02 April, 2007

eBook readers

this little review piqued my interest. mostly because it seems eBook readers still have not advanced to the stage that i think they should be at. which, actually, is rather disappointing, because it should be simple to accomplish. the reviewer touches on some very good points: books are already portable, so portablity of the device itself is not a major selling point. making the display read like actual print is a good thing, as long reading on a monitor is murder on the eyes. it also seems that sony is attempting to cram too much functionality into the device: there is no need to have a book reader play audio, for instance. multimedia devices are all the rage, yes, but somethings should be specialized. and the lack of being able to write in the margins is a severe oversight.

i don't quite agree on the value of eBook readers being the ability to reduce book clutter. frankly, i like having lots of books. i like having books lying about the the place. the value i see in eBook readers is for travellers and students. portability, but not of the device. instead, the ability to carry a great deal of content with you, where ever you go. for instance, even on just the hour long flight up to CT, for work or familial obligations, i'll stuff at least four books into my carry-on. it would be far more convienent to just be able to grab a reader. or, on an actual vacation, one wouldn't need to devote half a bag to books.

the best use though, i think is for students. this is why a noting feature is essential (beyond just typical desire to annotate for pleasure). imagine being able to have all your text books on a reader. not having to spend 60 bucks on a 5 pound staple reference, that has to be replaced every year or two to keep current. light, portable, updatable and, frankly, cheaper for the content.

really, all you need is a good screen, removable memory and a stylus driven interface, with perhaps a corner thumb button to flip the pages. it's not so hard to figure out, is it?


Keifus said...

What I'm right now finding amusing: online publishing is killing newspapers, but ebook readers have been promised for a decade, and can't make a dent in book publishing. I'm sure copyright is part of the problem, but if people really wanted the format, it'd be published in ebook form too. The difference, of course, is that people like the permanence of books. It'd be nice if the stuff I read was searchable, I suppose, but not super necessary. A good feature for students, though (for the ones who have trouble with indexes).

CDs are kind of borderline. I like having hard backups of my crappy music collection, but if I had an iPod, I'd be happy as hell to box the things and never look at 'em again. Question to humor the fogeys: is emphasis on less-permanent digital format part of the reason the kids' music sucks so much? (I'd opine, but I didn't get it then, either.)

But writing in the margins? You're killing me. Do you dogear the pages too?


gkzxjs: good kids jot Xs

twiffer said...

only paperbacks. hardbound i'll use the dustjacket or a mark.

i think the trick for eBook readers is to try and capture the feel of a book. as well as allowing people to do the same things they'd do with a hard copy of a book. i really do think the way to make a dent is with textbooks. first, you've got a demographic that is not likely to be adverse to new technology. the costs are lower to the student (although it would eliminate the annual rite of getting beer money from selling your books back at year end) as well. making inroads with textbooks this way, then your have an established customer base, more willing to download other books because they already have the software.