Kindle is a physical electronic device which of size of a book. It can store and display pages of books for you to read. That's why it is called a e-reader.
The beauty of this e-reader is that it can store thousands of books for you to read at your leisure. Not just that, you can subscribe to news papers and magazines and read them on this e-reader.
Kindle also has internet capabilities and lets you search the net and go through wikipedia and things like that.
Now, you must be thinking as to how good/pleasurable will it be to read a book on a device. But it seems that the device uses a technology called E-Ink which renders the text on the screen very similar and close to a printed paper. So it looks like printed paper and feels like printed paper. Below is a short description of E-Ink which I took from the Newsweek article.
This decade's major breakthrough has been the introduction of E Ink, whose creators came out of the MIT Media Lab. Working sort of like an Etch A Sketch, it forms letters by rearranging chemicals under the surface of the screen, making a page that looks a lot like a printed one. The first major implementation of E Ink was the $299 Sony Reader, launched in 2006 and heavily promoted. Sony won't divulge sales figures, but business director Bob Nell says the Reader has exceeded the company's expectations, and earlier this fall Sony introduced a sleeker second-generation model, the 505. (The Reader has no wireless—you must download on your computer and then move it to the device— and doesn't enable searching within a book.)Oh yes.. Kindle is not the first device of its kind. Sony has done it before.
In my opinion, what matters is that the publishing industry should form an open standard format which can be then published on to e-reader's like Kindle (it may already be the case even now.. i don't know).
E-reader is something I have already thought of since many years. It will be the next great breakthrough. Think about it. School children don't have to carry so many books. And why would you want to give a cheap laptop to a child. Give them a e-reader like kindle which will contain all the book the kind ever needs. This will expand the kids knowledge.
I am definitely looking forward to buying this the next time I end up in US.
And hey.. there are two things I could realize from what Amazon is trying to do.
First, the world is moving towards convergence. Kindle with its internet capabilities is already a sort of handheld PDA. Now even other PDAs like iPhone could support such e-reader capabilities.
Second, now isn't it interesting to note that Amazon is also becoming a product company. Now this is what in my opinion I would term as "Business Convergence". The line between services and product companies is disappearing.
Btw, read the Newsweek article. Its a painfully long article but with lot of insight.
And also you can read the device's review at Engadget.