An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos, President and CEO of Amazon.com
Regarding the Kindle 2
Dear Mr. Bezos,
First, I want to applaud your efforts to bring electronic books into the mainstream. Through your vision, many of us have seen the future as manifested by the Amazon Kindle.
While not the first of its kind, the Kindle added groundbreaking features, such as wireless book delivery, that moved the e-book from the realm of the technophile into the hands of the masses. Almost everybody who uses a Kindle, appreciates these unique features and understands that this represents a crucial evolution of the e-book – we are at the crux of a new and better form of text delivery.
There are hundreds of thousands of us now using the Kindle 1 or Kindle 2 devices. We “get it.” And we are doing what we can to help it succeed. There are even third party developers creating applications to enhance the Kindle. Some are developing services to broaden the array of content available while others are actually experimenting with the software to show “proof-of-concept” examples of what the device is truly capable of.
As with all leading edge products, the Kindle has its warts. The new Kindle 2 (K2 for short), in particular, while hailed as an advance in many ways over its earlier sibling, has fallen short in one fundamental area – text display contrast.
If there is a single feature of an e-book reader which should be considered beyond compromise, this would be it. The raison-d’être of the K2 is to display text! And, while the fonts provided on the K2 are truly beautiful, when displayed on the e-ink display of the K2, they lack contrast, especially at smaller display sizes.
If this were an issue that just a few K2 users noted, then one could attribute the problem to either a small number of defective units or even just user preference. However, there are now hundreds of people who have signed petitions and are actively discussing this issue on Amazon’s discussion boards. Even published reviews, while generally glowing, have commented on the “whispy fonts” that make it difficult to read the screen in anything but ideal lighting conditions.
While we understand that there is variability between units and user preferences, this issue has been proven to be real. Examinations of the screen using a microscope prove that the font rendering results in a low contrast display. Further tests have shown that replacement fonts eliminate this problem, allowing a sharp and easily readable display in a variety of lighting conditions.
Unfortunately, calls by hundreds of us to Amazon Technical Support have resulted in many unsatisfied customers. Tech support refuses to admit that the issue exists, and there has been no official statement by Amazon regarding that this is being addressed or even planned to be addressed. Every day on the discussion groups, more people are giving up hope that a solution will be forthcoming and are simply boxing their Kindles up and returning them.
It is truly sad that this is occurring. The Kindle is a wonderful device. Your users are dedicated and have shown working solutions to the problems. But Amazon has yet to do anything. We, the Amazon Kindle 2 community, felt we had one last opportunity to resolve this issue by going straight to you, Mr. Bezos. If anybody can help get this issue resolved, it is you. But if you too remain silent, or fail to recognize the reality of this shortcoming, then the naysayers will have won and the Kindle 2 will fail to reach its true potential.