How the Kindle has grown

Since Amazon released its first e-reader, on November 19, 2007, for 399.oo, with the weird name of Kindle, much has changed. Some still insist it is not for them. However, technology is invented for those who grow up with it, more than those who embrace it. Now, Kindle can be an app on almost any device.

When I did my first-ever cruise talks just after the turn of the millennium guests were still insisting that they would never have a mobile phone. There are now more smartphones in the world than running toilets. The first handheld mobile phone was demonstrated by Martin Cooper of Motorola in New York City in 1973. By 2023 it opens your car, your cruise cabin door, and reads the QR of an excursion destination and gives you the audio tour. Except in Buckingham Palace where you can’t use your camera or mobile and they don’t want you to photograph.

We have quietly passed the 100th anniversary of the television which was first developed by American inventor Philo Taylor Farnsworth II, and we know from Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley who is an architectural and social historian, that much of what we were taught was what they wanted us to know; the teller’s version of the truth.

So how will history deal with the here and now? The Kindle is an app that goes on a mobile device, whether a smartphone or pad and is read while travelling. Newspapers are rarely seen being read, they are thin and few and far between. The smartphone can have larger print, it has a search facility, it can translate and if there is a word you don’t understand it will explain it for you. Your smartphone can hold a library of books. It can read to you when you get tired and you can read along with it, in many languages.  An actual Kindle can store up to 1,400 books. That is more than many ships have in their library, and you can organise your own Kindle library. The fact that you can have a high-contrast screen allows you to read even in bright sunshine with no glare seems a given like going home to watch TV.

Here is a side effect – well, many side effects. Next time you hear an actor saying they haven’t any work, ask them if they have left their voice audition on Amazon’s ACX platform for authors to choose who might read their book and then share the royalties directly from Amazon that pay all parties as per an agreed split in an Amazon offered umbrella of contract. The monthly collection of Kindle members’ subscriptions is around $50m dollars, and they auto-split and pay it to the parties on pages read by the reading members.

With old paper books that destroy trees (unless made with elephant pooh!) and use carbon to pulp them into paper, the book you get is the book that was issued. It never changes. Through book clubs and other platforms, keen readers report typos and grammar, and the Kindle can be updated by the author and the reader can get the latest updates. The community helps make the product closer to perfection.

On the Kindle, you can also read manuals, magazines, maps, excursion and attraction facts, webpages and so much more. You can take screenshots, highlight facts, or correct a document. On a Kindle Fire, you can watch films and TV, and this won’t shock you, Amazon Prime is arriving on Kindle. You can transfer personal videos as well as purchase and rent.

On a less positive note, but not in any way derogatory, subscription has replaced addiction. The cigarette companies that got rich on the back of leisurely need, greed, and addiction are being replaced with clouds, clubs, and app suppliers who want you to subscribe. Subscription base and income flow are factors in wealth just as a Saami’s reindeer flock is. The push to get you to subscript to the use of music, film, or books is sometimes a factor as to why you cannot purchase a Kindle on a smartphone Kindle App or in some other combinations. It means you cannot download or ‘purchase’ the free promotions. You can go into a platform, purchase the Kindle (even free Kindles need to go through the purchase system) and then they appear in your library.

Above I mentioned Word Wise. No more looking up words can help us all. Word Wise can show the explanation as you read. You can toggle this on or off and set its level. For a child reading a book above their age for a learning task, for example, they can read above their age and set Word Wise on. Word Wise can be enabled easily on your Kindle device or app. From within your book, tap the top of the screen to access the menu and choose the Aa menu. Choose ‘More’ from the menu that appears and scroll to the ‘Word Wise’ option. Here you can toggle Word Wise on or off.

If we think back to 2007, when Kindle arrived, and then see how it has advanced in less than twenty years we have to ask how our grandparents would stand looking in awe at what we use now. The washing machine, the fridge, the dishwasher, the television, video calls, social media… and history will tell them we use to burn coal, used to read books, type on typewriters and learn how to type.

Try the Kindle app on your smart device. It’s free, it is not going away. Then perhaps try my book series. Please leave a review on Amazon, which is again a great leveller because any purchaser can review, and the reviewer has a recall on incorrect or malicious reviews. Each year about four million books are released. Most are self-published today, but slightly more than half a million come out via publishers. Being a writer is 10% writing and 90% selling and working to sell. Few earn their outlay back. Very few make a living. It is similar to expecting to be a rock star. It is a shock how few books are sold; The New York Times Bestseller list requires an author to make a minimum of 5000 book sales (higher, depending on the list) in a single week across diverse retailers and from multiple geographic locations. Few manage to come even close.

Stuart has received a number of 5-star reviews at the Online Book Club and on Amazon. One reader suggested the CSCI books reminded him of the work of Clive Cussler.