KindleI’ve read and heard a lot of buzz about Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle 2 lately. Of the folks who are not wild about the device, the main criticism is that it’s not a book. It lacks the real world charm of books – the feel of the paper, the smell of the book, etc. You’re right – the Kindle is not a book, and that’s the whole point.

A quick story. Last year, I was flying back from Tampa on a business trip and sat next to Grandma Rosenblum, a wonderful 80 year old great-grandmother. I was surprised, amidst the usual contents that an 80 year old carries, to see an Amazon Kindle in her purse, and asked her about it, since my stereotype of 80 year olds generally doesn’t include cutting edge technology. Her response? “I love my Kindle. Everyone I know at my senior center has one. We all love that you can make the letters as big as you want. One of my friends has really bad eyes but she can read again now!”

I asked her about the other features of the Kindle – blog subscriptions, newspapers, etc. and she said she didn’t read anything like that, just books and the occasional article. Except she was wrong. She did read a couple of blogs – Huffington Post was in there, as well as mainstream news sources like the New York Times. She just didn’t call the Huffington Post a blog. It was merely, to her, a series of articles.

The Kindle 2 has even more stuff. Based on initial product description, it’ll have the 3G wireless component, but it will also have document conversion and a basic web browser. Guess what, gang? That’s not an eBook reader any more. That’s a tablet computer. Granted, you may not be working in Excel or playing Warcraft on it, but with the addition of a browser and document conversion, the Kindle is now a computer that can be used for productivity above and beyond reading stuff.

What’s the takeaway here? The Kindle 2 seems to be a workable tablet computer disguised as a book reader, rather like the iPod Touch is a workable PDA disguised as a music player. If you’re a business type, I would bet you’ll get some enhanced productivity out of the new Kindle.

If you’re a marketer, all I have to say is this: you had better be cranking out eBooks, you had better be cranking them out in Kindle-supported formats, and as a bonus, if you have the absolute trust and love of your readers, you might even get them to register their Kindle document conversion email addresses to get new eBooks from you when you have them. (did you know you can email documents to Kindle for conversion?)

Full disclosure: links to the Kindle are paid links for my employer, using Amazon’s affiliate program. Purchasing a Kindle through these links earns my employer the standard Amazon commission.

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