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$ 400 could by a lot of books.

Posted by Busy | October 3, 2008 11:41 AM

I agree that free titles are better than having to pay for everything, but saying that the iPhone is a better e-book reader than e-book readers are completely misses the point of them, something that I thought you had understood: You can read E-paper for hours without straining your eyes or having your battery die. It's a dedicated e-book reader just for reading e-books. Sure, they're not perfect, and they only appeal to a small audience, but the iPhone or any multi-use device isn't going to be a better e-book reader simply because it isn't an e-book reader.

Posted by N | October 3, 2008 11:50 AM

Exactly what I was thinking. For $400 I could get all the books from my Amazon wish list (plus a chunk of the CDs or DVDs too).

Posted by elswinger | October 3, 2008 11:50 AM

Kindle's a joke. I hope amazon goes tits up.

Posted by warsaw | October 3, 2008 11:50 AM

Is there a reason their demo screen is large print? That's got less information on it than an old 24x80 green screen.

What titles does Stanza have? Because if it's the same old Gutenberg Project crap, or other out-of-date public-domain titles, that's not too interesting. The main utility of these is going to be for new hardcover titles of a type that have a short lifespan, and which you don't want to be encumbered with the physical book after you finish. Business books, popular fiction, that sort of thing.

Posted by Fnarf | October 3, 2008 11:53 AM

Of course, the iPhone doesn't let me obsessively highlight the same word over and over.

Posted by w7ngman | October 3, 2008 11:56 AM

One of the pleasures of a book in hand is having a book on the shelf, a book that by its presence on said shelf, will start conversations with others when they see said book.

Another pleasure is that a book can be shared or gifted to others.

Now, I get that these things may have such qualities in a digital world; for example, I might be able to create an online bookshelf wherein others can see my digital library. But, with Kindle, for example, I think can't loan that book out to others or gift it to others. As far as I understand, if my girlfriend and I both want to read the book, we'd be unable to do that with Kindle, unless she were to take my Kindle, which would render me unable to read another book at the same time.

Or, am I wrong? Can I share kindle books with friends? Is there a DRM that allows a limited number of shares?

If not, then the eBook people are being short-sighted.

Posted by Timothy | October 3, 2008 12:04 PM

What is wrong with physical books? Big, bulky, printed books that smell like ink and glue and have textured covers? Is it so wrong to want one information source in your life that doesn't need batteries or AC power?

Posted by Greg | October 3, 2008 12:06 PM

#8, yes it's wrong.

Seriously though, I would be curious to examine the total power consumption that went into the production of a single physical book (pulping wood chips, making the paper and ink, printing, making the cover, binding, shipping) and compare that the total power consumption of lifetime readings of that book via an ebook reader.

Posted by w7ngman | October 3, 2008 12:10 PM

Depends on how far afield you want to consider. What do you suppose is the total power and resource consumption that goes into making and distributing an e-reader like the Kindle?

Posted by Greg | October 3, 2008 12:18 PM

Unless I can read it in the hot tub, I'm not interested.

Also, if that's all the data that a single screen displays, it'd drive me to seizures. I read pretty much a paragraph-at-a-glance, and I'd be flipping screens so fast, the battery would scream for mercy. I assume they put that in large-print for demo purposes, but I still don't see how it could display enough data per page.

Posted by Geni | October 3, 2008 12:29 PM

#10, good point, though, production cost for the e-reader is accrued once, production cost for physical books is accrued with each book. At some X number of books purchased, the e-reader is going to consume less than physical books (assuming consumption due to reading an e-book is negligible compared to production, which may be way off base).

Posted by w7ngman | October 3, 2008 12:40 PM

@8 and 11:

I don't think the argument is about replacing real books. I think it's a matter of a new way to read books...a different way that you can use sometimes...and the only real question now is which reader is it going to be. Nobody's going to take away real books, but people are going to read more and more e-books in coming years.

Posted by Paul Constant | October 3, 2008 1:00 PM

I'm as big an e-book skeptic as anyone, but Paul is correct. It's not going to replace all your books. It could, however, replace some of them. If you're anything like me, you have a lot of books you wouldn't part with for anything, but a lot of others that are just taking up space, and a lot more that you'll never get around to because you either can't afford the book, the time to read it, or the space to store it afterwards.

Also, there are a number of books that would really benefit from full-text indexing; book indexing is one of my great interests, and I'm shocked at how poor a job most books get these days, if they get one at all.

Posted by Fnarf | October 3, 2008 1:25 PM

I'm a bit baffled by the claim that the iPhone causes MORE eye strain than the Sony or Kindle.

One of my principle complaints of early e-readers is that they have relatively low resolution screens. To me, that's a deal killer. Currently, a printed text on paper is much sharper than the screen of a Sony or Kindle. So it's easier to read. I was assuming that as better screens are developed, and future e-readers became as sharp as printed text, then the e-reader should cause LESS eye strain, not more. The iPhone has a higher resolution screen than either the Kindle or Sony, so I would expect it to cause less eye strain. Does anyone know why this article claims that the iPhone causes more eye strain? That goes against logic.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | October 3, 2008 2:14 PM

Answering my own questions at 7...

I've learned that on a shared account, you can have up to 6 kindle devices, all of which can share a single purchase of a book. Which got me to thinking about how it might make sense to own one of these...

Imagine a reading group with six people. Everyone buys a kindle and agrees to share a single kindle account. Everyone agrees to buy 2 books per month, which would create a shared library of 144 books per year. You'd get access to those books for the cost of having purchased only 24.

The cost savings to you would be more than enough to cover the cost of the device, and give you enough reading material and variety to feel as though you are sharing your books with your friends.

Hmmm...this is an intriguing idea to me now. :-)

Posted by Timothy | October 3, 2008 2:37 PM

@ 15 and 2

I've read a couple of books on my iPhone using Stanza. The battery consumption is minimal, and I've experienced no eye strain. The clarity of the text is very good. Plus, using reverse text (white on black) I can read in bed without infuriating my wife, which I cannot do with a real book (plus a light source). It's good enough that I would never consider buying a standalone reading device, unless it were dirt cheap and I could crumple it up and stick it in my pocket. I suppose that the other drawback is that you cannot currently buy "new" books using this application. But I don't like John Grisham anyway.

Posted by crosseyed and painless | October 3, 2008 9:02 PM

I have had a Sony ebook since April and it fantastic for me.. I fly everyweek for work, and with the new cost of overweight bags, I was having to carry all (at least 3 per week) my books in my computer bag in addition to the one in my purse...
when I got a gig in the Middle East in April, I knew I couldnt tote enough books with me for 3 months... so I bought the ebook...
it has been worth every penny... I read free books from the Baen books site (Scifi) and pick up books from the Sony site, rule being nothing more than 4 ro 5 dollars... I broke that rule once from Saudi Arabia when Scott McClellens new book came out and I got it for 12 dollars... yes, 12 dollars...
now a days, I can sit with the computer on, watch the Daily Show and if I like the writer Jon Stewart has on, buy the book right then... its how I got the Long Emergency and The Great Derangement (I highly recommend the latter)
battery power is phenomenal... I charge it about once every 2 weeks overnight...
the Sony store could use some of the older books in e-format, but sometimes they dont have a book I want, but I do go to one of the other paysites and can usually find what I want..
I do still occasionally get a paper book... and it took about 2 weeks to get used to reading electronically, I kept trying to turn the page... now, I wouldnt give it up.

Posted by Laura | October 5, 2008 11:58 AM

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