The Kindle continues to impress me with its utility. I use it daily, and have just completed another book on it (and started another two). Yet, the stack on my nightstand has disappeared. How can this be?
Criticisms also continue, despite sales figures that match those of the first-generation iPod (about 240,000 devices have been sold thus far). To continue the comparison with the iPod, here is a redacted critique of an electronics device launch:
IDC analyst Bryan Ma said [company] may take some heat for entering the consumer electronics market, which typically has lower profit margins than [company] gets from its [standard retail offerings]. . . . Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Intelect, said that the [device] will likely stand out for its large storage capacity but predicted that the device may have trouble digging out a niche in the market. . . . Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal dinged the $399 price as “a little high.”
Of course, the company in the above quote from 2001 is Apple, the device is the iPod, and the standard retail offerings are computers. Everyone has an opinion. That and $0.99 will no longer buy you a cup of coffee, but it will get you a song on iTunes. (iTunes is now the #1 music retailer in the United States, edging out Wal-Mart in the spring of 2008.)
An issue raised by David Weinberger and others is that the Kindle is weak for academic reading since it is hard to cite materials that have been adapted to the Kindle platform.
A robust discussion of this issue has been held on the Amazon site. The main points these entries hit is that when citing a book (the Kindle is still mostly about books, although this is changing), you typically only cite the book if you are paraphrasing ideas; that if you are quoting directly and need a page number, you have to track down a physical copy of the book and find the text there (or use Google Books); or, if it’s a magazine or journal, you have to cite the article (often easy enough using PubMed for journals).
Still, the Kindle seems architected for citation ultimately. There are stable location marks in each text, consistent and repeatable. And it seems Amazon will have to solve this, if it hasn’t already: a bigger Kindle geared to textbooks is apparently in development, to spare students and children the back-breaking backpacks they have to sport today.
With links replacing citations functionally in many ways, will it matter in the future if citations abide by old-fashioned Chicago or APA styles? Or will a clear link be all that is needed as scholarlship moves to the network.
I miss reading the album liner notes from my old LPs. That doesn’t mean LPs are coming back.
(Thanks to JO for links and inspiration for this post.)