Information Wants To Be Kindled

Amazon’s Kindle 2 digital reader weighs a svelte 10 ounces, and at one-third of an inch, it’s thinner than most magazines. The first version of the device won rave critical reviews but had disappointing sales. The new version is sleeker, holds 1,500 books, and includes free access to Amazon’s relatively speedy 3G network—most books take about 30 seconds to download.

You can annotate, clip, and mark pages for research. You can upload PDF or Word documents, and you can upload MP3s to play as background music. Currently 34 newspapers and 24 magazines (including reason) are available for delivery.

Digital readers are useful, but their success may depend on the willingness of manufacturers, booksellers, and copyright holders to break down proprietary barriers to allow information sharing across a variety of formats. The Kindle 2 promises so many convenient ways to attract fresh audiences that the rights holders would be fools not to see the benefits of sharing.

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