E-books Still A Solution In Search Of A Problem

from the value-added? dept

On Monday, Amazon plans to unveil the latest stab at a successful e-book reader with Kindle, a $400, a WiFi and EVDO-equipped tablet PC that's rumored to have 256 MB of memory and an 800 X 600 electrophoretic display. It will be a direct competitor to Sony's PRS-505 Reader. The technology here looks kind of neat, but I don't understand why they expect anyone other than die-hard gadget enthusiasts would jump on board. Books are durable, flexible, cheap, light, boast an extremely high contrast ratio, and never malfunction or run out of power. It's going to be awfully difficult to design an e-book reader that can compete on all of those dimensions. Plus, people have developed life-long habits around paper books, and would have to learn a new set of habits to get comfortable reading e-books. So e-books will have to offer some pretty compelling advantages to overcome all of those considerations. Yet the only real advantage of an e-book is that it saves some space. If you buy Amazon's reader, you can pack a few dozen e-books in the space in your suitcase that used to be occupied by a single paper book. But nobody reads dozens of books on one trip, so it's not obvious why that's valuable. And when they get home, a lot of people actually like putting their books on bookshelves in their living room where they'll impress their friends. So saving space isn't necessarily a big advantage there either.

Amazon seems to be trying to address that issue by tacking on some other features, most notably the ability to load up content from a variety of newspapers. But reading a newspaper is a much different experience than reading a book. People flip through newspapers a lot faster than they flip through books, and because of the way electrophoretic displays work, that's likely to run down their batteries pretty quickly. Most of Amazon's target customers likely already have a laptop and/or a smartphone, either of which offer color, a more responsive display, and more powerful browsing software. It seems more likely that people would just read the day's news on one of those devices and leave the e-book reader at home.

The fundamental issue here is that people don't adopt new technologies — especially ones that cost hundreds of dollars — unless they provide compelling advantages over the products already on the market. Merely achieving parity with paper books (and it's not clear they've even achieved that) isn't going to cut it, because people don't like to change their established routine. For e-books to catch on, then, they have to be better than paper in a really compelling way. So far, nobody has figured out how to make e-books do something really useful that they can't do with the paper books and laptops they already have.



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    matt, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 11:34am

    what a dumb idea!

    Who in their right mind would pay for an "E Book"?

    Actual printed media is easier and more comfortable to read and is easier on the eyes in my experience. I think most would agree. Not to mention an absurdly high % of our country hasn't even read a book in the last year.

     

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      Alexio, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:29pm

      Re: what a dumb idea!

      Call me dumb, call me freak, but in the last 5 years I haven't read single paper book. While I am reading on average 4-5 books a month, all of them come in electronic form. And I know that I am by far not the only one...

       

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      inc, Nov 17th, 2007 @ 8:04am

      Re: what a dumb idea!

      E-books are good for IT folks like the O'Reilly books. The problem with them those is that one gets tired of working on a computer screen all day and then to look at another screen, often a smaller cramped one, to read an ebook sucks. While a tree document on the other hand gives you that tactile feel and easier on tired eyes. I usually start getting the pdf of an O'Reilly book and end up buying the book.
      The place where I could've really used an ebook was at school; lugging those big books around. Amazon should take advantage of that niche market and get people to by the device and e-books for way less then you'd spend on one semester of real books. This way they could also invest in future users as the format would be more familiar.

       

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      Wizard Prang, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 10:51am

      Not a dumb idea!

      I read e-books. Have done since 1992.

      My wife reads e-books. Initially she was a bit hesitant, but now she prefers it to print.

      I would pay for an e-book... just not the absurd amounts that the content industry wants me to pay.

       

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    Cahlroisse, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 11:43am

    One other benifit...

    One other benifit to ebook readers is that it makes it easier to read in bed. With normal books it's either an excercise in contortion, a contest to see how long you can hold your arms in the air, or you end up flipping from side to side every 30-60 seconds.

    This benifit, for me, is not yet outweighed by having to constantly charge the ebook reader and the fact that many of the books I read are loaned to me by friends or ones I see when I'm killing some spare time in a bookstore. It's almost impossible to get me to want to buy a book online.

     

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    Thom, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 11:51am

    Better

    I've never seen an e-book reader so I have no idea what features they offer. Better than a book is NOT possible if all they do is provide an alternative to reading a paper book. Any electronic reading device is significantly worse especially if it's DRM incumbered.

    What might be compelling advantages, and definitely only if DRM free?

    Annotation: I can mark passages and leave myself notes.
    Quotation: I can select and organize passages, across multiple books even, for use in term papers and reports and have the ebook software export the passages along with all required bibleographical information etc.
    Colaboration and sharing: Reader or "Fan" markups. I can mark sentences or passages and share them with like minded individuals via the web. I can compile profiles and histories for characters and share them. I can create my own illustrations and images to go with certain passages and share them.
    Explanation: Glossaries, also extendable and shareable, can explain names, terms, ideas, foreign words and the like.

    All integrated seamlessly, fetched automatically if online, and not requiring the user to manage multiple pieces of software.

    Would I buy an e-book reader for those things? No, but I know people who'd get into each of those features. So are they available?

     

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    Not me, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 11:52am

    too much for too little

    I drop my paperback on the floor I simply pick it back up. I drop my e-book I cry over the cracked $400 gadget. No thanks.

     

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    chris (profile), Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:08pm

    the e-book reader is supposed to be the new ipod

    the ipod took off because everyone in the world already had MP3's and were searching for a player.

    no one has ebooks and is looking to buy a player.

    besides, it's not like you can rip a copy of book to your PC like you can with a CD. if they fix that problem i'm all about it.

     

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    CJMPE, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:14pm

    Amazon's target customers will still carry books..

    or magazines, because, as pointed out in the original posting, these people are likely frequent travellers like me and the airlines (FAA??) won't let you read your e-book from the time the cabin door closes until 10 minutes after take off, and again for a similar time at the other end of the flight.

     

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      Brad, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

      Re: Amazon's target customers will still carry boo

      Actually, since it is an unpowered device (aside from page turns) the FAA may allow it. Whether or not Flight Attendants do, that's another story.

       

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    ehrichweiss, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:16pm

    I ain't into the gadgets...

    I don't have any use for a gadget to help me read an ebook BUT I can safely say that as a magician who researches tricks frequently, ebooks beat paper books hands down. The reason is that ebooks have search capabilities that make a 1600+ page book** much less daunting to tackle. Besides, I'm not gonna buy an ebook reader since I already have a laptop.




    ** I have 4 volumes of this size that I have to search through on a monthly basis. With only a few keywords to go on, these searches would take 2 months to complete instead of a few minutes.

     

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    Greg, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:16pm

    You know, I bought one of those PRS-500s when they first came out, and no, it's not going to replace paper books any time soon. It has a slew of disadvantages, and the only upshot is being smaller than one book while holding 20.

    Where I think it really shines is for reading things that never came in hardcopy, like RSS Feeds and Word documents. Not so much PDFs, because A4 sheets don't scale well on the thing. And while I can read the web on my PDA, a) the battery dies much faster, and b) the screen is tiny.

    The technology needs work, like being cheaper, and having a fast-refreshing color screen, but the idea isn't wholly without merit.

     

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    Thom, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:16pm

    I forgot to add

    Discussion: I can select interesting passages and create or join external discussions about them. Who, what, where, when, and why about the passages. Sidebars. Theoreticals. What was the author thinking. Anything and everything basically. Of course all of this would show up automatically in my copy when net-connected.

    Talk about social. You could tie your discussions to external sites too, fan sites, myspace, facebook, favorite book lists, Oprah's book club.

    These are features that I'd think you could incorporate and encourage adoption. Since many would also take you to external sites, which currently are or could be advertising supported, there'd be an external avenue for revenue generation that might lower prices.

     

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    wifezilla, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    When an ebook READER costs the same or less than an iPod shuffle and ebook prices reflect the fact that they aren't paying for labor intensive printing and shipping...ONLY THEN will the ebook format take off.

     

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    Scott, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:23pm

    niche

    While most people don't have a need to lug around many books at once, it seems like ebooks have potential in academic applications, where it would be nice to store all of your (large) books in a small device and wipe it when your semester or research project is over.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    I agree with wifezilla about the fact that e-mooks will not take off until e-books cost a dollar or two, not $8-$10 becuase it's a new release and that's what the hard copy costs, so they try to sell the e-book for the same price. When i have already paid $400 for a reader this starts to add up to one not so good deal.

     

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    Bill, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:29pm

    Ebooks

    Ebooks will never take off when they are pushing $400 readers. You can read an Ebook on almost anything, I read them on my phone and Nintendo DS. I like them because at night if my wife sleeping I can lay in bed and read in the dark with no problems.

     

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    Mark Evans, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    e-Books

    The problem/challenge facing eBooks is simple: paper-based books are based on excellent technology that works and works well. Why invent a better mouse trap?

     

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    Michael, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:37pm

    Collaberative Textbooks

    I like Thom's ideas on collaberation. Imagine having open collaberative text books for all disciplines. Authors, professors, and students alike could work together to create chapters on every conceiveable topic and level of understanding. We'd just connect and download the texts or chapters we needed for our studies in a given day, week, month, or semester. Contributions could be vetted before they're included or on the fly like Wikipedia.

    A $400 e-book reader would be 1/3 the cost of a single semester's worth of textbooks for me.

     

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    Instructor (profile), Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    Only advantage?

    "Yet the only real advantage of an e-book is that it saves some space."

    Last time I moved, more than 50% of the weight of my household shipment was books.

    Another advantage of a e-book is that the production cost is lower, and you only have to 'manufacture' the exact quantity that is sold. It can then be delivered nearly instantly. Keeping a backlist is no longer an issue (there are books that I own that can no longer be purchased ANYWHERE).

    That said, the e-book readers I've seen aren't quite ready for prime time, but some of them are getting close. Also, the e-book business model currently sucks, but eventually somebody will get it right, and all the idiots will be forced to follow suit or go out of business (unless they can make non-DRM illegal).

     

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    Scott, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    oh and...

    Jumping on the "go green" bandwagon, think of all the trees you'd be saving by switching to ebooks.

     

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    Mike, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    My ebook reader

    "no one has ebooks and is looking to buy a player"

    Actually, that is how I got started in ebooks. The entire Honor Harrington series is available for free (yes legally!) as ebooks. My friend urged me to give the series another chance so I started reading on an iPac. The books were ok but reading on the iPac sucked. I'm using a Nokia N800 today and I love it.

    The other reason I use ebooks is programming documentation. My standard library of Perl books is a cubic foot of paper. 20+ pounds of paper. The html based version of the same books is 300Meg, fits on an SD card and weights nothing.

    I wish the manufactures would give up on supporting just their own format and DRM. Totally useless.

    I'm waiting on 4bit color e-ink displays. The Complete Iron Man Comic book DVD is calling out to be read on one.

     

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    Rob, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:43pm

    Longevity

    For some books, those I'd expect to refer to again in the future, I'll always opt for paper. I know I can set a paper book on the shelf and barring catastrophy I'll always be able to pick it up and read it again. That's also true for my children, their children, and a couple generations to come - books I buy today, even on acidic paper, will be readable for that long. You can't say that about ANY e-book much less any reader, anywhere.

     

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    Alex, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    Baen

    Baen E-books are cheap -- $15 for about 6 of them (a month of releases). They're also non-DRM encumbered and come in multiple formats.

    Baen/Webscriptions "gets it", but you know, they're a sci-fi publisher. If anyone is going to figure out what the brave new world means for publishing, it's going to be a company like that.

    I read them on my PDA (and now on my iPhone), and it was ok. I'm actually very close to a person that reads dozens of books on their trips, because I read so damn fast, but I'm smart enough to realize that I'm a niche market, and I'm not even going to buy one of those e-books readers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 1:00pm

    "But nobody reads dozens of books on one trip, so it's not obvious why that's valuable."

    This guy has never been a soldier deployed over seas or a truck driver or any other job that has you away from home for long periods of time.

    I would love to have had something like this when I was in the Army where weight and space mean everything when you carry everything you own in a ruck.

     

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    someone, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 1:10pm

    hmm

    Actually, books aren't that light. Ever tried to carry 100 books around in your backpack? Ouch.

    1000 pdf files are awful light in comparison.

     

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    Patriciaq, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 1:10pm

    If I could afford it

    I would get a reader in a second if it were cheaper. I read more than one book at a time. Also I go camping for weeks at a time and I would like to be able to take one reader that has all my books on over taking serveral paperbacks. So I guess you could count me in as one of the geeks who wants one of these.

     

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    Carl, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 1:48pm

    eReaders

    I received the original Sony reader as a gift last Christmas. Before that, I had been reading eBooks on the train on my iPaq. The reader is nice, but with a few weaknesses. For me, the biggest is the lack of a backlight. It would make reading better in low light or possible in the dark. Also, the price of ebooks makes this just a bit impractical. If the cost for books were lower, I'd much more inclined to use it more. However, I have been underwhelmed. Navigation is nice, but not better than paper. Reading in the bath is just too scary.

     

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    Buzz, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 1:50pm

    ick

    Just give me a PDF. I'll print off the portions I want to read. eBooks are bogus.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Yet the only real advantage of an e-book is th

    You are overlooking many of the other advantages of ebooks in general and this product in particular.

    1) Convenience. I can browse, preview, and purchase and begin reading a book from my own bed. Or car, or....

    2) Price. Yes you have to shell out for the device, but it looks like the individual books will be cheaper than print copies.

    3) Flexibility. I will be able to read my book collection, newspapers, and techdirt all from one place, on the go.

    Other cool things that I can think of off the top of my head that you can't do with real books: Indexed text search so I can find any passage quickly. The aforementioned 20 books in one package. Not having to hang around getting barbed looks form the staff at Barnes and Noble while I check things out.

    And for people who say it is too expensive, consider this: An iPhone costs $400 or whatever up front and ~$2000 after two years. This thing costs $400 now and that's it. Can you name one other device that comes with wireless (ie more than just wifi) connectivity and no subscription fee?

     

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    Jaylen, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 2:30pm

    Right now the current Sony eReader is quite nice. They finally read pdf and rtf files. As for the cost of the ebooks. just like in a real bookstore, I browse the bargain section. books under 5 bucks work fine and if they suck then I don't feel like I invested a lot.

    Basically it depends on how you can integrate the device (or any device) into your life. If you can't it just won't work.

     

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    Bill, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 2:35pm

    Ebook concept to lower price of text books?

    I agree with Michael who said:

    "A $400 e-book reader would be 1/3 the cost of a single semester's worth of textbooks for me."

    Think of this scenario: An English professor requires you to purchase 7-9 different novels to use during a class. About half-way through the semester she decides to abandon two of them. You can no longer sell them back to the bookstore and are stuck with them.

    Here's another: Your Geology text BY ITSELF is $200. Granted it does include a study/homework-type lab book.

    How much simpler would a CD of .pdfs be? How much easier and cheaper for the student would an ebook be? Remember what it's like to have to carry a 25lb book bag? There are lots of good reasons for ebooks. I just think text books are too big of a cash cow for *some* publishers. I know everybody has to go through it but there should be and IS a better way. When you think about it, text books are a perfect way to exploit the richer environment and address the concept of different learning styles.

    BTW, if I could have the text books on my laptop I'd be just as happy. Concept is still the same.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 2:43pm

    I think the first successful e-book reader will be in the form of a $30 cartridge for a Nintendo DS or some-such. $400 is ridiculous; heck, $100 is ridiculous, for something that is in most ways inferior to the books that it's trying to replace.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 3:12pm

    There are many more potential benefits, churches dont have to buy many different papered books. You save many trees. TREES.....TREES.....TREES .

    Now I dont know about the price I think it should be less then $100 and also be able to see in very low light and very bright light. It should also have an option to create your own ebook and upload more and be able to expand the memory to use computer laptop hard drives. Also it should have the ability to be of any resolution and in 32 bit color.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 3:31pm

    At least one of the readers out there, iRex's iLiad, is actually a full-fledged Linux computer with an active developer community around it. I originally purchased mine for business use so that I could have boxes' worth of reference materials with me whenever I needed them and have quickly discovered that its flexibility is killer.

    While I agree that the "ebook reader" aspect is not as compelling as vendors would have you believe, the possibilities of having a lightweight, low-power touchscreen computer (for notetaking, musical composition...) make the prospect worth considering.

     

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    Mike, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 4:40pm

    companies building ebooks have no idea what consum

    Shop around, ebooks are cheaper than their paperback cousins. I read about 6-8 books a month, give or take. Almost all of them exclusively ebooks. I have hundreds of them on my laptop. To my mind, the only thing holding ebook readers back, is form factor. I want a book, both left and right sides of the page. I want to be able to add a 4gb flash card to it and carry my entire book collection, along with a fast way to browse through my library. Ideally I'm looking for something kind of like the DS, two sides that split open, just a bit bigger screens and a battery life which will get me through a 12 hour day of hopping planes. I'm willing to deal with the thing weighing in a tad heavier than a normal paperback for battery life, 2-3 pounds, as long as it has those features. As it is, I'm using my laptop which is cumbersome, when all I want to do is pull out a book and read.

     

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    peter, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 5:22pm

    I havent bought a paper book in years. I download books directly to my PDA/Cell Phone. This never leaves my side and I always have a book with me ready to read.

     

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    Stephen, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 5:43pm

    ebooks

    The problem with ebooks is that they are thought of by publishers as new revenue streams. They aren't considered from the consumers' point of view. Remember: the last great innovation in publishing was the "pocket" aka mass market paperback 60-odd years ago, which has the virtue of being lighter and cheaper than hardcovers plus it can fit in your pocket. Ebooks are valuable for those who need a library in their backpack, their one virtue, such as Bill above, and my studio exec friend finds them invaluable for carrying around the hundreds of scripts that used to overwhelm his credenza. But most people don't need this. I think ebooks should be targeted at the Blackberry and PDA markets. Their small screen and normal use during travel would make them perfect for the light, short-paragraph stories that also made pocket books work.

     

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    PattyMc, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 6:39pm

    eBooks

    I, too, love the paper book. I spent my entire working life in printing, starting way back in hot metal. I love paper, I love typography, I love a beautiful binding.

    But I can’t wait for ebooks. They may not replace paper books but they will become a viable alternative and they will become useful because they can be annotated in situ, so to speak. I think Annotation will itself become an art form in the future.

    Imagine reading something like Roughing It by Mark Twain and being able to click a link to pictures of all the places he visited or to read more about silver mining or the colorful people he writes about or decipher some of the old slang. While I was reading the book I kept popping over to my pc to read more about tumble weeds or the Pony Express, whatever. There are plenty of books like this where
    You could just go deeper and deeper and deeper.

    I look forward to this eventuality. I think much of the annotation will be provided by ardent fans. You can see the beginnings of this already. But there will be professionals as well.

    The device price will inevitably come down and epaper is already on the horizon. There might not be a need for a big clunky book reading machine but electronic books will happen and they will be wonderful.

     

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    Eric the Grey, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 7:22pm

    You would think...

    You'd think that the publishers of school/college textbooks would be on board with this in a heartbeat.

    Not that you'd see what you'd want to see from them, but giving students the ability to download the text book in e-book format would be a huge savings for them since it's almost all profit once the e-book has been produced, and (if I understand the DRM correctly), they cannot be sold/transferred to other students at the end of the term.

    Personally, I'd love to use an e-book reader for the 3 to 6 books I have to carry around each term.

    EtG

     

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    DeveloperZero, Nov 17th, 2007 @ 1:40am

    I'm really disappointed...

    First off, I actually OWN a Sony Reader 500.

    2)None of you have any right to comment on ebooks until you've actually a) read an ebook and b) used both an e-ink device and a non e-ink device to read an ebook or other document.

    E-Ink devices are great; they are much better to read on than an LCD, and they look just about as good as a real book (especially considering the infancy of the technology).

    3)The ebook industry is still in its infancy, and will be growing really fast in the next few years. If you want to learn anything, go to mobileread.com and read their forums. Higher resolution/faster devices are coming out every year, and color devices should be out by around 2010. Animation should be viable soon after that. In addition, thanks to advances in both Nanotechnology and Microelectromechanical Systems, we are getting other new technologies such as Interferometric Modulation (IMOD) and OLED displays, which might offer alternative/complimentary options.

    4)The main problem with the ebook market at this point in time (in addition to the obvious problems of its infancy) is that the content producers are not backing it, but we really must just give them time and tell them that we want them to start offering their books as ebooks (or better yet, ask them to do what apress is doing and offer ebooks in addition to hardcopies at a really low cost (I got a $50 book's e-copy for $10)). However, those ebooks that are available are often on the order of 30% cheaper than their print versions (at least of those I've looked at), which is about the cost of the printing/shipping/stocking/etc. of the hard books. Go to http://ebooks.connect.com/ and check the prices of books.
    Example: Double Cross by James Patterson (0316015059)
    Print: $27.99
    eBook: $19.99 (I don't really know what this number is)
    Connect: $15.99 (20% discount of eBook, 43% off print)
    Amazon.com: $16.79 (Connect is still 5% cheaper)

    4b)The other problem is that companies don't want to agree on a single standard format (pdfs are nice, but large in size and don't like to be reformatted to different sizes; BBEB/lrf (Sony's format) is much nicer, but not supported by anyone else; mobipocket is another proprietary format), but hopefully this will all be solved by the IDPF's .epub format (see: http://www.idpf.org/).

    4c)The final problem is the cost of the devices, but that is dropping fast, and the features are growing just as fast. I bought my PRS-500 a little over a month ago for $249.99 with a $50 credit for books + 100 free classic books. Amazon's *possible* device (it is NOT confirmed yet, just speculation and rumors) is more expensive because it has more features (wifi, annotation, etc), and the iLiad is even more expensive for the same reason.

    5)As for content, don't forget Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page), WikiBooks (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page), WikiSource (http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Main_Page), and Wikiversity(http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Main_Page), as well as EVERY SINGLE TEXT-BASED DOCUMENT (& pictures) FOUND ON THE INTERNET, including:
    websites
    blogs
    news sites
    web-based dictionary articels
    web-based encyclopedia articles
    datasheets
    and hundreds of other things.

    From now on, if you're going to comment on something, make sure you a)know what your're talking about and b)do some actual research. I'm really disappointed in you, Tim. Before you post these kind of things, you should really do some research. You're becoming more like the newspapers and news shows, just announcing something with a sensational headline to create a controversy that doesn't exist. There ARE many problems with the current system that ebooks address (price, waste (not just paper, but the whole publishing process, just as with music and movies), convenience (size, access, acquiring), and other things.

     

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    Rollie Cole (profile), Nov 17th, 2007 @ 7:25am

    ebook comments

    I actually have a Sony ebook, and love it, although it is far from perfect.

    Pros:
    1. fits in a suit pocket, and holds 50 or more full-length books.

    2. I can adjust the type size for my over-40 eyes

    3. I can find plenty of legal content (and since I have a high-speed scanner and quality OCR software, I can do the equivalent of RIP for any book I am willing to cut apart -- e.g. cheap paperbacks

    4. pages are flat -- I can hold the ebook and turn pages with one hand -- unlike paperback, pages stay flat when using hands to do something else.

    5. has sufficient battery life -- lasts for several days of reading (since ePaper, supposedly only uses power when turning pages, but if I leave alone (on or off) for several days, I have to re-charge).

    Some cons:

    1. contrast is OK (great in outdoors) but of course NOT equal to paper

    2. This version does NOT highlight, annotate, or search -- it is the equivalent of a single purpose tool (It does bookmark, but I do not use the feature)

    3. airlines deem it an electronic device, so I am asked to turn it off during take-offs and landings.

    Bottom line

    For what it is -- great way to do recreational reading (I do read dozens of books on a trip while sitting on the beach -- and I can put the eBook in a plastic bag and still use it).

    But what I really want is a tablet PC with (a) a screen as good as the ebook for outdoor, but backlit for indoor; (b) all the features of search, annotation, etc. (c) same size and weight factor -- especially that it fits in the outer suit pocket.

    Rollie Cole

     

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    identicon
    Anne, Nov 17th, 2007 @ 2:39pm

    All I Want For Christmas

    These are the things I expect from an e-book reader:

    1. A deeply discounted price for the books. Most of the e-book retailers have failed because they expect consumers to pay full hardcover retail price for a bestseller ($26-30+). I can buy a brand new hardcover Grisham or Steel novel at Costco for around $14.

    2. The ability to print out text onto my printer.

    3. An open e-book format that allows me to choose the reading format most comfortable for me. As in PDF, Word, etc.

    4. The ability to transfer the e-book back and forth between my desktop PC, my laptop, my Smart Phone and the proprietary e-book reading device.

    5. For non-fiction books, the ability to mark up text inside the e-book, just as if I were holding a regular book in my hands, with a highlighter pen and a virtual Sharpie, making margin notes as I read.

    6. The ability to resell the e-book used on Amazon to another buyer once I'm finished with it.

    7. The assurances that I'm not spending $400+ on a boat anchor, once the e-book company goes out of business or the big corporate media giant decides to stop manufacturing and supporting the devices.

    Until the e-book format and readers meet these standards, I'll stay with the good old-fashioned paper book.

     

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      identicon
      BIll, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 8:36am

      Re: All I Want For Christmas

      > 1. A deeply discounted price for the books. Most of the e-book retailers have failed because they expect consumers to pay full hardcover retail price for a bestseller ($26-30+). I can buy a brand new hardcover Grisham or Steel novel at Costco for around $14.

      See Baen Books and Fictionwise.com and eReader.com


      > 2. The ability to print out text onto my printer.

      Not likely, it's a violation of copyright.

      > 3. An open e-book format that allows me to choose the reading format most comfortable for me. As in PDF, Word, etc.

      Available. See Baen, Fictionwise, etc.

      > 4. The ability to transfer the e-book back and forth between my desktop PC, my laptop, my Smart Phone and the proprietary e-book reading device.

      Available. See Baen, Fictionwise, eReader, MobiPocket, etc.

      > 5. For non-fiction books, the ability to mark up text inside the e-book, just as if I were holding a regular book in my hands, with a highlighter pen and a virtual Sharpie, making margin notes as I read.

      Available, See eReader, MobiPocket, most eReader software (although amazingly not most ereader HARDWARE that isn't a PDA)

      > 6. The ability to resell the e-book used on Amazon to another buyer once I'm finished with it.

      Not likely. Publishers don't like you being able to resell paper books. I would have no desire for this anyway; I never sell books. I occasionally give them away to charity or a friend, but that's it.

      > 7. The assurances that I'm not spending $400+ on a boat anchor, once the e-book company goes out of business or the big corporate media giant decides to stop manufacturing and supporting the devices.

      That's why I use a PDA or a laptop and work with vendors (Baen, Fictiowise that support multiple format and/or open formats and that don't (or don't always) have DRM.


      > Until the e-book format and readers meet these standards, I'll stay with the good old-fashioned paper book.

      99% of your objections do not exist ALREADY and haven't for years. Time to check out ebooks.

       

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    Andrew Arnold, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 4:28am

    I've been reading e-books for about six years now on a variety of portable platforms, starting with a Palm M500 and the latest being a Nokia N800.

    I like the portability of e-books and the fact (in principle) that you can order one and start reading straight away without having to wait for it to be delivered. I also like the fact that if I buy them over the internet I don't have to pay 25% sales tax that we have in Denmark. My wife likes the fact that they don't clutter up the basement.

    I read a lot on-screen now - mainly because of rss feeds. Why doesn't some enterprising publisher start publishing serialised ebooks on rss.

     

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    Rick Sarvas, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 7:34am

    Sony eBook Reader

    I must admit that while I have a Sony Reader, I don't think they are for everyone. The device has a number of limitations and quirks that would annoy most people, so if you are not inclined to read a book on some sort of electronic device, the Sony Reader is *not* going to change your mind - at least with the current version. 2-3 versions later, who knows, but for now, I think the average person that uses one will be somewhat unimpressed.

    As for me, I'm not sorry I bought (though I do wish got it for much less) it since it does the one thing that I need and goes literally weeks without a recharge. This combined with the fact that I can fit about 50 books in RTF form on the internal memory alone is about all I care about.

     

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    Bill, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 10:42am

    Another thought on Text Books

    One other thought...are text book publishers REQUIRED to produce "e" or audio versions of their products to satisfy ADA (section 508) laws?

     

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    Bill M, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 11:29am

    The Amazon Kindle

    I just went to Amazon.com and went through some of the videos dealing with the Kindle. It's actually a nice machine. I like the screen and the navigation system seems to be user friendly. It has a keyboard that seems easy enough to use, especially if you are used to typing text messages on your cell phone. Speaking of which, you don't have to look be someplace where there is free wi-fi because the device works the same way as a cell phone. No color but I suspect that a future version would take care of that. Then again, your standard paperback book doesn't have pictures. This device doesn't have to be all things to all people, just very good at what it does.

    BTW...if you watch one of the videos you'll see a quick cameo for Tech dirt...the Kindle lets you read blogs, magazines and newspapers!

    The major drawback? $400 for the machine and almost $10.00 for a title. This has to be some kind of mistake. I hope Amazon figures this out and soon.

     

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    Patrizia Broghammer, Nov 20th, 2007 @ 12:39am

    Free ebooks

    " So far nobody has figured out how to make e-books do something really useful..."
    What about price?
    What about availability?
    What about a full Library in one CD instead of huge bookshelves?
    What about fast and easy search?
    What about animation in children's books?
    What about costless ink and High definition pictures and movies?
    What about culture at no price?
    When they invented the printed book (in the place of the manual written one)culture was available and affordable to almost all.
    With eBooks it WILL. And that is the only Future: affordable Education.
    I have a website: http://www.easymediabroadcast.com with free eBooks and a LOT of Audio eBooks.
    You can read and listened to the story. It is wonderful for people who want to learn a language.
    What was lacking was an eBook reader, because the computer is not the best medium.(I mean, it is nicer to sit on an armchair than in front of a computer screen)

     

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    Denise, Nov 21st, 2007 @ 2:25pm

    e books

    Shouldn't everyone be trying to minimise the use of power in light of global warming instead of wasting it on charging 'gadgets'.

     

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    Henry, Oct 17th, 2010 @ 3:02am

    Useful OCR tool

    Here I am providing a link to an online application which is called Good OCR and allows transformation of texts in scanned image, such as JPG, GIF, TIFF and even to plain text in TXT.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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