Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cory Doctorow: Put Not Your Faith In Ebook Readers (Locus)

Two fascinating lumps of white plastic hit major snags this past Christmas. One was the Nintendo Wii, a surprise smash-hit game console that compensates for its relatively crude graphics with ingenious gameplay based on a controller outfitted with accelerometers that let you interact with the console by waving your arms around. The other was the Amazon Kindle, an "E-Ink"-based e-book reader that, like its competition, the Sony Reader, delivers long battery life and superb screen quality in a slim and sexy form-factor that is just about the right size to slip into a large-ish coat pocket.

Both devices had the same problem: they sold out completely and new units could not be manufactured in time for Christmas. Both devices spawned entire Internet tool-suites dedicated to helping frustrated would-be purchasers locate their own unit. Amazon was selling 17 Wiis per second at the height of the fever, and more than one enterprising hacker whomped up a little pinger that would obsessively check Amazon for notice of new stock and then IM, email or SMS you the instant the Wii went back on the block.

(more . . .)