Amazon selling iPad, Kindle for kids, more

Amazon selling iPad … that can’t be right

A few weeks after the Kindle 3 and Amazon came out with an ad slamming the iPad there’s news that Amazon has started selling the iPad directly from its website. Amazon seems out of stock now but lots of reliable sources like Fortune wrote about it so it must have had some stock.

All that can be found at the moment are iPads from 3rd party stores selling at a $50 to $100 premium. Perhaps Apple gave only a little bit of stock – It’s what they seem to have done with Best Buy. Anything that helps create scarcity.

Amazon selling iPads is remarkable – It’s Amazon having its cake and eating it too.

Let’s make fun of the iPad, let’s sell it and take a cut, … What’s next?

Free Kindle Book – Yet Again

Next, a free kindle book since it’s part of my blogger contract to mention one in every post (just kidding, seems more like the ‘free book’ albatross) –

  1. Remember Why You Play by David Thomas. Rated 5 stars on 3 reviews.

    If you enjoyed Friday Night Lights, this book is a must-read. Remember Why You Play documents the lives, struggles, and triumphs of the players and coaches of Faith Christian School in Grapevine, Texas.

    Sports columnist and author David Thomas followed the team for a full season, recording a story that will inspire readers to understand that relationships are more important than winning.

    One of the key events was a game that Faith Christian played against the Gainesville State Tornadoes, a school for convicted juvenile offenders. The story of this spectacular game is being made into a movie, titled One Heart, with an anticipated release in November 2010.

There’s so much in the write-up – Faith Christian taking on a school for convicted juvenile offenders, a Friday Night Lights reference, a movie to be released in a month. All we need is Aaron Sorkin to grant everyone the wit of Jeeves and Wooster and David Fincher to glam it up and mark it out as a social commentary on the post-Social Network generation.

Is Kindle 3 a good device for 9 to 11 year olds?

A very good question being asked at the official kindle forums. Let’s consider the Kindle WiFi’s suitability for children.

The pros –

  1.  It’s light and compact and even young kids’ hands won’t get tired from holding the Kindle WiFi
  2.  It’s cheap at $139 so even if they break it it’s not a big loss.
  3. Lots of free public domain books. All the classics for free and most of their assigned reading from school.
  4. Lots of free book offers.
  5. They’ll grow smarter. Instead of playing video games or farming in Farmville they’ll be reading books – hopefully good ones.
  6. With the Kindle App Store beginning to open up they have some basic games too.
  7. The built-in dictionary and the text to speech feature both add a lot of value.

These add on to all the other benefits – books in 60 seconds, carry all your books with you, a serviceable browser, no heavy back-pack. 

Something worth adding here is that the combination of a few factors makes the Kindle especially suited for kids who struggle with reading – ability to change the font size, option to change line spacing and words per line, text to speech, all the classics for free, a focus on reading. For kids who get distracted or who have reading problems the Kindle is a pretty good option.

Consider this comment from Joan –

My 12 year old daughter has my old Kindle 1, and because she has an eye sight problem, this is ideal for her.

She has it on the largest font size. She has been reading the Sisters Grimm books and loves them. She has never shown an interest in reading before this! This is such a good thing!

There are probably lots of kids who have ‘never shown an interest in reading’ because they had genuine reading struggles that weren’t being addressed.

The cons –

  1. They’ll probably be lost when their peers are talking about StarCraft and Farmville and Justin Beiber and Gossip Girl and other things young kids these days entertain themselves with.
  2. It is quite breakable and they might also lose it.
  3. No parental controls.
  4. The browser can also lead to bad sites.
  5. No password protection for purchases so you can’t exactly regulate buying unless you de-register the Kindle or remove your credit card information.
  6. The selection of children’s books is, to the best of my knowledge, a bit limited.
  7. Will the no-frills Kindle hold their attention as well as a mind-sapping flashy game console?
  8. Not many textbooks are available on the Kindle. English reading assignments – Yes. Textbooks – No.

Add on the other negatives – no library books so one source of free books is gone, eInk is still in its initial stages, new books are expensive.

What are parents saying about their kids’ experiences with the Kindle?

Mostly positive things and surprisingly positive things.

Lots of comments at this kindle forum thread on kindle for kids –

My nine year old daughter “inherited” my K2i and LOVES IT! She’s been extremely careful with it, and reads every night. ; ) HTH

I have a 10 year old boy who likes the K2. He likes it better than books. He likes to read and reads at about his grade level. We don’t find a lot of content at his level that is inexpensive, though. $9.99 a pop adds up. Some of the old classics are free or $0.99.

My 9 yr old daughter inherited my K1 and loves it. She has been an avid
reader since age 4. She is very responsible and we enjoy reading our Kindles together. My 7 yr old daughter is now asking for her own.

I got my then 12 yo daughter a kindle 1 2 christmas’s ago…and haven’t regretted for a second! She reads constantly, …

In some ways it’s a good way to teach kids to be responsible –

My K2 went to my son (almost 10) and daughter (7). My daughter uses it more than my son and she takes super good care of it.

I  have read other posts about children and Kindles and it seems that if the child is careful with it that it can work well.

It’s surprising to see so many replies (there are 56 comments). Hadn’t realized so many people are giving their kids Kindles and are seeing good results.

Follett’s Fall of Giants falls to a 2 star review rating

Regardless of whether you think it’s right or wrong you have to be impressed by this –

Check out the customer reviews for Follett’s latest “Fall of Giants.” Kindle pricing seems to have struck a collective nerve

2 star rating. 136 1 star reviews.

Plus you have to acknowledge that it is probably having an effect –

Were I to be browsing, looking for books, I would have passed this book by because it has a 2 star rating.

A few people are arguing that it’s still in the Kindle Store Top 10. Well, almost every big author release hits the Top 10 when it comes out and there are lots of die-hard fans that will buy it at $19.99. However, there are lots of people who will not buy it at $19.99 and lots of people who will not buy it because of the 2 star review rating.

Plus those reviews NEVER go away. 1 year from now people will just assume the book is terrible.

Do we really expect people to look at 1 star reviews and figure out the bad reviews are due to Kindle pricing?

Why all the 1 star reviews?

Because the ebook is priced at $19.99. Not $12.99 or $14.99 or even $17.99. It’s a gigantic $19.99.

The hardcover (all 1,000 pages of it) is at $19.39. 

Pricing the ebook at $19.99, higher than the giant hardcover version, is just pushing things too far. At some point it changes from making money to abusing your readers and rubbing salt into their wounds.

To make things worse the price is lower in other countries –

Yes, it’s only $9.99 plus $2 Whispernet charge for Australian customers too. I wonder why the US publisher priced it so high?

So Canada and Australia pay $9.99 but US readers are expected to pay $19.99.

Kindle 3, iPad thoughts

Not quite ready to review/compare the Kindle 3 and the iPad so writing a post with Kindle 3, iPad thoughts for Eorse.

Extent of iPad experience: Owned it since launch (US launch). Read lots of books on it. Stopped using it because it was affecting my sleeping patterns (which are already a little messed up).

Extent of Kindle 3 experience: 1 hour with the device, 5-6 pages of notes, lots of time reading user guide and forums and product page. Lots of Kindle 2 experience.  

Kindle 3, iPad – the reading experience

Kindle 3 screen was just like the Kindle 2 screen with better screen contrast and sharper fonts. Compared with the Kindle 2 it felt like it was more than a 50% screen contrast improvement. It’s so light weight that reading will be even easier. Buttons are placed in a way that makes one-handed reading more convenient.

It’s going to be significantly better than the Kindle 2 for reading.

iPad screen is stunning. Having the light lets you read in bed. It did start affecting my sleep so cut out night-time reading. After that there was never a situation where it was preferable over Kindle 2. Then Kindle DX 2 arrived and it was the clear #1 choice. The eInk Pearl screen is just amazing.

Kindle 3, iPad – It’s not a competition

It’s easy to see the $139 Kindle WiFi and $499 iPad WiFi co-existing. It’s hard to subscribe to the theory of –  Get an iPad because it can do more than just read. It’s better to think of it as – If you have the iPad and read a book a month you don’t really need a Kindle. If you read once a week it’s not much to spend $139 on a Kindle WiFi. It’ll be well worth it.

There really shouldn’t be a situation where you have to choose between the two – At $259 for Kindle 2 and $499 for iPad WiFi you can understand someone taking time over which to get. Now, you can either get a 3G iPad for $629 or for $639 ($10 more) you can get iPad WiFi and Kindle WiFi. So maybe AT&T doesn’t get to steal your money – Is that such a bad thing?

Kindle 3 will be MUCH better than iPad for reading during the day, anytime you have lights on, and in sunlight (direct or indirect). iPad will be readable at night. It might also end up being the one device you carry everywhere and you can read on it on the go.

LCD is just as good as eInk is a fallacy. Yes, there is 5% to 10% of the population that isn’t affected. The rest of us are human.

Kindle 3, iPad thoughts – thoughts on Kindle 3 and iPad

Kindle 3 really is Kindle 3.0. It’s beautiful. It’s light – it feels super-light compared to the Kindle 2. Thinner and more compact. $189 for Kindle 3, $139 for Kindle WiFi. 

iPad isn’t really a Kindle Killer. It’s beautiful. It’s too heavy. Having the light at night is so good. It has a good feel to it – it’s a little too big. $499 is expensive. The battery life is stunning for a color screen device.

The Screen (of the Kindle 3). The price is ridiculous (meant this more for the WiFi – it had become obvious when Kindle 2 went out of stock that Kindle 3 would be $189).

The Screen is amazing (for the iPad). It’s cheap for an Apple product. That’s strange – any other company and would have felt ripped off paying $499 for a no-purpose device.

It’s easily the best eReader available (the Kindle 3).

It’s a decent eReader. It’s useful – with the iPad you always feel like the right apps for it haven’t been invented yet. Perhaps a wall painting app or an app that lets you use the iPad as your interface to everything in the real world.  

More words per page. Screen looks oversized since Kindle 3 is so small. Feels much lighter than 8.7 ounces. PDF support is great – notes and highlights are really important. The Lighted Cover is Amazing (in conjunction with quiet page turn buttons it probably solves the reading at night problem for most people).

With the iPad you don’t need the Kindle if your reading is in between other things. If you snack on reading in 10 minute spurts or half an hour at night a few nights a week then you really don’t need Kindle 3. Stick with the iPad.

Thoughts on Kindle 3 after a few days of contemplation

When first saw the Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 side by side thought – the difference is stunning. There’s no comparison.

That feeling is still there. Now, we know around 40% to 50% of the Kindle 3’s improvements are software and should eventually make their way to the Kindle 2. However, the eInk Pearl Screen and graphite case make too much of a difference.

  • Like the Kindle 2 form factor MUCH more than Kindle DX 2 and still prefer reading on Kindle DX 2 because of eInk Pearl and the graphite case.
  • Felt Kindle 3 in graphite didn’t look as good as it would in white and still got kindle graphite for the case.

For reading the combination of eInk Pearl and the graphite case blows away everything else. For iPad we’ll have to see how Retina Display looks on iPad. That’s still 4 months away.

Kindle 3, iPad – Concluding Thoughts

Get an iPad if one or more of the following apply –

  1. You read in short spurts of 10-20 minutes. 
  2. You read around a book a month or less.
  3. You read mostly at night and would prefer not to use a reading light.
  4. You want a device that lets you read and also lets you surf the Internet and play games and watch TV shows.
  5. You are unaffected by LCD screens.

Get the Kindle 3 or a Kindle WiFi if one or more of the following apply –

  1. You read a lot.  
  2. You’d like to read more and waste less time on TV and random Internet surfing.
  3. You don’t like reading on LCDs.
  4. You tend to get distracted and would like something that will let you focus on reading.
  5. You like reading on eInk Pearl (check out the videos at the Kindle DX 2 video page for what eInk Pearl looks like).

The biggest benefit of the Kindle 3 is that you’ll read more. If you like/love to read and wish you could read more the Kindle 3 is it.  

Kindle 3 and iPad result in different things

You have to assess what impact devices have on you.

With the iPad my time was going into playing Chess (which doesn’t even interest me) and reading books at 3 am and playing random games. It was good for reading at night and it was also good for finding other things to do and staying up way too late.

With the Kindle there is reading late into the night but it’s always reading. It’s a different feeling – read that book till 1 am is pretty different from played that game for 4 hours. Reading never really feels like it is a waste. Also, there’s no backlight blasting into your eyes so it doesn’t get tiring or mess up your brain’s sense of what time it is.

The iPad is beautiful for what it is – but it isn’t exactly clear yet. People have figured out how to entertain themselves with it and how to waste time with it. However, we haven’t yet found the perfect application to make it useful (as opposed to cool or trendy or the membership badge for an elite secret society). Hate to say it but that application might be FaceTime (when iPad 2 gets a camera).

Kindle 3, on the other hand, is a device that has found what it’s meant for and it’s evolving more and more towards it. It’s still stunning to see the eInk Pearl screen next to paper and realise we are just a couple of generations away from actually replacing paper.

The third generation of eReaders (Kindle 3, Nook 2, the new Sony Reader) are going to change how we think of eReaders. More importantly, they are going to change how non-readers think of eReaders.

If you want to read, or you want to read more, then a dedicated eReader device with eInk Pearl, such as the Kindle 3 or the Kindle WiFi, is it. At $139 for the Kindle WiFi there really isn’t any good reason not to get it. Perhaps you don’t like it – sell it for $120 or return it within the 30 day return period.

Kindle is iPad for those who use their imaginations

This comment about the Kindle and the iPad from Danny is so hilarious (and perhaps true) it’s worth highlighting –

I call a Kindle an iPad for those who use their imaginations.

It seems that the only books worth reading on the iPad are the ones that are animated… and not too long.

Amazon should adopt it as their new marketing slogan.

Danny comments at NewsWeek’s rather bland ‘press release pretending to be an article’ article titled Why the iPad hasn’t killed the Kindle. The only thing exciting about the article is its title.  One thing it does reveal is that Amazon’s ‘Kindle sales growth rate has tripled’ press release did convince people the Kindle isn’t dying out.

Let’s get back to our comment.

Is the Kindle really iPad for people who use their imaginations?

Well, there are a few things that are pretty clear about the iPad –

  1. iPad is a device meant for consumption.  
  2. iPad is focused on games and video and TV and surfing and entertainment.
  3. One of the few things involving imagination on the iPad is reading and the iPad, contrary to claims, isn’t exactly tailored to encourage long-form reading. So, most people won’t be reading on the iPad, and the ones who do won’t be reading as much as they would on a dedicated ebook reader.
  4. Steve Jobs has put a lot of focus on Winnie the Pooh and reading in color. Perhaps he feels that’s what reading is about.
  5. iPad isn’t very good for creating things or doing things yourself. It’s tailored towards ‘consumption’ type activities and relatively mindless apps – You could argue that it almost encourages people to not think too much.

There just aren’t that many things involving imagination on the iPad. You could point to the 6,000 or 10,000 iPad specific apps or the 200,000 iPhone apps – However, there are very few that have to do with people using their imaginations. Most are relatively mindless. They are basically apps that let people pass the time without having to exercise their minds too much (or to be precise – at all). Someone else has already done the imagining and iPad owners just sit back and watch as spectators.

There’s obviously great demand for a device that lets people turn off their brains – There have been 3.3 million iPads sold.

However, it doesn’t really seem like those people are exercising their imaginations. They just seem to be giving their imaginations and their minds a break – No?

Playing Devil’s Advocate

Perhaps the iPad does exercise the imagination.

What are some things that are relatively positive (in terms of exercising users’ imaginations)?

Reading, word games (perhaps), a few interesting puzzle games. Perhaps Games do. You could make a case for comics. There’s always reading on Wikipedia – though that’s factual and not necessary what we’re looking for. Surfing might be good if you’re reading lots of intelligent posts and articles. News probably isn’t very imagination-positive.

You know what – it’s not that easy.

It takes too much imagination to imagine the iPad as being good for the imagination

My head’s beginning to hurt a little bit from trying to put a positive spin on all the apps on the iPad that have been wasting my time and all the things that are wasting people’s time.

It’s hard to argue that games are exercising the imagination – However, people who makes games and those in love with gaming will argue voraciously. All they do is try to get you addicted so you’ll buy the paid version or buy add-ons.

The gold standard of the App Store is currently Angry Birds and whatever part of the imagination it’s exercising is lost on me. You could really stretch it and claim that it’s teaching physics and angles – but it’s nothing 5 to 10 minutes of reading a geometry textbook won’t teach you. And that game has 137 levels – People are spending tens of hours on it.

There aren’t really that many education apps and the book apps are pretty humdrum – a lot of the Top 100 book apps are comics and who knows how comics compare with books when it comes to using our imaginations. Comics may or may not be good for the imagination.

What about productivity apps – Well, how much imagination could making a ToDo list take? Not sure many people use a To Do list on their iPad. You have to imagine it would be a rather unique ToDo list –

To Do:

Watch YouTube – Brain expanding video on cats jumping into walls.
Check Facebook – Exercise Imagination on how to make my boring day into an exciting status update.
Play Exciting New Game – Master geometry by throwing birds into pigs and blowing them up.
Watch Jersey Shore – Expand social skills and learn how to fist pump like a champ.
Farm on Farmville for iPad – OMG. Now I can farm from bed and harvest my crops every 4 hours without having to turn on the lights.

It’s hard to play devil’s advocate because everyone talks about using the iPad as a living room computer to read email and to check Facebook. They talk about watching YouTube videos and TV shows and reading the news. None of those things seem particularly imaginative.

Even if they read a book a month they’re spending 10 to 20 times that amount of time on non-imaginative things. With the Kindle most of their free time would go into books.

It almost seems like a dichotomy – What people say the iPad’s good uses are; What people actually use it for. The argument will be – Just because people aren’t using it for things that exercise their imagination doesn’t mean it’s not good for the imagination. However, the question is not what’s possible with the iPad. The real question is –

What things does the iPad encourage users to do? Is the iPad causing people to use their imagination more or less?

The answer to that is pretty clear. iPad specializes in video, TV, games, entertainment, and none of those is exercising anyone’s imagination. Which brings us back to Danny’s comment –

I call a Kindle an iPad for those who use their imaginations.

It’s pretty true and you could probably add ‘those who want to read more books’, ‘those who want to become smarter’, and a few other things to that list.