e-readers – are they all the rage?

I know some of my fellow agents have e-readers, but I’ve yet to get one. Partially because of the price-tag, I admit it. A number of editors I know have gotten company-sponsored e-readers, too, and say they use them frequently. I wonder how much more work reading I’d get done if manuscripts were portable. I do some reading on my computer and/or laptop, but, of course, find that more than a chapter and outline tends to make my eyes tired, especially after spending a large amount of the day at the computer already answering emails and so forth.

At the moment, I’m still betting on doing my “pleasure” reading the old-fashioned way. Though I suppose that may not always be true depending on circumstances — after all, I have a portable MP3 player that is much less clunky than the Walkman I owned way back when.

So, Amazon just unveiled the Kindle 2 coming in at the very affordable (heh) $359 and to be released later this month.

And Sony has a new version that came out not that long ago — the Sony PRS-700BC Reader Digital Book, sold (ironically on Amazon) for $399.

Anyone out there been e-reading and what are the pro’s and con’s? And what do you tend to read electronically as opposed to on paper? If you could buy either of the above readers, which one would it be and why?

ETA: bryant brings up another question for me — if you buy the e-version of a book, how often do you also buy the print version?

63 responses to “e-readers – are they all the rage?

  1. I have the original Sony Reader, which I got a few years ago. I’m really fond of it. It took a day or so to get used to it, but once I did I found it was easy to read on. The size is good, the screen is legible, etc.
    It’s a wonder for long distance travel and emergency reading. I don’t tend to buy new books on it mostly because the store software is Windows only and it’s a pain to fire up Boot Camp just to casually buy a book. I do have a big trove of Gutenberg stuff, plus all the random free texts that Tor and Cory Doctorow and so on release. I am also the poster child for that approach, since I generally own the physical object as well. Yay Dogland.
    If I were buying right now, I’d think seriously about the Kindle. The ability to buy books wirelessly is huge. I like the Sony Reader form factor over the Kindle 1, but the Kindle 2 looks a ton better in that regard. I’m pretty sure that if I had a Kindle I’d buy new books on it.

    • To clarify, btw, I probably wouldn’t buy physical copies if I bought a digital copy; but if Tor gives me a great book for free I’m likely to pick up the paperback out of a sense of obligation.
      I will admit that on the rare occasions I’ve turned to Baen’s Free Library to get me through a long plane flight, I have not gone out and spent a bunch of money on John Ringo as a result.

  2. I don’t have any e-reader but I am sorely tempted by the Kindle 2. I love that it has an audio function – it’s like buying the e-book and the audio book at the same time.
    But I haven’t been able to justify it mainly because I’d have to re-buy all the printed books I have if I truly want to “carry my library with me” as all the promotions suggest. That’s a lot of money on top of the reader itself. Plus Kindle books are often more expensive than just buying the paperback. Not sure I could really afford that.

  3. I don’t own either but I’ve been watching the market and doing my research.
    The new Kindle looks very nice, but you are tied into the Amazon system. If you want to add a .pdf/.doc to your Kindle you have to email it to Amazon, where it gets converted to the Kindle system and emailed back at a charge of .10 cents a shot. This use of a proprietary system really irks me.
    The Sony Reader has been well reviewed and received, although it appears that the previous version, the Sony PRS-505, is the better buy. The new touch-screen layer added to the PRS-700BC seems to have diminished the readability. My brother-in-law has the PRS-505 reader, so I can attest that it is lovely, easy in the hand and on the eye, and he uses it all the time.
    Personally, I’m going to wait for another iteration or two before I jump on the bandwagon, but my exposure to the Sony Reader certainly gave me an appetite to buy one eventually.
    If you’re very interested in buying then I recommend you read the TeleRead blog, which posts news all the time about the e-book market.

    • You only get charged 10 cents if you use the wireless delivery. You can get .pdfs and .docs converted for free if you have them emailed back to you, as I understand it. Also, .txt and some of the common eBook formats don’t require conversion.

      • And if it has a USB port does that mean you can just move things (like manuscripts) directly from your computer to your Kindle?
        I’m also curious about file format support, for my purposes. The Kindle doesn’t have RTF and TXT kills a lot of formatting, and even though it has DOC, that may still mean making conversions. The Sony does have RTF (and DOC and PDF). I wonder how easy it is to move the files back and forth, though.

        • Kindle can convert .rtf and .txt just fine. And yes on the USB port. And non-image based pdfs come across just fine. It’s the ones with graphics it can have trouble converting.

    • I agree about the Kindle. Being tied to the Amazon system or paying for translation stinks. I like what I’ve heard about the Sony. The new one has more capacity and a reading light, both of which are very cool.
      As for eyestrain, the eInk technology is supposed to reduce that.

      • As Bryant said above, you’re not actually tied to their system. Over half the books on my Kindle are free e-books from elsewhere or .doc manuscripts from writer friends. You only pay if you go through their wireless delivery. I can convert them and download them to my computer and do a USB transfer for free.

      • What Wishwords Wrote. *grin* I started reading e-books pack on my Palm, and would love to be able to laod books (especially non-fiction and/or travel stuff, and OMG magazines!) into e-format for portability. I’m resistant to being locked in to Amazon as my sole source, though, and the new Kindle, while spiffy and all-that, doesn’t address all my format/DRM concerns.
        So it may be Sony (or some player yet to be announced) who gets me, in the end. But first they have to hit one important requirement: $300 is my non-essential tech threshold. When they get e-readers to a regular $299-or-less tag, then I’ll be able to say “yeah, I’m on that.”

  4. I don’t have an e-reader such as a Kindle but I do have one that is part of my Ipaq. I love it for traveling, for late at night in the dark, for waiting rooms, any time that it’s nice to have a stack of books that I can just pull out of my pocket and open on a whim.
    I do still read “dead tree” versions, and there are times I prefer them still. I never have to worry about running out of battery life, I never have to worry that some technical glitch is going to prevent me from opening my book and continuing where I left off. I don’t have to worry that the paper book will deny me access for some reason.
    That said, an ideal world would let me walk into the bookstore and purchase the book with it’s electronic version included in some way, either as a code to be activated from the book, or as an actual chip or CD.
    My husband reads nearly exclusively on his Ipaq these days, usually 2-3 books a week, and we’ve paid extra to pick up hardbacks from his favorite authors that include the book on CD and would be quite happy to do so in the future.
    Because if I have one major complaint about e-readers it’s how pricey the books can be. I like to try out authors via ebook. Especially if the books are a dollar or more cheaper then the printed versions. If I like the ebook, I’ll go buy the book on paper to add to my library so I can read it again. From authors I know and like I’ll often pick up the ebook right away because I often have problems finding those books in the store locally.
    It frustrates me to pay full paperback price for the ebook only to have to contemplate paying full price again to have the physical copy. It’s also maddening to go looking for older books by my favorite authors I’d like to have on my reader, only to find I’m asked to pay 12, 15, 20$ for that back title, or that they’re simply never available.
    Lastly the huge downside I find to reading ebooks is issues with backup, copy protection and accessibility.
    Due to the issues of copy protection, I’ve run into problems accessing books I’ve bought, and simply being able to save a backup copy of them. A few years ago I had a catastrophic failure of my Palm Pilot, and every book I had paid for on that device was lost. Copy protection had made them impossible to back up, and I couldn’t open them on any other Palm Pilot because they were tied somehow via serial number to the one I had.
    My husband lost a whole pile of his Ipaq books the same way because his device had to have a factory reset done, and when he re-installed the reader software it would not open the books since the books were tied somehow to the way the previous software was set up.
    In cases like that it’s infuriating to be out all the money you spent on those books and never be able to read them again. Especially as the only current choices I’ve heard break the copy protection to back them up, often ruining the formatting in the book.
    At this point it seems to still be a bit of Caveat Emptor, because while they are convenient and fun, you do have a few trade offs to reconcile.

  5. My husband has a Sony e-reader and he loves it. His only complaint is the Sony website: limited ebook availability, ineffective search function, poor navigation.
    I know your post addressed reader reactions to ebooks, but if you’re so inclined, would you share your thoughts as an agent? A while back a friend sent me a copy of the Kindle boilerplate contract, and it didn’t strike me as particularly author-friendly. How do you as an agent deal with the ebook issue, and what advice do you have for writers?

    • Good question, Elaine, but one that requires an exhaustive answer that I will have to address in a separate essay at some point. We’re definitely in transition on this and there are so many things still to be addressed here. Thanks for bringing it up.

    • Yes, the last time I looked at the Kindle boilerplate contract… Well, that was for self-publishing authors. I can only assume they gave a much better deal to actual publishers. (I believe that SFWA did a breakdown of the contract in their newsletter about a year ago? I am not a member, and never got around to purchasing that issue, though, so I’m not sure what’s in it.)

  6. I have a Pam T|X which I currently use as an eReader and I’m looking to get a Sony 505. I had the advantage of seeing a 505 and 700 side-by-side and the screen on the 505 is much sharper without the touchscreen layer. The Kindle 2 looks good (much better than Kindle 1) but I really don’t like supporting Amazon’s closed ecosystem.
    I read a lot of fiction on my Palm – it’s nice and portable and carries a lot of books. The only catch is that the E-Ink devices can’t be backlit so while they’re easy to read in direct sunlight they don’t work so well in poor lighting conditions.

  7. I’ve been waiting for the Kindle 2 to buy an e-reader, since the original one had some issues with it being difficult to hold without turning pages. The biggest reason I want one is because I like to read in bed, and books can be unwieldy. They’re aesthetically pleasing, but hardcover books in particular I can’t stand to actually read.
    Once I have it, I don’t intend to buy any physical books if they’re available on the Kindle. I like to take books with me places, and it’s just too much to carry if I’m near the end of another book so I bring the next in the queue too, or if I’m reading more than one at a time.
    Also, stuff that I normally read on the computer, like The New York Times, I’m going to read on the Kindle. I rarely read fanfiction, but when I do, I’m going to port it to the Kindle as well. My eyes are sensitive to light so reading on a computer screen is extra difficult for me.

    • Now, that was my question! (Not that I’m going to take the plunge until they are cheaper and format-agnostic.) Because I often read in bed, I choose paperbacks. They cause less permanent damage if I happen to fall asleep and roll over on them. E-readers do not look nap-friendly to me.
      My eyesight is for the crap, too. I suspect jamming the screen up next to my eyeballs would not be terribly comfy with an e-reader.
      One more aspect: I don’t think there is a used e-book market. When I can afford it, I buy new books: I want the publishers to pass along the sales stats & royalties to the authors. I haven’t heard of an e-equivalent of buying an armload of used paperbacks at the second-hand book store for the same price as one new book.

  8. I’ve been e-reading for a good few years now, largely on my computer (of whatever variety). For 2 or 3 years I read things on my Handspring Visor (like a Palm handheld, running the Palm OS) until that finally died. I’ve just started e-reading again because I have an iPod Touch and have downloaded the free e-reader app, Stanza.
    Over the past ooh, 4 or 5 days (I did say ‘just’!) I’ve read 4 novels, all romance, and several short stories. The romances are all free downloads (Harlequin’s 60th anniversary), as are the short stories, most of which are out of copyright. I’ve also downloaded all but one of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels and the many OZ novels (a childhood well spent), around 70 F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories, a bunch of classics which I haven’t got around to reading before (largely Dickens), and a bunch of Hugo-nominated works (creative commons license).
    These are all free. I’ll probably end up downloading a library’s-worth of books and stories for free – quite legally – when I have time. The ones I fall in love with, I’ll probably go out and buy. A significant proportion of these I already have *somewhere*, read or not.
    Would I purchase e-books? I’m not sure. For the right price and with the right storefront interface, almost certainly. £1, $1, through to £1.99, $5, but not more. I know how much e-phemera I lose moving between computers at work, computers at home, old archive cds which gather dust, etc. So I’m not willing to pay too much for a file which I can lose so easily and may even forget I have for 5 or 10 years before wondering whatever happened to it. And yes, I do that with paper books too. 🙂 On the other hand, if buying a paper book gives me a receipt code that I can use to download a free copy of the e-book, I’d be more likely to part with a little extra on the cover price.
    So why e-read? For me, there are several related issues.
    1. I have ME. I travel 50 miles each way to work and back every day by bicycle and train. I’m limited in what I can carry (but you’d be surprised at just how much one can fit onto the back of a bike… *grin*) and what’s sensible for me to carry. I usually carry a laptop, a handbag, lunch, some knitting, lights for my bicycle, a bottle of water, my diary… It all adds up. A paperback isn’t much of a burden, but it’s an extra few grams to haul around. And some hardbacks are enormous!
    2. Books which get shoved into my bag end up getting dirty, the covers bent, etc, unless I pop them into my book bag first. Which again, is extra weight, to say nothing of extra bulk.
    3. I can carry 500 books on my iPod Touch without even noticing the space they take up (almost nothing). I’m carrying this anyway, so I might as well make it count for as much as possible! This is also why I’m unlikely to buy a dedicated e-reader – it’s another thing for me to carry around. And if I were going to splash out and get one (if I ever get to stop commuting!) I’d almost certainly get the Iliad.
    4. Stanza works well for me as an e-reader; my eyes don’t tire quickly, I can read the type clearly, and it remembers where I am in a book and what book I was last reading.
    5. Time! I don’t usually have time to sit down for an hour to read a book. I do have 10 minutes waiting for the train, 5 minutes standing in line at the checkout at the supermarket, 20 minutes waiting at the post office. It’s surprising how quickly I can get through a book given those circumstances, especially if it’s something more ‘lightweight’.
    I hope this helps!

    • I did look at the Iliad a while back — but the price point on that is even a bit more daunting. The Iliad2 is something like $700 here in the States. But it does have features that may make it far more useful for my professional reading (manuscripts) than casual reading (e-books).
      Thanks for all your thoughts. They are really helpful!

      • The extra features are what give it that edge for me too: I’m a technical writer, writer, slushpile reader, proofreader and commissioning editor, so the ability to annotate is pretty crucial. Borders had the first generation in for £399 and it was rather tempting. Having just taken a swift look at the next generation, it’s even more tempting! Fortunately, my bank balance prevails. *grin*

  9. I have the original Kindle and love it.
    Most of what holds true for the Kindle, holds true for the Sony. The e-ink, adjustable text size, ability to read not just commercial e-books but draft manuscripts. The one big advantage to the Kindle — the reason I would buy it again and again over the Sony — is Whispernet — the ability to get books delivered wirelessly, be they books ordered from Amazon or friends’ manuscripts I e-mail to my Kindle address. It’s handy when I’m on the road, sitting in an airport, or anywhere I can’t instantly access a bookstore with books I want.
    The other thing I love as a reader is the ability to preview the first 1-3 chapters for free on any Kindle book. While it has led to me not buying some books I might have otherwise, I’ve found so many new authors and even books in new genre’s I never would have tried before. The ability, as I’m browsing Amazon, to just click the “send me a free sample” button on any book is addictive, and gives me a better sense of a book than I could ever get browsing in a bookstore.
    I read a lot more electronically now than I did before. I’m frustrated now when I can’t get a book on Kindle that I want to read. It’s light and comfortable, easy to read hands-free (on lunch break or while exercising). I don’t find myself buying print books that I already own electronically (unless it’s the sort of book I would have bought multiple copies of before), but I do find myself re-buying books electronically so I have the convenience of re-reads on the Kindle.

  10. There’s a good article in last week’s Time Magazine about e-reading. And how the magazine industry is making changes.
    Right now I’m reading everyone’s comments and posts about e-readers and deciding which reader to buy.

  11. I haven’t bought one either because of price. That’s a lot of books I can buy! 🙂 If I did buy one, it would be to read “paperbacks” and maybe reference material.
    Anything that I buy in hardback is to keep on a shelf. That wouldn’t change (I like my personal library). Now, if hardbacks came with a free (or $2) Kindle download too, that’d change everything.
    I’m also curious as to the business side of Kindle, as EC brought up. How much of the $10 typically goes toward author royalties and publisher fees? Or does most of the revenue stay with Amazon for technology, delivery, and storage costs?

  12. I have an iPhone, with Stanza on it, and I love reading on it. (www.lexcycle.com is the homepage with all their own advertising meeble.) I can adjust the font size (as well as the color of the font and background), though that’s a little fiddly yet, and since I need it for the phone, the calendar (I have a lousy memory for appointments, and can lose track of time easily), the games (excellent for “I’m bored” in the back seat)… I have it with me all the time. I can flip it on and read a few paragraphs and turn it off again.
    My first read on my iPhone was Pride and Prejudice (not on Stanza, but on one of the early “hey, let’s sell out-of-copyright texts for 99 cents!” books), and it was amazing how quickly the small screen became, well, a book. It was much more convenient — and easier on my eyes, really — than trying to read on a computer screen.
    Cons are that, since the iPhone’s not a digital ink device, reading drains the battery about like any other “my phone is on” app. (The solitaire game I have is actually more battery-intensive, though.) Stanza doesn’t do illustrations, so theoretically I’m limited there. Another con is that if I want anything more modern, most publishers seem to think I should be paying paper prices for… no paper. On the other hand, I have all of Project Gutenberg at my fingertips; I’m reading old Andre Norton books right now, as well as some of the Harlequin romances that they’re giving away for Valentine’s Day (ereader format worked; their epub format did not).
    I don’t think I’d ever bother to buy a dedicated ereader, though. It would be One More Thing to lug around, and therefore not much more convenient than having a physical book. My iPhone is small, carried around with me all the time anyway (I crocheted a pouch for it, so I have it slung ’round my shoulder all the time), and does many things that are useful — including read books.
    I would buy a physical copy of an ebook if I wanted to support the author more, and have something that I could lend to a friend, or let my kid read. (Honestly, I probably have the Andre Norton book I’m currently reading… somewhere in the library. The very packed library, which has boxes all over the floor for various reasons, and which is only navigable by the cats and our child. Being able to get books without risking my neck is also a very valid “pro” for me!) I am very likely to want an e-copy of a book I really like, too — though I do not want to pay full paper-prices for it.

  13. I got a Sony E-Reader (550, I think), for Christmas. I love the fact that I can download a book and have it in my hands in a few minutes, especially because I live 30 minutes away from the nearest bookstore. I find the reading of it, the e-ink and the screen, easy to adapt to. I did have to learn to read the last word on the page before I hit the “next page” button–I guess I’m used to starting to flip the page before I am actually finished with that last sentence!
    The Kindle irked me because of its proprietary nature. I don’t like being the policy and didn’t want to support it. I also, realistically didn’t need to be able to download directly to my reader–I’m seldom far from a computer.
    To top it off, the Amazon e-books are a dollar or more expensive than the paper version. Most other electronic books are the same or slightly less than the physical version. That seemed wrong–I’m buying an expensive reader AND I’m paying more per book.
    At any rate, I don’t see myself no longer buying paper versions again, but I am delighted with the near instant gratification of the e-reader and with the ease of reading on it. I think the e-reader is well worth a try–it’s a lot easier on the eyes for me to read something long-ish on the reader than on my computer.
    Also, for me, it’s either/or–I’ll buy the physical version if it’s easier for me to get, but I won’t buy both versions.
    Additionally, one final factor–my house is overflowing with books. Storage is a very real problem–I have books under beds, in the attic, and in almost every room of the house. Reducing the number of books to physically store is another bonus. (Not being able to easily share the books I read is a negative–but if I really like it, then I’m glad for another sale for the author.)

  14. The price tag is still too steep for me to ever consider it. It would need to drop another $250 before I’d consider it and I doubt that will happen anytime soon.
    I still don’t know if I’d be able to get eBooks from the library on these eReaders. I generally only buy a book if it’s by an author I like or a continuation in a series I’m in love with. I’ve been burned too many times by books that sound promising and end up disappointing me in the end. Plus, I hardly have the money to go and buy books now. So the only other way I’d consider it is if I could use the library provided eBooks on these devices.
    I know eBooks don’t cost too much to begin with, but I’d rather not chance wasting even that amount if the book is disappointing.

  15. Maybe I’m a dinosaur here, but I prefer to read on paper only. 🙂 I love holding a book in my hands.
    I suppose after working almost all day on a computer, then coming home writng on a computer, the last thing I want to do is to read on a computer as well. But it’s interesting reading about how folks are enjoying their e-readers. To each his own! 🙂

  16. I think e-readers are great for agents, editors, lawyers, and other businesspeople who have to do a lot of reading and who often work late and from places other than their offices. But for the average person who reads for pleasure? I just don’t see them catching on. Even if I’m going on a week’s vacation, it’s so much more affordable to pack along three or four books to keep me occupied.

  17. If money weren’t tight, I’d buy a Kindle 2 in an eyeblink (er, no pun intended, if that is a pun).
    The only direction they’ve taken with it which I hope they’ll reconsider is the weight: “lighter than a paperback!” If nothing else, I hope an aftermarket develops in slightly weighted leather covers; I’d hate to worry about the thing sliding off a tabletop or stack of papers, say, even more easily than a paperback.
    I’d be delighted if I could store, “permanently,” my all-time top 100 (or 200, or whatever) books in one small space. It just kills me that 90% of them are in boxes somewhere in the house, and frustrates the bejeezus out of me that I can’t put my hands on them when I want them. (This happens much more often than I thought it might when we moved in 7+ years ago.)
    Which brings me to another cool feature I look forward to on any e-reader in the future: while reading — whether a book or subscribed periodical or PDF or whatever — click a button labeled “Blog This” (or “FB” or whatever) and bang, there’s the interface for your favorite blogging (etc.) tool with the quote (current page or selected) already embedded as a blockquote, and the work already cited via hyperlink. Oo-la-la!

  18. Gotta get a laptop first. Which I will use mostly for reading. and writing.
    I hope e-readers succeed, finally. I want rid of paper. Just need some way to get royalties back to the writer.

  19. Wired Mag did a comparison, and Kindle 2 came out ahead–http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2009/02/showdown-kindle.html
    My own criteria for an e-reader is that it MUST be cheaper than a game system, and better reading screen than a page. None of them are there, yet. I think it’ll continue to be somewhat slow adoption (Kindle has a Mac-like fan club, but is not yet prime time — I have a couple of friends how have them, love them, but I’d still rather have a book — can’t really thumb through pages too well). Until someone hits those two marks — under 200 and great display, it’s going to be a tougher sell (really tough right now, too).
    Of course, by then, chances are, it won’t be an ereader, but a phone or notebook that’s about the size of a paperback, and which does lots more. I was thinking this would be out in a year or two, but given the economy, I’d put it more like four or five years now. (Good displays are very tough–it’s like trying to come up with voice recognition that works, tougher than you’d think.)

  20. I think I’ll mostly do my pleasure reading the old fashioned way… mostly because I love books… everything about them. But I can totally see how having a reader would be ideal for agents/editors, who, up until now, have had to carry reams of paper around with them.
    If I were to buy an e-reader, I would buy the Sony. As cool as the wireless feature is, I am pretty anti-DRM, and forcing people to use AMZ files (as I’ve read that the Kindle does) automatically puts me off the Kindle, I’m afraid.

  21. I’m looking at my groaning bookshelves. I’m looking at the heaps that pock about the base of each of these shelves.
    A gizmo that could let me store a library in the same amount of space as a single pocketbook?
    Sounds appealing, once the price eventually drops.

  22. I wouldn’t buy a dedicated reader, but I’ve been using Stanza on my iPhone [disclosure: I work for Apple] and it almost works for me. I’ve been reading some of the books I can download for free, e.g. Charles Stross’ Accelerando, which I already own in hardcover, and the Jane Austen classics, and it’s won me over. The convenience is the dealmaker for me.
    That said, publishers have got to stop pricing ebooks so punitively, and they’ve got to convince Apple to sell them directly through the iTunes store. I’m not willing to pay hardcover prices for ebooks. That’s just crazy stupid. I’d buy a lot more books if I could try them out electronically for like two or three bucks, them buy them in hardcover when I really like them.

  23. As far as the e-readers go, the fact that the Sony has the ability to read certain standard file types without first having to get the maker to convert them for you more than balances off the wireless access of the Kindle. Yes, currently Amazon will do conversions for free (if you don’t actually use said wireless), but, in addition to that extra step, it puts you in a position where you’re counting on them continuing to offer the service for free in the future.
    For e-books in general, I’d like to see the price come down a good chunk (without screwing the writers in the process), especially since the book I’m buying is just a copy of a file the publisher only had to create once. I’d also want the DRM to go the heck away, the way if finally has for music. As Patrick Nielsen Hayden reported from TOC today, “Doctorow’s Law: Any time somebody puts a lock on something you own and doesn’t give you the key, they are not doing it for your benefit.”

  24. I have an original Kindle, which I’ve now had for about a year. I’ve read approximately a dozen books on it. I like it, works fine for what I need, and enjoy having it.
    I’m likely not to buy the new Kindle 2 (at this time), because I don’t have the need for a new device that doesn’t do too much more for me than the one I do own. (Most of the major improvements appear to be on the physical structure/interface of the equipment, not so much on the software side.) Though if I knew someone that wanted an older model and was wiling to give me fair value, I might consider selling mine and purchasing the new model.
    One neat thing about the Sony is that it’s touch screen. Which is, frankly, impressive. (Played with one at the local Borders.) Sad that they anaged to get that working, but Amazon didn’t with this model. I wonder if it’s one the horizon for next year’s model or not.
    In general: the technology works as advertised. Which is to say, within a relatively short period of time, you forget you are looking at a screen, and instead just are absorbed into the reading itself. It is much more relaxing than working of the PC screen, which I do all day long.
    Oddly, at the moment, I’ve been reading a lot of physical books. Mainly, because I have such a back log, that I haven’t gotten through the TBR pile. But every once in a while, I take a break, and read something on the Kindle.
    To answer the question about purchasing:
    I would be unlikely to buy a book for the Kindle, and then go back and buy it in physical copy. Mainly because I don’t see a need to own it physically, if I want to read it again, I can just re-download it. But mostly, if I’m “collecting” a book, I’ll just buy it physically. Now, if a book is given away free, and I like it enough, there’s a chance I’ll go buy the physical copy when I can. I believe in getting money into the pockets of authors, so that they’ll keep writing what I want to read.

  25. The tipping point that got me to switch from a BlackBeery to an iPhone was the ability to use the device as an ebook reader.
    I don’t yet see the value in a dedicated ebook device, not when I do plenty of reading on my phone as is. And I’m far from the point where I’ll spend half a month’s rent on one.
    Even still, my pleasure reading is still largely done the old fashioned way, but my most productive reading is done on the screen in my pocket.
    For the follow-up question, I think publishers would be wise to start giving away free digital versions of books with the purchase of the hard cover.

  26. I’m still up in the air about an e-reader. For one, the price has to come down under $300.00 or I’m just not going to bite.
    Also, I’d want some real extensive selections available. When I can purchase the entire Andre Norton collection in e-book format, that might be something I’d jump at.
    Personally, I think Amazon should bundle the entire Wheel of Time series in e-book format when the final book comes out, sell it with a Kindle2 for $100.00 as a special deal. It would make much better business sense for them to get as many Kindle2’s into as many hands as possible if they want to really establish themselves as the premiere e-reader.
    I know there would be quite the contractual hurdle to do something like that, but it would certainly guarantee a lot of sales.
    So, with new readers still very highly priced, and me not really being able to purchase what I want to read on it, I’ll wait a while longer.

  27. Anyone out there been e-reading and what are the pro’s and con’s? And what do you tend to read electronically as opposed to on paper? If you could buy either of the above readers, which one would it be and why?
    I have a Sony Reader. I like how portable it is and that I can take it anywhere. At the moment I’m reading Meg Cabot Mediator series and I love that I can finish one book and start the next one without having to wait to get home to get the next book. The Con’s are not many, and not really the device fault. For example, I have a hard time finishing books that go over the 400 page mark. I have no idea why is that, but I limit the books I buy for the reader to have 400 pages or less. I’m also not good around computers so, many times I require my husband’s help (the real computer whiz) to help me upload books.
    if you buy the e-version of a book, how often do you also buy the print version?
    Interesting question, because this is a problem at my house. I often (ok, almost always) read the books my daughter’s read. Not that I spy on their reading habits we just like swapping books. When I buy a book for the Sony, I have no way of swapping books with them (I don’t think you even can, though). This is because: one, they don’t have a device to read it, and two, neither like reading in the computer, for them the Sony is a computer.
    What always happens is that I end up having to buy the print version of the book. This is the reason why I have limited my reading on the Sony only for for romance since they are not interested, yet, on swapping those books.
    Despite all of this I still like the device, it just hasn’t workout like I thought it would.

  28. ebookwise
    If you aren’t completely sold on the eInk and associated high prices, the ebookwise reader is really not a bad option. It’s got a LCD screen instead, but is comfortable to read, and you can read it in low-light situations. At $135 it’s a lot more affordable, and comes close to the “buy one just to try it out” point. I bought one on sale for just that reason.
    It’s hard to get PDF files on it, but txt, rtf, html all work fine (though you’ll probably want to spend the extra $15 for their fancier software).
    Great for travel, great for reading at night. I don’t use it for a lot of general reading, though that may be because most of my light reading comes from the library.

  29. If I traveled more, I would definitely buy a Kindle 2. The advantages of having a Kindle seem to be space and money. If I want to read several things, I could just plop it onto my Kindle instead of having to lug around heavy books. This would especially be helpful if I couldn’t take my laptop or if I’d be traveling a lot in one time period.
    However, I wouldn’t buy digital all the time. I would buy physical copies of books (that I didn’t already have in digital format) because it’s generally a lot easier to read. And more traditional in a sense. I enjoy reading an actual book.
    So far, though, I have yet to get into the trend of reading books electronically. I would rather have the physical copy of it.
    Also, the price for the Kindle is a bit steep. Doesn’t seem worth it. I could go out and buy many paper books for that price.

  30. I love my Sony eReader, but I won’t give up hardcopy books just yet. I read a lot for work, and the eReader is far far superior to reading on the computer. I have yet to get eye strain or red, buggy eyes from it. Plus it fits in my purse. I also do read “fun” books on the eReader. I have bought a handful of books for the eReader, but I won’t pay hardcopy price for them. I do work in the industry and I know what the overhead is for print versus electronic version. I’m not against profit for ebooks, but I am against antiquated or nonapplicable business models. Also, I like that I can read fun books that I will only read once and not need to find some place or something to do with the actual book once I’m done.

  31. I’ve had the Sony Reader now for almost two years, and it’s made my work life infinitely better. No more lugging around giant stacks of paper, I can read anywhere without worrying about dropping pages, and I can move files from my computer to it quickly and easily. And it’s saved me lots of money on paper and ink, since I don’t have to print out manuscripts any more.
    I do wish it allowed me to take notes in margins, and that it had wireless connectivity, but as a work tool, it really has been invaluable.
    That said, I’ve never bought an ebook, and can’t imagine doing so. Even though I’m running out of bookshelf space, I like physical books way too much.

  32. Kindle 1
    I have the first generation of the Kindle. Got it in the fall of 2007. I’m in love with it, no doubt. I have been an avid book reader for a couple of years now, just hadn’t made it a priority before. Once I started using the Kindle, I starting reading more (and spending more). It’s a novelty for sure. But I can click through the pages very quickly, quicker than a paper book. I’m certain that seeing only one page at a time keeps me focused. Also I tend to forget about how long the book is and that I’ll never have time to finish it. I get lost in it. I’m also one of these people who read more than one book at a time. I love being able to easily go back and forth without losing my place in each book. One of the best features is the built-in dictionary. With only 2 clicks, you can quickly get the meaning of each word in a sentence. Highly recommend the Kindle. I’m sure some of the Kindle 1 owners will be selling theirs for a Kindle 2. You could check out ebay next month for a cheaper one.

  33. I have but one qualm with the e-book readers, not a single one is in color. I like black and white for cats, film noir, and independent comics, but some books are simply better in color.

  34. I’ve been ereading for almost 10 years now, pretty much exclusively on my Palm PDA (currently a Tungsten T5). The main con of the Kindle and Sony devices is that all you can do with them is read. What they need to really take off as mass-market devices (and leave the niche-reader behind) is to add some real non-reading functionality – an organizer (datebook & calendar at minumum), calculator and real web-browsing and document editing features. No device that only operates as an ereader is going to capture the market while people need other devices to do the most common electronic functions.
    I’d say that I buy the print version of my ebooks about 50% of the time. Mainly for those title that I think I’ll want to have on the shelf for collector’s purposes, but rarely for titles I know I’ll want to reread frequently. Electronic reading is much more convenient than carrying print books, and I won’t accidentally or permanently damage something valuable.
    However, prices for ebooks have got to drop. Very few ebooks are worth more than standard mass-market paperback prices, and most should be priced lower than that.

  35. I have no personal opinions to share but wanted to see if you’d seen the Kindle discussion on Smart Bitches yesterday.

  36. I have not yet bought an e-reader, both due to the price and wanting to let the technology mature for a few generations, but as much as I like the experience of reading in print, I do read lots of e-books and short stories on my computer and would enjoy the portability.
    My eyes get tired after working, reading, and writing on the computer all the time, but Nathan Bransford has sworn several times on his blog that reading on an e-reader is nothing like reading a computer screen, that it looks just like paper.
    I am undecided on which reader I will likely buy in the future, but I do know that I probably wouldn’t buy both an e- and print version.

  37. So much f-cking propaganda…
    Ask someone moving 10 shelves of books across the country or across town whether he’d want a 40 dollar device which lets him read DRM-free books bought for the cost of a paperback minus printing (or hardcover minus printing to get it sooner), shipping, etc costs– and that is all it does. Plug it into a wall, or recharge it. No worse eyestrain than reading a tiny-font paperback, and you can zoom.
    They’d agree in a second, unless they’ve been brainwashed.
    There is no reason that machine doesn’t exist except that publishers and bigbox stores don’t want it to exist.

  38. I think the people that are the most against it have never tried it.
    I was die-hard paper reader. Can’t even read for long lengths of time on the computer screen or I start to skim. I like the feel and look of paper. I like carrying my book to bed with me, etc. Refused to plunk down the money for an e-reader ($300 is craziness).
    My friend got a new e-reader and sent me her old one to try and convince me to see the light.
    It took all of about 1 day for me to go nuts over the Sony PRS505. I LOVE it. The pages are so crisp and they look just like real book pages – it’s not like reading on a computer screen at all. You can also crank up the font if your eyes get tired (like mine).
    My e-reader currently has 140 books on it, and I’ve got room for a bunch more. I have them grouped by genre (thanks to Calibre), but you can also sort them by Title and Author. You can also put electronic bookmarks in multiple places on the same file so you can flip back and forth between places, if you want.
    The best thing about the e-reader, IMO, is instant gratification. I want a new release? I go to the company website, download it, and read. I don’t have to go to the bookstore and hope they have a copy. Or wait for Amazon to ship it to me. Just buy, load, and go.
    In short – I’m never going back to paper (which is problematic, since I write, eh?) unless I have to. Since I got my e-reader a few months ago, I’ve bought exactly one book, and that was for an author that I firmly believe in supporting on release day.
    Love it, love it, love it.

  39. I don’t have an ereader though I do read plenty on my computer. Doesn’t quite match the feel and smell of a new book though.
    I know at some stage I’d like to put out some stuff for people to read on these readers for free. I enjoy writing short stories, but there isn’t really the same market for them as there are for novels (unlike in the good old days). It seems to be novels or nothing – especially for new authors. So hopefully by the time the novel is finished I’ll have a few short stories floating around that have generated some interest.

  40. Question regarding authors
    I have not read all of the responses to your question, so I may be asking a question that has already been answered, if so I apologize in advance.
    How does the e-reader effect author payment? Since the publisher no longer has the cost of printing, shipping, and storing a large inventory of novels how will e-readers change the market once they become widely available?
    Will authors have to one day worry about people exchanging their novels like they do with songs on napster?
    In regards to your question, I have never used an e-reader. I like the feel of a novel in my hands and the suspense of turning to the next page. Reading a book in bed and reading from a computer are two vastly different experiences.

    • Re: Question regarding authors

      Will authors have to one day worry about people exchanging their novels like they do with songs on napster?

      Yes, this is already happening, much like in the early days of song exchanging the trade tends to be in books that are still under copyright (not available on Project Gutenberg) that publishers have not released as ebooks. Or they are new novels by extremely popular authors that aren’t available in Ebook form.
      Unlike songs, books have to be scanned in page by page and error checked, so there is a high chance in these pirate copies for errors, some copies have been released that contain deliberate errors to discourage people from pirating the books.
      From what I’ve seen, people would rather buy an ebook when possible, (and reasonably priced) then settle for a copy that may contain errors. At least excepting those who would rather get anything for free, no matter what the chances of errors, and those fans who are searching for such niche books that will likely never be re-released as ebooks.
      Most readers I know, including those who do read a lot of pirated books would rather support the authors they read, and often the pirated ebooks they have are just copies of well worn books on their shelves, and given a chance and a reasonable price, they’ll BUY the ebook if it’s released, especially if it has any spiffy extras like maps, or a new author introduction or commentary on the ebook.

  41. e-readers
    Honestly, I’ll never buy a reader as long as they are over $200. It’s just not worth the investment. I might feel differently if I read several books a week, but alas I don’t (be nice if I had the time to do that). Other than price, I’m waiting for the technology to develop to where we have readers that support multiple formats and we aren’t stuck with proprietary stuff, i.e. Kindle. I guess Amazon is going to or already has stopped selling ebooks that aren’t in Kindle format. I don’t use readers, but I find that rather annoying.
    J Duncan

  42. E-Readers
    I find it more accessible to have e-books than stand alone paperbacks. Yet, there’s nothing like the smell of a paperback, and the feel of it in your hands compared to a electronic device that stores thousands of books. The only foreseeable advantage is space, and the luxury of carrying a whole library virtually anywhere. That is of course you can afford to buy a Kindle or such device. Since everyone is tightening their money belt, the only people who benefit from forking over their money and saving on book costs are real, die hard book worms. My wife included. 🙂 Much love to all my book worms!

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