Amazon debuted Kindle, their newest entry into the electronic book reader market on Monday, at that means the reviews of people who actually paid for the thing are starting to be posted. (There are lots of reviews on the device's page at Amazon, but the positives mostly come from hand picked testers and the negatives from people who don't have one. So, pretty much useless, in my opinion.)
One of the first real customer reviews to show up on a Google blog search came from XML Aficionado. I appreciate that that blogger isn't taking part in the Amazon kick-back program, that involved embedding an icon on your blog that if used to click through to the Kindle order page and a device is actually ordered, the source blog page gets a $40 Amazon credit. Just 10 clicks and your Kindle has paid for itself! SmugBlog also has a review, although that blogger admits to spending more time using it to look for books rather than reading one, which they finally get around to at the end of the day.
Another positive review from Robert Love, someone who didn't expect to like it as much as he did. He points out something I've been wondering about, though. If this is primarily a reading device, why is the keyboard so big? I get the need for an alpha interface, it is easier to search through what's on the device if you can type in a word rather than scroll everything. But I suspect that the real purpose of that keyboard is to encourage shopping, surfing, and whatever else Amazon will make money off of beyond the purchase of the books.
That brings us to price. Yep, $400 is expensive for almost anyone who isn't a gadget geek or someone who already favors digital readers. I don't think they'll convert many conventional readers at that price. The $9.99 per book price is great, if they have want you want. About 75% of the books I read I get for free (okay, I get them for paying property taxes) from the local library. And their collection goes light years beyond Amazons. I doubt that is going to change in my life time (despite Google's plan to put every written word online).
I'd say the Kindle (and that is a strange name - kindling, right?) is a step towards the day fewer books are printed because more are being bought digitally, but it's a small step. It's not going to change how most people read.