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Right! That's a wrap of our #ManBooker2014 coverage. Congratulations to Richard Flanagan bookslive.co.za/Yq9F

The Amazon Kindle Comes to South Africa: Get the Facts

kindleAlert! As you’ve no doubt heard, Amazon.com‘s vaunted ebook reader, the Kindle – plus the device’s attendant ebook, enewspaper and emagazine store and wireless delivery feature – will become available in many places outside the US on the 19th of October, including South Africa.

The alacrity with which Amazon has moved to “go global” was likely prompted by rival products and services – like the rumoured Apple tablet and Scribd.com, the books and document sharing website; at least, that’s what Amanda Andrews of the Telegraph thinks:

As always, Apple is its biggest threat. Apple’s much mooted Tablet device – expected by early 2010 –could feature a wireless ebook with colour features, and Apple is likely to use its iPod and iPhone experience to create a multi-media device.

Then there is Sony. While the Sony Reader presently available in the UK may not be wireless, a rival device is close. Sony will surely use its electronics experience to bring moving images and sound to the device.

For international consumers, the Kindle will cost $20 more than for those in the US: it can be ordered for $189 right now, plus shipping (via international courier), US sales tax and import duties, of course – which turn out not to be too bad, although they do increase the total price by more than 20%. Here’s a screenshot of a mock order placed today, 12 Oct, showing a final price of $342.95 (about R2500) and an impressive delivery date of 28 October at the latest (click for the full image):

kindle-test-purchase

You can also order the Kindle via a third party, such as WantItAll – which, it bears pointing out, has been supplying South Africans with Kindles since the device debuted a few years back. Whether WantItAll can get the Kindle for you faster and for less than Amazon remains to be seen.

It’s not just the Kindle that will cost more for non-US users, however – it’s also the books. As the Guardian reports, Amazon plans to charge a 40% premium on titles in its Kindle store purchased outside America:

When asked by the Guardian precisely how much downloads would cost, an Amazon.co.uk spokesman revealed that foreign customers – including those in Britain – would be paying $13.99 (£8.75) per book instead of the American price of $9.99 (£6.25). That amounts to a 40% premium for the same title.

“International customers do pay a higher price for their books than US customers due to higher operating costs outside of the US,” said the spokesman.

The good news is that Kindle’s rather wonderful wireless delivery service will be active in SA, meaning readers will be able to browse the store anywhere there’s coverage, receive their purchases more or less instantly, and start reading right away. Here’s a map showing Kindle wireless coverage (via both 3G and GPRS) in southern Africa:

kindle-wireless-coverage-map-for-africa

As you can see, Kenyans, Tanzanians and Nigerians will also enjoy wireless coverage (leading me to guess that the service is supplied by MTN); and Egyptians will, too (couldn’t fit Egypt into the screenshot – sorry!).

One question that remains unanswered is whether Amazon will now allow iPhone users who’ve installed the Kindle iPhone app to access the same content that Kindle owners can purchase. That would be a potentially revolutionary development for ebooks in South Africa: we’d instantly have our first multi-platform local ebooks store.

A second, related question has to do with what content, exactly, South African Kindle owners will have access to. All books in the US Kindle store? That’s highly unlikely, given the morass of territorial rights arrangements that publishers have with one another. I couldn’t find specific information about what exactly will be available to whom, but I did find this:

The Kindle Store offers international customers over 200 thousand English-language books, including New Releases and New York Times Bestsellers, which are typically priced less than physical editions. Over 85 top U.S. and international newspapers and magazines are also available in the Kindle Store for single purchase or subscription.

Two things South Africans won’t enjoy on their new Kindles are the blog import and experimental web browser features – but these are accessories, not central to the device’s main appeal, which is that you can carry a library around in your purse.

So – is a Kindle as good as, or even better than, a book? For a content-carrying device, the specs are impressive:

Kindle is as thin as most magazines and weighs less than a paperback—but can hold 1,500 books. Its electronic-ink screen looks and reads like real paper with no glare—even in bright sunlight. A long battery life means you can read for up to two weeks on a single charge.

The U.S. Kindle Store has more than 350,000 books, including 107 of 112 New York Times bestsellers, plus top newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

And for what it’s worth, as a Kindle owner (first generation, no less), I’ve been very satisfied with all aspects of the device, from getting content (wireless delivery is a dream; and transferring books off the computer is also a cinch) to reading the full menagerie of etexts out there (nonfiction, novels, newspapers and magazines; purchase The New Yorker on your Kindle and it will pay for itself in three years).

This is a preliminary post on a development to which we’ll pay very close attention. I’d be grateful if those with further information about the advent of the Kindle in South Africa would post their notes and links below. Thanks!

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://ingridandersen.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ingrid Andersen</a>
    Ingrid Andersen
    October 12th, 2009 @21:13 #
     
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    Ben, I'm really tempted by the Kindle (well, I would be if I had that kind of money), but I have one reservation.

    I was a strong supporter of legal music downloads from Musica online, but after a while, found that the songs I had paid for and saved on my computer would just vanish. Fortunately, I had burned CDRoms. I've been given the explanation that their licencing software had problems - but after paying R10 per song, that feels to me like the equivalent of Musica mall stores knocking on my door and asking for my Joshua Redman CD back.

    Downloaded electronic material therefore seems to be vulnerable to this kind of glitch. How do we know that, half-way through "War and Peace", the book isn't just going to vanish off our Kindle? I vaguely remember a news story about that kind of problem a few months ago.

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 12th, 2009 @21:21 #
     
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    Ingrid, I keep all my Kindle files both on my computer and on the device itself. On the computer, they're files that can't be deleted except by you. The Kindle "reads" as a USB storage device when you plug it into your desktop - not as, for instance, an iPhone-like gadget that will only work with iTunes-like proprietary software. It's thus very easy to ensure that you keep what you pay for.

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  • <a href="http://ingridandersen.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ingrid Andersen</a>
    Ingrid Andersen
    October 12th, 2009 @21:29 #
     
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    A bit like my burning my CDRoms :-)

    I found a reference to the Amazon Kindle deletion incident:

    "Amazon might have been extremely contrite about remotely deleting 1984 from Kindles, but a Jeff Bezos apology and an offer to restore the book doesn't necessarily add up to a meaningful change in policy. As part of the settlement with that student who sued over the 1984 situation, Amazon's had to clarify its remote-deletion guidelines, and they're pretty much the same as ever: they'll hit the kill switch if you ask for a refund or if your credit card is declined, if a judge orders them to, or if they need to protect the Kindle or the network from malware. Sounds simple, right?

    Well, sort of -- saying they'll delete content at the behest of judicial or regulatory decree pretty much leaves the door open to exactly the same situation as the 1984 debacle, just a couple procedural steps down the line and with less blame placed on Amazon. If you'll recall, 1984 was deleted after the publisher was sued for not having the proper rights, and Amazon took the proactive step of deleting the content -- and although Amazon won't do that on its own anymore, all it takes now is one strongly-worded motion before a sympathetic judge and we're back at square one. That's pretty troubling -- no judge can order a physical bookseller to come into your house and retrieve a book they've sold you, and saying things are different for the Kindle raises some interesting questions about what Amazon thinks "ownership" means. We'll see how this one plays out in practice, though -- we're hoping Amazon never has to pull that switch again."

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/01/amazon-clarifies-kindle-book-deletion-policy-can-still-delete-b/

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  • <a href="http://ingridandersen.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ingrid Andersen</a>
    Ingrid Andersen
    October 12th, 2009 @21:52 #
     
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    Granted, if the files are on your computer, they can't be accessed via the Amazon wireless system to be deleted or to be removed if your Kindle is automatically synced.

    However, it is possible that a Kindle file can no longer be accessed on your computer because of a licencing/copyright/permissions glitch - which is exactly what happened to my Musica download files.

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 12th, 2009 @22:01 #
     
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    That second point, about "no longer be accessed", might be possible, but since the computer "sees" the Kindle as a USB storage device, rather than a proprietary piece of hardware/software combo - and since the Kindle isn't connected to Amazone wirelessly (there's a separate switch for the wireless function), nor is Amazon fiddling with your computer remotely (unlike Apple), I'd be very surprised to find that a file had suddenly become unreadable.

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  • <a href="http://lisalazarus.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Lisa</a>
    Lisa
    October 13th, 2009 @08:09 #
     
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    I wish it were clearer which books were available here in South African. It seems a bit of a hit and miss - you're buying something, but it's not clear what precisely you're buying.

    I want an easy to search storefront for South Africans. I've tried this site - http://www.amazonsouthafrica.co.za/index.html - and it hasn't been that helpful to me.

    That said, I'm definitely getting one. Though I probably should be sensible (not likely) and wait for the dust of the product war to settle slightly before making my purchase. I'm sure there will be better deals that way.

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 13th, 2009 @09:00 #
     
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    Ja, you might want to wait for that Apple tablet or Windows Courier!

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  • BoekSnoek
    BoekSnoek
    October 13th, 2009 @10:22 #
     
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    Looking forward to getting SA's best 100 contemporary novels on Kindle - next year?

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  • ar
    ar
    October 13th, 2009 @12:12 #
     
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    Mr Ben, you've confirmed my suspicion that Apple was fiddling with my computer remotely. But it doesn't help since there's nothing I can do about it, is there? Or is there? I've tried looking for the button called "Don't let itunes talk to the internet", but there isn't one. Maybe it's called something else?

    I don't think I'll get a kindle, because I don't think it would take to being dropped in the bath.

    Koel handle, boeksnoek.

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 13th, 2009 @12:18 #
     
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    Yep AR, that's what I hate about iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iEverything. You think you own it - but you don't. Apple can mess with your stuff anytime you sync.

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  • <a href="http://www.brainwavez.org/" rel="nofollow">Mandy J Watson</a>
    Mandy J Watson
    October 13th, 2009 @19:00 #
     
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    Ok, short version. I'll have to try and write about the long version later. The files are loaded with DRM (digital rights management) and the effect, physically and legally, is that you are not so much "purchasing" a book as "leasing" it. Your files can - and I bet will (again) - be deleted remotely should any "issue" arise, as with the 1984 case that was cited above (and, BTW, it was not the first instance of this happening, it was just well publicised due to the remarkably apt Big Brother connotations). This is not like going in to a store and buying a physical object that is yours to read, own, resell, deface, or remix into an(other) artwork. It is (almost) like renting a DVD from a video store, except they can control your content remotely.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    October 13th, 2009 @20:57 #
     
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    *crosses Kindle off shopping list, gazes fondly at (free) library card*

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  • <a href="http://lisalazarus.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Lisa</a>
    Lisa
    October 13th, 2009 @22:15 #
     
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    It wouldn't make much business sense for Amazon to willy nilly delete files. The 1984 case was probably an exceptional, and certainly ironic, case.

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  • Maire
    Maire
    October 14th, 2009 @07:44 #
     
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    I can understand how shipping costs etc can increase the price of the Kindle for customers outside the US, but what I'd like to have explained is how "foreign customers - including those in Britain - would be paying $13.99 (£8.75) per book instead of the American price of $9.99 (£6.25). That amounts to a 40% premium for the same title". 40% feels a massive increase to me, no matter what the operating costs are.

    I'd need pretty firm assurances as to which books would be available in South Africa for download from their online catalogue. Also, if you belong to a bookclub you can circulate books. When you go to a school fete you can buy second-hand books, like Helen I can pop down to my local library and have access to hundreds of books for free - books that will be read by many people. Books have a shelf life that can go on and on. If I pay for a Kindle read and download it as a hard file to my computer, can I then pass it onto members of my bookclub? If I could, then maybe we'd all consider paying for one... Or will passing on an e-read be seen as piracy?

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  • Maire
    Maire
    October 14th, 2009 @08:16 #
     
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    Another quick query re Kindle - could I download ebooks from sites other than Amazon to read on a Kindle? Probably a silly question, but there's such competition out there, it often brings restrictions with it.

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 14th, 2009 @08:31 #
     
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    Hi Maire -Amazon says the increased cost of books reflects the upfront development costs for international rollout (which you might buy, or might not); and as for sharing, etc., you can't share files, but you can upload other documents to read on the Kindle, though these would have to be DRM free.

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  • Maire
    Maire
    October 14th, 2009 @08:41 #
     
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    Hi Ben - Thanks for that - sorry meant to say I had read the Guardian article and the (very enlightening) comments there, and despite all the reasons given for such a hike, still found 40% to be excessive!

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  • <a href="http://www.brainwavez.org/" rel="nofollow">Mandy J Watson</a>
    Mandy J Watson
    October 14th, 2009 @10:54 #
     
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    Lisa, I'm not saying Amazon will, I'm saying it <i>has the capacity to do so</i>, and it has already, <i>on more than one occasion</i>.

    The key to making the choice as to whether you want a Kindle is to understand that it is a heavily disguised "leasing" business model, not an ownership model, and this is a larger issue to do with DRM in general (as it is increasingly applied to all sorts of media formats - video, audio, and so on). It has huge repercussions for consumers, who are not educated about what is going on and how their rights are systematically being eroded (once again, in another arena, as they are in every other sector of society).

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  • <a href="http://lisalazarus.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Lisa</a>
    Lisa
    October 14th, 2009 @13:17 #
     
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    Is it really 'leasing'? The whole Kindle thing seems to occupy a strange middle ground between owning and leasing. After all, with leasing you are expected to give the thing back. As far as I understand, you don't give your kindle books back. And they do stay on your hard drive, no matter what. So you have some type of possession which is more than leasing but might *sometimes* be less than ownership.

    I suppose most things in life are a risk / benefit assessment. With the kindle, the small risk of the occasional deleted file - should it happen again, and should I have bought that precise book - seems somewhat miniscule in comparison with having an entire, and very well stocked, bookshop in my house.

    I'm not saying it might not be worthwhile going for an open source e-reader - not fully decided on that issue yet (or who will win this e-reader war). I just love the idea of having a bookshop in my house. Now all I need is a wireless chocolate shop...

    BTW: Is this the Mandy Watson I knew at CityVarsity?

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  • <a href="http://www.brainwavez.org/" rel="nofollow">Mandy J Watson</a>
    Mandy J Watson
    October 14th, 2009 @13:37 #
     
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    Yes, it's the Mandy *J* Watson you knew from CityVarsity. :P

    There isn't really a term for this but it's closer to leasing (it is *never* ownership) in the sense that you do not ever own the file as you would own a physical book that you bought and you do not have the rights that come with owning the physical object (the store owner cannot come to your house and demand that you return your bought copy, for example). If an item is "recalled" you won't be able to use it even if you have a copy on your computer, as far as I'm aware, unless you can find a way to crack it (which would be illegal) to read it on another device.

    To me this is not about risk/benefit, although I see why most people feel that way. To me this is about the larger issue of the ongoing erosion of rights.

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  • <a href="http://lisalazarus.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Lisa</a>
    Lisa
    October 14th, 2009 @13:50 #
     
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    I don't see how it can be an "erosion of rights" if you're fully aware of the nature of the right at the onset of the transaction - and you enter the contract through your own free will (i.e. no gun at your head). I understand that should there be a major rights issue with one of the books (unlikely and not in the best business interests of amazon), then I may lose that particular e-book and be refunded for it. How are my rights being eroded here?

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 14th, 2009 @14:29 #
     
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    One thing I've noticed with my Kindle is that Amazon never "talks" to it - and nor does it talk to my computer. I use a USB connection simply to move the files I've downloaded between the hard drive and the device - and Amazon doesn't "know" when I'm doing this. I doubt very much that, if it needed to redact a transaction, it would be able to do so, or to make the file unreadable on my device. Things may be different with the next-gen Kindle, though.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    October 14th, 2009 @14:31 #
     
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    Erkle. The machines are watching us.

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  • <a href="http://www.brainwavez.org/" rel="nofollow">Mandy J Watson</a>
    Mandy J Watson
    October 14th, 2009 @22:56 #
     
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    It's an erosion of rights because one day you will struggle to find and buy physical objects (audio, video, text) as media moves to digital formats for "convenience" and because physical objects become "prohibitively expensive" to manufacture and then you will have no choice but to accept the "leasing" paradigm (or any other restrictive paradigm that companies choose to foist upon you). It is exactly what corporations want, in order to circumvent fair use and freedoms of speech and expression and to exact more control over media.

    Also, goodbye libraries, or lending a book to a friend. All of that is being threatened.

    The counter to this, should you wish to use a digital reading device, is to purchase one that doesn't have these secret Big Brother abilities built into it and which supports DRM-free media files. Then, buy DRM-free media files: what you've bought is then *yours*. It would still be illegal to copy them (much like one shouldn't photocopy a book) but you would have no fear of it one day "disappearing" from your system.

    Ben, you're using a Kindle in a market/environment in which it's technically not supposed to exist, so I'm not sure how it works (and my five seconds with yours hasn't given me enough time to ascertain much :) but the fact remains that there is a remote-delete function, and it works (somehow), and against everyone with the copy of the applicable e-book, as far as I am aware.

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  • <a href="http://margieorford.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Margie</a>
    Margie
    October 15th, 2009 @07:43 #
     
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    A New York Times blog on the differences of reading on screen compared to a book. Fascinating. http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/does-the-brain-like-e-books/

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  • <a href="http://lisalazarus.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Lisa</a>
    Lisa
    October 15th, 2009 @08:51 #
     
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    It's one speculative (and extreme) future society...but there are probably many others. The same thing happened when the internet / computers came on the scene - dire predictions. New technology does lead to numerous possibilites, some easily predictable and other less so.

    I don't think that buying a DRM reader is an exclusionary choice. I, as an example, would still buy books (because I enjoy the experience of reading a book), and might consider, at some point down the line, buying a non-DRM reader to have easy access to .pdf files / Google books etc. So I'm not sure the Kindle is necessarily a substitute for the physical objects - and will therefore lead to their demise. It's just another reading option.

    Also, regarding the deletion of 1984 on the Kindle - wasn't there an issue with the rights - i.e. Amazon didn't own the Kindle rights? And, if so, hadn't they really sold stolen goods? I always understood that stolen goods could be confiscated (and often the cost of the goods is not refunded). I stand to be corrected - I don't know all the ins and outs of the situation, nor am I a lawyer. I just don't believe that ALL corporations want to "circumvent fair use and freedoms of speech and expression and to exact more control over media." These things exist in gradations - some (largely) good coporations / some (more) rotten ones.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    October 15th, 2009 @10:02 #
     
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    Margie, that is a brilliant piece you've linked. Particularly liked what Maryanne Wolf had to say -- every parent with a reading-age child should read it. Quote of the day: "This is what Proust called the heart of reading — when we go beyond the author’s wisdom and enter the beginning of our own."

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    October 15th, 2009 @10:39 #
     
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    Absolutely, Mandy - had to jump in here. This stage of capitalism is suckering us by comfort and convenience. In any real revolution, the word is spread by underground pamphlets, by circumventing the technology of the oppressor. If - when, more likely - we need a new revolution against tyranny, we will have lost the means to produce those, we would have forgotten that democratic and liberating technology.

    Last night I was thinking change happens, and freedom of expression anyway is a recent and bourgeois concern. Perhaps we're just moving back to another, more natural form of serfdom, in which we're fed official truths by the truth-producers and our understanding of the world is limited by those in power. I think this is a reasonable reading of human politics - can we really believe in spiritual and political evolution? But it is a sad one. One great benefit of a globalised world is that we have been attuned, very recently and very beneficially, to a polyglot of voices and cultures and expressions and truths. It encourages tolerance and empathy - and that is where the potential of human evolution lies. But it is counter to corporatised and consolidated systems of power which rely on singular, galvanising truths to compel and unify people's actions. If we have this new-found polyglossic liberation snatched from us, now at this rare juncture when we still have the means of dissemination in our grasp, we will have lost a great deal. I fear this will happen.

    Which is stronger: the overwhelming forces of humanity's group/corporate instincts, or the drive towards enlightenment and spiritual/intellectual evolution which is counter to this natural inclination?

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    October 15th, 2009 @12:12 #
     
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    Ja, but, can I grab any thing at hand - pen or pencil - and scribble notes on it in my unreadable scrawl without struggling with software recognition? Can I spill coffee over it and it still works? Can I take it too the beach and not worry about sand and moist salt air getting into it? Can it sit on shelves in all manner of spines and colours and add to the homely feel of my study? Can I balance my over-flowing ashtray on it?

    Further, it seems that the biggest boon celebrated in e-readers is the mass of data/ 100s of books you can have at your fingertips while travelling, without having to lug heavy books along. There's much to be said for that convenience. But don't forget your charger, and your multiple adapters for various country's power supplies. And, ever been oppressed by having too many choices? I for instance struggle with 'inflight entertainment systems' on planes because I can never decide what I want to watch or listen - there's just too much. I find it unlikely that the having 100s of books at one's fingertips is a real benefit; I won't be able to read anything.

    Sure, it's great for research, I imagine. Electronically searchable text. Great for finding exactly what you want from a book, perhaps, without having to take in the context, etc. Great for cut and paste research, which is far more efficient than research based on absorption over long periods of time...

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    October 15th, 2009 @12:35 #
     
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    Excellent points, Rustum. Specially about the scribbling. Can I read it in the bath? Can I let my son toss it across the room without stressing? Can I bung it in my back pocket without a specially designed teflon protector? Is it less likely than my paperback to be swiped from my desk when I go out for a break?
    As for cut and paste research - it's just as easy on your laptop.

    Does it furnish a room?

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 15th, 2009 @12:55 #
     
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    It doesn't furnish a room, but you can "scribble" - albeit with a keyboard, not a pen (the Kindle allows marginalia on any page; you can also bookmark pages). And while it's not physically robust like a book, I think it certainly has a complementary role to play on one's bookshelf - as one choice for reading among many. It's perfect for magazines, I find. As for the beach, here's Amazon's propaganda:

    http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/kindle/turing/photos/feat-read-in-sunlight-300px._V251249384_.jpg

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    October 15th, 2009 @13:21 #
     
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    I vacillate daily about the technology - appeals immensely / /appeals not at all / appeals like a hole in the head / appeals like a hole in a doughnut; but not on the corporate ideology behind knowledge ownership which I'm quite self-convinced about.

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  • <a href="http://rustumkozain.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    October 15th, 2009 @15:00 #
     
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    True, me too, especially when you mention magazines. But so, will that be 40% up on New Yorker etc as well?

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  • <a href="http://www.brainwavez.org/" rel="nofollow">Mandy J Watson</a>
    Mandy J Watson
    October 15th, 2009 @18:50 #
     
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    What Louis said.

    Corporations and knowledge-ownership issues aside I had a chance to touch Ben's Kindle (sounds lurid) and I immediately noticed that I was *missing* all the sensory and tactile experiences that are inherently what 50% of books is all about - the smell of the paper and the ink, the texture of the paper and the cover, ....

    I have a fantastic computer netbook that I use to do a lot of writing work but I still have piles of paper notebooks that I use whenever I need to make "real" notes. I have three in my bag at all times (one for general notes and two for different categories of journalistic endeavours). The netbook still hasn't replaced that, even though I take it with me everywhere too. I use a pencil because I find I am more expressive with it than with a pen.

    I admit, however, that I'm a Neo Luddite and the convenience factors of electronic devices usually trump any other issues for most people, which leads right back to those issues I was ranting about earlier (but I won't go there again).

    With the regards to the screen, the quality is very good - far better than most electronic devices (this is a long story regarding how screens and monitors haven't been "upgraded" in terms of technological advances the way every other kind of device has, and therefore we are still using "old" technology and low-resolution text rendering, which is not appropriate for our eyes - I expect to see advances in this area soon). I spend all day reading computer monitors, however, and I hate it and would prefer not to do it - it's just impractical to print the Internet, unfortunately. http://www.cartridgesave.co.uk/news/if-you-printed-the-internet/

    (Ben - I notice how faaaaaar away she is from the water. And there are no hazardous children, pets, and Frisbees around for miles. :)

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 15th, 2009 @22:07 #
     
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    Amazon's got some e-competition in the form of a company called Google:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/oct/15/google-editions

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  • <a href="http://storycatcher.info/scribbles" rel="nofollow">Aernout Zevenbergen</a>
    Aernout Zevenbergen
    October 20th, 2009 @08:46 #
     
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    Okay, so the Amazon Kindle is coming to SA.
    Nice.
    But are SA e-books also coming to Amazon, and therefore onto the Kindle?

    So far the only way to get a book onto Amazon is through local (read: American) distributors. Which makes sense when it is a paper version. The physical book has to physically be available.
    But with e-books that argument no longer works.

    So, does anyone know how to get an e-book onto Amazon?
    Thanks...

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 20th, 2009 @08:58 #
     
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    Aernout, up till now you needed a credit card with a US address to add content to the Kindle store. Here's hoping that changes with the rollout of Kindle internationally. If it does change, its quite a simple matter to open a Kindle Store account and add content to it.

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  • <a href="http://byronloker.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Byron Loker</a>
    Byron Loker
    October 20th, 2009 @14:37 #
     
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    Here's an in-depth look at e-books and the 'publishing revolution' that helps to place it in some context: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f11b8bbc-b9b6-11de-a747-00144feab49a.html

    Look over at what's happening in China: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1662ae04-b9b3-11de-a747-00144feab49a.html

    I first found myself excited about e-books in 2000, in fact started a tiny SA website iBhuku.com that initially sold, for a $1, a smattering of African short stories. I sold 1 in 3 years! 10 years on much has evolved but I'm still rather unexcited about e-books. Since they are now much more of a reality though, I like the Chinese model: free, user-generated (self published), DRM free. And attendant e-readers must be cheap.

    As for the 'formal' publishing industry, I think e-books should be seen as part of an integrated strategy for selling more hard copies. I don't see e-books replacing hard copies. More than anything though, I like the idea of print on demand publishing (see lulu.com).

    I agree with Rustum's too many choices conundrum: Books? e-books? Newspapers?Internet? Magazines? How about a little bit of everything...

    See also: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0627c37a-b923-11de-98ee-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1 "When Tina Brown turned her back on magazines a year ago to launch a website called The Daily Beast, some scoffed in the media world she once reigned as editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker".

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  • <a href="http://byronloker.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Byron Loker</a>
    Byron Loker
    October 20th, 2009 @14:38 #
     
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    Ah man, what a mess. Ben how do I edit the above. I had it nicely laid out?

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  • <a href="http://byronloker.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Byron Loker</a>
    Byron Loker
    October 20th, 2009 @14:43 #
     
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    oh, you click refresh! I'm now going to go and do something that has nothing to do with text on a screen.

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 20th, 2009 @14:43 #
     
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    Byron, if you refresh the page, you'll see the line breaks where you want them. We've had a few issues getting them to appear upon the initial posting, but the system remembers them for the next visit.

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 20th, 2009 @14:44 #
     
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    Good links, btw!

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    October 20th, 2009 @15:42 #
     
  • aidanne
    aidanne
    June 10th, 2010 @08:36 #
     
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    i'd like to get a Kindle but dont understand the technology for receiving books. Can you please explain the process to a non-technical person who does not understand terms such as "via 3G and GPRS" . Many thanks.
    Aidsy

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    June 10th, 2010 @08:41 #
     
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    Hi Aidsy

    The books are delivered to your Kindle much as an mms (a large sms) is delivered to your phone: via a cell phone's communications network. It takes 1-2 minutes for the book to be sent by Amazon to it's SA cell phone partner (which seems to be MTN), which then "texts" the book to your Kindle.

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  • <a href="http://book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Ben - Editor</a>
    Ben - Editor
    November 1st, 2010 @11:39 #
     
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    Hi POV. Thanks for the note. One possible local lead is http://www.have2have.co.za - but my advice would be to order the cover along with the device. I haven't seen Kindle accessories available anywhere in SA.

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  • <a href="http://www.kindsouthafrica.com" rel="nofollow">KindleSA</a>
    KindleSA
    November 21st, 2010 @16:03 #
     
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    Just launched http://www.kindlesouthafrica.com

    The Amazon Kindle Reader is now available to buy from Amazon and delivered to your door in South Africa. There is not a better time to grab a bargain as the Rand to Dollar exchange rate is in your favor. We provide you with a simple solution to buy from one of the most reputable retailers, Amazon South Africa at the cheapest prices!

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  • lindi
    lindi
    December 21st, 2010 @20:41 #
     
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    Hi
    I am really interested in purchasing the kindle reader. I am not certain though that it will fulfill my needs. I am a psychologist involved in research and will need to use it to download mainly academic text books and research articles. Will I be able to access a large number of that type of material (especially the academic books)?I travel extensiveley and would like to use it as a tool to continue all the reading and research stuff whilst I am away from the office.

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  • <a href="http://www.darlingtonrichards.com/" rel="nofollow">moi</a>
    moi
    December 21st, 2010 @23:11 #
     
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    Lindi, I use my iRiver Story for just this. It looks a lot like the kindle but I don't know the actual spec differences. I found a coupla things with respect to academic materials.

    1. mostly, they're in pdf, occasionally word format - not in ebook format. which means there's no problem getting the data from the 'puter to the reading device, no need to go online or to download via the 'net etc

    2. some of fun tools/features (fonts, bookmarks, 'find') seem to be designed to work for ebooks but don't work on the pdf/word doc data. Not a huge problem once you're over the disappointment and maybe I've missed the right switches to flick

    3. There seems to be a limit to the magnification you can apply to the font size of pdf data. In fact, most of my pdfs render in a very very small font - which is fince since my close vision is excellent, but could be a real problem for most people with normal vision

    4. I can enlarge the font a tad by reading in landscape mode, but that 'cuts' each page in half (and repeats the last few lines of the first half at the top of the second). Problem with this is that reading is much slower 'cos you can't skim your eyes over a whole page. OK for study but very slow for overview.

    5. That's another problem (which may apply to the ebooks too) - the time it takes to 'turn' the page - specially when the battery is running down. Not huge problem, but flicking back and forth to check a detail can be tedious.

    But still, I'd not be without it - I get to lie on my back, feet up to read papers - which makes them seem a whole lot less like study. And my academic stuff is portable, easy to pick up & put down - in a way that books and laptops aren't.

    The not-backlit screen is soooo relaxing to read after a day of travel or looking at the laptop and the whole thing is much lighter/more comfortable to hold than the average academic book so whether you're travelling or not, it's possible to get in a coupla pages of reading while you're hanging out in the hammock, waiting in a longlong queue etc

    hope this helps...

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  • <a href="http://ereadersouthafrica.com/" rel="nofollow">kindlesouthafrica</a>
    kindlesouthafrica
    January 12th, 2012 @21:22 #
     
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    I found kindle south africa reviews prices comparison from amazon and local retailer store store such as Bidorbuy, RocketShop, WantItAll, PriceCheck, Take2, iGear at http://ereadersouthafrica.com
    Hope this helpful.

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  • <a href="http://ereadersouthafrica.com/" rel="nofollow">kindlesouthafrica</a>
    kindlesouthafrica
    January 12th, 2012 @21:23 #
     
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    I found kindle south africa reviews prices comparison from amazon and local retailer store store such as Bidorbuy, RocketShop, WantItAll, PriceCheck, Take2, iGear at http://ereadersouthafrica.com">Kindle South Africa Hope this helpful.

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