Christmas is right around the corner and there are going to be a lot of people buying eBook readers or asking for them, so here is my take on the situation.
If you would have told me, a few years ago, that I would be recommending the Amazon Kindle platform above any other method for e-book reading I would have told you that you were crazy. Well, I would not have said that, but I may have thought it. Why? The Kindle was poorly designed when it first came out. It was far overpriced. You had to lug it with you in order to read whatever Kindle titles you owned. So that meant you would probably find yourself carrying the Kindle, a cell phone, and a laptop computer, not to mention the cords and plugs required to keep them all charged.
But ask me today, as many do, and I quickly recommend the Kindle platform above any other e-reading system. Please notice my choice of words carefully. I use the word “platform” not “device.” That is very intentional. And now, in light of the release by Amazon of the latest and greatest versions of the Kindle, I am even more strongly recommending people buy a Kindle if they are interested in having a great eBook reading experience. Hands down, Kindle is the way to go. The latest basic version of the Kindle is wonderful, and for a few tanks of gas more, you can get the one that uses a touch interface exclusively, instead of buttons.
Pay close attention here: Forget the Barnes and Noble Nook. The Amazon Fire is a Nook Killer, no doubt about it. Here’s a strong word of advice: Before you buy an e-book reader make sure that the books you want to read are easily/readily available for it. For instance: Concordia Publishing House is providing our titles in Kindle format. We have not seen much point in supporting any other format, particularly since you can read Kindle titles on just about any gizmo out there.
Do your research and make sure you are buying what you really think you are going to use. If you want a media consumption device, the Kindle Fire may be for you, but it has the same “downsides” for reading an eBook as does the iPad or any mobile device that has a backlit display: glare and you can’t read it comfortably outside or in any bright light. That’s why I say that if you want to read eBooks, get one of the two basic Kindle models. Here are your choices. Click on the image below to go to Amazon’s Kindle store.
Amazon has not made much of this fact, but the reason the Amazon Kindle platform is, in my opinion, by far the best e-book reading system out there today is because you do not even have to own an actual Kindle device, to use the Kindle platform. Let me explain. And forgive me, in advance, if you already know all this, but I don’t think many people do.
Amazon made a brilliant move when it decided to release software applications to enable as many devices as possible to use Kindle formatted e-books. The fact that Amazon is the single largest reseller and distributor of intellectual property in the world makes the Kindle platform absolutely irresistible for publishers, and that’s good for readers.
If you own a computer of any kind, no matter MAC or PC, you can use Kindle formatted e-books on it. Desktop or laptop? Doesn’t matter. Netbook? Sure. How about all those nifty devices collectively now referred to as “smartphones.” Amazon’s got you covered: Android? iPhone? No worries, you can read Kindle files on those devices. iTouch? Blackberry? Yup, those too. And no doubt all the up and coming tablet/iPad imitators will be able to use Kindle files as well.
How about the iPad? No problems, you have a very well implemented and well executed Kindle app for it too, and all Kindle apps now offer searching of the text, and instant connectivity to Wikipedia and dictionary for quick reference and research. And no doubt all the up and coming tablet/iPad imitators will be able to use Kindle files as well.
So, here’s my thinking. If you are going to invest in an e-book, and it is an investment and a somewhat risky one at that*, why not buy a format that you can read on virtually any device out there, including, oh, yes, the actual Kindle device itself, which in its latest iteration has become even more attractively priced and better provisioned with useful features. You can get a nicely designed and improved Kindle now for only $80. Yes, $80.
And, what’s more, you’ll find, usually, the best prices on e-books are also to be found with Amazon’s Kindle platform.
What about the iPad? Well, as much as I hate to say it, I enjoy reading my Kindle formatted e-books on it better than iBookstore titles. Why? Simple: price. By and large, I find that Kindle titles are priced lower on Amazon, than the same e-book formatted for the iBookstore. I’ve got to tell you, at this point, I really don’t know why I, as a publisher, would even be all that anxious to release my titles in Apple’s much more restrictive and less diverse format, just to sell it in the iBookstore.
So, at this point, I’m still a big advocate for Amazon’s Kindle platform for e-book reading. What are your thoughts?
*Why is purchasing an e-book a somewhat risky proposition? Who knows if you will be able to use it in the future. Can we expect, for example, that Amazon will make all future versions of whatever its e-book reading platform is backward compatible with all previous editions/formats and versions? I don’t know. There’s the rub and there’s the advantage of a physical book over an e-book, any day and every day. Plus, trying to copy and paste sections elsewhere for reference? Forget it. Proper citation and page numbers? Nope. Well, not yet anyway.