Amazon's "Kindle" electronic book reader

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Amazon's "Kindle" electronic book reader

Postby roymond » Mon Nov 19, 2007 11:20 am

Bezos introduced thistoday. It looks...awesome. But still pricey: $399

Some surprising capabilities in this device:

- 200 books (expandable up to 1,000)
- NYTimes and other newspaper content
- No-fee wireless service for ordering/downloading
- No PC
- Blogs
- Wikipedia
- Email address per device
- Word doc support
- Image files (B/W for now)
- Electronic “ink”, not LCD/LED,etc. B/W now, color being developed
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Postby fluffy » Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:04 pm

hi
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Postby roymond » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:25 pm

fluffy wrote:hi

OK, so this was the product you developed? Have anything to add?
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Postby fluffy » Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:30 pm

Yeah. Check today's Daily Roll Call thread, and my weblog, and random threads on poe-news.com. I don't want to get too specific since I don't want Amazon's lawyers swooping down on me though.

Mostly I just wish people would read the whole description before casting judgment on it. Basically every criticism I've read of it have been from people who clearly didn't read the whole thing, and just wanted to read what they wanted to read.
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Postby roymond » Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:37 pm

OK, I've reviewed the random threads on poe-news.com and silly me, I missed your blog entries -- because your sig links to sockpuppet, though your profile links to wherever, where one can then sort of randomly navigate to something that mentions it ;)

Anyway, the roll-call has my comments now and this thread is defeated.
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Postby fluffy » Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:41 pm

Well it's much more topical for books than for DRC, so at least in the interests of accessibility I suppose I could <a href="http://www.songfight.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=101064#101064">link</a> <a href="http://beesbuzz.biz/blog/e/2007/11/19-finally.php">to</a> <a href="http://www.poe-news.com/forums/sp.php?pi=1001591655">them</a>.
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Re: Amazon's "Kindle" electronic book reader

Postby Billy's Little Trip » Mon Nov 19, 2007 6:14 pm

röymond wrote:awesome. But still pricey: $399

Just like it's programmer.
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Postby roymond » Fri Nov 23, 2007 8:13 am

So, Fluffy, what's the deal with PDFs? It seems it doesn't accept PDFs for conversion (according to various blogs). WTF? Since 90% of the documentation we get for anything comes as PDFs, it would be nice to load this on to Kindle. Are they afraid of people getting ebooks in PDF and not buying them via Amazon?
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Postby fluffy » Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:20 am

PDFs are a lot more difficult to convert than you'd expect. Most PDFs out there are "unstructured," meaning they're just a pile of letters on a page. Many PDFs are a bunch of scanned images (and usually scanned very badly). Neither of those cases are easily reflowable. (Structured PDFs are what Adobe wants everyone to make for very obvious reasons, but currently the only things which make structured PDFs are things which are intended to create PDFs, like Acrobat. Most people just use a PDF print driver to create theirs, and print drivers know nothing of page structure.)

HOWEVER, with the project I was working on, both of those cases should eventually be supported - but the technology isn't there just yet to make it totally automatic.

As a very short-term fix you can always convert the PDFs to a bunch of JPEGs (using e.g. ImageMagick) and view them in the photo viewer, which is about all that you can do with PDFs on any other reader anyway. On such a small screen, PDF support is a useless bullet point, and having PDF "support" on the Sony reader is pretty disingenuous since they're unreadable.
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Postby roymond » Fri Nov 23, 2007 8:11 pm

I understand the challenge of unstructured PDFs. However, 95% of PDFs are little more than running text, originally created in Word, with no special structural surprises (though yes, even headers and footers get surprising in this casse). But I also understand how a just a few ugly docs can create a lot of bad impressions.

My Treo had a very decent PDF reader in it, BTW. Seems creating an embedded PDF reader would handle 99% of PDFs very well on a device whose screen is many times as big.
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Postby fluffy » Sat Nov 24, 2007 1:21 am

From an unstructured made-by-Word PDF you can get an *okay* reading/reflow experience automatically. However, there are a lot of situations which are very difficult to deal with automatically. For example, a lot of paragraphs which are less than one line long and indented is surprisingly hard to deal with, especially if you have no context.

Amazon wanted the experience to be absolutely perfect. The Kindle is supposed to replace a book, not a PDA, and the important business case was selling books (and more importantly, selling their conversion service to the publishers, in order to bring the total cost down and the quality up - and that was the specific part I worked on, so I can't help but be a bit protective of it), not making it convenient for people to shuffle their own documents around.
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Postby bz£ » Sat Nov 24, 2007 6:58 am

It looks... promising, but for four hundred bucks I'd want it to replace book and PDA, and probably a few other things too. Seems like a shame to have a close-to-full keyboard and nothing to type but "da vinci code" and credit card numbers.

I can see why PDF would be a low priority, and not just because it's hard. If Amazon intends to sell text-to-kindle software then it doesn't really make much sense to support PDF at all. Or a general-purpose OS, either, I suppose. Oh well; it looks like a really nice thing to own, and I have done a lot of reading on various portable devices, but I suppose I'm not the target market for this guy. Can't afford it anyway :)
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Postby fluffy » Sat Nov 24, 2007 11:51 am

Prices will only come down.

Capabilities will only improve.

You get the core functionality right before you try making a device do everything for everyone.
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Postby fluffy » Sat Nov 24, 2007 12:29 pm

Oh, also, Mobipocket makes a PDF->.mobi convertor which handles most cases of unstructured PDF pretty okay.
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Postby roymond » Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:17 pm

fluffy wrote:Prices will only come down.

Capabilities will only improve.

You get the core functionality right before you try making a device do everything for everyone.

Indeed. I don't think it's far off for me. Being able to read in small doses where ever I am is very advantageous. Having multiple books with me to do so enables it. I think $200 would be a no brainer.
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Postby Project-D » Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:56 pm

In the Musicians Friend catalog and they had a similar device that would hold sheet music, but it was something like $800! Something like the Kindle that you could load with your own files would be good for loading up with your fakebooks. 'Course you'd want to leave your "real" copies in the car in case your batteries went dead. Anyone ever own a "Real Book"?
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Postby fluffy » Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:16 pm

You can convert pdfs to the Kindle format, although in the case of sheet music it'd be scaled down and probably not that useful.

Actually we were sort of looking into how to deal with sheet music in a more structured way, though not all that seriously since several of us on the team were musicians and knew how ass-rapingly hard it'd be.

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