Saturday, February 6, 2010

About e-booky reader-type things

I told you earlier I felt like writing... :)

So, post number three today. I started formulating this post in my head when news of the iPad was first released last week. Because the world is astir with news of the iPad, which is more than an e-reader but still, and I have personally been debating about getting a Barnes & Noble nook after getting to play with one in my local store. There's also been a huge stand-off between Amazon and Macmillan this week regarding the e-book sales model. So my thoughts have turned to e-books and e-readers of late.

One of my very first posts, just over a year ago, was on paper books vs. e-books. At that time, I was not ready to move over to an e-reader. I have since changed my mind. The sheer volume of books in our house has gotten out of control. I've also had a chance to play with both a Kindle and a nook, and I've been impressed with how they haven't at all jarred me out of the book-reading experience. I have had hesitations about the Kindle simply because they require a different format of e-book than what has become the standard and because they don't have expandable memory. Though the the memory capacity is significant and I could switch out books virtually if I ever got close to running out of room. But the nook has expandable memory, which I just like the option to have, and it uses a standard e-book file format, and it has a pretty cool lending feature.

My hesitation at the moment with the nook is that B&N isn't offering any kind of sales or discounts on it, not even to members, which doesn't jive with my frugal nature, and that it's the first generation. I've made it a policy not to buy first generation electronics - they don't have all the bugs and glitches worked out yet. Add to that the fact that I have about 45 paper books in my to-read stack at the moment. So I've made the decision to wait and get my nook after the second version is released, which may be another year or two, but I think I've quenched my initial gadget lust and can manage to make myself wait.

Now. The iPad. First off, let's just all agree that it is the dumbest name they could have possibly given to this device. Not only is it reminiscent of feminine hygiene products (did they even ASK a woman about the name?!), it's only ONE LETTER different from their most famous new gadget of recent years, the iPod. Did they not foresee how potentially confusing that could be? Anyway. Rant over. The iPad looks like a pretty cool device, all told. I'd certainly like to play with one. But from what I can tell, it's essentially a laptop-sized iPod Touch. I'd personally rather have an iPhone that gives me all of those applications everywhere, available at my fingertips as my cell phone is. My laptop does everything I want in a computer; I want a computer that's as mobile as a cell phone. That doesn't mean that I don't see the value in the iPad. I see, for example, a potential e-reader type device for my husband, the comic book reader. Today's e-readers don't display color or images, so reading comics is not really feasible. But the iPad could be a the way, provided comics publishers respond to the (already great) demand to publish comics for the device. My husband is a lover of the format, not a collector, so he'd happily stop buying paper comics if they were available in a good digital format.

The problems with it at the moment are that there is no comics publisher making comics for the iPad yet and the memory capacity is not great yet. I don't know much about computers, but I do know that 64 GB is nothing for high-resolution image-laden comics. They need to up the memory a LOT to appeal to that audience. Also, there's the first generation problem again; we'll definitely wait until at least the second generation to get it. Finally, I'm not sure how it will handle PDF files or how to put files on it that you already own. My husband has a number of digital comics collections released by the publishers on CD-ROM that are in PDF form, and he'd definitely want to be able to read those on the iPad.

So there you have it. We want to upgrade our reading technology, but we haven't quite gotten the devices we want. Maybe in the next year or two we'll do it!


  1. Maybe you already did this, but be sure you check availability of titles and cost of titles for Kindle and Nook; I don't know anything about Nook, but there are HUGE numbers of free and very inexpensive books available for Kindle. I have more than 80 books on mine, and haven't come close to needing to offload titles. If I offloaded those that I've already read, I would cut the number by half, so space really is not an option. I'd say go for whichever device has access to the titles you want at the price you want. :-)

  2. That's a really good point, Carrie. So far as I can tell, B&N doesn't have any free titles, but they have quite a few at 99 cents or less. Their entire book collection seems to be 113,986 (about 103,000 are under $10). Kindle's entire catalog is 423,648 according to Amazon right now (Amazon's search feature doesn't let me easily determine how many are under $10). So Amazon wins the sheer number war, but B&N has the majority of the titles I'd ever want - popular fiction and nonfiction. And the fact that the nook uses a more open file format means that I can buy books from just about anywhere else and read them, too, which is one of the things I like about the nook.