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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Monday, November 19, 2007

    e-Book Reader in the news

    Slightly delayed (just to keep us guessing!), but now on nearly every blog, Amazon's offering - the Kindle - is set to launch on Monday (and, I presume, in the UK shortly after that...).

    TeleRead has several offerings: Amazon-sized ego? Kindle to shun .epub? And, yes, the ugly box is the FINAL design (IS it that ugly? Not sure it needs the keyboard, but...); PDF capabilities in Kindle: Newsweek puff job reveals more details (yes the Newsweek article IS worth reading - it extends to 7 pages and moves on to discuss more than the Kindle) and - again - Huh? The Kindle e-reader ISN’T ugly? So says Steve Levy, author of Newsweek puff piece—in response to my Publishers Weekly blog. Print is Dead offers Amazon’s Next of Kindle: new eBook device debuts and if:Book offers amazon kindle due out monday and another reference to the Newsweek article: newsweek covers the future of reading (as does iLibrarian: Amazon’s E-Book Reader). Even Talis' panlibus is a little bit excited with Amazon Kindle book reader interest, and (like me!) DigitalKoans has brought some of this together at Light My Fire? Amazon's Kindle E-Book Reader Launched. And from Ellen Hage: Ugly is the new cute, while Joe Wikert (A Hands-On Review of Amazon's Kindle) points to a review from someone who has a Kindle. Verdict: this is the first generation product - promising, but...

    I think Amazon are really going to have to produce a Kindle or two in the UK!

    TeleRead also has an interesting twist - E-books to go ’straight to the deadpool’ if Amazon Kindle fails? - which seems to be placing just a little more power to Amazon's elbow than might be reasonable. There is no doubt that Amazon weild a lot of power, but there are some other big players in the e-book market - certainly, outside of the personal user market, and selling to libraries, but aggregators such as NetLibrary have captured a fair share of the market while the reference collections of Oxford Reference Online, Credo Reference and Knovel are very attractive to libraries too.

    My view of the Kindle - judged from what I have read (I don't have one yet!) - is that it is a pretty good product with a lot going for it. Amazon have done their research and seem to have got it more or less right (keyboard aside) - the Kindle is reported to:
    • carry up to 200 books
    • have a good eInk screen and a reasonable battery life
    • need no PC in order to download e-books
    • accept user files loaded easily via a private e-mail
    • search across all e-books
    • take notes
    • download quickly...
    and so on.

    But this is a fast-moving area. Even before the Kindle is launched, Seiko Epson are announcing a very smart - and light - new product. Granted it is only at the display stage, but it's not going to be long - I guess - before we have another e-book reader on the market.

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