Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kindle Comic: "Smell of a Good Book"

We kept going back and forth with the caption on this one, not wanting to offend anyone by suggesting the only purpose for old books these days was to make furniture. Personally we enjoy old books just as much as we ever did, as visitors to the huge library we made in the space that was meant to be our dining room will tell you.

Past "Kindle Culture" comics:
"Sci-Fi Wi-Fi"
"Choose Wisely"
"Talk To Me"

Ten Great Kindle Tweets - April 2009

Once again, I've tweeted @ messages to the ten folks included in the tweetset above and the first one who comes to this site and posts a comment will win a free copy of my book "Kindle Culture."*

I also decided to change the title of this month's non-contest, since a true measure of "Top Ten Kindle Tweets" of any given month would require a 24/7 review of posts, and as I write they're being posted at a clip of over 100 an hour. This is actually a collection of ten posts that tickled me at random times when I happened to be on Twitter and happened to search "Kindle," culled from about three dozen that I gathered throughout April. Good luck!

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations rich_kilmer!

*Prize will be awarded in the form of an Amazon gift certificate for the price of "Kindle Culture," which is due out for the Kindle in May 2009.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kindle Demographics

As I was pulling together the final pieces for my book "Kindle Culture," one of the last items on my list was to comb through almost 70 pages of the Amazon Kindle Forum's "Average Kindle Owner's Age" thread to get a better idea of who's actually buying the Kindle.

Though I ended up culling 1,387 responses from almost 1,700 posts, these charts don't adhere to polling science standards and should thus be taken with a grain of salt. That said, my methodology included the use of second-hand figures ("my son, 27, has one too"), and the exclusion of ill-defined ages ("I'm in my 50s"), questionable responses (106-year-old Sigmund Freud says, "I like the large type!"), and a handful of entries that were repeated one or more times.

The resulting data suggests that the largest group of Kindle owners by decade are in their 50s. The next two largest are owners in their 40s at 19.1% and owners in their 60s at 18%, making the total number of Kindle owners between the ages of 40 and 69 an incredible 58.6%. Owners above 70 make up an additional 8.1%, with owners under the age of 40 accounting for just over a third of all Kindle sales.

Using broader target demographic standards, the results look like this:
Younger adults (18-34) – 22%
Adults (35-54) – 38.4%
Older adults (over 54) – 37.3%
The Kindle might also be a popular 60th birthday present--more 60-year-olds reported owning the device than any other age, with 59-year-olds coming in a close second. (Another side note I found interesting was the number of respondents in their 20s and 30s who mentioned that they had been reading since a very young age.)

There are plenty of factors that could skew these results, ranging from affluency and disposable income to the overall age of visitors who visit Amazon's boards. But if these numbers are any indication, the Kindle appears to be the first general purpose technology device I know of with an early adopter demographic that favors the over-54 age bracket over the usual 18-34 group, effectively turning one perennial marketing trend on its head.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kindle Comic: "Sci-fi WiFi"

The logical next step after Amazon opens the UK and European markets. Kindle 9 from outer space!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kindle Offers Free U.S. News For a Year

With the April 15 release of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the Kindle, owners can now get a full year of domestic newspaper subscriptions absolutely free.

Granted, cycling through 14-day trial subs of all 26 domestic papers Amazon now offers for the Kindle would certainly require some serious dedication. But the result would be a free education comprised of a broad range of news voices. Besides the old-school stalwarts like the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Washington Post, the fare includes more topic-specific rags like Investor's Business Daily and the Wall Street Journal, plus Politico, which is mostly associated with its online presence and not the free print version that makes the rounds in D.C.

For me, this represents a benchmark of sorts at a time when the newspaper industry finds itself in a life-or-death struggle. As someone who came from a print background, I've lamented the loss of one daily after another with colleagues. But I see a potential for rebirth in devices like the Kindle, which replicate the old model by charging a reasonable fee and "delivering" the paper to your virtual door.

The chance to nab a free year of newspapers might appeal to the freebie-lover in all of us. But I also hope it leads to more people exposing themselves to a (hopefully) higher standard of journalism, and ultimately choosing to support an important industry by picking a favorite and ordering a regular subscription.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kindle Comic: "Choose Wisely"

We hope this third installment of the "Kindle Culture" comic brightens your day. If you missed the first two, here are the direct links:

Kindle Comic: "Talk To Me"
Kindle Comic: "Dinner"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kindle to Kindle: The Buttons

What better non-political way to honor the hot-button issue Amazon finds itself dealing with today than with a post about the K1 and K2 buttons? The first Kindle's scroll wheel (left) had single-click functionality. The five-way controller of the Kindle 2 (right) offers a much more versatile interface. Both gave me a great excuse to play with my close-up lens.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Top Ten Kindle Tweets - March 2009

I finally jumped on the Twitter train about a month ago and have really enjoyed reading people's comments about the Kindle. I started saving some of my favorites and thought it might be fun to post them here once a month. That led to an idea for a sort of non-contest; I have tweeted @ messages to these ten folks and the first one who comes to this site and posts a comment will win a free copy of my book "Kindle Culture" when it comes out for the Kindle later this month*. If it goes well, I plan to do this every month. In the meantime, thanks for the entertaining tweets!

*Prize will be awarded in the form of an Amazon gift certificate for the price of "Kindle Culture" on April 21, 2009; recipient will be on his or her honor to actually buy the book! Valid Amazon account e-mail address required.

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations @pvera!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The $8,000 Kindle Book

So you just bought your Kindle 2 and you're looking for a book that will help you get to the heart of ternary alloy systems--you know, phase diagrams, crystallographic data, the whole enchilada. Well thanks to the folks at Materials Science International Team, you can be reading the 500-page "Selected Nuclear Materials and Engineering Systems (Part 4)" on your Kindle in a minute for just $6,431.20--and that's a whopping 20% off the list price of $8,039. (Full disclosure: I will make over $250 if you buy this book through the above link.)

I suppose in the future it won't be uncommon to see more highly specialized manuals and textbooks for sale at all kinds of prices. Springer, the book's publisher, has seven more books listed in the $5,000 and over range. But the rest of us could buy 640 books at the $9.99 price point, or 18 brand new Kindle 2s!

To be fair, the print edition runs the full $8,039, which is even steeper despite FREE Super Saver Shipping. And even if you bought one of the used copies available for just under five grand, you've still got a three-plus pound book to deal with. It might be worth the extra $1,500 to lighten your load to 10 ounces, especially if you can get the boss to pay for it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kindle to Kindle: The Speakers

This photo isn't to scale, but gives an idea of what the speaker for the first Kindle (center) was like versus the split configuration that was adopted for the Kindle 2. The actual difference in sound is comparable to what the picture suggests, though still not something I've spent a lot of time listening to so far. Click on the shot for a closer look.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Longest Kindle Delay Ever?

This is a recently-released public domain photo that I had originally planned to use to compare the screen quality of the Kindle 1 and Kindle 2, until I saw what a wonderful job A Kindle World had done in that regard here. So I decided to turn it into a 600x800 Kindle screensaver instead.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

USA Today...for the Kindle 1!

USA Today Kindle adTalk about so 2008! A post by Matt Burns appearing today at CrunchGear reveals how completely out of the loop USA Today is with this ad touting the paper's availability...on the original Kindle.

One response chalked the gaffe up to typically long lead times in advertising and marketing. But having worked at both a major daily newspaper (L.A. Daily News) and the marketing department of a major company (The Limited), I don't think that's a valid excuse. If something like this happened on the editorial side, heads would have rolled. It makes USA Today look hopelessly clueless, and it seems likely that when the paper first launched on the Kindle on December 26, somebody there must have known the Kindle 2 was coming out six weeks later. Miscommunication = embarrassment!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Make Your Kindle Smell Familiar

One of the complaints I hear most often from book lovers who don't want to try the Kindle is a tactile one. And while it's true the Kindle will probably never feel and smell exactly like a real book, the kind folks over at DuraSport Electronics have spent some serious research and development dollars to come up with an idea that promises to be the next best (and next big) thing--the first aerosol e-book enhancer.

Okay, so maybe Smell of Books is an April Fools Day prank. You've still got to admire the dedication that went into it. The product comes in five great scents (New Book Smell, Classic Musty Smell, Scent of Sensibility, Eau You Have Cats and Crunchy Bacon) and is advertised as compatible with almost 30 file types and over three dozen eReaders, including the not-yet-announced Kindle 3.

Perhaps not surprisingly, no sooner had Smell of Books been announced than it was receiving threatening letters from the Authors Guild: "While the Authors Guild supports efforts to improve the digital reading experience, we believe this product represents a significant threat to the development of aroma rights...Allowing unauthorized third parties to provide the 'scent' for a book substantially changes the underlying work to a degree that infringes upon the author’s copyright, not to mention artistic vision."

Hmmm. Something doesn't smell right!