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The Golden Age of Kindle 2.0 and Beyond — Part 1

Click here to read The Golden Age of Kindle 2.0 and Beyond — Part 2

(I’m in the process of completing this new chapter of The Complete User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle, and it only makes sense to blog some of the content here over the next few days. This chapter will focus on about a dozen possibilities for Kindle 2.0 and beyond – some may be exciting to some, and others to others. Feel free to weigh in with your own ideas in comment form).

Not long ago (as I type away in July 2008) a reputable tech website posted some intriguing information stating that an unidentified “insider” had leaked information to the effect that two new versions of the Kindle would be released in late 2008 and early 2009. The first release would involve software enhancements to the original hardware – thus ensuring, presumably, that existing Kindle owners would be able to get these enhancements without having to spend more than the $359 to $399 they have already laid out. The second release, in 2009, would involve a larger (but not necessarily heavier) device with a larger, perhaps flexible screen. I have no reason to doubt the story. It has been widely quoted and referenced as authoritative elsewhere on the web, despite some internal contradictions regarding timetable, it strangely worded notion that the new models would “hit stores,” and its lack of attribution. It certainly makes sense that Amazon would lead with next-generation software, so that the leak of the story doesn’t bring sales of the existing device to a standstill.

We’ve all got tons of great ideas about the improvements that we absolutely must have as Amazon releases the Kindle 2.0, 3.0 and beyond. Many of the ideas that have been suggested in various blogs and communities as well as in messages sent directly to Amazon at kindle-feedback@amazon.com, and I expect to see a good portion of them realized in future Kindle generations.

I’ve already participated in this process as an individual Kindle owner, and I will continue to do so. Here, rather than add my voice to those of thousands of other Kindle owners who have weighed in with good suggestions for fixes to the obvious design flaws such as those pesky next-page bars, I’m going to take a different approach and try to suggest some enhancements of a more radical nature, changes that could create some serious viral energy to expand the reach and the function of the Kindle. Then I will suggest a roughly equal number of changes that would build upon the Kindle’s concept and on Amazon’s commitment to electronic reading generally by opening a big tent around the Kindle and its content and inviting programmers, publishers and, perhaps, even competitors inside.

You can blame me for these, but please, give me no credit for them. While it is true that some of these ideas occurred to me before I read about them somewhere else, others were generated by some of the truly creative and thoughtful people on other Kindle websites and communities, and still others were shared with me via email by readers of the beta versions of this book. Many are mash-ups, if you will, of all three of these fountains of Kindle ideas, and this is as it should be. I will certainly try to give credit where I am aware that it should be given, but I am also bound to miss out here and there.

Kindle Reading Subscriptions

Amazon launched the Kindle with a fairly rigid pricing scheme: customers would pay a relatively high price for the device, with two important promises as counterweights to that price:

· they would be able to buy individual e-books at a significant discounted compared with the price for print-on-paper versions; and

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