BBC News – Waterstones and Amazon’s Kindle turn a new chapter

BBC News – Waterstones and Amazon’s Kindle turn a new chapter

I hope this works out for Waterstone’s. It would be a shame for the last major high-street bookstore in the UK to go out of business. I can’t figure out how it’s going to actually work… they’ll make an amount on the sale of the devices, but everything I’ve read implies there’s some way they’ll make money off of digital sales made in-store.

I do agree they probably stock far too many books that don’t sell at all, but I’m not so thrilled by them diluting their in-store experience by offering a mass of games and stationary instead. It’s a compromise, but I’d hate them to start turning into WH Smiths.

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On The Kindle Fire HD

Last night Amazon announced the Kindle Fire HD, its updated foray in the tablet market. I jumped the gun a bit on Twitter, when – while Jeff Bezo’s was hammering on about how it was the “best tablet at any price” – I bemoaned

Like I said, I jumped the gun; later that night, Amazon put up pre-orders for the Kindle Fire + Kindle Fire HD on Amazon UK. However…

  • We’re only getting the 7-inch models. No 8.9-inch, and certainly no 8.9-4G.
  • The Amazon Prime content which makes the Fire/Fire HD an especially attractive option in the US are totally missing.

Let me get one thing out-of-the-way: the prices are amazing. £129/£159/£199 for these specifications and build quality is a very aggressive move by Amazon. Purely because of the price and brand, Amazon will sell a tonne of Kindle Fires1.

It is the content which is the biggest let-down for me. I’m a Prime customer, and have been for as long as it’s been available in the UK. The free shipping is nice, but I’m starting to get a bit disenfranchised by seeing all these new content features (Instant Video and Kindle Lending Library to name two) spring up in the US, but never make it to the UK. Instead we’re encouraged to take out a separate LoveFilm subscription for streaming video. Last time I had an account (about a year ago), LoveFilm’s streaming service was very poor. I know licensing deals are hard, but if Apple can do it, why can’t Amazon with all their retail clout? Even Google offers more than Amazon.

One of the major features touted during the announcement was X-Ray – tap on an actor in a video and get IMDB information about them, such as other films they’ve been in. Will this work in the UK if I’m using LoveFilm? Somehow I doubt it. The book-related X-Ray features should work at least.

This may all sound like nitpicking over something which is only part of the wider story. Surely having a high-quality tablet at this low a price is an amazing achievement in itself? Well, yes. I wouldn’t take that away from Amazon. I still can’t believe the price. But at the end of the day, the reason the Kindle Fire exists is to sell content. The hardware is so cheap because Amazon can make up the lost margins with the sale of content. The Kindle Fire is a fancy store front on top of Amazon’s services. It’s a strategy which could work… but I can’t help but feel it would be more of a “sure thing” if there was a consistent content strategy across all markets they’re selling the Kindle Fire. As it stands, the only reason to buy the Kindle Fire in the UK is because it is cheap… and experience has taught me you get what you pay for.

  1. Personally I think they’ll sell more of the old Kindle Fires than the HD, purely because it’s so similar, and cheaper. I see similar behaviour with the Kindle eReader. By far, the most common one I see on my commute is the cheapest model. 

Three Months with the Amazon Kindle

I previously wrote about my search for the “promised land” of the electronic book. In that article I wrote about what I was looking for, why, and finished off looking at the top three contenders for my cash.

What I didn’t explicitly state (though I did allude to in the intro) was by the time of publication I had already ordered an eReader – the Amazon Kindle 2. As fate would have it, a couple of weeks later the new and improved version 3 came out, but we’ll skip over that bad bit of timing on my part.

Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

So, was it worth it? Are ebooks the future? Is the Kindle any good? Yes, yes, and yes. I can’t put it any clearer than that, really. I am not going to go into an in-depth review of features; that is something best left to others. I’m just going to give you my experience of using the Kindle these last three months. Continue reading

In Search of the Electronic Book

This entry has been in development for a couple of weeks. If you’ve been following my Twitter stream, you’ll probably know why it’s relevant I mention this. I have a follow-up entry in the works which will provide a better conclusion, but for now I think the bulk of the entry still stands.

I used to read. A lot. Not the bite-size, throw-away blogs and news you get on the internet; I read real, actual books made of paper, ink and glue. Sitting down with a good book is relaxing in a way sitting in front of a computer can never be. Continue reading