Kindle Part 1: Thoughts of a UK early adopter
The Amazon Kindle first became officially available in the UK in Autumn 2009. The device on offer was the second generation model, with white case and keyboard. At the time, there was no dedicated UK Kindle store on Amazon.co.uk, so customers had to buy from Amazon.com and their gadgets arrived from the States with a U.S. pattern wall plug.
First impressions were good. Buying a book within seconds over a mobile phone network was a revelation, as was the easy reading experience. I tested this on a transatlantic flight by reading for six hours non-stop. Even in a cramped tin can at 35,000ft, reading on a Kindle was a comfortable experience. Negatives at that stage were two-fold; there weren’t enough books, and the available ones were almost entirely U.S.-centric. These concerns have lessened over time, but not quickly enough for this reader.
The initial reactions of other people were revealing, and often surprising. There was resistance from many quarters and several impassioned defences of books on paper, as if the act of buying a Kindle meant you were no longer able to buy books in print. Some had a tendency to dismiss without real knowledge of the buying and reading experience, which seemed a little premature.
Others were more open to change, particularly people who understood that they could now easily carry multiple books when travelling or commuting. Perhaps the most misguided resistance came from those who were becoming evangelists for tablet computers. Why anyone, and particularly the media, thought that eReaders were in competition with backlit tablet computers still leaves me perplexed. Now that many people own both a Kindle and a tablet, this erroneous argument seems to have been resolved. A Kindle is perhaps nothing more than an mp3 player for books, and in this limited role, it’s a great product.
It’s now well over 2 years since I bought a Kindle, and the world has changed. There are now more Kindles available and more Kindle users out there. Some have even made the switch from other eReaders. No doubt I’ll upgrade to a newer model eventually, though I’m in no hurry to lose the large white-cased evidence of early adopter status.
Cambridge books on Kindle
There are currently around 6,000 Cambridge books available in the Kindle store. Kindle is our second biggest eBook channel accounting for c.20% of sales. The biggest sales channel is Cambridge Books Online (CBO).