With the advent of Kindle, from Amazon, a second dedicated ebook reader device has made the news, and there’s a lot to like about Kindle on the face of it. But the old hobgoblin of too many dedicated devices still reigns.

That’s what drives me crazy about Kindle. It has a built-in cell phone, but there’s no option to use it for anything else other than ordering a book. It has the ICs and jacks for playing MP3 files, but no playlist management, nor—absurdly enough, considering that Amazon is set up to sell things like music—any iTunes-like music downloading. The critical assessment of the Web browsing capability of Kindle is not fully formed, but there’s already plenty of complaint about the Kindle’s shortcomings there. Even one of the strong features of Kindle—E-ink—comes with its own drawback; while promotional copy claims that it is just like reading a page, that also means that you can’t read without a light, so better add a booklight to your pack, even as you’re carrying an electrically powered “book.” And with Kindle’s fundamental lack of support of PDF files—without question the single most widespread format for ebooks—you have to wonder, “What were they thinking?!”

A fuller discussion can be found in our Publishing Practices Blog, in Ebook Readers, Unite!

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