eBooks and Readers

Today, Amazon released the Kindle.  It really looks like a great device.  The problem is, it is very limited is some serious ways.

  1. You can only use it to purchase e-books from Amazon.
  2. Books purchased from the Kindle store are ONLY readable on the Kindle.  No desktop access.
  3. It’s expensive.  (To be fair, this is a limitation of pretty much all ebook readers)
  4. It does not seem to support any file formats other than Word, images, and text for manual upload.

That last one is really what kills the deal for me.  I want to be able to upload multiple word processor formats, at least.  PDF is pretty important as well.  It would be nice if one could use their MobiPocket, Reader, or OpenEBook documents on it.  I just can’t see spending that kind of money on a piece of hardware that is 100% locked in to a particular vendor’s service.  if the reader were $100, and you could only buy e-books from Amazon, I would probably ask them to sign me up.

I like e-books.  I have read a ton of them on my PDA.  I do not have a negative reaction to reading on an electronic device instead of paper, as long as it is comfortable.  That’s why an e-book reader or my PDA will always win over reading on my desktop, or even my laptop.  With one of those small devices, I can lay on my back, squirm around, and generally act just like I am using a paperback book.  The problem with the readers is the crazy expense.  An Asus Eee PC is the same cost as the Amazon Kindle, and not much bigger.  It also does other stuff.  Yes, the Kindle, and it’s relatives like the Sony Reader are better for the purpose of reading a e-book, but is it enough better that I need to spend that kind of money on it?  I just don’t know.

I would love to see an e-book reader that just reads ebooks.  I don’t care about MP3 compatibility.  I don’t care about audio.  (I am glad that there are e-books with audio so the visually impaired can have a text reader, but I would love to buy a version without it.)  I don’t care if it doesn’t have EV-DO or wi-fi.  As long as it can connect to my PC and I can load books on it, and then it will show them to me, I’m fine.

I had originally balked at the cost of e-books, before I figured out how to read them on my PDA.  Now, I haven’t got an issue with it at all.  I do not think that an e-book is inherently any less valuable.  So, if I am the sort of reader (and I am) who reads hardbacks of my favorite books, or books that are only available in trade paperback, they definitely represent a savings.  That is one think that the Kindle seems to have going for it.  New releases and the like are only $9.99, which could pay for the reader in fairly short order.  It would take a bit longer to do the same for one of the less locked down readers, but you would still justify the expense in a year or so if you read a lot of new books.  You can also keep your books pretty much forever, since there are no space constraints.  (Or at least, not many.)

Dragonsept Arts and Publishing will be 100% about e-books for our literary endeavors.  Of course, for our purposes it gets even easier, since we are not worried about DRM.  Open formats and multiple formats will not be an issue for us, until we run out of space on the server.  I have been checking out OpenBerg Lector for open e-book reading.  If you have .LIT books that you would like to read on non-Microsoft platforms or software, take a gander at Convert Lit.

In the final analysis, I want an e-book reader.  I want it to be open enough to use my e-books from multiple retailers, and to support open format e-books as well.  I would like it to not cost the same as an ultraportable laptop.  But I definitely want one.

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