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Kindle: The street has its own uses for things

Kindle, Amazon’s reader

I still don’t quite understand Kindle, but I think it’s worth waiting for the street to come up with a use for it. In reading through the overwhelming stream of condemnation, I could only think that something that this many people hate must have something going for it. I’m of two minds: I posted against it, and now I will post something in its favor.

I was listening to Jason Calacanis on Leo Laporte’s This Week in Technology and William Gibson’s quote surfaced: the street has its own uses for things. That lead me to Cory Doctorow’s take on the same theme. Amazon has its intended uses for Kindle, some of them may come to pass.

I’ve previously written on what we buy when we buy creative content. We think we’re buying the writing in the book, but we’re actually buying the physical object, a book. We buy the delivery mechanism. Creative content lives in the mind’s eye as it comes in contact with the physical marks that can be purchased. We often moan about having to buy the same music over and over again in different formats. But that’s all there is, there are only formats and the players that decode them. Music and literature don’t inhabit the physical plane.

Kindle is a delivery method, it’s also a toll booth– a means of collecting fees on content that flows through it. It’s a method of publishing into a different format; this format is a machine. For the street to find uses for Kindle, it will have to win users. The offering price is too high, but perhaps it will be reduced, much like the iPhone. Will we buy the same books in yet another format? We have so far, why wouldn’t we do it again?

Published in collaboration culture innovation interaction design reading