It is very interesting to read the assorted reviews of the Kindle you can find scattered around the web. There are a few written by people who have one. There are thousands written by people who have only seen it on the web. Not surprisingly the "I don't have one" reviews almost all judge the Kindle as too expensive (not a bargain) and/or too ugly. Those who have one to evaluate have almost all been very impressed with the Kindle.
Is it too expensive? If you don't buy books, then yes. My wife is an avid reader and spends $500 or so a year on real books. Those books average $30 each, and add up to 17 books or so. I've already spent $400 for a Kindle. Kindle e-books will be $10 on average. If in the first year of owning it my wife buys 17 e-books she will have spent $170 but SAVED $340. First year: $570 spent - $340 saved = $230 relative cost. Next year (and each following year) my wife will buy another 17 books, saving $20 over the hard cover cost for a net savings of $340. There are other possible savings, and they all depend on how much one actually uses the Kindle instead of traditional methods of aquiring reading materials. If you really use it then it may in fact be a BARGAIN at $400. Yes, it would be a better bargain if it were even a little cheaper. So would everything.
Is it ugly? Apparently it looks better in person than in any photo of it on the web. I can believe that. For all we know those early photos of it were of early prototypes. I'll have my own to evaluate next Monday.
Will it succeed? Amazon has already sold out of their first shipment.
From Amazon's Kindle page: "Due to heavy customer demand, Kindle is temporarily sold out. ".
My prediction? The Kindle will catch on. Those who get one will show them to their friends. The price will come down a bit as Amazon starts recovering development costs with e-book sales. E-book AND traditional book reading will increase. E-book versions of hot sellers might be made available one day before the hard cover book is released, inspiring Harry Potter fans and such to buy an e-reader just so they can read the latest release first.
Conclusion? Don't trust any review (including this one) by anyone who has not actually held and tested the device they are reviewing. Want to know how really good (or bad) the Kindle is? Stay tuned to this blog.