Thoughts on eBook readers

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GA Russell
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Thoughts on eBook readers

Post by GA Russell » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:35 pm

I saw the Sony eBook reader at BJ's two weeks ago, and I have been doing a little research.

You heard it here first! I predict that the eBook reader, especially the Amazon Kindle, will be the #1 Christmas present this year.

It's all pretty confusing, but my research indicates that both the Sony and the Kindle come with DRM which basically forces you to buy your books from them. Amazon will even charge you for public domain books because they cite their effort to run those books through their DRM!

Furthermore, Amazon claims that you are not buying the eBook, but only a license; and they reserve the right to limit the time you have to read the book before they discontinue your access to it!

I have found a German reader that looks very appealling to me called the txtr. It is open source with no DRM. No fee for public domain books. It will be released in October. No word yet on the price.

Just this past week Amazon has lowered the price of its Kindle 2 from $350 to $299, so I imagine that the txtr will be in that ballpark.

Have any of you purchased an eBook reader or looked into buying one? What are your thoughts?
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Post by rustyblade » Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:32 am

For the gadget factor I wanted one for a while but then I decided what is wrong with a paper book? The only downside is lugging several volumes on vacation. I've read some emerging horror stories about people that have upgraded their computer (or was it their reader) a couple times and are unable to read their ebooks due to the inane DRM. A book can be traded 100's of times (until it falls apart), yet you cannot share your ebooks. I would miss browsing the three great used bookstores in our town too.
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Post by jww » Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:52 am

Saw my first Kindle several months ago -- and as much as I am a major gadget geek -- this is one gadget that doesn't appeal to me. But then -- neither does the iPod Touch -- I am more than happy with my simple and basic iPod Classic.
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Post by aircraft_electrician » Tue Jul 14, 2009 6:17 am

While these devices appeal to my inner geek, I have to stop and wonder why we need a $300 electronic device to read a $20 book.

At first, I came up with the "good for the environment" thought. Books are printed on paper, which means cutting down trees. Then I realized the production of these electronics probably does more harm to our environment through polution than cutting down the trees.

I can see the point if a person needs to travel with a reference library; but chances are the needed references won't be available.

For me, it seems easier to just stuff a real book in my carry-on bag than worry about downloading an e-book, making sure my batteries are charged, and not getting yelled at ny the flight attendant for using a portable electronic device at the wrong time.

Just my humble opinion, though.

Tom
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Post by Leisureguy » Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:22 am

I finally got the Kindle DX — I was waiting for an ebook reader that would do a good job of reading PDFs, and the Kindle DX does do that. A few observations:

I enjoyed my first book, and when I started the second, I had the odd feeling that I was reading the same book: physical feel the same, appearance of the page the same (slightly different font, but still). In fact, the eBook reader experience is more like reading a magazine, where the binding and paper and contents are ephemeral, very different from a physical book that has definite individual characteristics.

It's also quite expensive, and of course you don't own the book---if you lose your Amazon account, you lose your books (except for those already on your Kindle). — I should explain: when you finish a book that you bought from Amazon, you can delete it from your Kindle, which archives the book (along with your comments, highlightings, and bookmarks) at Amazon, from whence you can retrieve it when you want.

It has some nice touches---the progress bar that shows where you are in the book, for example---but with hands-on experience I have to say that it's not quite ready for prime time yet.

Still, the DX, with an add-on keyboard, could be a dynamite research tool for a scholar, putting notes directly into the text (where they appear as a footnote). You can even share your notes---they form a separate file in My Comments, which you can upload to your computer and email to others, allowing them to read the book (if they buy it) with your notes.

Nonetheless, for the average reader: not yet. Still, I was delighted to be able to read The Authoritarians, an extremely interesting book that's available for free as a PDF (at the link)---but I could not read a 261-page PDF at my computer. Once I got the Kindle DX, I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Post by Stitch306 » Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:20 am

I've had a sony book reader for almost a year now and it's great. I've got around 700 books (more than I'll ever read) on a SD card. I don't use the software that came with it (because it doesn't work with linux) I've downloaded a free program called Calibre. It'll convert any format ie .TXT .PDF .LIT etc to the sony format.

After I got mine my wife bought one, my mum bought one, several guys at work either want or have bought one and now my daughter wants one for her birthday!
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Post by GA Russell » Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:20 pm

Thanks for your interesting replies guys.

I'll look forward to October to read what the early adopters have to say about the txtr.

It appears to me that all of them are like the iPod - the consumer cannot change the battery. You have to send it in with something like a hundred bucks, and they will send you a new one.

Of course I may change my mind, but right now I am only interested in the great literature (and some hard-boiled pulp fiction!) of the past, most of which is in the public domain. My experience is that most books that I want cost $15 plus fairly high shipping.

So my thinking is that by downloading 20 free public domain books, the reader will pay for itself.

Amazon is charging $10 for its books. Spending $300 for a Kindle 2 plus $10 per book seems pretty high to me.

I always thought that Gillette's modus operendi of "Give 'em the razor and sell 'em the blade" was fair to the consumer, and obviously very profitable for Gillette. So if Amazon wants to charge $10 per book, I think that they should be giving away the Kindle for next to nothing.
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Post by Leisureguy » Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:51 pm

In fairness, the Kindle has available some books for $0.00 (classics) and some for $0.80 (old SF). $9.99 is the price of books on the NY Times Bestseller list. A hardback not on the list can cost more---I think the highest I've seen is $27.

OTOH, some novels are around $6.70---those that sell in mass-market paperback editions.

And, of course, with the Kindle DX you can read .PDF and .TXT files as well.

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Post by GA Russell » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:15 pm

Michael, can I take a Kindle and go to Project Gutenberg and download anything I want for free without a hassle?
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Post by Leisureguy » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:27 pm

I haven't tried that yet. Give me a sec.

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Post by Leisureguy » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:42 pm

OK. I first had to find out which formats the Kindle DX accepts:
Kindle (AZW), PDF, TXT, Audible (formats 4, Audible Enhanced (AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
Then I had to find Project Gutenberg. I downloaded a book (Louisa Mae Alcott's My Contrand in an Esperanto translation) as a .TXT file.
Then I found my Kindle (not where I expected), attached the USB cable, opened Windows Explorer and dragged that file (along with a couple of other PDFs I wanted to read---lately, when I come across a long article on-line, I copy it, paste it into Word, and save it as a PDF to read on the Kindle).

No more PDFs for me, though, not when I can save a .TXT file, which allows you to highlight text, enter comments, and copy passages, just like native Kindle AZW does.

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Post by GA Russell » Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:05 pm

Thanks Michael!

Amazon and Sony want to sell you books as well as readers; and they are not emphasizing how you can use the reader without buying a book from them.
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Post by GA Russell » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:25 pm

Hey guys. I have found a forum devoted to eBook readers!

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/
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Post by crankymoose » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:34 am

for those looking into a Kindle may want to skip the $30 case Amazon sells to "protect" ithttp://www.macworld.com/article/141709/ ... indle.html
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Post by jww » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:43 am

I also forgot to mention in my earlier post, that my wife works in a very well-stocked used book store, and we get to read anything we want whenever we want. It's almost as good as having your own library. I think it will be some time before I warm up to e-book readers.
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Post by rustyblade » Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:18 am

Unless these ebooks become as 'free' (as in freedom) as a regular book they will always have a limited market. Also, the cost of the book would have to come down a great deal. As in 25% of the cost of a dead-tree book, or else they will just end up getting pirated anyway. Just look at the movie/music industry, they still don't "get it". Nobody's going to pay that kind of price for a book that you don't really own.
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Post by GA Russell » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:39 pm

Here's something I find shocking, although the most cynical of you may be unmoved.

PCWorld is reporting today that Amazon sold 1984 and Animal Farm eBooks to its Kindle customers before it had obtained legal clearance to do so in the US.

So what did Amazon do? It removed the two books from all Kindles and their owners' lockers (the Amazon storage space for eBooks) without first informing their customers!!!

Amazon also gave refunds to its customers' credit cards without first informing the customers.

So apparently you are not really buying the eBook like Amazon says you are. Your ownership of what you have paid for exists at Amazon's discretion.

I think I see a lawsuit coming.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/168654/a ... rship.html
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Post by Leisureguy » Sat Jul 18, 2009 3:02 am

Yeah, I was just going to post that. The Kindle looks more unattractive as a result. The NY Times also reported on this.

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Post by rustyblade » Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:18 am

This proves my point.

Also, in one fell swoop they probably just increased the piracy of this e-book by 5000%


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Post by aircraft_electrician » Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:47 am

Yep, dead trees are looking even more attractive. That's exactly what I was worried about. There is no way I'm going to "buy" an e-book unless it's truly mine. It's the same with mp3s. The only mp3 files I own were ripped from CDs I own.

Pay $300 for the reader, than $10 for an e-book I don't really own, or just pay $20 to $30 for a real copy of the book that's really mine and I can loan the book to a friend.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but until I can actually own the e-book files, I think I'll stick with dead trees.

Tom
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ALWAYS wear a helmet when on 2 wheels; a helmet saved my life on 1Oct2007!

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