Emma had a chance to play with Jacob’s Kindle (Amazon, Wikipedia) today, while I looked on.
The electronic paper screen is one of the big selling points. We found the text to be very readable, albeit black-and-white. It works very well for its primary use case—displaying book pages with minimal battery drain—but it’s sluggish when updating menus.
I’m not impressed by the design of the case. The buttons on the side are far too big; the keyboard at the bottom is ridiculous. It would be interesting to see what Apple could do.
I’ve been using Stanza on my iPhone for the last couple of months, mostly to read Accelerando on the bus. I like it, though the screen is so small that I’m flipping pages every few seconds.
The thought of holding several months’ worth of reading on one device is very tempting, especially as we’re off to Dublin for two weeks. Physical books are heavy and they’re bulky. We’ll bring a number of books with us and come back with even more.
I read a lot online, but I prefer to read printed books. I am more likely to get lost in a book. Online, I am more likely to drift. Books have heft and tactile feedback. Good books are physically beautiful. The typography and layout contribute to a pleasurable reading experience.
Flipping through a book is not the same as scrolling through an e-book. There are subconscious cues that allow spatial navigation to be very fast in printed material. Orienting myself in an ebook is harder. Annotating and highlighting online material is difficult. I like to have a highlighter marker in hand when reading technical books. On the other hand, you can’t grep dead trees.
I’m deeply skeptical of DRMed content and reluctant to buy content that I can’t transfer to other devices of my choosing. I know that if I take reasonable care of a book, I will still be able to read it in thirty years’ time. I am less confident of e-books in proprietary formats.
It’s ridiculous that e-books cost as much as printed books. There are real costs associated with printing and distributing printed books. Publishers can make higher margins off e-books than they do from printed books and still sell them for less.
Emma is more enthusiastic about e-book readers than I am. It seems inevitable that we’ll buy one, but not just yet.