To e-book or not to e-book

I like reading books. I read quite a lot of fiction, and some non-fiction including technical stuff in book form. I also read magazines, newspapers, web pages, blogs, tweets etc. But when I talk about “reading” I usually mean “reading books”.

For the last few years I have kept a record of the books I’ve read. Having said in 2006 I wanted to “read more”, I made a New Year’s resolution to aim to read 50 books a year. I have continued with this aim since (actually I’m unlikely to meet it this year – but things have happened that ate in to my reading time).

One of the things that I like about reading is sharing books with family and friends. I really enjoy getting a book from a friend that they say I will like, because I usually do. When I read a book, I have bought, I think who would like to read it next, some books get shared further than others depending on the style and genre.

I like technology and so I am watching the various e-book readers that come out, and thinking that I would like one, but the major obstacle, for me, is the inability to share and so when I was offered a Kindle as a birthday present I decided to say no, even though I know they are wonderful things. However I have downloaded the Kindle App for my Android-based phone and I have read a couple of books on it (Kate Mosse’s “The Cave” and Dennis Batchelder’s “Soul Identity”) and I have found this convenient in that I can read when ever want, and the reading experience is great, but now I can’t readily pass those books on and there are people I know who will enjoy them, but I have rely that they will download on my suggestion.

So maybe we need to look at the financial model behind e-books, and look to see if we could develop this to allow for sharing, I appreciate that publishers and authors need to make a living from books, and so that for people making their work available on a free-for-all is not realistic, but maybe for a small fee I could loan one e-book at a time to a friend?

5 thoughts on “To e-book or not to e-book

  1. See, I’m looking at the tablet PCs for similar reasons.  Something like an iPad (but smaller and not made by Apple) would probably suit me quite well.
     
    I liked the look of, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab (running Android 2.2).  It’s about the right sort of size (7″ screen I think, which makes it holdable in one hand and about the size of a paperback) and running an operating system I like, and which I can therefore get all the apps I’m used to on my phone.
    The drawback and why I didn’t decide to get one?  It’s also a phone, and I’d have to get another contract out…  I have a smart phone, I don’t need my tablet to be one as well.
     
    So I’m waiting and watching to see what else comes on the market.  My ideal would be a paperback sized tablet, running Android, good battery life (8 hours would be about what I want minimum) , and either with 3G capabilities or a way to connect it to my phone to make use of my unlimited data plan on there.

  2. I have an iPad and a Kindle (what?) – the Kindle has (excuse the pun) rekindled my reading, up from hardly ever reading for pleasure to pretty much every night now. The iPad is also good for reading – but less kind on the eyes, and works in narrower environmental conditions, e.g. brightness. The iPad is excellent for PDFs (lecture notes, slides etc.) as it is easily zoomable, where PDFs are really impractical on the Kindle. The advantage of Kindle is the store and the lack of DRM on the books, it’s all rather nicely done if a reading platform is only what you want. It also has some sharing features that you mention, such as excerpt publishing to social networks, that may blossom into recommendations in the future.

  3. I do like the idea of book sharing, and it’s clear that there are limitations when it comes to the current market.
     
    I’ve resisted the kindle bug for some time, given my love of paper based literature. Having been stranded in the show on my way home from work several times in recent weeks, I decided to give the Android ebook readers a go. Although it’s convenient and i can basically read whenever I want to, I have to admit that I’d much rather have my paper book in my had. I actually have adjusted my habbits to allow me to walk around with a book – I always have a backpack or messenger bag with me to stow my portable paper based entertainment device with me all the time.
     
    I do wonder what the business models of the future will be like. Publishers and Authors can make far more money out of the ebook market due to the lower market entry costs, but I think consumers have lost some value from buying ebooks; the ability to share or resell the book after we’ve read it. Maybe people will just stop caring about this as ebooks become more popular, or perhaps the market will evolve to allow us to “read and share” the book, effectively removing it from our library of available books to read and re-assigning it to our selected friend. Although the latter would be lovely, I think the drive of ebook providers to make money will dictate what we can do with these platforms in the future.

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