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Amazon Kindle is a software and hardware platform developed by Amazon.com subsidiary Lab126 for rendering and displaying e-books and other digital media. Three hardware devices, known as "Kindle", "Kindle 2," and "Kindle DX" support this platform, as does an iPhone application called "Kindle for iPhone". The first device was released in the United Statesmarker on November 19, 2007.

The Kindle hardware device uses an E Ink brand electronic paper display, and is able to download content over Amazon Whispernet using the Sprint EVDO in the USA or, for newer Kindle 2 devices, AT&T's network internationally. The Kindle hardware device can be used without a computer, and Whispernet is accessible without any fee. These devices also provide free access to the internet. Kindle devices sold prior to October 19, 2009 were sold only in the United States. On October 7, 2009, Amazon announced an international version of the Kindle 2 with a built-in 3G (HSDPA) and EDGE/GSM wireless modem for connectivity in over 100 countries, which went on sale October 19, 2009 worldwide.

On March 3, 2009, Amazon.com launched an application entitled Kindle for iPhone in the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch owners to read Kindle content. Through a technology termed "Whispersync," customers can keep their place across Kindle hardware devices and other mobile devices.

Amazon announced the Kindle DX on May 6, 2009. This device has a larger screen than its predecessors and supports PDF files natively. It is marketed as more suitable for displaying newspaper and textbook content.

Amazon has released "Kindle for PC" as a free software download for reading Kindle books on a Windows PC.

The Kindle competes with other e-paper devices: the Barnes & Noble nook, the Sony Reader, iRex iLiad, the Jinke Hanlin e-Reader, and CyBook by Bookeen.

Versions

Original Kindle

The Kindle 1
Amazon's first offering of Kindle in November 2007 sold out in five and a half hours and the device remained out of stock for five months until late April 2008.

The original Kindle device, featuring a 6 inch (diagonal) 4-level grayscale display, retailed for US$399. Amazon subsequently lowered the price to $359. The 250 MB of internal memory in the Amazon Kindle 1 can hold approximately 200 non-illustrated titles, and the memory is expandable with an SD memory card. This model is no longer available, as it was replaced by the Kindle 2.

Whispernet only works in the U.S. for the original Kindle, but content can be downloaded from Amazon over the Internet. Amazon does not sell the original Kindle outside the United States. Plans for a launch in the UKmarker and other European countries were delayed by problems with signing up suitable wireless network operators.

Kindle 2

On February 9, 2009, Amazon announced the Kindle 2 which became available for purchase on February 23, 2009 for the price of $359. The Kindle 2 features 16-level grayscale display, improved battery life, 20 percent faster page-refreshing, a text-to-speech option to read the text aloud, and overall thickness reduced from 0.8 to 0.36 inches (9.1 mm). The Kindle 2 has 2 GB of internal memory of which 1.4 GB is user-accessible. Amazon estimates that the Kindle 2 will hold about 1500 non-illustrated books. Unlike the original Kindle, Kindle 2 does not have a slot for SD memory cards. To promote the new Kindle, author Stephen King made UR, his then-new novella, available exclusively through the Kindle Store. This model remains available as an alternative to the newer but considerably larger Kindle DX. On July 8, 2009, Amazon reduced the price of the Kindle 2 to $299. On October 6, 2009 the price was further reduced to $259. On October 22, 2009, Amazon ceased selling the Kindle 2 as originally built in favor of the international version it had introduced earlier in the month.

According to an early review by iFixIt, the Kindle 2 features a Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11 90 nm processor, 32MB main memory, 2 GB moviNAND flash storage, and a 3.7 V 1530 mAh lithium polymer battery. On November 24, 2009, Amazon released a firmware update for the Kindle 2 that it said increases battery life by 85% and introduces native PDF support.

Kindle 2 International Version

On October 7, 2009, Amazon announced an international version of the Kindle 2 that works in over 100 countries, which became available October 19, 2009. The international Kindle 2 is physically very similar to the U.S.-only model although it uses a different mobile network standard. The original Kindle 2 uses the Sprint network while the international version uses AT&T's U.S. mobile network and roams on 3G, EDGE, and GSM networks in other countries. On October 22, Amazon lowered the price on the international version to $259 from $279 and ceased selling the U.S.-only model.

Kindle DX

On May 6, 2009, Amazon announced the Kindle DX which retails for $489. It is the first Kindle model with an accelerometer, automatically rotating pages between landscape and portrait orientations if the device is turned on its side. It is slightly over  inch (about 8.5 mm) thick, has a 4 GB (3.3 GB user-accessible) storage capacity, holding approximately 3500 non-illustrated e-books, a 9.7 inch (24.6 cm) display with 1200 x 824 pixel resolution, and a battery life of up to one week while using wireless or two weeks offline. The DX adds support for PDF files natively, built-in stereo speakers, and 1xRTT wireless technology as fallback option for when EVDO connectivity is not available. Like the Kindle 2, it does not have an SD memory card slot. The model was released on June 10, 2009.

Content

Users can download content from Amazon and some other Kindle content providers in the proprietary Kindle format (AZW), or load content in various formats from a computer. Kindle Terms of Use forbid transferring Amazon e-books to another user or a different type of device.

Users can select reading material through the Kindle or through a computer at the Amazon Kindle store, and can download content through the Kindle Store, which upon the initial launch of the Kindle had more than 88,000 digital titles available for download, steadily increasing to more than 275,000 as of late 2008. As of July 1, 2009, there were more than 300,000 books available for download. As of late 2007 new releases and New York Times bestseller are being offered for approximately US$10, with first chapters of many books offered as free samples. Many titles, including some classics now in the public domain, are offered free of charge or at a low price, which has been stated to relate to the cost of adapting the book to the Kindle format . Magazines, newspapers, and blogs via RSS are provided by Amazon per a monthly subscription fee or a free trial period. Newspaper subscriptions cost from US$5.99 to $14.99 per month, magazines charge between $1.25 and $3.49 per month, and blogs charge from $0.99 to $1.99 per month.

The device is sold with electronic editions of its owner's manual and the New Oxford American Dictionary. Unfortunately, owners cannot use a dictionary in a language other than English as the "default lookup dictionary." Many potential consumers are hoping that this inconsistency will be rectified , especially in light of the October 2009 release of the International version of the Kindle. The Kindle also contains several free experimental features, including a basic web browser.Users can also play music from MP3 files in random order in the background. Operating system updates are designed to be received wirelessly and install automatically during a period in sleep mode in which wireless is turned on.

File formats

The original Kindle supported only unprotected Mobipocket books (MOBI, PRC), plain text files (TXT), topaz format books (.tpz), and Amazon's proprietary, DRM-restricted format (AZW). Version 2.3 firmware upgrade for Kindle 2 (U.S. and International) added native PDF support. Earlier version does not fully support Portable Document Format (PDF), but Amazon provided "experimental" conversion to the native AZW format, with the caveat that not all PDFs may format correctly. It does not support the EPUB ebook standard. Amazon offers an email-based service that will convert JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP graphics to AZW. Amazon will also convert HTML pages and Microsoft Word (DOC) documents through the same email-based mechanism, which will send a Kindle-formatted file to the device directly for $0.15 per MB or to a personal e-mail account for free. Users could also convert PDF and other files to the first-generation Kindle's supported formats using third-party software. The original Kindle supported audio in the form of MP3s and Audible audiobooks (versions 2, 3 and 4), which had to be transferred to the Kindle via USB or on an SD card.

Initially, Kindle 1 only supported the ISO 8859-1 (Latin 1) character set for its content; Unicode characters and non-Western characters were not supported. A firmware update in February 2009 added support for additional character sets, including ISO 8859-16.

Kindle 2 added support for Audible Enhanced (AAX) format, but dropped support for Audible versions 2 and 3. Using the experimental web browser, it was possible to download books directly on the Kindle (in MOBI, PRC and TXT formats only). Hyperlinks in a Mobipocket file could be used to download e-books but could not be used to reference books stored in the Kindle's memory. Kindle DX added native support for PDF files.

User-created annotations

Users can bookmark, highlight, and look up content. Pages can be dog-eared for reference and notes can be added to relevant content. While a book is open on the display, menu options allow users to search for synonyms and definitions from the built-in dictionary. The device also remembers the last page read for each book. Pages can be saved as a "clipping", or a text file containing the text of the currently displayed page. All clippings are appended to a single file, which can be downloaded over a USB cable.

Content sources

Link Formats Wireless transfer Wired transfer Available titles Notes
Amazon.com AZW 380,000 Amazon.com has over 300,000 titles available.
Project Gutenberg TXT, MOBI 20,000 Project Gutenberg contains over 20,000 titles.
FreeKindleBooks MOBI 1,000 This is a site that has mostly Gutenberg books automatically formatted for the Kindle.
pdfbooks PDF 7,000 This site contains 7,000 Project Gutenberg titles in PDF version. Each title also available in PDF version formatted for mobile devices.
World Public Library PDF 400,000 Approximately 400,000 titles.
Fictionwise eReader, PDF, LIT, .PDB, RB, FUB, KML, LRF, PRC, MOBI, IMP Fictionwise, E-books in various formats, both encrypted and unencrypted. Only the Multiformat books can be read on Kindle
Mobipocket MOBI 120,000 Mobipocket has lots of titles but only demos and free books can be read on Kindle.
Webscriptions PRC, RB, RTF, LRF, LIT, HTML 1,000 Webscriptions sell non-encrypted content.
WOWIO PDF 5,000 Books are free if viewed online; otherwise the user must pay for non-DRM PDF downloads.
FictionPress TXT 1,200,000 FictionPress contains over 100,000 titles. Mostly original works by unknown, unpublished authors. Displays in text. Users can Cut, paste, and email, or save in TXT file and upload it to their Kindle.
ManyBooks.net AZW 20,000 Over 20,000 titles. Has a Kindle format automatically generated from Gutenberg ASCII texts, without author listings or tables of contents.
Feedbooks PDF, PRC, LRF, EPUB 4,000 Share books, self published books and a make-it-yourself newspaper.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library PDF, DOC, TXT Christian Classics Ethereal Library are Christian-centered works.
Munseys PRC, HTM, PDF, LIT, LRF, PDB, RB, IMP, EPUB 28,000 Over 28,000 free books, both classic and contemporary.
MobileRead PRC, LRF, EPUB * 2,500 Free out-of-copyright books.
zinepal.com MOBI, PDF, EPUB 3,000 Users can collate content from Atom/RSS feeds and other web sources.
Link Formats Wireless transfer Wired transfer Available titles Notes




Digital Text Platform

The text can also be displayed in larger sizes
Concurrently with the Kindle device, Amazon launched the Digital Text Platform, a system for authors to self-publish directly to the Kindle. In open beta testing as of late 2007, the platform has been promoted to established authors by e-mail and by advertisements at Amazon.com. Authors can upload documents in several formats for delivery via Whispernet and charge between $0.99 and $200 per download. The authors receive 35% of revenues based on their list price, regardless of discounts by Amazon.

Criticism

Technical limitations

Hardware
There is concern based on the specific hardware choices made for the device. For example, the Kindle 2 lacks the memory expansion slot which was part of the original Kindle, which not only affects the potential number of e-books which can be stored on the device, but also removes potential capabilities to import e-books onto the device via memory card. Another hardware decision which has been questioned is the non-availability of WiFi functionality on the Kindle. Instead, the device relies on Sprint's EVDO, AT&T's 3G network, or 1xRTT data services for Internet access, which, critics argue, does provide a large amount of geographical coverage, but also drives the price of the device up considerably.

File format support
E-books of unencrypted .MOBI files, .TXT files, or .AZW formats can be transferred to the Kindle over a USB connection and read, but any other e-book formats are not supported. The original Kindle and the Kindle 2 firmware before the 2.3 firmware update cannot read e-books or files in the PDF format. However, PDFs and several other file formats can be converted using a number of downloadable applications, free conversion by emailing a file to the Kindle owner's email address and back to the email address it was sent from, or a similar method that charges for directly sending it to the owner's Kindle.

Poor contrast
There are concerns that the Kindle 2's contrast in small text is poor compared to the original Kindle. One user complained that the lighter text has caused eye strain or mild headaches after reading for long periods of time. Side-by-side comparisons show slight differences attributable to factors such as slightly darker background and different fonts on the two devices Some Kindle 2 users have reverted back to the original Kindle due to this issue.

Limited organization ability
The Kindle does not allow the user to organize books into folders. There is the option to set whether documents, subscriptions, books, or everything on the device to show on the home page. Another option orders the items on the home page according to title, author, or download date. Books may also be tagged with one or more keywords by inserting the tags into notes added to the book. Books then may then be searched for by tag.

No user-serviceable battery
The Kindle 2 does not have a removable battery. If the battery dies on a Kindle 2, it will have to be sent to Amazon to be fixed.

Business model

Other criticisms involve the business model behind Amazon's implementation and distribution of e-books. Amazon introduced a software application allowing Kindle books to be read on an iPhone or iPod Touch. Amazon soon followed with an application called "Kindle for PCs" that can be run on a Windows PC. Due to the book publisher's DRM policies, there is no right of first sale with the e-books. Amazon states they are licensed, not purchased.

A reviewer from CNET expressed concern with the presentation of the device despite its ergonomic appeal.

File format and DRM
Amazon owns Mobipocket, and the Kindle AZW file format and DRM scheme are similar to the Mobipocket file format and DRM scheme, yet Kindle is not able to read DRM-protected Mobipocket books without resorting to third-party conversions tools. This has frustrated some Kindle users.

Limited number of downloads
There is a limit to the number of times a book may be downloaded from Amazon. The limit ranges from one to six times, depending on an undisclosed amount of licenses the book publisher allows for devices. Once the cap is reached, the book must be repurchased if one wants to download it again. Kindle owners have complained that this limits the number of times they can download books to new Kindles as they are replaced or updated by owners.

Pricing
Another claim is that the price of the device is too high.

The Kindle 2 was criticized for its high original retail price of US$359, compared to the $185.49 it allegedly costs to manufacture.On July 8, 2009, Amazon reduced the price of the Kindle 2 to $299. On October 7, 2009, Amazon reduced the price of the Kindle 2 further to $259.

Remote content removal

On July 17, 2009, Amazon.com withdrew certain Kindle titles, including Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell, from sale, refunded the cost to those who had purchased them, and remotely deleted these titles from purchasers' devices after discovering that the publisher lacked rights to publish the titles in question. Notes and annotations for the books made by users on their devices were left in a separate file, but "rendered useless" without the content they were directly linked to. The move prompted outcry and comparisons to Nineteen Eighty-Four itself. In the novel, books, magazines and newspapers in public archives that contradict the ruling party are edited or destroyed, long after being published; the removed materials go "down the Memory Hole", Newspeak for an incinerator chute . Customers and the press strongly noted the resemblance to the censorship in the novel, and described Amazon's action in Orwellian terms. Some critics also argued that the deletion violated the Kindle's Terms of Service, which states in part:

Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener stated that the company is "… changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances." On July 23, 2009, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos posted an apology about the company's handling of the matter on Amazon's official Kindle forum. Bezos said the action was "stupid", and that Amazon "deserve[s] the criticism [it] received."

On July 30, 2009, Justin Gawronski, a Michigan high-school senior, and Antoine Bruguier, a California engineer, filed suit against Amazon in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Gawronski argued that Amazon had violated their TOS by remotely deleting the copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four he had purchased, in the process preventing him from accessing annotations he had written. Bruguier also had his copy deleted without his consent, and found Amazon "deceit[ful]" in an email exchange. The complaint, which requested class-action status, asked for both monetary and injunctive relief. The case was settled on September 25, 2009, with Amazon agreeing to pay $150,000 divided between the two plaintiffs, on the understanding that the law firm representing them, KamberEdelson LLC http://kamberedelson.com/, "...will donate its portion of that fee to a charitable organization...". The settlement also saw Amazon guaranteeing wider rights to Kindle owners over their eBooks:

For copies of Works purchased pursuant to TOS granting “the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy” of each purchased Work and to “view, use and display [such Works] an unlimited number of times, solely on the [Devices] . . . and solely for [the purchasers’] personal, non-commercial use,” Amazon will not remotely delete or modify such Works from Devices purchased and being used in the United States unless (a) the user consents to such deletion or modification; (b) the user requests a refund for the Work or otherwise fails to pay for the Work (e.g., if a credit or debit card issuer declines to remit payment); (c) a judicial or regulatory order requires such deletion or modification; or (d) deletion or modification is reasonably necessary to protect the consumer or the operation of a Device or network through which the Device communicates (e.g., to remove harmful code embedded within a copy of a Work downloaded to a Device).


On September 4, 2009, Amazon offered to restore the deleted ebooks to affected users or offer an Amazon gift certificate or check for $30.

Web browser limitations

The Kindle International Wireless version has restricted access to the experimental web browser. In many countries, Kindle owners cannot access any web content such as blogs and websites. The wireless access in these countries can only be used to access Amazon's e-book store to view and purchase books and magazine subscriptions. The Kindle iPhone app is also currently unavailable outside the USA.

See also



References

External links




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