Kindle E-Book Reader From Amazon

The Kindle e-Book reader will be unveiled Monday by The device is said to be geared toward "road warrirors" and business travelers.

(Amazon Kindle e-Book reader)

The e-book reader has been around in various forms (some of them pretty cool) for years. Take a look at the Toshiba SD-Book: An E-Book With Two Pages, the Sony LIBRIe E-Ink Electronic Book and the very stylish Sony Reader Electronic Paper Book.

The Kindle e-book reader will have a headphone jack, for those who prefer to have books read to them. It will also have Wi-Fi connectivity (for direct download from Amazon). has also reportedly made deals with as many as 100 newspaper publishers; these publications will also be available for daily downloads.

The final price is expected to be about $399.

Many people are wondering whether it will be possible to hack the Kindle; that is, will you be able to convert other formats to run on the Kindle? Jerry Pournelle opines:

The Kindle reads only a few formats: Kindle (.awz), text (.txt), and non-DRM Mobi (.mobi, .prc). It will also read mp3 and (.aa) sound files. You can pay Amazon a nominal fee to convert .doc, .pdf, and other format files to Kindle but it won't read them natively. This is nuts: no one wants to send important documents off to Amazon to be converted.

MobiPocket DRM'd books are perhaps the most successful ebook format, and Amazon sells MobiPocket ebooks. I've not heard what will happen to those. Will Amazon convert them for Kindle buyers? Otherwise the early adopters who bought DRM'd MobiPocket Books are just out of luck. On the other hand, many ebooks including both free and sold Baen ebooks should be readable on the Kindle without conversion.

Of course, as Robert Bruce Thompson points out, it won't be long before the user community hacks the conversion software, and converters will be offered free all over the net. That means that any pirated book can - and thus will - be converted into Kindle format and made available universally; and since Amazon is charging ten bucks for a new book encumbered with Digital Rights Management software, the incentive to use the pirate services rather than buy the book may well overcome the ethical inhibitions of many.
(Via Computing At Chaos Manor)

The earliest reference to the e-book reader concept that I know about is the opton from Stanislaw Lem's Return from the Stars, a prescient 1961 novel.

I spent the afternoon in a bookstore. There were no books in it. None had been printed for nearly half a century. And how I have looked forward to them, after the micro films that made up the library of the Prometheus! No such luck. No longer was it possible to browse among shelves, to weigh volumes in hand, to feel their heft, the promise of ponderous reading. The bookstore resembled, instead, an electronic laboratory. The books were crystals with recorded contents. They can be read the aid of an opton, which was similar to a book but had only one page between the covers. At a touch, successive pages of the text appeared on it...
(Read more about the opton e-book reader)

Via Amazon to debut Kindle e-book reader.

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