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There have been several iterations of hardware devices for this platform, including a main Kindle line (first introduced 2007) and a Kindle DX line with a larger screen (introduced 2009). Devices with touch sensitive screens (Kindle Touch), and a tablet computer with a reader app and a color display (Kindle Fire) were announced in September 2011, along with a keyboardless low priced (Kindle) model. With the introduction of the 2011 Kindles the original Kindles are renamed Kindle Keyboard.
Amazon has also introduced Kindle software for use on various devices and platforms, including Microsoft Windows, iOS, BlackBerry, Mac OS X (10.5 or later, intel processor only), Android, webOS, and Windows Phone 7. Amazon also has a "cloud" reader to allow users to read, and purchase, Kindle books from a web browser.
Content for the Kindle can be purchased online and downloaded wirelessly in some countries, using either standard Wi-Fi or Amazon's 3G "Whispernet" network. Whispernet is accessible without any monthly fee or wireless subscription, although fees can be incurred for the delivery of periodicals and other content when roaming internationally beyond the customer's home country. Through a service called "Whispersync," customers can synchronize reading progress, bookmarks and other information across Kindle hardware devices and other mobile devices.
In the last three months of 2010, Amazon announced that in the United States, their e-book sales had surpassed sales of paperback books for the first time.
It is the only Kindle with expandable memory, via an SD card slot.
The device features a 6 inch (diagonal) 4-level grayscale display, with 250 MB of internal memory, which can hold approximately 200 non-illustrated titles.
Amazon did not sell the Kindle First Generation outside the United States. Plans for a launch in the UK and other European countries were delayed by problems with signing up suitable wireless network operators.
To promote the new Kindle, author Stephen King made UR, his then-new novella, available exclusively through the Kindle Store. On October 22, 2009, Amazon stopped selling the original Kindle 2 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, 32 MB 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 increased battery life by 85% and introduces native PDF support.
On July 8, 2009, Amazon reduced price of the Kindle 2 from the original $359 to $299. On October 7, 2009, Amazon further reduced the price of the Kindle 2 to $259. The Kindle 2 was criticized for its high original retail price, compared to the $185.49 manufacturing cost estimated by iSuppli.
- International version
The original Kindle 2 used CDMA2000, for use on the Sprint network. The international version used standard GSM and 3G GSM, enabling it to be used on AT&T's U.S. mobile network and internationally in 100 other countries.
Kindle 2 International Version is believed to have a noticeably higher contrast screen, although Amazon does not advertise this. Another review done by Gadget lab, disputes this and actually states that the font appears to be fuzzier than the first generation kindle. The review goes on to say that changes to the Kindle 2 have made it harder to read the smaller font sizes that most books use. On another website they also discuss how the font size is at times worse than the Kindle 1's. It appears that whether or not the Kindle 2 is clearer or fuzzier than the prior model depends on the font size. These issues became moot when Amazon sourced a higher contrast "E-ink" technology it dubbed "Pearl E-ink" and which it utilized on all of its e-reader devices going forward.
On October 22, 2009, Amazon lowered the price on the international version from $279 to $259 and discontinued the U.S.-only model. On June 21, 2010, hours after Barnes & Noble lowered the price of its Nook, Amazon lowered the price of the Kindle 2 to $189
- International version
Kindle DX Graphite
Kindle KeyboardAmazon announced a new generation of the Kindle on July 28, 2010. While Amazon does not officially add numbers to the end of each Kindle denoting its generation, reviewers, customers and press companies often refer to this updated Kindle as the "Kindle 3" or now, "Kindle Keyboard".
The Kindle Keyboard utilizes a Freescale i. MX353 applications processor, Freescale MC13892 power management chip, Epson EINK controller and Samsung DRAM and Flash. Other hardware changes include a larger 1750 mAh lithium polymer battery, AnyDATA DTP-600W 3G GSM modem and Atheros AR6102G 802.11bg Wi-Fi chip.
The third-generation Kindle is 0.5 inches shorter and 0.5 inches narrower than the Kindle 2. It supports additional fonts and international Unicode characters. An experimental browser based on the popular WebKit rendering engine is included, as well as text-to-speech menu navigation. Internal memory is expanded to 4 GB, with approximately 3 GB available for user content. Battery life is advertised at up to two months of reading on a single charge with the wireless turned off.
Pre-orders for the new Kindle concurrently began with the announcement of the device, and Amazon began shipping the devices on August 27, 2010 in the United States and United Kingdom. With the announcement of the Kindle Keyboard, Amazon also launched an Amazon.co.uk version of the Kindle store. On August 25, 2010, Amazon announced that the Kindle 3 was the fastest-selling Kindle ever.
In late January 2011, Amazon announced that digital books were outselling their traditional print counterparts for the first time ever on its site, with an average of 115 Kindle editions being sold for every 100 paperback editions.
An ad-supported version, the "Kindle with Special Offers" was introduced on May 3, 2011, with a price reduction of $25 less at $114. On July 13, 2011, Amazon announced that due to a sponsorship agreement with AT&T, the price of the Kindle 3G with Special Offers would be lowered to $139, $50 less than the Kindle 3G. With the 2011 Kindle announcement, the price of the "Kindle Keyboard with Special Offers" was reduced to $99.
The Kindle Keyboard generally received good reviews after launch. In their Kindle Keyboard Review, Review Horizon, describes it as offering "the best reading experience in its class" while Engadget says "In the standalone category, the Kindle is probably the one to beat".
After the introduction of the low priced Kindle version, and Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire readers in September 2011 Amazon began describing the older Kindle version as the 'Kindle Keyboard' instead of the Kindle 3.
Kindle TouchAmazon announced a touchscreen version of the Kindle on September 28, 2011; available with Wi-Fi ($99 ad supported, $139 no ads) or Wi-Fi/3G connectivity ($149 Ad supported, $189 no ads), the device uses the same 6 inch E-ink screen of the previous Kindle model, with the addition of an infrared touch-screen control. Memory and estimated battery life were the same as the previous Kindle model, at an estimated two months, and 4GB total.. The kindle touch begun to ship on Nov. 15th, 2011.
Kindle Fire TabletAmazon announced an Android-based tablet with a color touch screen on September 28, 2011. It costs $199 and has a 7-inch IPS display. This is the first Kindle without an E Ink display. Unlike previously released Kindles, there is no 3G option. The Kindle Fire does not have a microphone, camera, or SD slot, which other tablets commonly have. It has 8GB of storage and has a projected battery life of under eight hours.
Kindle applicationsAmazon released a "Kindle for PC" application in late 2009, available as a free download for Windows 7, Vista, and XP. This application allows thousands of books to be read on a personal computer in color, with no Kindle unit required, as e-books can simply be purchased from Amazon's store. Amazon later released a version for the Macintosh, in early 2010. In June 2010, Amazon released a "Kindle for Android" version. With the Android application release, versions for the Apple iPhone, the iPad, Windows and Mac computers, and BlackBerry cellphones are also available. In January 2011, Amazon released Kindle for Windows Phone 7. In July 2011, Kindle for HP TouchPad (running under WebOS) was released in the US as beta. In August 2011, Amazon released an HTML5 based webapp supporting Chrome and Safari Browser called Kindle Cloud Reader. It will have access to millions of apps, movies, tv shows, and books from the Amazon and Android market.
Kindle salesSpecific Kindle sales numbers are not released by the company; however, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, stated in a shareholders' meeting in January 2010 that "millions of people now own Kindles." According to anonymous inside sources, over three million Kindles have been sold as of December 2009, while external estimates, as of Q4-2009, place the number at about 1.5 million. According to James McQuivey of Forrester Research, estimates are ranging around four million, as of mid-2010. On March 6, 2011, AT&T stores officially started sales of the Amazon Kindle.
In 2010, Amazon remained the undisputed leader in the e-reader category, accounting for 59% of e-readers shipped, and it gained 14 percentage points in share. According to an IDC study from March 2011, sales for all e-book readers worldwide reached 12.8 million in 2010; 48% of them were Kindle models.
Content supportContent from Amazon and some other content providers is primarily encoded in Amazon's proprietary Kindle format (AZW). It is also possible to load content in various formats from a computer by simply transferring it to the Kindle via USB (for free) or by emailing it to a registered email address provided by Amazon (for a fee via 3G, or free via Wi-Fi); the email service can convert a number of document formats to Amazon's AZW format and then transmit the result to the associated Kindle over Whispernet. In addition to published content such as books and periodicals, Kindle users can also access the Internet, free of charge, via either Wi-Fi or 3G.
International users of Kindle pay different prices for books depending on their registered country. For U.S. customers traveling abroad, Amazon originally charged a $1.99 fee to download books over 3G while overseas. That charge was quietly dropped in May 2010. Fees remain for wireless delivery of periodical subscriptions and personal documents.
In addition to the Kindle store, paid content for the Kindle can be purchased from various independent sources such as Fictionwise, Mobipocket and Webscriptions. Public domain titles are also obtainable for the Kindle via content providers such as Project Gutenberg and World Public Library. A survey has revealed that the Kindle store has more than twice as much paid content as its nearest competitor, Barnes and Noble.
The device is sold with electronic editions of its owner's manual and the New Oxford American Dictionary (UK version includes the Oxford Dictionary of English). Users are able to purchase different dictionaries from the Kindle store as specified in the included manual. The Kindle also contains several free experimental features including a basic web browser. Users can also play music from MP3 files in the background in the order they were added to the Kindle. Operating system updates are designed to be received wirelessly and installed automatically during a period in sleep mode in which wireless is turned on.
Original KindleThe 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).
Kindle 2 and 3The Kindle 2 (U.S. and International) added native Portable Document Format (PDF) support with the Version 2.3 firmware upgrade. Earlier versions did not fully support PDF, but Amazon provided "experimental" conversion to the native AZW format, with the caveat that not all PDFs may format correctly. Kindle 2 added support for Audible Enhanced (AAX) format, but dropped support for Audible versions 2 and 3.
On the Kindle 2, it was possible to view HTML files that were stored directly on the unit itself. This allowed creation of local offline content in linked web-pages that could be used even if the unit had no active connection to the internet at the time. Such pages could be accessed by directing the browser address to the local filesystem (as in file:///mnt/us/test.html for example) as opposed to a live website address (as in http://www.wikipedia.org for example.) The Kindle 3 is not able to browse local HTML in this manner, only live external websites.
Kindle Touch and Touch 3GThe Kindle Touch and Touch 3G are able to display Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, and PRC files natively. HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP are supported through conversion. They are also able to play Audible (Audible Enhanced(AA,AAX)) and MP3 files.
Email conversionAmazon 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 via 3G for $0.15 per MB or via WiFi for free. These services can be accessed by sending emails to
Epub supportThe Kindle platform does not support the international EPUB ebook standard. However there is software available (e.g. calibre) which can convert a non-DRM EPUB file into the unprotected Mobipocket format that the Kindle can read. Additionally, Amazon offers a free program called KindleGen which converts EPUB and several other formats.
Multiple device support and organizationA book may be downloaded from Amazon to several devices at the same time. The devices sharing the book must be registered to the same Amazon account. A sharing limit typically ranges from one to six devices, depending on an undisclosed number of licenses set by the book publisher. When a limit is reached, the user must remove the book from some device or unregister a device containing the book in order to add a book to another device.
The original Kindle and Kindle 2 did not allow the user to organize books into folders. The user could only select what type of content to display on the home screen and whether to organize by author, title, or download date. Kindle software version 2.5 (released July 2010) allowed for the organization of books into "Collections" which roughly corresponds to folders except for the fact that a collection can not include other collections, and that one book may be added to multiple collections. These collections are normally set and organized on the Kindle itself. calibre has a plugin that makes it possible to organize these collections on a computer. There remains no option to organize by series or series order, as the AZW format does not possess the needed metadata fields.
User-created annotationsUsers 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.
Kindle Development Kit (KDK)On January 21, 2010, Amazon announced the forthcoming release of their Kindle Development Kit. Their aim is to allow developers to build 'active content' for the Kindle, and a beta version was announced with a February 2010 release date. A number of companies have already experimented with delivering active content through the Kindle's bundled browser, and the KDK promises 'sample code, documentation and the Kindle Simulator' together with a new revenue sharing model for developers.
The KDK is based on the Java Programming Language, specifically, the JSR 1.1.2 Personal Basis flavor of packaged Java APIs.
Textbook rentalsOn July 18, 2011, Amazon began a program that allows college students to rent Kindle textbooks from three different publishers for a fixed period of time.
Kindle Direct PublishingConcurrently with the Kindle device, Amazon launched the Kindle Direct Publishing, where authors and publishers independently publish their books directly to Kindle and Kindle Apps worldwide. In open beta testing as of late 2007, the platform has been promoted to established authors by an 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 $200.00 per download.
In a December 5, 2009 interview with The New York Times, CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that Amazon.com keeps 65% of the revenue from all ebook sales for the Kindle. The remaining 35% is split between the book author and publisher. After numerous commentators observed that Apple's popular App Store offers 70% of royalties to the publisher, Amazon began a program that offers 70% royalties to Kindle publishers who agree to certain conditions.
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, Amazon claims that there is no right of first sale with e-books. Amazon states they are licensed, not purchased; so unlike paper books, buyers do not actually own their e-books according to Amazon. This has however never been tested in the courts and the outcome of any action by Amazon is by no means certain. The law is in a state of flux in jurisdictions around the world.
Remote content removalOn July 17, 2009, Amazon.com withdrew certain Kindle titles, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four 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 either edited long after being published or destroyed outright; the removed materials go "down the memory hole", nickname for an incinerator chute. Customers and commentators 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 the executives at Amazon "deserve the criticism received.""Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use."
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 terms of service 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, Kamber Edelson LLC, "...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 affected users a restoration of the deleted ebooks, an Amazon gift certificate, or a check for the amount of $30.
In December 2010, three eBooks by author Selena Kitt were removed due to violations of Amazon's publishing guidelines. For what Amazon describes as "a brief period of time," the books were unavailable for redownload by users who had already purchased them. This ability was restored after it was brought to Amazon's attention; however, no remote deletion took place.
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- ^ Fowler, Geoffrey A. (2009-07-30). "Lawsuit: Amazon Ate My Homework". The Wall Street Journal.
- ^ "Amazon settles lawsuit over deleted Kindle copy of '1984'". Techflash.com. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2011-03-19.
- ^ KindleCase1 - The Business Journals - American City Business Journals, Inc.
- ^ Amazon.com Offers to Replace Copies of Orwell Book The New York Times September 4, 2009
- ^ Amazon's latest Kindle deletion Ars Technica December 15, 2010