The device will now come in two colors -- white and graphite -- and prices start at just $139 for the wireless-only version. (The WiFi and 3G version is still $189). This is a dramatic price cut for a device that cost $259 just a few months ago.
The new Kindle ships August 27.
Other changes: a smaller size (with the same 6-inch reading area), lighter weight of 8.5 oz, better contrast and an astounding one-month battery life. No word on whether the lag time between "pages," my one major issue with the Kindle 2, has been improved, however.*
Critics might ask why the web browser is still described as "experimental" or why they're not interested in accommodating or developing multimedia e-books, but I think Bezos is right to focus on building the best reading device he can instead of trying to compete with devices like the iPad.
Perhaps I need to forget about the iPod Touch I'd been saving for and get a Kindle of my own? Then again, the advances in e-readers are coming so hot and fast that it might be worth my while to hold out for $99 or less.
Anyone tempted to finally take the plunge and buy the new Kindle?
*ETA: Publisher's Lunch mentions "20 percent faster page turns" but I haven't seen this noted elsewhere.
The eight-hour miniseries of Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth starts tonight on Starz at 10 p.m. EST, and you can also now download Penguin's nifty "Amplified Edition" of the novel for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Buy it for $12.99 through the App Store.
Here's a video explaining what to expect from the amplified edition, which includes video footage blended into the eBook, an interactive character tree, Follett's "multimedia diary" and more:
Will you be watching The Pillars of the Earth on TV tonight, or downloading the amplified edition? Is contextual video an exciting advantage of eBooks, or does it distract from the text?
Digression: I am admittedly old school when it comes to reading, and here I can't help but think of Newbery winner Laura Amy Schlitz's comment to me in March about why her students enjoy reading: they say, "I like it when I make the pictures up in my head. I like to see the pictures in my head." Is some of that participation lost when you're being fed video of what the characters look like?
In other Follett news, are you excited about the author's newest book, the 1,000-page Fall of Giants, out Sept. 28? (When we posted about the book back in April, some of you were turned off by the $36 price tag.)
According to an I-Play press release,
In Agatha Christie 4:50 from Paddington, fans step right into the story as they travel the English countryside and witness a frightful murder through the window of a passing train. With little evidence, players must team up with expert sleuth Miss Marple to investigate an English country estate, uncover critical evidence in London, and solve perplexing puzzles in Paris to find out what happened that fateful night. The game features all-new mini-games, hours of original hidden object and light adventure fun, and new game play modes including the Find All mode, challenging even the most advanced sleuths.
You tell me: Will you download a game to solve a mystery with Miss Marple? For a preview, watch this forboding game trailer:
If you've got some time to kill online, or you'd like to join an interesting conversation about the impact of books, follow the "books that changed my life" thread on Twitter. (I'd say, at this moment, people are responding via Twitter at a a rate of about 5 tweets a minute.)
All you have to do is click here and read the tweets, all marked with the #booksthatchangedmylife hashtag. (And, if you have a twitter page, tweet your own response!)
Publishers, book bloggers and readers everywhere are getting into it, and answers range from classic novels to reference texts to picture books.
If you're not into tweeting, feel free to leave your answer in the comments right here on The Book Case.
Update: #booksthatchangedmyworld is also a popular topic on Twitter.
Though I agree that it represents a somewhat creepy invasion of privacy, I can't stop reading Amazon's new list of what readers are highlighting on their Kindles. The Amazon e-book device allows readers to highlight a passage in a book simply by dragging a cursor across it, and somehow (we don't really want to know how, do we?) Amazon is tracking these selections and reporting them to the whole wide world.
At Amazon.com, one list displays the Most Highlighted Passages of All Time, with "all time" presumably referring to the two and a half years since the Kindle was introduced. A second list aims to identify what's trendy by reporting Recently Heavily Highlighted Passages. The current number one on the "all-time" list is this passage from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: "Those three things—autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying." Why did this passage hit home for 1,742 Kindle users? Are they unhappy in their jobs? Searching for fulfillment? Mad at their boss? I also couldn't help but notice that the dominant book on the all-time list is The Shack, with SIX of the top 10 passages. Here's a sampler of what readers choose to highlight from William P. Young's allegorical Christian novel: "Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception—what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too." Hmm. Perhaps they were highlighting that passage so they could figure out what it means?
My personal favorite passage is this one from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which has been highlighted by 581 Kindle users (so far): “Is it so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun, to have lived light in the spring, to have loved, to have thought, to have done, to have advanced true friends?” It's a lovely sentence and one that I might have marked myself.
Do you highlight passages in books as you read them? And what do you think of Amazon's new effort to track and report what readers are doing on their Kindles?
Publishers are always looking for innovative ways to promote books, and it seems that Sarah Mlynowski has found a winning idea to spread the word about Gimme a Call, a teen novel about a high school senior whose phone can only call her freshman self.
First, Mlynowski tweeted, Ever wonder what YA authors would tell their high school selves? (If they had magic cell phones that could call the past?) #gimmeacall.
And over the next few days she posted follow-up tweets ("What @sarazarr would tell her high school self: You are NOT FAT. You will be, but you're not now, so enjoy it. #gimmeacall") and the concept went viral. In the last week, Mlynowski has contributed essays to the Huffington Post and Publisher's Weekly about the #gimmeacall phenomenon, and today—the book's pub date—the trend is still going strong. (Just search #gimmeacall on Twitter.)
I became familiar with Gimme a Call when Emily Booth Masters gave it a great review in BookPage, writing:
Sarah Mlynowski’s Gimme a Call is chick lit for teens, but the focus on a very pertinent life lesson makes it more than just a fun read. Readers will think about their own past mistakes in a new light as they see what can happen when the present is informed by the future.
I don't watch a lot of late-night talk shows, but last night I flipped to the Late Show just as David Letterman was making fun of the Kindle—more specifically, joking about how the iPad will run Kindle out of business. During his monologue, Letterman ran a "commercial" about all the great things you can do with your Kindle. . . besides reading.
His suggestions (to watch the complete segment, view this YouTube clip; the commercial start around 3:10):
Of course, at BookPage, we've already made our thoughts known concerning Kindle vs. iPad. (If you missed Lynn's report, check it out here.) What do you think. . . is Dave right, and Kindle's on the outs?
My new iPad was delivered bright and early Saturday morning -- part of the nationwide synchronized rollout of Apple's latest device -- and the UPS delivery lady seemed almost as happy about it as I was. "This is better than payday!" she told me. "Everybody is so excited to be getting these."
In the two days since the delivery, I've found a lot to love about the iPad, but for Book Case readers I want to concentrate on my reaction to the iPad as a reader and booklover. I'll frame my reactions with comparisons to the Kindle, which has dominated the market for e-readers until this weekend.
The iPad is super-thin, beautifully designed, lightweight (1.5 pound) and easy to use. It looks and functions almost exactly like an iPhone or iPod touch, so if you're familiar with either of those devices you'll know what to expect. The screen is strikingly sharp, the colors gorgeous and the battery life amazing. The iPad arrived at my house fully charged and the battery was still going strong after an entire day of steady use. The glare on the screen is considerable, however, and because of its 7.5 inch width, holding it like a book can feel a bit clumsy at first.
The Kindle is lighter (10 oz.) than the iPad, uses e-ink rather than a backlit screen and has push button controls rather than a touch system. The screen display is black and white only (or, as some users have described it, gray on gray) -- a sharp contrast to the vivid colors of the iPad. Though the Kindle might have the edge in being easy on the eyes for hours of nonstop reading, in every other category, the iPad is a better designed, more functional device. And in addition to reading, the iPad allows users to access the Internet, read email, watch TV shows or movies, and run thousands of specially designed mini-programs (apps). Whether you consider that a plus, or an intrusion on your time for reading books, is up to you.
THE IPAD vs. KINDLE VERDICT: iPad wins this round
The iPad uses a new e-reader program called iBooks. I loved it almost from the first moment I tried it out while reading a beautifully illustrated edition of Winnie the Pooh (which comes free with every new iPad). Each page is clearly defined on the screen, whether you're using the iPad in landscape or portrait mode. And when the reader turns the page -- by dragging a finger across the page from right to left -- the page appears to curl from the edge and turn, exactly as it would on a real book. It's hard to say why this visual trick is so enticing for a booklover, but it works. Other nice features: tap on any word and you can instantly look it up at dictionary.com, bookmark it or search for it elsewhere in the text. And increasing the font size or style is one-click easy, a big help for older readers who aren't quite ready for large print books. The iPad is also especially well suited for children's books and is sure to be a hit with young readers. Children's books have been among the top ranked reading apps for the iPhone and that's likely to continue with the iPad.
VERDICT: iPad wins again
Apple has the goods -- a cool new e-reader and appealing software -- but at least for now, it does NOT have the books. Especially not a wide selection of books that would appeal to an eclectic reader like me. The very first book I wanted to buy was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which my book club is reading this month. Though I have a hard copy of the book on hand, I thought it would be interesting to compare the experience of reading the same book on the iPad and in traditional printed format. But, darn, Apple doesn't have this acclaimed book available in its iTunes store, because Random House hasn't reached a deal with Apple yet. What to do? I went back to the iTunes store and downloaded the brand new (free) Kindle app for the iPad, which enables me to read Amazon's Kindle books on my Apple device. Then I went to Amazon.com on my browser, found the book almost immediately and downloaded it to my iPad. Amazon has the shopping experience for books down to a science, while the iTunes store seems constrained, hard to browse and to search. The experience of reading Kindle books on an iPad isn't ideal -- for one thing you don't get the advantages of the iBooks software -- but for now it gives users the best of both worlds: the vast book selection of Amazon paired with Apple's sleek new device.
VERDICT: Amazon/Kindle, hands down
Which of these devices would be best for you depends on several factors, most notably whether you want a gadget only for reading books and periodicals or whether you'd prefer to have other capabilities.
Also, I have to admit that while I love my new iPad, I ultimately put it down and picked up a hard copy of The Book Thief to finish my reading. After several hours of reading on the iPad, I'll readily admit that I yearned to pick up an old-fashioned book and hold it in my hands, a posture that's so ingrained in a long-time reader it's probably been incorporated into our DNA. After all is said and done (and read), a book is still the most portable, most readable and most satisfying "reading device" of all.
There sure are a lot of book jackets in the news this week (see an earlier post on the jacket for Jonathan Franzen's Freedom).
In July, Bloomsbury UK will release seven new covers for the Harry Potter books in an effort to draw new readers; profits are down 35% at the company, in part because it's been a year without a Potter release. Chief executive Nigel Newton envisions this project as "a new look for a new generation of readers who did not grow up with the Harry Potter series coming out book by book." (As a side note, do you have a favorite Potter cover? This isn't a very creative answer, but I will always love the Mary GrandPré editions.)
And yesterday, there was an interesting story in the New York Times about a problem with e-books: people can't see the book jacket when you're reading in a public place, which in the past has been free advertising for publishers (not to mention a means for self-expression). Here's an excerpt:
“There’s something about having a beautiful book that looks intellectually weighty and yummy,” said Ms. Wiles [a reader interviewed for the story], who recalled that when she was rereading “Anna Karenina” recently, she liked that people could see the cover on the subway. “You feel kind of proud to be reading it.” With a Kindle or Nook, she said, “people would never know.”
When was the last time you read a book based on a cover you saw in a public place? The NYT article mentions Chris Cleave's Little Bee as book with an appealing jacket—which is funny, since last week I picked it up in a bookstore because the cover is so striking.
What posts on book blogs did you enjoy reading this week? A few of my picks are below...
John Warner Tells You What to Read Next
Posted by John Williams on The Second Pass's blog
If you haven't been following the Tournament of Books closely, this post is a good point at which to jump in. Over at online lit publication The Second Pass's blog, John Williams highlights some commentary from the Quarterfinal round, in which Wolf Hall faced off against The Anthologist. The post will make you think about how and why we choose what we read:
The last two books I finished were Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask and Next by James Hynes. I read those because I loved their previous books. Their current ones delivered much the same pleasures as their last efforts. They were every bit as good as I hoped and expected, but I’d already tasted those flavors. Should I be forcing myself to be a bit more adventurous, to turn toward the unexplored territory, to occasionally pick pistachio over mint chocolate chip at Baskin-Robbins?
Okay, so maybe it's a little weird that I'm linking to a post about coloring books, but bear with me. The Taro Gomi coloring books (and books by other artists) that this blogger writes about on Nosuch Book are way more inventive and fun than the generic princess books I used when I was a kid. And even if you don't know a little one who'd be entranced by these doodles, adults are getting in on the action, too: "Playfulness returns with the bright sun and warm breezes of spring. With lots of reminders everywhere to not forget how to be a kid. Want to color with me?"
Books Podcast #70: Books for the Plane Ride
Posted by Books on the Nightstand
Going on a trip any time soon? Michael and Ann at Books on the Nightstand chat about what makes a great airplane book, and agree that a thriller is the best way to pass time on a long flight. What is your favorite airplane book? Share your picks on their blog (and here, too!).