Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Last week, a close friend was leaving for a trip to Papua New Guinea and wanted to borrow my Amazon Kindle to take with him. Then, just as soon as he asked, my mother-in-law asked to borrow it to take it on safari with her in Africa. In the end, both opted for plain old paper books. Both decided, independently, that where they were going, outlets to recharge the Kindle would be hard to find.
When I bought the Amazon Kindle in November 2007, I was curious more than anything. Once I got my hands on it and experienced that initial “wow,” I played with it for a couple of weeks, showed it off to friends, and then more or less shelved it. The utility of the device, to be frank, is limited. I read mostly pre-publication books that I’m reviewing.
The few times I have bought books for the Kindle – I tend to opt for long one’s – like David Wrobelewski’s 600-page “The Story of Edgar Sawtell,” to save on weight. And while I have taken it on a couple of business trips, I use it mostly to read email, using the Whispernet service, saving myself the unfortunate $10 internet access fee most hotel’s charge. (That said, I’ll have to do that a total of 40 times to justify the $400 upfront price I paid for the device.)
I read in today’s news TechCrunch as reporting 240,000 units have sold; and the number of customer reviews have passed 4,000 on Amazon.com’s Web site. And now I’m told that Amazon could sell 380,000 units in 2008.
Well, that just sounds like hyperbole to me and I’ll tell you why: I have not yet met a single person who owns one – and I live in a city of about six million people, regularly fraternize with book lovers, and travel frequently. I've seen more exotic cars in the past ten months -- Ferraris, Bentleys, Lamborghinis -- than Kindles.
Or, to use a safari metaphor, Kindles are harder to spot in the wild than your average leopard.
After all, even Amazon itself only supplied a handful for display at BookExpo America (and even refused to lend one to the e-book trade association, the International Digital Publishing Forum for the length of the show).
This is all a preface to saying that I harbor doubt about the numbers being bandied about by the press and elsewhere about the Kindle. Until I see one other than my own in public, I won't be convinced.
Posted by Edward Nawotka at 3:46 PM