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Again, not sure where the $600 figure comes from (see my previous reply), but I'll concede both the fact that the Kindle is cheaper and that it is an orange to the iPhone's apple (ha!). The Kindle interface is still clunky even for the price; if they just fixed the button lag... I still don't see how it makes sense for someone like me who mostly reads new paperbacks, trades them in at a second-hand store for credit, and doesn't need to carry a lot of books at once. When in the backcountry I don't have any time for reading unless stormbound, and on bigger expeditions there are people to trade books with. For others it might make sense.

I haven't experienced any problem with my Kindle (a Kindle Keyboard model with free lifetime 3G internet access), and I found the execution of the Amazon market nearly flawless. I'm more than a little disappointed to see the ubiquitous comparison to an iphone when it's not even close to being a similar device in a similar price range. It's like, from now on, we'll judge all outdoor products from tarps to backpacks based on its likeness or difference from a Petzl Reverso. A kindle and its 'annoying' e-ink screen allow weeks to go by without having to recharge the battery. It uses no power between screen flashes. Is that useful to a hiker? How long between charges on that $600 iphone? For the price of an iphone and your monthly service plan you could afford to buy enough paperbacks to reopen your local public library.

Good comments and thank you. Note on price: Kindles start at $79 and go to $379. A perfectly servicable iPhone 3GS is 99 cents at AT&T, iPhone 4 is $99.99 and 4S is $399.99, although there are monthly service contracts. They are two different devices, my point is simply that the user interface is clunky on the Kindle - e.g. buttons could flash immediately to let you know your touch was registered - and could be improved. That's mostly a software problem, subject to hardware limitations. Two new gripes: no landscape mode (I think the color Kindle Fire has it) and the bothersome flashing black background when turning pages. I know the latter is the way e-ink refreshes the page but it's still annoying.

While I agree that your $80 Kindle doesn't have the same build quality as your $600 iPhone, I have to take issue with your comment about book pricing.

Book pricing is not set by Amazon, it is set by the publishers, who tell Amazon o sell the book at that price or they won't sell to Amazon. There's an FTC price-fixing investigation going on right now about this.

Even if the price was set by Amazon, the cost of manufacture is a small part of the total cost. The author (who has to pay their accountant and agent, as well as buy food and clothing) wants their share. The publisher (who pays the editors, advertisers and sales dept.) wants their share. And Amazon (who pays for those big always-available server farms, hardware R&D and software R&D) wants their share. Each one of these entities gets a piece of the pie. Taking manufacture out of the equation modes not lower the cost to zero.

In fact, one of the issues that publishers have with the ebook model is that readers EXPECT the cost to be much lower since they're losing utility -- as you pointed out, you can no longer loan the book to a friend (unless that friend has a Kindle). Don't confuse the "marginal cost" of the book (which approaches but does not equal zero) with the actual cost based on the expected sales.

Of course, this all changes once you stop reading what the publishers want you to read, and go out on your own, finding those self-published gems that are in the $1-$5 range on Amazon. You cut out the publisher and costs go way down. Of course, quality is variable and you're not getting the big-name authors who became big because a publisher helped them along. But you will save money.

I am not an author, but I am a Kindle fan -- every member of my family has o NE and we regularly loan books to each other. And I'm not killing trees to feed my reading habit.

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