But even without format lock-in, the Kindle has some formidable advantages. Aside from the small problem of reading in the bathtub, the Kindle is simply a better (and pricier) version of a book: lighter, thinner, and much easier to read with one hand. You use it the way you would use a book, on park benches and long airplane trips. The Kindle doesn’t do much of anything else, but it is an excellent book replacement.
The iPad does a bunch of things, but none of them especially well. You can’t read it in full daylight, and its battery life is much shorter than the Kindle’s. With no true built-in keyboard or ability to multitask, it’s not a substitute for a laptop—and unlike my iPhone, it won’t fit in a pocket, take pictures, or make calls. Unless you need it for one of a handful of specialty uses, it doesn’t replace anything you already have; it’s just one more thing to carry. Apple’s gee-whiz design talents are compelling, but hardly infallible: consider the fate of the Newton handheld device, or Apple TV.
But perhaps the Kindle’s biggest asset is that it can bundle e-books with … actual books. If an e-book is unavailable through iTunes, tough luck. If a book is not available in Kindle’s e-book format, well, with one click I can have it shipped in a couple of days. The convenience of one-stop shopping for a book you really want is apt to be a powerful incentive to stay in Amazon’s domain during the transition from printed books.
What Megan McArdle does not tell you about the Kindle.
On December 4, Motoko Rich reported in the New York Times about a partnership between Amazon and The Atlantic to bring short stories to the Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader. The first two stories appeared in the Amazon Kindle store last Monday. Written by Edna O’Brien and Christopher Buckley, each story sells for $3.99 and is readable exclusively on the Kindle. (As of this writing, both stories are featured in Amazon’s Kindle Exclusives store.) Another story by Curtis Sittenfeld will go on sale in January. So far, then, we have three well-known writers, but Amazon promises that two new stories “by both well-known and up-and-coming authors” will appear each month.
(The article this quote comes from is very interesting.)
Maybe I expect too much and disclosing relationships is unnecessary in this multi-corporate world. Besides, David G. Bradley is an information broker. He stages what he calls "events" and "dinners" to give corporations media access. It's not about journalism, it's about setting up a toll road on the information highway.
Atlantic spokesperson Zachary Hooper told Talking Points Memo on Monday that "the corporate sponsor comes to us and says, 'We're interested in having a discussion on a certain topic.'" And some corporate sponsors, TPM reported, have included AstraZeneca ("Healthcare Access and Education”); Microsoft (“Global Trade”), G.E. ("Energy Sustainability and the Future of Nuclear Power"); Allstate ("The Future of the American City"); and Citi ("The Challenge of Global Markets").
When asked by TPM, Hooper declined to comment on how much a corporation pays to sponsor an event, so it is unclear if the Atlantic asks anywhere in the $25,000 to $250,000 range described in the [Washington] Post's flier that advertised for underwriting opportunities.
Corporations need a seemingly impartial way to shape public opinion. They pay Bradley to procure his pet journalists at the Atlantic, who moderate discussions on the corporations' interests and pass on the impartial, balanced information to the public. His journalists pass themselves off as idea people, problem solvers, the leaders of the new generation. Sages who can outline "a better policy model for thinking about failures at the individual and institutional level."
Well, they say it takes one to know one. Meanwhile, our nation still refuses to ignore the chronically, cravenly wrong and the hopelessly inept.