Amazon just brought out a new eBook reader called "Kindle". It looks pretty cool, but I have one question: "Where can I go to try one of these out before I fork over $399 for one of them?"
I have a real problem with buying a new technology item (especially one where the form factor is as critical as an eBook reader) without actually having one in my hand before I purchase it. So I'm sitting here wondering which retailers carry the Kindle. For some strange reason, I can't seem to find it on Amazon's web site :).
Somehow I think that once again, I'm going to be waiting until one of my co-workers buys one before I can play with it.
See, there ARE some things that brick&mortar stores do better than electronic retailers - they let you touch the merchandise before you buy it.
That's why in Germany, by law, you're allowed to return everything ordered via the net for up to two weeks without giving any reason. For orders over 40 EUR you even get your postage back. Of course it must be in good condition, but you're allowed to open and try the merchandise like you could have done in a brick&mortar store.
They could do a lot worse than to have a "no questions asked, return postage paid" return policy for the Kindle. That would overcome the obstacle for me.
"See, there ARE some things that brick&mortar stores do better than electronic retailers - they let you touch the merchandise before you buy it."
But it doesn't always work. Whether in brick&mortar or over the net, if you have all the licences you need from MSDN subscriptions and OpenBSD for a PC that you're going to use for development, you still can't avoid forking over for an additional unwanted fake-warrantied Windows licence.
I never buy anything where the UI is central without being able to hold/see it first. I think Amazon is going to have to find a way to get it in people's hands risk-free. Even then, $400 for a device that can't share content with anything else is going to be a hard sell; without letting people hold it first, I think it's dead in the water.
I don't know about this gadget, but Costco is currently carrying (at least in my local warehouse) a Sony electronic reader that looks pretty similar. I was playing with one on display with an ebook loaded last weekend and must say I'm impressed. The screen was fairly responsive and the contrast was pretty good.
While it's not something I'd spend that much money on ($300-350 I think) it was pretty easy on the eyes. I still prefer paper books, but it was still pretty neat.
You're so right about the need to get something in your hand before buying it. I had to scour stores looking for a decent Tablet PC to play around with (which is impossible, since people break pieces off and steal the stylus), and I wouldn't even consider the Zune until I was able to spend time with it at a retail kiosk.
If Microsoft opened a showcase-type store, even if it didn't sell any products, I fear I'd be there every day. The list of MS partner products I want to touch grows every day, especially Windows Mobile phones.
You could try asking Amazon if they'll let you send it back (with full refund) if you don't like the fit. They're usually fairly reasonable.
This begs the question, then, since you bought so much from ThinkGeek (before the snafu over ID).. Would you look at one of the readers in the store, but then buy from Amazon because it was $15 cheaper ? Do you buy solely on price ? Do you contribute to the wallmartization of the US ?
Call me a commie, but we should patronize local stores and buy from 'em, even if a bit more expensive. Keep them in business because otherwise all there will be are wallmarts and on-line places that you can't look-see-touch.
NathanWeinberg: In fact, when I went to buy my son's tablet PC, I went to the various PM's in my group to find the one that they recommended - I was fortunate because many PM's at Microsoft have tablets.
Nathan_works: I do everything in my power to patronize local institutions. In fact, I hate purchasing anything other than fungables online or over the phone. I'll purchase books from Amazon, because (a) the alternative is Barnes&Noble, and I don't consider them to be any different than Amazon, (b) books are a known quantity - the difference is the content, not the physical item, and (c) Amazon IS a local business :).
I try very hard NOT to look at items in a store then buy them online, because it hurts the local economy, even when the local store is a part of a megachain.
"Would you look at one of the readers in the store, but then buy from Amazon because it was $15 cheaper ?"
What about the opposite?
"Call me a commie, but we should patronize local stores and buy from 'em, even if a bit more expensive."
When I visited a communist country (when it was a communist country, i.e. not for example China), local stores didn't benefit from things like that. Commies provided limited selections in both local and regional stores, prices were identical in all stores, and commies benefited equally regardless of which store you bought at. (Hmm, why does this give me a sense of deja vu.)
Nick: "I still prefer paper books".
Since I got my ebookwise reader, I *hate* paper books. Too tough to read while only using one hand (I read all the time, including while walking). Think Atlas Shrugged... yuck. I had one break down (fell from about two feet high on cement) and it was a huge pain to wait for a month to get a new one. (I'm not in the US.)
Plus, *nothing* beats having a whole library in one's hand. I don't really like this book? No problem, I have a few dozen more a few clicks away.
Finally - no search and no dictionary? How did people survive without that? :P (Ok so the ebookwise reader only has a limited search option, but it's still useful when you don't remember where that character was first mentioned.)
I do realize that not everyone reads as much as I do, though, so most people still prefer paper books. (Weird, if you ask me :P)
I have an iLiad made by http://www.irextechnologies.com. I've been dying to see an eInk product since it first appeared in Scientific American almost 10 years ago. While I like the display and I like being able to carry around many books on one device, there is an inherent problem with all electronic book readers that I didn't forsee. I can't share the books that I want to. I like to lend out books that I've enjoyed to friends that want to read them. Short of lending them my iLiad for a week or two (yikes!), I can't do that.
I'm at MS, and I asked on a relatively large internal alias a few days ago if anyone had one they wanted to show off. No luck. I figure I'll try again in a week or two.
Norman Diamond: That's a good one. And so very true.