The concept of reading a book on an electronic device instead of buying it in paper form from a corner bookshop is easily a decade old.
But, the various hoops consumers needed to jump through in order to buy their reading material in electronic form and then find a device capable of allowing them to comfortably read that material wherever they were, halted the phenomenon from truly catching on.
Then came the Kindle – an e-book reader from the worldwide leader in electronic retail, Amazon.com – which allowed users to easily buy their reading material electronically and automatically download it over a ubiquitous and free wireless link, to a device purpose built for book reading
The only problem was however, that Kindle was designed to work exclusively in the US – you could only buy e-books on Amazon’s e-book store if you had an American credit card and furthermore, only make use of the free wireless link (called EVDO) if you were in a US coverage area.
But the company has seen the light and launched an international version of the device that’s in every way the same as the original Kindle models available in the US, except of course for using 3G cellular networks that cover most of the world, South Africa included.
At first glance, the Kindle is a great device – slim, light, sleek and most importantly, far more convenient that carrying a couple of hundred or thousand books around with you in physical form.
It draws on the best the e-book reader market has to offer – an easy on the eye e-ink screen that resembles the look of black type on paper, the ability to resize fonts to the user’s preference, storage for a plethora of books and other content and a battery life that sees users conveniently using the device for months, without the need to recharge.
It’s also a capable audio player, making it useful for listening to podcasts and background music while reading.
Obviously, Amazon has now begun accepting credit cards from the world over on its Kindle store, so buyers of the Kindle in South Africa will gain access to their reading materials as easily as owners of the device have in the U.S.
The books also seem a little cheaper in electronic format, so there’s yet another incentive to go the e-book route.
While details of exactly how the connectivity element that accompanies Kindle in South Africa will work are still sketchy, right now the assumption in the market is that the cost of the 3G bandwidth required to download a piece of content will be included in the price of the content.
This is great news, since it means that users will pay one price for a book or piece of content and have it instantly delivered over the local cellular networks.
We will give the product a thorough review once it arrives on local shores, but in the meantime if this description is exciting enough to get you geared up to buy one, visit www.amazon.com/kindle and place your order.
The international version of the Kindle costs $279 (approximately R2100.00) and will begin shipping October 19th.