Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Skinny on the Kindle, interview 1

I stopped by a local coffee shop this morning on my way to work, and imposed on a group of three high school students who were studying for an exam.

I took a minute of their time to ask them about their reading preferences and how the Kindle might affect their reading. I asked "How much do you read now and how might this (pointing to Kindle) affect your reading?"

The answers were not in the positive. One student said that he only reads what is required for school, and if there were a book that he wanted to read, he would simply go buy a copy. I answered, "Amazon is betting that you may want to buy an electronic copy (again pointing at the Kindle on the table)..."

He and his fellow students nodded their head in disagreement. "You have to turn that off on the plane during takeoff" remarked one young lady.

My 60 seconds were up at that point, and I excused myself. What did I learn from this encounter? First, we need to ask our users about their technology preferences before assuming anything. Second, none of the three high schoolers asked to pick up the Kindle and look at it (their exam was weighing heavily on their minds, true enough). Third, these students stood up for print format books. Print is not dead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, Nathan! Long time no talk. It's interesting that you're talking about the Kindle. I blogged about it a while back. I'm curious to know what your overall final thoughts are. Here's what I wrote with my opinion (some of the things I would like may already be available -- I haven't actually used one):

I am an avid book and magazine reader. I love the idea of a good e-book reader, and look forward to getting one. But here's what I feel are MUST HAVES before even considering a purchase:

--A rental service. There absolutely must be a rental service. If Napster and Yahoo can do it with music, then Amazon can do it with books. I will not invest in a $300 product (or even a $200 product) unless I can rent books, magazines and newspapers. I'd gladly pay a $14.95 or $19.95 a month fee for unlimited downloads. But otherwise, no way. I read way too much. I could buy 20-25 hardcovers or 40+ paperbacks for the price of a Kindle. Or, for the price of $0, I can check out books from my library.

--I'm in complete agreement with Outlook and Adobe PDF compatibility.

--Colors would be nice

--The flaws people are mentioning (bad placement of buttons, bad carrying case, etc.) must be fixed.

--Is there a highlighter feature? Or an "Control-F" feature for keyword searching within a document?

--I heard lots about the easy-to-read screen with no glare. But I didn't catch if there was a backlight for reading in the dark. (Can someone answer that?)

--I'm not so concerned about the MP3 capabilities. I would like an RSS reader on it, though (for the blogs that I like to read each day).

It's an amazing product. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be a negative about it. But I'm so frustrated with technology these days. Last year I spent $250 on an MP3 player that is ergonomically frustrating, very buggy and doesn't seem to be worth the money. Same thing happened with my laptop -- it's only 15 months old, and already it feels like it's so slow, clunky and antiquated.

I think I'll wait a year or two for the upgrade version to come out.

Take care! Hope all is well (and that Lisa is taking good care of you!) ~Maria (PQ)