Amazon Kindle Reviews – 2

Feb 10th Update: Go here for my Kindle 2 Review or here to buy Kindle 2. The rest of this post discusses reviews of the original kindle.

There are now over 7,000 Amazon Kindle reviews available and wading through the last 200 reviews (Review #6937 to Review #7136) brought up some interesting patterns and trends (which might very well indicate why Kindle 2 seems to be not much of a redesign). Here’s what I found -

Kindle Pros from Kindle Owners

  1. Portability – The single biggest pro people listed was the convenience of being able to take the kindle (and hundreds of books) anywhere.  64 People listed this as a pro. This includes both people quoting travel advantages, and people who take it with them everywhere they go (like the doctor’s).
  2. Instant Downloads – A close second was the speed of buying and getting books using the 2 minute wireless download. 51 people listed ‘instant’ downloads as a big pro.
  3. Six Font Sizes – The ability to change Font Size was the third biggest advantage mentioned – It was really cool to read about all the people who earlier couldn’t read, or were limited to large print books, and now can read all these books.  35 People.
  4. Space Savings – Next was the space saving the Kindle afforded people – 23 people mentioned this.
  5. Ease of use - A lot of people mentioned how easy it was to use the Kindle, and how they got lost in the experience of reading. 21 People. 
  6. Lower Priced Books – 21 People talked about not having to wait for cheaper paperbacks, and getting books for just $10. 
  7. LightWeight- 19 People mentioned things like being able to read for hours, avoiding arthritic pain, no wrist pain, and other benefits related to the Kindle’s light weight.
  8. Great Screen – A lot of people (19 to be precise) liked being able to read in sunlight, the lack of glare, and how similar to reading a real book it was.
  9. Sample Chapters – 17 People were in love with being able to read a sample chapter before deciding to buy a book.
  10. Free Wireless Internet – 15 People loved being able to surf and use the ‘basic, experimental browser’.
  11. Saving Trees + Environment – There were 13 people who mentioned environmental benefits like saving tress, not having to drive, books not having to be transported. I thought this might be higher.
  12. Battery Life – 11 People listed the great battery life.
  13. Range of Books- Rather surprisingly, given the number of people who complain about the lack of books, there were 11 people who were really happy at the range of books available. To be fair, there were a significant number of people who also listead ‘lack of range’ as a con.
  14. Small Size – 10 People listed the form factor of the Kindle as a Pro.

It was just amazing to see how much people liked the Kindle – a lot of people wrote things that, well, just sound really, really positive -

  1. “best thing since sliced bread” – multiple times.  
  2. “evolution of reading”. 
  3. “a revolution in reading” – multiple times.
  4. “i got so many other people to buy it” – multiple times.
  5. “me and my husband both bought it” and “i bought more kindles as gifts” – lots of times.
  6. “great customer service”

 The single biggest thing I feel after reading these reviews is – Amazon doesn’t really need to change the Kindle. They can very well introduce a textbook version and perhaps a technologically more advanced Kindle 2.0 – However, Kindle 1.0 is good enough to be its own product line for a long, long time (with gradual price reductions as economies of scale kick in).

You can Get a Kindle at Amazon. The cons listed by kindle owners are not deal breakers – and speaking of cons, here’s the list -  

Kindle Cons from Kindle Owners

  1. Button Placement – A whopping 49 people listed faulty button placement as a big irritation. Not just the next page and back buttons, but also the wireless and on/off buttons. A good tip was to cut and stuff a piece of paper under the button and prevent it from getting pressed.
  2. Screen Light- 18 people wanted a back-light or side light of some sort. Edit: We know eInk doesn’t allow back-lights. So let’s interpret it as a lack of a sidelight. 
  3. Cover Issues - 16 people ran into problems with the Kindle falling out of its cover. The fix here is to use a piece of velcro to fasten the Kindle to its cover.  
  4. Missing the Touch and Feel of Books - 10 people missed the feeling of reading a book – the touch, the smell, and so forth. One thing that was really interesting (and a few people even mentioned it outright) was that very few people missed the look of a page – people were getting lost in reading, and talking about how great the screen was, and that it was just like a book.
  5. Limited Book Selection - There were 9 people who complained about not finding Kindle Editions of books they wanted.
  6. Screen Freezing- 7 people had complaints about the Kindle’s screen occasionally freezing up.

There was a second set of cons that all had 4-6 people writing about them. I was surprised to see how few people had these complaints - not to mention how rare mentions of lack of PDF and ePub support were.  Things mentioned occasionally included -

  1. Lack of Image Support.  
  2. Sony Reader looks better.
  3. Lack of Colors.  
  4. Lack of a color screen.
  5. Lack of worldwide support. 
  6. Expensive – To be fair, there were a lot of people who listed that the price was expensive but worth it. However, there were just 4 people who listed it as being expensive for what it was.  
  7. Can’t share books – 3 People.
  8. Amazon not replacing Kindles for free. Some people had to pay $180 for a replacement kindle.

Another telling sign was that there were just a few overall negative reviews – out of 200 reviews, less than 10 (and more like 5) were owners who had an overall negative opinion. On the other hand, at least 10 people who didn’t own a Kindle had given it a bad review.

Like I mentioned earlier, the reviews seem to indicate the Kindle 1.0 can stand on its own, and doesn’t really need a Kindle 2 to replace it. Button Placement and Cover Issues are 2 of the top 3 customer complaints. These and the reading light issue are easily fixed without needing a huge redesign.

Seriously – If you’ve released a new, revolutionary product and service, and the 3 biggest issues your customers have with your product are – button placement, lack of a sidelight, and poor quality cover – that’s a quality problem to have. Kindle 2 could very well just address these usability issues and throw in some software improvements and customers would continue to be delighted. The Kindle really doesn’t have any competitors at the moment (except perhaps, their own supply chain).

3 Responses

  1. Heck, I’d be happy with a software upgrade to give us folders. Do that, and I’ll keep my V1.0 for years!

  2. Amazon: Here, buy this bulky, $400 direct marketing device and keep it with you. We will monitor your activities so we can suggest purchasing options you don’t realize you have. We’ll charge you $10 for bytes that cost us <$0.01. Paying for your activities is hassle free. With our hand in your wallet, we can extract money from you any time, anywhere.

    Customer: Wow, that’s convenient!

  3. apopleptic: I’m not sure why being given new “purchasing options” is a bad thing. Recommendations tend to be thought of as a positive feature — most people like having books — they’ll most likely enjoy — recommended to them.

    Do you really think they get the books from the publishers for free? It’s not the bytes you’re paying for — and, yes, convenience does have some real value.

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