I just ordered a Kindle. I’d tell you the model number, but it doesn’t seem to have one.
My confirmation email tells me that I’ve ordered the “Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi‐Fi, 6″ Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally — Latest Generation”.
Just trips off the tongue, doesn’t it?
There’s a lot of strange things about the way the Kindle is sold. When it first came to the UK, it didn’t really feel like a UK product. The announcement on Amazon’s front page was a big graphic full of text from Jeff Bezos — not plain, easy‐to‐read, scalable, screen‐reader and search engine‐friendly text, but a single big block graphic. Which was a bit odd. And if you clicked through this announcement on the Amazon.co.uk front page, you got taken to the US store, where you could buy a Kindle in US dollars only, and had to make sure you selected a UK mains charger to go with it.
The latest announcement is also a big block graphic. A Bezos Big Block Graphic, as I’m starting to think of them. Click through for the full thing.
Amazon are often pointed out as a market leader in e‐commerce web design and usability. Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think! — probably the best usability book ever — cites Amazon as a good example all over the place, so I’m a little bemused as to why they’re doing this.
I mean, this thing is actually an imagemap, just to allow the four things in it that look like links to be clicked on. Remember imagemaps? Probably not, unless you were a web developer back in the 1990s…
If this were a little website I’d never heard of, I’d just think, “oh, these people must have really, really wanted to use that particular font, and don’t know much about all the different ways you could do that better in this millennium.” But with Amazon I just sit here with a little quizzical expression on my face and wonder why. Anybody got a clue?
I have a similar problem with the name. Companies agonise over product names, trying to make them search‐engine friendly. There’s a lot of speculation that Apple’s apparent quick‐change from “iPhone 3G S” to “iPhone 3GS” (note the now‐missing space) was done to make it easier for customers to find information about that particular model of phone.
So, for example, I can Google “iPhone 3GS leather case” and what I get back is mostly a helpful bunch of shopping results that show cases that are compatible with my particular model of iPhone.
But what if I want to find out if anyone other than Amazon is selling cases for this new Kindle? (Not an unlikely desire, when you see that Amazon’s price for their own basic leather case is £29.99 — more than a quarter of the cost of the new entry‐level Kindle it’s meant to wrap!)
What do I search for? Googling “Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi‐Fi, 6” Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally — Latest Generation leather case” doesn’t do much good. And Googling “Kindle leather case” just brings back a ton of cases that won’t fit, because they’re all for the previous Kindle incarnations.
Please, Amazon, give your products model numbers. You’ll be saving people an awful lot of search pain for years to come. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a snappy, well‐thought out progression, or a goofy random number like digital cameras always seem to get. At least I can search for accessories for my Sony CyberSomething DSC48‐TX1A, even if I have to look at the front of the camera to remember which model I’ve got every single time…
Still, at least you can now actually buy the latest Kindle in UK currency. And apparently there will be a new UK Kindle Store, which sounds promising. I’d tell you more about it, but I can’t copy and paste the information from the latest Bezos Big Block Graphic, of course, and I’m buggered if I’m typing it all in again.
More on the Kindle when mine arrives. Amazon haven’t given me a shipping date yet, so I can’t be sure when that’ll be.