Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle - Linux

This is a discussion on Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle - Linux ; **Introduction** This is a short review of the [Amazon Kindle][1], an interesting eBook reader. The Kindle runs Linux, so may be of some interest to readers of COLA. The Kindle may be used with a wide variety of free eBooks, ...

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  1. Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle


    **Introduction**

    This is a short review of the [Amazon Kindle][1], an interesting eBook
    reader. The Kindle runs Linux, so may be of some interest to readers of
    COLA.

    The Kindle may be used with a wide variety of free eBooks, non-free
    eBooks that do not have DRM, and non-free eBooks that do have DRM. For
    the convenience of those who wish to avoid all DRM, the first part of
    this review will only consider the Kindle for use with non-DRM eBooks.

    That will be followed by a look at the Kindle offerings that do have
    DRM.

    **Form Factor, Display, and Battery Life**

    The Kindleıs form factor was designed for reading. The screen is about
    the size of a paperback book page. The device overall is about the size
    and shape of a big, but not too thick, paperback book, or a small
    hardback book. The weight is comparable to that of a book.

    When you look at the pictures of the Kindle, it looks like it would be
    awkward to use, especially because of the keyboard on the bottom. You
    might think it would be hard to hold without accidently pressing those
    keys, causing all kinds of havoc.

    Fortunately, that is not a problem, because (1) those keys require a
    fair amount of force to press, and (2) most of them donıt do anything
    during ordinary reading anyway, so it would not matter if you pressed
    one.

    The large ³next page² button on the right side of the device causes
    problems for some people, as it is very easy to hit. On the other hand,
    that can be quite convenient. For example, if you were reading in bed,
    tightly wrapped in a comfy warm blanket, holding the Kindle through the
    blanket, it would be easy to tap ³next page² with your blanket-ensconced
    right hand.

    Based on my rather small sample of two Kindle owners, plus what Iıve
    read from others on forums, most quickly adapt, and find holding and
    operating the device quite convenient and easy and comfortable.

    The Kindleıs screen is not an LCD. It is an [electrophoretic][2]
    display. An electric field is used to rearrange charged pigments. What
    does this mean to the user? It means that it is basically ink. It looks
    and acts like ink on paper. You can read it in pretty much any light
    where youıd be able to read a newspaper. Aesthetically, the ³paper² is a
    little darker and greyer than Iıd choose if I were choosing paper, but I
    got used to it easily.

    This kind of display consumes almost no power when displaying an image.
    It is only the act of changing the image (such as when you change pages)
    that uses noticeable power. Accordingly, dedicated eBook readers usually
    use very little power. The Kindle, if you have its wireless connection
    turned off, should last a week for reading between charges.

    This display technology is slower than LCD technology. It takes a couple
    hundred milliseconds for it to draw a new screen. When you change pages,
    the whole page goes black briefly as the ³ink² rearranges for the new
    page. A few people find this disconcerting, but most seem to quickly get
    used to it.

    **Content Without DRM**

    You can load non-DRM content onto your Kindle in two (maybe three) ways.

    First, you can hook the Kindle up to your computer via USB. The Kindle
    shows up as a drive, and you copy files to the ³Documents² directory.
    (There are also directories for MP3 files and audiobooks, but Iım only
    going to review the Kindle for eBooks, so no more shall be said about
    those directories in this review).

    You can load documents this way in these formats: plain text, Mobi, and
    Amazonıs own Kindle format.

    Second, you can email your documents to a magic email address at Amazon.
    Amazon converts the documents to Kindle format, and sends them
    wirelessly to your Kindle. This costs you $0.10 per document. This
    method handles Microsoft Word documents, HTML documents, and images in
    JPEG, GIF, PNG, or BMP. It also handles PDF, but that is considered to
    be experimental.

    Amazon also provides a second magic email address you can use to convert
    documents. Instead of being wirelessly sent to your Kindle (and costing
    you $0.10), the converted documents are mailed back to you, in Amazon
    Kindle format, for you to copy to your Kindle over USB.

    Finally, the Kindle supports backing up documents to an SD memory card.
    I would guess that you could use an SD memory card reader/writer on your
    computer and load documents onto your SD card, but I have not tried
    this.

    There are a large number of free eBooks available in plain text. A good
    source is [Project Gutenberg][3]. A large number of free books in Mobi
    format are available from [Feedbooks][4]. There are many non-free books
    without DRM available for purchase from [fictionwise][5] (they also have
    content with DRM, so read carefully before purchasing a given eBook!).
    These are just a few samples of where you can get eBook content without
    DRM, offered for illustration, not as a definitive or exhaustive list.

    **Kindle For Book Browsing**

    Those who are not interested in purchasing eBooks that use DRM might
    still find the Amazon Kindle store useful, to help when shopping for
    regular books. The Kindle has a wireless connection to the store. This
    connection is via Sprintıs data network, and Amazon pays for it.

    You can visit the store, either on your Kindle, or on your computer via
    the web, and see if the books you are interested in are available for
    Kindle. If they are, you can ask for a sample, and Amazon will send it
    wirelessly to your Kindle. The sample typically seems to be around the
    first 5% or so of the book. That will usually be enough to give you a
    good idea of whether or not you want the book.

    **Content With DRM**

    Now letıs consider the content that does have DRM. This falls into two
    classes: periodicals and books. Iıll consider these separately.

    Before starting the discussion of periodicals, though, let us review the
    big problems with buying content that has DRM.

    1. You cannot easily loan it to friends. One of lifeıs pleasures is
    telling a friend ³youıd love this book!² and handing them something
    cool, and being right about them loving it.

    2. You may lose some or all functionality if the company you bought
    it from goes out of business, or changes their product line.

    3. It may only work on some makes or models of device.

    When considering content that has DRM, the fundamental question you have
    to ask is whether or not there are factors that overcome, for you, the
    negatives.

    For example, I generally prefer music without DRM, and will purchase a
    CD and rip it myself in preference to buying music with DRM.
    Nevertheless, I have bought a small number of albums from the iTunes
    store. Why?

    Because they were obscure CDs I could not find from reasonable sources,
    and I have ways to overcome the negatives. My friends all have iPods, so
    I can easily share with them (#1). If Apple breaks iTunes, the old burn
    and rip method overcomes the loss of functionality risk (#2) and the
    device limits (#3). Thus, I have an out if the worst-case DRM scenario
    comes to pass with iTunes, and exercising that out will just be a minor
    nuisance, so I am willing to buy iTunes music if I canıt easily find
    those songs DRM-free.

    For books, I am not too worried about #1 because my circle of friends
    does not engage in a lot of book sharing. For example, one of us likes
    non-fiction books by people who have done undercover work against
    organized crime. The rest of us are not interested enough in that to
    want to read those books. However, we are interested enough to listen to
    his detailed report over lunch when he reads such a book, and we engage
    in vigorous and interesting discussion. Iım also not worried about #3,
    as it doesnıt really make sense for books. Iıll cover #2 in the
    following discussion.

    Now let us consider periodicals on the Kindle.

    **Newspapers and Magazines**

    Amazon offers a small number of magazines for Kindle, and they offer
    several newspapers. These are sold on a monthly subscription basis. You
    subscribe, and Amazon delivers your newspapers and magazines wirelessly.

    The Kindle editions of periodicals offer most of the content of the
    print versions. Newspapers wonıt have things like the comics, the
    classifieds, crossword puzzles, or ads. They might also have fewer
    photos, illustrations, and tables. Magazines are similar.

    They offer 14-day free trials for periodicals, so you can check out the
    ones that interest you before buying, to see if the Kindle edition
    leaves out anything you need. I am currently in my 14-day trials of one
    magazine (Newsweek) and three newspapers (The Seattle Times, The New
    York Times, and The Wall Street Journal).

    Prices are generally good for periodicals. Newsweek is $1.49/month, for
    example. Thatıs about 10% under the subscription price for the print
    edition. Iım basing that on the new subscription price on Newsweekıs
    site.

    For newspapers, The Seattle Times is $5.99/month, compared to
    $17.33/month for the print edition.

    The New York Times is $13.99/month, compared to almost $28/month for the
    print edition.

    The Wall Street Journal is $9.99/month. That one is higher than the
    print edition, which is $6.58/month.

    For periodicals, I have no problem with DRM. If I were to buy the print
    editions, theyıd end up in the recycling bin after a week or two anyway,
    so as long as my copies of newspapers and magazines work for a week or
    so after they are delivered, Iım satisfied.

    **Books with DRM**

    This brings us to books.

    The Kindle store at Amazon currently has over 119000 books, in a good
    range of categories. Prices are pretty good. Letıs look at a few
    examples to illustrate typical Kindle pricing.

    _The God Delusion_, by Richard Dawkins is available for Kindle for
    $8.61. The paperback edition is $9.57, and the hardcover is $17.82.
    Depending on which edition you compare to, the Kindle edition saves you
    either $0.96 or $9.21. Comparing to the paperback, the Kindle edition
    saves 10%.

    _The Omnivoreıs Dilemma_, by Michael Pollan, is $7.19 for Kindle, $9.60
    paperback, and $17.79 hardback. The Kindle edition is $2.41 less than
    the paperback. That is a 25% savings.

    _The Mythical Man-Month_, by Fred Brooks (anniversary edition), is
    $27.99 for Kindle, $32.70 for the print edition. $4.71 savings if you
    buy the Kindle edition. That is a 15% savings.

    _The Pragmatic Programmer_, by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas is $27.51
    for Kindle, $38.00 for the print edition. Thatıs a whopping $10.49
    savings on the Kindle edition. That is a 28% savings.

    _Swords and Deviltry_, by Fritz Leiber (volume 1 of the Fafhrd and the
    Grey Mouser stories*the best sword and sorcery fantasy series ever).
    $7.19 Kindle, $10.36 paperback. Thatıs $3.17 savings for Kindle. That is
    a 31% savings.

    I mention price because price is a significant factor when it comes to
    evaluating the DRM risk for books. To see why, letıs consider regular
    printed books for a moment.

    My library of printed books is somewhere around 2000 volumes. Most of
    these Iıve only read once. I have no reason to believe that it would be
    any different with eBooks. Based on my experience with printed books, I
    can safely say that well under 5% of the books I buy are books that will
    end up being read more than once.

    If it werenıt for laziness, and a pack rat nature, Iıd sell all those
    read-once books to a used bookstore. My ideal procedure for dealing with
    printed books would be to buy them, read them, and then, if I havenıt
    touched them again for a few months after reading them, sell them to a
    used bookstore.

    What this means is that Iım willing to have most of my books go away, if
    Iım paid a small amount for each book (used bookstores do not pay very
    much when they buy books).

    Now, notice that Kindle books from Amazon all seem to be sold at a
    substantial discount, compared to the paperback editions. That discount
    is usually more than a used bookstore would pay for the paperback.

    In the worst-case scenario, where Amazon shuts down the service, and my
    books stop working when my Kindle eventually breaks, I end up in the
    same position I would have been in had I bought the books in paperback
    and sold them to a used bookstore after reading them (except not as good
    financially, because the used bookstore pays less than the typical
    Kindle book discount).

    And that is the worst-case scenario. If Amazon does not shut down the
    service, or otherwise change the terms significantly for the worse, I
    essentially get the benefit of the paperback scenario, except I donıt
    actually get rid of the book.

    My conclusion is that for most books I am interested in, it does make
    sense to buy the Kindle edition. If Amazon does do something nasty at
    some point, I may end up having to repurchase in another format a small
    number of books, but the overall savings from the good Kindle book
    prices makes that acceptable.

    [1]: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FI73MA/

    [2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electro...lectrophoretic

    [3]: http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

    [4]: http://www.feedbooks.com/

    [5]: http://www.fictionwise.com/



    --
    --Tim Smith

  2. Re: Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle

    * Tim Smith peremptorily fired off this memo:

    > **Introduction**
    >
    > This is a short review...


    No, it isn't.

    And yet you couldn't just link to it and post a few highlights, could
    you?

    --
    It turns out Luddites don't know how to use software properly, so you should
    look into that. -- The reason we come up with new versions is not to fix
    bugs. It's absolutely not. It's the stupidest reason to buy a new version I
    ever heard. When we do a new version we put in lots of new things that
    people are asking for. And so, in no sense, is stability a reason to move to
    a new version. It's never a reason.
    -- Bill Gates, http://www.cantrip.org/nobugs.html

  3. Re: Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle


    "Linonut" wrote in message
    news:nRhSj.66351$Q52.30384@bignews9.bellsouth.net. ..
    >* Tim Smith peremptorily fired off this memo:
    >
    >> **Introduction**
    >>
    >> This is a short review...

    >
    > No, it isn't.
    >
    > And yet you couldn't just link to it and post a few highlights,
    > could you?


    It was shorter than all of that nonsense that your boi Roy Schestowitz
    constantly recycles as "related" yet I've never seen you complain about
    that.

    Oh yeah, you're a hypocrite^h^h^h "advocate"




    ** Posted from http://www.teranews.com **

  4. Re: Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle

    On Thu, 01 May 2008 01:35:36 -0700, Tim Smith wrote:

    > This is a short review of the [Amazon Kindle][1], an interesting eBook
    > reader. The Kindle runs Linux, so may be of some interest to readers of
    > COLA.


    Not when you consider the source....

    Ruben

    --
    http://www.mrbrklyn.com - Interesting Stuff
    http://www.nylxs.com - Leadership Development in Free Software

    So many immigrant groups have swept through our town that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998

    http://fairuse.nylxs.com DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002

    "Yeah - I write Free Software...so SUE ME"

    "The tremendous problem we face is that we are becoming sharecroppers to our own cultural heritage -- we need the ability to participate in our own society."

    "> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
    You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt. I guess you missed that one."

    İ Copyright for the Digital Millennium


  5. Re: Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle

    On Thu, 01 May 2008 09:00:24 -0400, Ruben wrote:


    > Not when you consider the source....
    >
    > Ruben


    You mean this guy?

    http://www.abiword.org/~abi/expo99/expo_02_010_full.jpg

    Rube, is that you in your younger days???????


    --
    Moshe Goldfarb
    Collector of soaps from around the globe.
    Please visit The Hall of Linux Idiots:
    http://linuxidiots.blogspot.com/

  6. Re: Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle

    On 2008-05-01, Ruben wrote:
    > On Thu, 01 May 2008 01:35:36 -0700, Tim Smith wrote:
    >
    >> This is a short review of the [Amazon Kindle][1], an interesting eBook
    >> reader. The Kindle runs Linux, so may be of some interest to readers of
    >> COLA.

    >
    > Not when you consider the source....


    I recently got a Linux based Archos and my satisfaction with it
    so far has been less about the device itself than about the general
    policies surround it (payware plugins) and how Archos has handled
    that.

    Archos took a cool product and saddled it with a mediocre
    (and necessary) support mechanism.

    --

    Unfortunately, the universe will not conform itself to
    your fantasies. You have to manage based on what really happens |||
    rather than what you would like to happen. This is true of personal / | \
    affairs, government and business.


    Posted Via Usenet.com Premium Usenet Newsgroup Services
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    http://www.usenet.com

  7. Re: Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle


  8. Re: Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle

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    On Thu, 01 May 2008 01:35:36 -0700,
    Tim Smith wrote:


    interesting review Tim, thanks. I wasn't aware that the kindle could be
    used with non-amazon content. Good to know. I also didn't know it ran
    Linux, go figure Although I wonder if I can get the source to any
    mods they made?


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    --
    Jim Richardson http://www.eskimo.com/~warlock
    "Life is a sexually transmitted disease
    with a 100% mortality rate."

  9. Re: Short review of Linux-based Amazon Kindle

    On Thu, 01 May 2008 09:59:41 -0500, JEDIDIAH wrote:

    > I recently got a Linux based Archos


    sure. I doubt trolling pays that well.

    Ruben

    --
    http://www.mrbrklyn.com - Interesting Stuff
    http://www.nylxs.com - Leadership Development in Free Software

    So many immigrant groups have swept through our town that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998

    http://fairuse.nylxs.com DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002

    "Yeah - I write Free Software...so SUE ME"

    "The tremendous problem we face is that we are becoming sharecroppers to our own cultural heritage -- we need the ability to participate in our own society."

    "> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
    You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt. I guess you missed that one."

    İ Copyright for the Digital Millennium


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