Len Edgerly is a 72-year-old podcaster from Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has spent the past 14 and 1/2 years talking about his favorite tech product: the Kindle.
Edgerly, who produces a weekly podcast called “The Kindle Chronicles”, has spoken to readers, publishing industry professionals, and Amazon executives twice about his love for the e-reader.
Edgerly said that he uses the simplest Kindle and it costs less than $100. He’s also owned 30 Kindle devices in his lifetime. It’s small and easy to carry around in my pocket. It is the one that disappears most when I read something. It’s almost like having nothing but words.
Amazon (AMZN), which launched the first Kindle in November 2007, pushed the publishing industry to embrace digital books. It also sparked the e-commerce giant’s hardware initiatives. The tech industry has seen tablets and smartphones rise in the past 15 years, but the Kindle’s link display is still a popular choice. It offers a more natural reading experience than an LCD and requires less eye strain.
Edgerly, a loyal but niche listener, says that “The Kindle Chronicles” can sometimes get 2,000 episodes per episode. Reddit’s Kindle group has over 202,000 members. It ranks in the top 1% for size. Users post what they are reading and take pictures of the places they take their e-readers. Facebook appreciation groups are also available. Kindles have been spotted on television and in celebrities’ hands over the years.
The Kindle is a digital device that was created in 2000 before smartphones were ubiquitous. This approach may have been a success, at least for some users.
David McQueen (a research director at ABI Research) stated that “much of the longevity of this type of single-use case device is because they just do one very, very well.”
Even though the e-reader market has declined over the years, many market research firms have stopped tracking their sales and Amazon doesn’t publicly share sales figures for Kindles, the Kindle is still in demand as a reading device due to a few reasons. It is intuitive, lightweight, and can store thousands of books. McQueen stated that Amazon can keep Kindle prices low because its business model is focused on selling books and not hardware.
The evolution of Kindle
Kindle was originally codenamed Fiona to help it provide the best hardware for e-reading at a time that no other hardware was available. It sold out within five hours of its launch.
In a letter to shareholders, Bezos stated that “our supply chain and manufacturing team have had to scramble to increase production capacity.” This was published publicly in 2017 on the tenth anniversary. We knew Kindle would need to be out of the way. This was just like a physical book. Readers could lose track of what they are reading on a tablet. We also knew that we should not try to duplicate every feature of a book.
That promise was kept by Bezos. The Kindle has been a great device. It offers larger screens and touchscreens, the ability to adjust font size and spacing, better processors, and longer battery life. The Kindle Paperwhite improved the Kindle’s illumination, waterproofing was added with the Kindle Oasis and a Kids Edition was launched. Most recently, the Kindle Scribe introduced an e-pen that allows you to write with the Kindle Scribe.
The specs of the Kindle have also improved. The original Kindle had a battery that had to be charged every two days if wireless connectivity was switched on. It had 250MB of internal storage, enough for 200 books of medium length. The battery can last up to six weeks and has 16GB storage for thousands. It weighs only 5.5 ounces, which is almost half as much as the original. The original Kindle was able to access 90,000 books from the Kindle Store, whereas the Kindle Store now has 13 million. It was originally $399, but now it is $99.
The Kindle of today is still strikingly similar to its predecessor. Corey Badcock is the head of Amazon’s Kindle product. He joined Amazon eight years ago.
Badcock stated that Kindle’s vision is about reading a book, but with digital and portable capabilities. “Year after Year, people have told us that they don’t want any notifications on their device or to use YouTube. … People love that the sanctuary is free from distractions.
It was reported that Amazon had sold “tens to millions” of Kindles within its first ten years. Badcock refused to release updated Kindle sales figures, but stated that the “business continues its growth and expansion.”
Linn Huang, an analyst at IDC Research believes that the most important part of Kindle’s legacy was its ability to kickstart Amazon’s development in consumer tech devices. She said that while the Kindle e-reader is still available, it is not what launched Amazon as a manufacturer of consumer devices. “Holy hell, look at how far they have come in that regard.”
Amazon currently offers three hardware devices: the Fire tablet, the Firestick media streaming device, and the Echo smart speaker. Huang predicts that the Kindle will remain in the lineup for at least 15 more years.
She said that e-reader enthusiasts will continue to exist just as there will always be paper lovers. The more interesting question is, will Kindle be considered retro tech in the same way as vinyl record players and arcade cabinets?