Amazon and Amazon Kindle: Software above the level of a single device

Development in technology and the Internet have changed the nature of digital content and its accessibility and have opened up new opportunities for publishing industry. Rear and Salo (cited in Vasileou, Hartley, and Rowley, 2009, p.173) have noted that “book-like electronic reading in particular is a rapidly growing commercial phenomenon, with a wide variety of devices, software, and distribution systems, and a wide range of content genres”.

At the present, there are several e-book formats available in the market and also devices specifically designed to read e-books or designed for other uses as well. Some commonly used formats are MobiPocket, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Reader, Palm Reader, VitalSources, Plain Text, and HTML. Each format has its own features and specific reader software is needed to enable the e-book to be read or viewed on a device. Some commonly used devices are PCs, PDAs, Blackberries, Tablets, Sony Readers, mobile phones, iPhones, iPods, and Kindle (e-book reader from Amazon).

Through Amazon Kindle, Amazon is reflecting one of the Web 2.0 patterns, software above the level of a single device. Amazon and Amazon Kindle are realising that the personal computer (PC) is not the only device to access the Internet and its applications. Therefore, Amazon Kindle is more than just a software and hardware platform for reading e-books because it is also equipped with wireless access to the Internet so that readers can read e-books, newspapers, magazines, and blog anywhere and anytime by subscribing or purchasing and downloading them via Amazon.

The Internet access for Amazon Kindle is enabled by the same technology as advanced cellular phones so users do not need hotspot. The Amazon Kindle simply connects as phone cell connect by using Whispernet which is sold as a package. Amazon (2009) states that “Whispernet utilizes Amazon’s optimized technology plus Sprint’s national high-speed (3G) data network to enable users to wirelessly search, discover, and download content on the go.” E-books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs are delivered via Whispernet.

To some extent, best practices from this Web 2.0 patterns are manifested by Amazon and Amazon Kindle. Best practice of ‘enable data location independence’ is manifested through Amazon Whispersync. It is a feature that can synchronise data so that it can be read by other device such as iPhone and iPod touch. Compatibility issues also become Amazon’s concern. Concurrently with the Kindle device, Amazon launched the Digital Text Platform, a system for authors to self-publish directly to the Kindle (Amazon, 2007). A critic for Amazon and Amazon Kindle are about hardware decision which has been questioned is the non-availability of WiFi functionality on the Kindle as they only rely on Sprint’s Whispernet service. This can influence directly Amazon’s policies for marketing their e-books.


Amazon. (2007). Digital Text Platform Community Support. Retrieved 17, 2009 from

Amazon. (2009). Kindle 2: Amazon’s new wireless reading device (latest generation). Retrieved 17, 2009 from

Vasileou, M., Hartley, R., & Rowley, J. (2009). An overview of the e-book marketplace. Online Information Review, 33(1), 173-192. Retrieved April 17, 2009 form Emerald Database.


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