postheadericon ECS: The Kindle Fire

The next renaissance in digital media consumption is sure to be the one that puts an “e” in front of every book, and in this case, the leader in this tech may not be from the company that put an “i” in front of everything else. In other words, Apple is not the one leading the way this time – Amazon is.

E-books have been around for a while now, although with the lack of decent reading device, penetration into the reading populace at large has been less then revolutionary, despite e-reader sales in the tens of millions. But Amazon has plans to change that with the impending release of the Kindle Fire, a device that looks to be just what the reading public wants in an e-book device.

But to better understand the new device, one has to understand a bit about the company that is manufacturing them: Amazon has long been an igniter in the realm of reading, with Amazon’s online book ordering service dominating the playing the point of pushing other book distributers asunder, and selling paper books in the millions per year (with revenues in the tens of billions).

Take for example Borders Books, once a conglomerate of over 600 stores and 20,000 employees, now history - due in fact to Amazon’s amazing success at selling paper books online, and negating the need to ever leave home to buy a book.

Yet this year Amazon has posted another amazing statistic: more e-books sales than paper book sales! For every 100 paper books sold in 2011, 115 e-books have also been sold. For the first time in human reading history, people are favoring electronic versions of books over the old-fashioned paperbound book.

Industry analysts attribute this shocking switch to many factors, but one contributing stands out amongst the crowd: Amazon itself. Just as Apple revolutionized the way we purchase and listen to music, Amazon is doing the same for the way we purchase and read books. Following the playbook left by the late Steve Jobs, where he often said, “It’s not about technology,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is playing the same game, and instead of rolling out technology, is rolling out a simple user experience.

Now for most of us in Nepal, this new user experience is a bit hard to grasp, and could be for some time to come. First off, one needs a credit card to make a purchase on Then one needs a Kindle device to read any book purchased. The good news is that this experience is possible through (A Nepali website offering ordering and delivery from anywhere in the nation), and here are the prices in Nrs:

Original Kindle 8,506
Small, light & fast with Wi-Fi

Kindle Touch 10,856
Touch screen with audio

Kindle Touch 3G 15,029
3G connection to Amazon, for free

Kindle Fire 21,289
The works, with color and more (not available for order until 11/15/11)

The experience goes like this for all Kindle users, with many new features for the Fire described later:
You unpack your new reading device, charge it, and power it up.
Then you connect the Kindle to the Internet, just as you would any laptop, phone, or PC. The Kindle is then direct-connected to the Amazon bookstore, where you can browse from millions of titles - some free, but most costing anywhere from Nrs. 781 to 1172. You can view previous reader’s comments and reviews before you make a purchase, just as you would do on the official website.
You purchase and download the selection using your international credit card, and off you go for a read. Kindles, depending on model and amount of onboard microSD memory you have, can store well over 200 books.

Now what makes the latest and greatest model, the Kindle Fire, so impressive is that this device turns the idea of a dedicated book reader on it’s head, and instead, gives you more of an iPad-like experience for ordering and reading books – as well as doing other tablet-like things to boot.

First, the Fire is the only color LCD using e-ink technology, which makes reading hours on end doable for the average pair of eyeballs. Second, the Fire is not just an e-book reader; it’s really a tablet like the iPad or Samsung Galaxy, only the Fire is just 7” worth. The Fire is also feather-lite, as compared to most all other tablets, so that means you can hold it like a paperback well into the night. And thirdly, the Fire extends itself as a game device, music player, and viewer for over 100,000 movies and TV shows – as well as magazines and web pages as well with the all new included web browser app.

All for just under Nrs. 21,288.57 (includes fees).

Why so cheap, you wonder? Amazon (like Apple) is after your heart and soul when it comes to electronic media consumption and has decided to sell the Fire under cost. In other words, they are subsidizing the hardware in hopes that you purchase the software (in this case: the books, magazines, games and applications).

It’s a bold move, but one proved profitable by the Apple iTunes store, which is now the biggest retailer of music in the world. With the Fire and a huge media library already online, Amazon hopes to do the same with everything else left out there without the little “i” in front.


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