There are also downloadable ebooks that come in PDF format that one can read on the computer, and some allow limited printing. But I can't imagine wanting to print a 300 page book, and thinking about reading an entire book on a computer screen makes my head hurt. I wonder if the Kindle is any better?
So, do you have any experience, good or bad, with ebooks of any variety? Is the Kindle an up-and-comer, or a non-starter? If an author you liked published a book in one of the various (non-Kindle) ebook formats only (like a PDF that you can read on a PC) and you didn't own an ebook reader, would you buy the book? My thoughts are that I would buy it if it allowed printing, but would think twice if it didn't. If it was important enough to me, I'd find a way to print a 300 page book.
Update: The more I look into the Kindle and similar devices, the more intriguing they are. If you're interested, take a look at this matrix I found comparing the various devices. In particular, the iLiad by iRex looks quite interesting. It has a bigger screen and is compatible with a ton more ebook formats. The Sony eReader seems like more of a direct competitor to the Kindle, both price and size-wise, and allows multiple formats too. However...
As is the case with all leading edge devices/technologies/products like this, it's difficult to figure out which one will become the iPod, and which will become the Zune. At least those products both play the same format content -- MP3s. It doesn't appear that ebooks have settled on a predominant format yet, and Kindle's is proprietary -- a big negative. Despite the advantages the iLiad and Sony seem to have, Amazon's Kindle has two huge things in its favor.
- It's Amazon. Where do you go to buy books online? Amazon. That's where the overwhelming majority of people go. This 800-lb gorilla-ness can easily make up for other issues.
- Immediate purchase and download of new books without connecting to a PC. This is HUGE. Imagine sitting in an airport, deciding that you want to read the new release by your favorite author, but you don't have your laptop with you. As long as you're in the US, you can just download it with the Kindle.