Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Viva la E-Book Revolucion!

Some few days ago I received my Sony PRS-700 in the mail.  Like a kid on Christmas morning I was a quiver in expectation, and it did not disappoint.  I have watched for over a year now the advances that e-book reading technology has taken, and finally decided that it was time to take the plunge.  After some thorough research, I discovered that the Sony Reader was more suitable to my needs than the much hyped Kindle.

It features a touch screen with native PDF compatibility, which was of the utmost importance since the majority of my e-books are PDF, and Amazon charges a fee (at least if you want them delivered wirelessly) to convert them to the Kindle format.

Sony has prided themselves upon being an "open" device, compatible with a wide range of different formats.  Though the Kindle does have an Internet connection where you can buy your books online and have them wirelessly downloaded to the device, I felt the price of being a slave to their system was simply too high.

Some have complained that the different readers on the market are too expensive for having but one function.  I was seduced by this argument myself at first, and bought a Netbook thinking it would work just as well.  I was wrong.  Laptops are fine things but unwieldy objects for comfortable reading.  The LCD screen was just as bad for eye-strain as my desk top, and the difficulty of booting it up and shutting it down disinclined me from reading at all.  The Reader is quick to start up, taking only seconds from sleep mode, and you're reading your favorite title in moments.  Besides, if you are a true bibliophile like me, the advantages of having dozens of volumes at hand is empowering.  And after all, did anyone ever complain that print books had but one function?

Having now tried the technology for myself I can only see great potential for it.  As with all things digital, e-book readers will only become cheaper and better, so it will not be too far off before everyone can afford to keep a library in their pocket.  Until then, I will be thankful for my PRS-700 as we sail into this new world of digitized delight.


Skeptic Dave said...

I'm not quite ready to take the plunge into e-book-dom, but I imagine I may in a few years if the technology gets better.

While I'm sure advancements in visual clarity and even the addition of color is in the near future, I still have qualms over which books are and are not available, as well as the price one would pay for some of them. This is a minor issue, but I think I'm still accustomed to the physical feel of cellulose, the pleasure of holding something that merits centuries of a craft in tradition, and the experience of actually turning a page. I am reminded of a scene in the Pixar film Wall-E, where the captain of the Axiom sees a real book for the first time and doesn't know how to use it.

Then again, given the continual advancements of cellphones, netbooks, and hand-held media players, is it too difficult to conceive the next step? Imagine something as thin and big as the Kindle DX, but not only can it display ebooks to read, it can play music and movies, and browse the Internet at 3G speeds. It seems a little far fetched and expensive now, but another ten years from now I imagine something like that will be on the market; likely even sooner.

Lancelot Kirby said...

I understand the hesitancy to plunge into the e-book concept. I was the same way at one time. However, after finding so much free content online, and becoming acclimated to the use of a computer after so many years, it seems like a natural progression. I think the printed book will stay around much like scrolls sat side by side with the codex for several centuries. But, as printing technology pushed out the manuscript, so will digital books do the same. We are among the last generations perhaps to see the world change so completely so I agree we should enjoy print culture while it lasts.