Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

E-book Readers

Well, it seems like someone has finally squeezed a dedicated e-book reader into (what strikes me as) an ideal form-factor. Unfortunately, that’s probably the easiest challenge that e-book reader manufacturers face. While I’ve got piles of electronics in the basement proving that I’m one of those early adopter suckers that Joel Johnson was talking about, I wouldn’t even consider buying an e-book reader until I knew that I could:

  • buy (most) every new title in a compatible format from multiple online vendors (I imagine old titles would be made available by demand and genre);
  • freely transfer/back up the title (i.e., no DRM); and
  • download any available title at most major bookstore physical locations (e.g., I could buy a copy of Robert Kaplan’s latest just before I got on a flight at DCA).

I suspect that e-books and paper books will have less of an overlap market than publishers think. Personally, I’ve occasionally read works entirely as an e-book (e.g., Cory Doctorow’s Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, David Weber’s On Basilisk Station, and an assortment of Strange Horizon‘s stories), but I’d much rather use it as a supplement. A significant portion of my reading is done while on the move, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve regretted leaving what I really wanted to read at home in favor of something a little more portable (this is why it took me forever to finish Infinite Jest, and the Baroque Cycle has become an exercise in reading the first ten chapters, over and over . . . ). So, if my conditions above were met, I’d most definitely be willing to invest in an e-reader, and either buy e-books on their own, or pay a premium for a paper copy that gave me rights to an electronic copy.


Sunday Reading


Militarizing Space


  1. I’ve never figured out the lure of e-books. Yes, I’ve tried them. But no matter what the size, I’ve never liked them. I’d never spend a dime on one, even though I’ve been an early adopter on a lot of techie stuff.

    I have the same problem with audio books. They just don’t float my boat.

  2. MB

    Ebooks have a single appeal for me: portability. Yes, paperbacks are pretty damn portable in the first place, but you’ve got to figure out *which* one you want and make sure you have it with you *when* you want it. Ebook readers solve that problem.

    My ideal reading situation is on a swing (I don’t have) on the veranda (I don’t have) in late afternoon (which is almost never for reading). So, over the years, I’ve come to do a not small amount of reading on my Treo while standing on the Metro. Much easier to hold and read a Treo/device than a book.

    Again, I don’t think that ebook readers are a *replacement*, but I think lots of folks would find them a pretty useful supplement.

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