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.