Friday, December 4, 2009

E-book Readers

Walking into a Barnes and Noble today rekindled my interest in e-book readers (no pun intended). The place was covered in nook ads.  The idea of being able to do all my reading on one slick device is a very enticing thing for me, but I still have some reservations:

  • I don’t want to buy e-books in a format that will lock me into one hardware manufacturer forever (I’m looking at you, amazon).  The B&N store currently sells them in pdb format, but will be moving to the epub format soon, which is on the way to becoming the most universal format. 
  • Pricing isn’t that great.  While for NEW books pricing is much better for e-books than a hardback (~$10), many books stay that price while the mass market paper novels go for closer to $6-$7.  You will obviously find some books for free, but those are most likely books I am less interested in reading.
  • Book selection leaves much to be desired.  There are still many publishers not publishing their books digitally, which would be unfortunate after investing a good chunk of change on an e-book reader.  Some publishers only have select titles in the format, which can be very confusing for customers.  For example, I’ve been reading books in Orsan Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series, but only the very latest in the series is available as an e-book.  This means I’d have to wait it out for the rest of the series to come to a digital format or buy the paperbacks.

With all that in mind, if I was to buy an e-book reader today, it would probably be a nook.  It has wireless (AT&T + wifi), attractive features like a dictionary, and the store supports a format that is becoming fairly universal (much more than Kindle’s format in the least).  The industry is still very young and has a way to go, but I think in the next few years we’ll see some very positive advancements.

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