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Wednesday, 28 July 2010


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I'd much rather have than a pad, actually. For general web, email and stuff my phone is more than good enough already. What I would want is specifically a way to read densely packed text (such as textbooks and journal papers) in a format that's close to paper.

The thought of having all my work-related materials with me - all in one thin, light reflecting screen with long battery life - is pretty tempting. They do need to start offering "dual format" versions of books first, though; I would not want to rely on just an electronic version of an important book, and there's no way I could justify paying for them twice.

Thank Borders for starting a price war with their stripped-down $150 Kobo. B&N, Sony, now Amazon responded very quickly. Borders will now have to lower Kobo prices because it can't compete on features. And then? A little further resistance may not be so futile.

Besides the annoying flashing screenupdates of current day e-ink technology, what's keeping me away from these readers is the fact that books are cheap. Especially used books. Receiving books as gifts is even cheaper. These E-readers are not. Even at $139, I could buy five years worth of reading and wait for better technology.
However, sheer gadget value is keeping me interested nonetheless. You know, I need an iPad. At some point I might start to need an e-reader.

looks like potentially a very useful device. two observations:

first, i don't know if they've changed this from previous generations, but afaik there's no built-in light for the screen. nice for battery life. terrible for reading in bed (especially next to someone sleeping), reading on long plane trips, etc.

second, for my money, 6" diagonal is too small. i like to have a reasonable amount of text at a reasonable size on a single page. the 'dx' version looks like it might hit a sweet spot, though.

also, i don't know how their pdf reader works. anyone know how easy it is to get free content onto the device? i find it very useful to have pdf books on my ipad--everything from users manuals for cameras and recording equipment at my fingertips for global travel, to dissertations, book proofs, etc, all available through the very good reader interface.

Harumph. I guess I'm officially a Luddite. I just don't comprehend the appeal of these reader gadgets. Okay, you can carry scores of 'books' in one pocket, erase and update the content any time...
But you don't really 'own' the electrons flashing across that little screen; you're just renting them. Yes, you have access to a gazillion open source works for which copyright has expired. But they've been castrated. They lack any typographic nuance. The physical, artistic characteristics of books have been stripped away from the text. Instead of lobster or filet mignon, it's oatmeal. Well, very compact and clever oatmeal; but oatmeal every day. Day after day.

Not for me. A book is a book and besides the information contained in it, it also has sensorious an physical qualities. Or could you imagine doing this with a kindle?
Click to enlarge: dsc19102s

Have been watching these units get better from generation to generation. the only downside seems to be that as long as you are downloading books and using Amazon services, no additional fees are incurred. But the terms and conditions "seem to say" that connecting to other web sites and such do incur other fees. Plus Amazon reserves the right to stop or change fee schedule whenever it wants. And it is considerably cheaper than the Ipad.

Kindle vs Nook price war is mentioned in the NY Times business section today. New Kindles are $10 cheaper than the new Nooks, but if you have a B&N card, the 10% discount changes the score to make the Nooks less expensive.

We will soon approach the point where the devices will cost less than $100. My preference would be for them to low ball the hardware price and recover costs from content. Cheap razor, pricey blades. Works for Gillette.

iPad is out of this ballpark altogether...

"They lack any typographic nuance."

This is actually what's kept me from buying one. As a frequent reader of and writer for the web, I have a pretty high tolerance for approximate typography, but the kerning and word spacing on the texts in some of these e-readers is something I know I just couldn't get used to. C'est la vie.


I've pre-ordered mine.

I hope the screen is much improved because I sent my last Kindle back because I didn't like reading the very dark gray "print" on the medium/light gray page.

We will see.

I didn't buy MP3s before they got rid of DRM, and won't buy books until they get rid of DRM on them.

Eventually it will get to the point where the reader is included free with your book purchase. I give it five years or so.

I was very close to getting a Kindle, but when iPad rumours started to fly I knew it was worth the wait.

All of American Photo, Lens Work, Nat Geo, UK's Amateur Photographer, and PDN look gorgeous. Even my own photos have improved without me doing anything. ;-))) It's like going back to projected slides again.

I've started trying the Classic books, as they're for free and now I'm far more literate. The only disappointment so far has been the quality of the images in some of the Photo eBooks.

I've found the iPad to be a great way of reading while camping. No head-torch needed. No holding back the pages, or separating the leaves.

Huge fan, very amused by all the luddite talk here,

Dear Geoff and Mike,

I'm like you guys-- reading type on screens is not a pleasant experience. It's workable... but I mostly read books for pleasure.

Several people have enthused at me that now that I have an iPad, I can just load books on it and I won't have to carry them with me on trips. I point out that I have easily 300 physical books and an equal number of fiction magazines on my shelves that I really, really want to read-- I am not desperate for reading material. And packing a few books with me for travel is not a weighty burden.

Not even getting into the issue of DRMs and Amazon's very bad track record in that regard (not that I think Apple would be any better if a similar situation arose), and the Kindle's readable in daylight but doesn't handle color or greyscale worth a damn and the iPad's vice versa and ...

I know people who've been happily reading electronic books for over 15 years. But it could very well be another 15 before I decide they're ready for primetime, for me.

pax / appropriately-techonological Ctein

I recently installed the free Kindle app on my iPod; then downloaded and read a free version of Pride and Prejudice. Pretty typography? Nope. But neither are some cheap paperbacks I've read. You soon forget the device and the type and get into the story. Just as you do with a book.

My main interest in such a device is reading from the web, so (thanks partly to Ctein's post a couple of weeks ago) I got an iPad. But if you just want to read books, the Kindle and its competitors are great.

Incidentally, the iPad, combined with the Instapaper bookmarklet and app, is an amazing tool for reading long web-based articles. It strips out all the crud and presents long articles in ebook-like form. Best of all, they load up for offline reading. Highly recommended! (Also works on iPhone/iPod Touch.)

At Marcus: "Not for me. A book is a book and besides the information contained in it, it also has sensorious and physical qualities"

Oh yes. Books all have their own smell. The tart smell of the ink in a new book,or the slight mustiness of a secondhand book. Actually, the slight mustiness of a secondhand bookshop. :)

I've found some good secondhand bookshops while here in Oz. Some of the paperbacks I bought were printed in Aylesbury in England, ten miles South of where I grew up. (Yes, this does mean that I'm a Winslow boy) :)

I'm fascinated by the chain of events that led me to buy those copies of those books. I wouldn't care at all if they were electronic versions.

Just picked up the previous generation kindle. It's just my luck to have the thing 2 weeks and have a "better" update come out. I've wanted an ebook reader for a very long time, but kept delaying. What finally pushed me over the edge was an author friend of mine who said authors get 50% of what the publisher makes on an ebook. Much better percentage than printed books.

It took me about half a book to get used to reading on it. It doesn't replace all the senses used when reading a book (the smell, the feel, the weight). On the plus side, I don't have to store or move all those boxes of paperback books I'll buy in the future, just one small device. Nope it doesn't have a light, but either do any of the books I own. iPad for web browsing and photo shows.

Geoff: I don't own one single DRM'ed ebook, and I've been acquiring and reading ebooks since 1996; all the ebooks I have I DO own and can use now and in the future on any device I wish (I might have to deal with format conversions of course). DRM is not an inherent feature of ebooks.

It's an inherent feature of the Kindle, and it's one of the reasons why I don't own a Kindle (the other being that I already have portable devices to read books on and the last thing I want is one more thing to carry around).

Although the lack of a back-light is a problem in very dark conditions, in dim conditions I find that I just bump up the font a few points and keep on reading. Once you've read through your first book, I don't think you'll even notice the page changes. After all, physically reaching up and moving a piece of paper was probably pretty distracting the first 1000 times you did that too. Love ma' Kindle.

Dear Clay,

I get the same percentage royalty (15%) on an ebook sale as a paper book sale. Given that ebooks typically sell for less, I make LESS money from ebook sales.

I think it's great your author friend is getting 50%, I doubt it's the norm.

pax / Ctein

The Kindle really shines if you want to spend all of summer
on the beach to read War and Peace.
For all other uses get a 64Gb iPad 3GS.

I got an iPad 3G as soon as it came out, and though I love books and have literally thousands of them, I also enjoy the iPad (something I wasn't sure I would do.)

What I *really* want, though, are more art books and travel guides in full color. This is where the real benefit of a color reader will kick in. The fact is, if you want to go to Florence, or Rome, you'd really benefit if you took along a half-dozen art history books. The iPad would make that possible...if the e-books existed.

Otherwise, I also found the iPad great for reading e-mails while traveling (and passable for writing e-mails), cruising the web, etc. Mostly passive, reader-like stuff. The 3G models are also great for car travel -- for good quick maps or even aerial photos of almost anywhere, to locate a Starbucks in an upcoming town, etc. I would no longer be without one for long road trips.

Biggest annoyance: TFJ's (J=Jobs) refusal to put Flash capability on the thing. This one decision will cause me to move to the inevitable Google pad, or whatever iPad-clone comes out, that also handles Flash.


Okay, Mike -- just pre-ordered two Kindles through your Amazon link. Now all you need to do is make your blog available for subscription on the Kindle (no idea how that is achieved, though) and you will have one happy reader over here. :-)

I'm coming in late on this, Mike, but I'll add my two cents worth: I've had a Kindle for almost 2 years now and once again I've become a reader and enjoying every minute of it. I use the Kindle every day to the point where it's beginning to show some signs of age. BUT as a photographer I've been frustrated by the visual dullness of the device, gray pages, not much font variety, and no images to speak of. There many photo books I would like to see and right now the iPad would be a better choice for that, especially if the book price was reasonable. Photos look great on an iPad and to my mind would be a reasonable substitute for a hard copy, except maybe for those special books you'd have to have on your bookshelf.

Culture started going downhill when they stopped producing cuneiform editions on clay tablets. The texture of paper detracts from the much more sensual feeling of cuneiform in clay. Let's not forget the nuances in literature in quipa knots. That's writing with style. Anybody know a good shop for typewriter maintenance?

Just one more idea. Maybe kindle will help Black and White photography make a comeback!! Just like the old days when EVERYTHING was published in black ink - no colors. Wonder how many generations of kindles they'll need to start getting color e-ink?

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