“The Amazon Kindle is really a poorly conceived product,” emailed Jane Litte of Dear Author, who’s also been covering the newfangled gadget on her blog:
“Not the device itself, which, besides being ugly, is useful. The failed concept is in the content itself. A Kindle book can be purchased only by Kindle owners. It is not readable on your laptop or even downloadable onto the laptop.* Instead, it is sent directly to the Kindle. In areas that do not have EVDO access, that means no access to Kindle books… The Kindle is an entirely closed system and with the iPhone having an SDK made available in February, it is likely that ereader and other programs (maybe even Mobipocket) will have an iPhone compatible ebook software. You can buy an iPhone for the same price as a Kindle, use the wi fi access, and have all the same features—keyboard, annotation features, and an integrated light.”
E-book distributor David Moynihan had some more information to share about the Kindle’s technical aspects. After some ambiguity as to whether the Kindle will actually read PDF files, as the Newsweek cover story appeared to indicate, Moynihan sets the record straight: Nothing doing. But, he says, “Kindle does accept free content, via USB cable or SD card, as long as it’s in either .txt or Mobipocket format, so all of Project Gutenberg‘s in,” along with Moynihan’s own Munseys.com.
*Litte wrote back after this post was published. Apparently you can download Kindle books onto a PC; you just can’t open them on anything but a Kindle.