Amazon KindleAmazon’s Kindle e-book reader has received an “okay” rating from those visiting the Amazon site, says Joseph Tartakoff, a reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The company claims that the reader device currently is sold out, but has refused to release its sales figures. (It’s funny; the manufacturers of e-book devices don’t release their sales numbers very often.)

If you read my previous post on the Kindle, you know that I feel pretty strongly that there’s still no substitute for most real 3D books (see below for my exceptions). Why spend $399 for a device that – if you treat it the way people often treat books – can easily be lost, stolen, or damaged? And then, why spend $9.99 each for “books” that you can’t lend, sell, or give away? The article says:

… Mike Perry, 59, of Seattle, the editor of Inkling Books… has not bought a Kindle but nevertheless felt compelled to rate it on Amazon’s site with three stars, praising its wireless connectivity but deriding its large size.

He said that in its current state, he did not need a Kindle. In his review, he wrote: “If you’re on the go, this will take up a serious amount of space. If you’re not on the go, you might as well get a printed book.”

A technology analyst that Tartakoff quotes in the story, James McQuivey of Forrester Research, says it best:

“It is hard to compete against something as effective as a book,” he wrote.

A lot of my interest in e-books has been whether they will catch on with young people, and so far I’ve seen no reason that they should. The main reason they won’t is the cost, combined with the static content. The young people I see in my library every day seem interested only in things on a screen that flash bright colors, move, and talk. They don’t particularly care about spending time with words that just sit there. It’s not that they don’t read. It seems to me, from watching them and my conversations with them, that screens are still not the friendliest of places to read long stretches of text when you can hold a book in your lap instead.

The article speculates that a better e-book reader – one combining the Kindle’s wireless purchasing and downloading of e-books with the Sony Reader’s comfortable shape – that costs under $200 might finally break the e-book reader device into the mainstream. I think a price of like $29.95 is closer to the mark.

E-books are just not appealing enough in their current state to gain real mass acceptance. There are certain kinds of books that work better as software on a device (i.e., as an e-book) than as a book you hold in your hands – I’m thinking language instruction, test preparation, and textbooks in general. These are books you consult or work with – ones you read bits and pieces of.

But books that you read all the way through for entertainment or inspiration? I agree with McQuivey; they’ll be tough to compete with for a long while.

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