Thursday, November 26, 2009

Toe Still in the Water on EBooks

As Christmas approaches I've been considering making an e-book reader my present to myself. However, there are too many questions for me to have firmed up a decision. I haven't heard yet whether Amazon's Kindle reader is going to be available in Canada any time soon. Sony's reader is another choice, but Sony's selection of titles is still limited to mass-market best-sellers for the most part, and the free stuff available from Google which might augment Sony's small library is, from what I can see, all public domain and therefore old. Not that old is bad, but I'm looking for a way to digitally read recent publications that interest me, and if I could put a digital subscription to a newspaper and/or magazine, like the New Yorker, on the same platform, that'd be bonus. David Pogue, techguy for the NYT, writes today that Amazon is moving to open up it's ebook store (380K titles thus far) for non-Kindle platforms, which is pretty smart of them I think since it doesn't look like any one ebook platform is going to be dominant any time soon.

Some sensible advice from Slate's tech guru Farhad Manjoo is to wait and see what Apple's entry into the market will be. I've got enough paper books on my bedside table to wait for them, and Advent is the season of waiting.

One thing Pogue said that stuck with me is what an amazing time we live in for literacy and communications.

"But two things are for sure: e-books are evolving at a screaming pace, and their appeal goes well beyond gadget freaks.

In short, 2009 was a year like any other year: filled with breakthroughs and breakdowns, progress and pushback. Still, we stand at an amazing point in high-tech history. Our airplanes offer wireless Internet, we can make free Skype calls to China and talk for hours, and our children edit video for homework."

5 comments:

Bernard von Schulmann said...

I read my first full book on an eReader type of think, my iPhone. It was Red Mars. I had read the book before.

There were many features I liked about it - it kept my place, no light was needed on in the bed, it was always with me.

What I do not like is the cost of the eBooks. Free great, a low price, sure, but not something close to what I would pay for a new book. I would be willing to pay a few dollars per book.

I also would like it if I could get the eBooks from the library.

The iPhone works for me because I already have one. I can not see getting a Kindle because it would one more thing to carry around with. My iPhone finally put all the electronic gadgets in my pocket into one item.

jgoreham said...

Bernard, I do a lot of gaming and gaming struggles with digital media in the same way- people who bought a PSP Go, which is the new Sony handheld gaming device that only plays digitally downloaded games, are furious they pay full retail for the same product (new games) as gamers with the older tech who have to go to a store and buy it. What it comes down to (in gaming, anyway- I don't know a lot about the book industry) is that if publishers are cutting consumers downloading the digital copy a break, then that cheeses off retailers. Why would anybody go to the store and buy a (book, game, movie) when you can download the same thing cheaper, after all? *obligatory "e-books are killing local book sellers" rant goes here, lol*

I'm not interested in any e-readers at this time. I'm all butterfingers with tech. If I drop my copy of my book in the tub while I'm reading, that would suck, but if I dropped my Kindle in the bathtub, that's a lot more money down the drain! When the tech is more readily available and less expensive, then I'll be interested.

Bernard von Schulmann said...

With eBooks, what happens to used books? Can I sell you my copy of an eBook or lend it to you?

When a book is printed, the majority of the cost of the book is the printing. An eBook does not have that cost, but the sale price is still roughly the same as the store price for a hard copy.

I expect that all your major handheld electronic to be in one unit in the future - phone, MP3 player, eBook reader, and gaming device. The company that can do all of that for a reasonable price will take the market. The iPhone, and some other smart phones, are getting close.

jgoreham said...

Yeah B, some day all the media and content we consume probably will be digital- I'm already looking that in the eye in my other hobby (gaming).

I don't understand your question. Do you mean the piece of tech, or the book that you've downloaded? I'm presuming you mean your copy of your e-book, and I suspect not- I can't sell or re-gift my e-copies of games on PSN or MP3's on iTunes, and I don't see why ebook distributors would permit it. I suspect that after print goes obsolete, we won't be able to buy second hand copies of books anymore (except for what's already out there in print). Again, as long as brick and mortar stores are selling hard copies of books, I don't think digital distributors can cut us a deal because there isn't a tangible product to buy.

mad padre said...

Thanks for comments, you guys. I don't have an iphone yet so that isn't a platform choice for me.
I'm not convince that I need another gadget and I wonder how many ebooks I'd need to read in order to justify the price of whatever gadget I'd acquire.
There has been some talk of ebooks making their way into lending libraries, and that will be the real incentive, I think, especially if they can make them available to people in rural areas served by smaller libraries like myself.

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.

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