Mobile Reference

First thing this morning (I am on the West Coast) I check for the exciting new Kindle 2 announcement. Surely they have given a new twist and price that will move it into a new market! Meh. Nope. Little upgrades and no price change. Sigh. What you now get is:

–    A changed and still unremarkable industrial design
–    The same 80’s color (reminiscent of my/the first hand held Nintendo video game)
–    More storage capacity
–    More battery life
–    The incomprehensibly unchanged price of $359
–    A tenth of an ounce lighter (no, really)
–    4x’s more grayscale color.
–    It is skinnier by .36 inches.
–    A text-to-speech reader (which, if any good, is in my opinion the most significant change)
–    The standard features from Kindle 1 have not been dropped you can still buy your books online, bookmark passages and so on.

There is talk of a new feature yet to come called “whispersync” that will allow the Kindle user to sync with another Kindle (assuming you actually own two or know someone else with one. Do you know anybody who owns even one yet?). Interestingly the whispersync should also allow you to sync with mobile devices, ahhh now we’re talkin’. Sync with my iPhone and we might be closer to doing business.

Standing back and looking at the new big picture. Do we get more value for our money? Yes. Is it enough to make me find the money? No. My business is online services for a library if you can’t sell me I don’t know how you sell anyone but the traveling business consumer and the lucky few techy bibliophiles that have too much money. I admit the Kindle has the best business model out there but you’re killing me Amazon, you really are.

For a more detailed and admittedly more positive spin I would suggest taking a look at the review from Fast Company who actually got their paws on the Kindle 2.

In another world I would love it if  Amazon would take a page from the yet unseen Readius.

In my last post I mentioned how nice it would be to have an academic mobile chat reference service. I was very rightly corrected by Mosio (see comments on blog post 1/11/09). I now, of course, remember reading about their service in Library Journal ( 11/1/08, vol.133, issue 18, p 22) and it is true, to the best of my knowledge they are one of the only “commercial” services offering a way to have a mobile chat reference that is staffed by librarians (or any other kind of vetted information professional).

My problem with Mosio’s service is that it is not comparative in some crucial ways to the other free services I mentioned in my last post. Mosio’s Text a Librarian service is run out of an academic institution and is intended to be used by that institutions community not the tube-o-sphere like the other free reference services.  The academic institution must pay Mosio for the service and it is nicely integrated into whatever IM or chat ref service they have already set up including archiving which I admit is very cool for the institution. While this is a good idea as an addition to a 24/7 reference service that ones institution also pays for it is yet another bill from another service that I suspect will be added at some point soon to the 24/7 package we are currently purchasing (for my insitution that would be OCLC’s Question Point).