Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment.Naming a product "Kindle" might be a bit unusual for a company named after a giant waterway. Did Amazon have visions of Fahrenheit 451 for its electronic book reader? Perhaps, at $399, the product is aimed at those who have the kind of paper to burn that is legal tender for all debts, public or private and not involving iPhones.
Regardless, Kindle is far from the epilogue for paper-based books and won't materially alter the course of Amazon's river of reading revenue for some time. On the other hand, the grapheme-strewn box of Kindle notes the word can also mean to "inspire" or "stir up." And the oddly-shaped tablet's wireless commerce capabilities herald big changes for several related industries.
Kindle, as Sony recording artist and pop chart fugitive Billy Joel might have said in 1989, didn't start the fire. Amazon has become the second player to enter the embryonic electronic ink-based book reader market in the U.S. after Sony's introduction of its Switchie award-winning Reader. Both products offer excellent readability using electronic ink display technology and are tied to stores controlled by their manufacturers.