it. Oh, and it’s waterproof… (I haven’t tested this yet). (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

Amazon Improves Kindle Readability

Amazon today announced a new waterproof Kindle, and they also announced some new typography features that will roll out to devices from 2013 and later.

  • New Font Size and Bold Settings: Now choose from more font sizes than ever before—and five levels of boldness—for whichever font you choose to read with. Combined with the new, 7-inch Paperwhite display, you can personalize your books so it’s perfectly comfortable for your eyes.
  • New Accessibility Options: In addition to the OpenDyslexic font, we’ve added a feature to invert black and white on the display if you have light sensitivity. The new enlarged display option also lets you increase the size of items like the text on the home screen and library as well as the book icons to make the all-new Kindle Oasis easier to read.
  • Ragged Right Alignment: You can now read using left-aligned (ragged right) text.

Amazon says:

Starting today, the new size and bold settings as well as ragged right alignment will be delivered as a free, over-the-air update to Kindle Paperwhite (Gen 6 released in 2013), plus all newer Kindle devices.

These are good changes. I prefer reading on my iPad mini, in part because it has more font sizes. If I try to make the font on my Kindles big enough, it’s too big; this means there will be not only more fonts in between those sizes (sort of largish and very large), and different weights, making it a lot better for each reader to find their optimal font.

The New Kindle Oasis is Waterproof

I’ve long wanted a waterproof Kindle to read in the bath. Amazon just announced the new Kindle Oasis, which is waterproof. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

Great idea, for the bath, the beach, and the pool (for those who have the latter). It’s still a bit pricey, but they’ve lowered the price a bit. And it comes with either 8 GB or 32 GB storage; the larger capacity is only $30 more. You won’t need that storage for books, but if you want to put audiobooks on it, it will come in handy. (That’s new to the Kindle Oasis too.) And you can get a cellular model for a bit more.

Note that this Kindle Oasis doesn’t come in two parts like the previous model. Amazon does sell a fabric cover, that seems to cling to the device by magnets (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) and a leather version of the same case (Amazon.com, Amazon UK).

I’m tempted.