I am, in certain circles, a well-known Kindle hater. I can’t help it, I’m obsessed with how much I don’t like the entire concept of this device. And now they’re going and making it worse with the absurd idea of an iPhone application.
It’s nothing against Amazon, a perfectly fine company (shipping fees notwithstanding). And it’s nothing against Jeff Bezos, who had an amusing enough turn on “The Daily Show” to plug the Kindle’s latest incarnation last week. And it’s certainly nothing against gadget geeks who love this product, the Editor-in-Chief of Media Bullseye included. I just love me some books. Any threat to biblio-dominance just makes me weary, nervous, and concerned for America–someone, please, think of the children! It’s bad enough that surveys show college kids are more likely to read Tucker (expletive deleted) Max than Allen Ginsberg. Something tells me the Kindle won’t really solve that issue.
Yet I had to admit, during a recent spirited debate with a Kindle-loving friend, that as an interesting gadget, the Kindle is most certainly top-notch. Its battery can run for ages without faltering, the screen (from all accounts I’ve read, I’ve not yet gotten to play with one in person) really is “page-like” and easy to read without eye strain, and its storage capacity is just about jaw dropping. To say nothing of the fact that you can actually read this thing outside, something that drives me batty every time I get a text at the beach (more on this later). As a gadget lover, I’m pretty much completely sold, if a bit wary of the big price tag.
Which is why I was totally flummoxed by last week’s announcement of an iPhone application for the Kindle. I wanted to add it to my running “Seriously?” compilation of head-scratching technology and social media inanery, but then I decided it warranted its own column. I’m becoming like one of those crazy Internet people who hate something so much that they decide to dedicate their lives to it, apparently.
But really, what’s the benefit of the Kindle on iPhones? iPhones, wonderful gadgets themselves (and also gadgets that I, of course, do not own) (why, bank account, why?), are sadly ill-equipped for book reading. The screen is small, the eye strain involved would be monumental, and the batteries can’t handle more than a couple hours of reading. Then there’s the whole “outdoor reading” issue that I brought up earlier, not possible on the super shiny (soooo prettty) iPhone screen. To say nothing of the fact that the Kindle app doesn’t actually allow you to either a) purchase books directly, or b) browse blogs, magazines and newspapers. Wait, what? Does that not make sense to anyone, or is it just me?
The only thing I can think of is that this is all part of some elaborate (or really, not that elaborate, if you think about it) marketing plan directed at iPhone users who do not yet have a Kindle. After downloading the application, getting excited for a day or two at the thought of reading books on the go, then realizing that reading on the iPhone isn’t really that great….won’t they be more likely to order a Kindle?
Even Amazon’s CFO Tom Szkutak admits that this is really meant more to be a “companion” application for those who already own both–which means the non-Kindle owners will probably be feeling like that kid on the playground who got a taste of drugs for free…the first time.
One more arrow in my quiver full of Kindle animosity…but I must give a Stephen Colbert-style “Tip of the Hat” (with a simultaneous “Wag of the Finger”) to the folks behind this somewhat genius, somewhat evil, somewhat evil genius plan.
Sarah Wurrey is a public affairs professional in Washington, DC. She is the former managing editor of Media Bullseye and a co-blogger at Blogstring.com, where she co-hosts the sporadic Blogstring podcast. She can also be found at her personal blog and on Twitter at twitter.com/sarahwurrey.