Thursday, March 04, 2010


There are times when I entertain the idea of getting an e-reader of some sort. I like the idea of traveling with lots of novels but without taking up too much space. And I like the idea of being able to flip between books--finish a chapter of fiction and switch to a nonfiction book, or between two very different works of fiction. I'd even consider subscribing to New York Times or Newsweek or something like that. I've had subscriptions to each at one time and enjoyed having them back then.

On the other hand...I'm not usually a cutting-edge, early adopter kind of person. We still have an old-style TV (and converter box for the rabbit-ear antenna). I don't own an mp3 player of any kind (though I'm getting to the point where I'm considering getting one). I kept my first cell phone for something like seven years before I finally upgraded a couple of years ago.

So what would an e-reader need for me to get one? I like wireless, but 3-G isn't necessary for how I would use it at this time. E-ink is nice, but color capability is good too, so I guess I'm agnostic on that count. There's another screen type I've read about but forget the name, one that seems to have the advantages of each of the other two.

I'm an open-source proponent, so I'd lean toward something more open rather than less. Especially, I'd want something that I could read books from any source, including the collection of random .pdf's I've accumulated over the past few years for free. That's the big strike against iPad and Kindle for me--from what I've heard, it's a pain to get your own files onto a Kindle, and I believe iPad won't even allow it. I'm not sure about Nook or any other readers out there. I'd definitely want something that I could read a variety of formats and from whatever sources I wanted.

And then there's the fact that I get so many of my books from the library. I'll then buy favorite books after the fact, but I read far more than I buy, and I like to know I'm going to enjoy a book before I buy it. I've "checked out" an audio book from an online library before, and I know Nook has something where you can borrow an ebook from a friend who bought it. And then it expires after a certain amount of time. So if some combination of those ideas came along (or exists already?), then that would go a long way toward convincing me to buy one. I'd even put up with a few pages of ads from book publishers or book sellers before I got to the story.

I'm also a fan of books-as-physical-objects. I wouldn't want to give that up entirely. Especially when it comes to some publishers that take the time to design their books as beautiful objects (most notably, Aio). I'm not about to abandon such books. But I remain very curious to see the development of e-readers, and perhaps on that count I won't be a decade behind times when I do decide to finally purchase one.


Lauren Forconi said...

I have a Sony reader, which unfortunately I rarely use because their store has (what I consider) a very limited selection. Or maybe I was just looking up really obscure books last time I checked. It does import whatever PDFs you want with no trouble, though, and the company has a partnership with OverDrive, which covers the library end of things.

Daniel Ausema said...

I wasn't familiar with OverDrive. Does that seem to have a good selection? How do you like the actually device, apart from the selection of books?