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Handhelds Hardware Technology

Have You Changed Your Opinion On eBook Readers? 569

Posted by Soulskill
from the indispensible-or-expensive-e-paperweight dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Kindle made waves when it came out, but they've now had the chance to calm. How many of you have been using your eBook readers since you've received them? How many of you forgot you had one, and how many of you swear by your reader? I like my single-purpose (well, dual — music player) Sony Reader because I actually use it to read, rather than multitasking myself to death. Is this technology as convenient and useful as you expected?" If not, what refinements or improvements would reKindle your interest?
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Have You Changed Your Opinion On eBook Readers?

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  • by mmurphy000 (556983) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:16PM (#23345636)

    The Kindle, as I understand it, lacks a monospace font. Monospace fonts are rather useful for code listings and whatnot.

    • by Jaegar (518423) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:41PM (#23345818)

      The Kindle, as I understand it, lacks a monospace font. Monospace fonts are rather useful for code listings and whatnot.

      According to O'Reilly, the lack of the monospace is one of the roadblocks for getting more publisher support for the Kindle. I think that getting Safari Online for the Kindle would certainly be enough to get me to give the Kindle a shot.
      • by Pedersen (46721) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:32PM (#23346176) Homepage
        Check out the iLiad. I've been using it for the past month and a half now, and wouldn't dream of using something else. Oh, and I can use my download tokens from Safari to get the books, and put the PDFs onto the iLiad. Very very nice device and combination.
        • Check out a Palm T/X. It has a 480x320 screen, will display video in any common format, has built in WiFi * bluetooth, plays MP3's, uses SD cards, supports every common e-book format except .lit with freely downloadable or built-in software, surfs the web and has tons of games available.
          I've also heard that you can use it to take notes and stuff.
          And, even new at full retail ($299), it's cheaper than just about every eBook reader out there.
          If the thing had a cell phone expansion card it would blow the iPhone out of the water.
          • by quenda (644621) on Friday May 09, 2008 @04:28AM (#23347502)
            > Check out a Palm T/X. It has a 480x320 screen, will display ...

            Meh. Does it run Linux? The Nokia N800 / N810 run Linux, do all the above (well, 800x480 actually),
            And the N800 is cheaper than the TX. Of course, the TX is a better PDA ,
            but I think the Nokia wins as an eBook reader - e.g. with FBreader program.

            And did I mention? it runs Linux.
            • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday May 09, 2008 @07:09AM (#23348200) Journal
              The 770 has the same resolution screen and can be found very cheaply now. I own both a 770 and an iLiad, and the iLiad is so much better as an eBook reader it's barely worth comparing the two. As a general pocket computer the 770 is better, and I paid about four times as much for the iLiad as I did for the 770 when I bought it. I've read a few novels on my 770, but it's not a great experience. The last novel I read on my iLiad was The Count of Monte Cristo, and I don't think I'd have been able to finish something that long on the 770.
              • by markana (152984) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:20PM (#23351464)
                On the other hand, I *love* reading books on my 770. It's small enough to slip in my pocket, and I can easily hold and operate it with one hand while standing on the bus. And it has some great games, IM and email, and VOIP support. And since it *does* run Linux, it's not that hard to port the apps I need to it (especially those written in Python or tcl).

                FBreader is a wonderful little book reader.
          • by pathological liar (659969) on Friday May 09, 2008 @08:34AM (#23348632)
            I had a Tungsten E2. It was nice, bright, transflective screen and good resolution... higher end display on a low(ish) end PDA. I bought it to try to stay organized, used it mainly as an e-book reader, and it was pretty good, long battery life etc.

            Then I cracked the display. I was looking at replacement PDAs when a co-worker was talking about his PSP. It's cheaper, wider screen (which makes reading more pleasant), good battery life etc., and trivial to hack to run custom software like an ebook reader.

            Plus if you get bored you can play games, listen to music, or watch a video. Definitely recommended.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          I'm in two minds about whether to recommend the iLiad. The hardware is absolutely gorgeous - the 768x1024 eInk screen with 16 shades of grey is almost as good as real paper. I spent a couple of hours in the park this week reading a dissertation and some research papers on mine. Much of the software, however, is really badly thought-out. It claims to have RSS support, but that's basically a lie (you can use Feedbooks to get PDFs of RSS feeds, but then you just get headlines, which is a complete waste of
  • No (Score:4, Funny)

    by jon_cooper (746199) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:17PM (#23345642)
    No
  • by sasha328 (203458) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:17PM (#23345644) Homepage
    I Have not changed my mind. I may use one, but I will always prefer to read a "dead tree" book. I love building my library of books. Some I even read again once in a while.

    There is a sense of achievement when sitting in the living room surrounded by bookshelves full of varied book. Besides, they are always a conversation starter when I get visitors.

    A file on a computer does not compare.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:20PM (#23345668)
      Just like CDs, I guess. After all, I'm sure no slashdotter has an MP3 collection that is much larger than their CD collection...
    • by gnutoo (1154137) * on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:32PM (#23345746) Journal

      I'm sick of books and would gladly pay for non drm'd replacement pdfs. I have hundreds of textbooks, novels and paperback books and can think of several serious restrictions. I have to remember who I loan them to. They are a pain to move and an even bigger pain to put back on shelves. Eventually, almost all of them will rot. I'd much rather have them all stored on a hard drive that I can run away with when the next Katrina comes. I've been taking pictures of the books I use more frequently, but a pdf would be better.

      Publishers don't really stand to lose much this way. If the price was right, most people will just buy their pdfs. Universities and other schools can put the cost of texts into tuition. Employers will keep buying reference material. Libraries could pay a special fee based on average circulation. The other stuff might be swapped but it's not something people would have bought anyway. Publishers that don't get it soon enough are going to be made irrelevant by things like Google text and free science journals.

      • by murdocj (543661) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:37PM (#23345780)

        Eventually, almost all of them will rot. I'd much rather have them all stored on a hard drive that I can run away with when the next Katrina comes.

        It's a safe bet that those paper books will last far longer than any hard drive that you store files on

        • How about no? (Score:4, Informative)

          by heptapod (243146) <heptapod@gmail.com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:42PM (#23345832) Journal
          If the books were printed on rag or something else that lacked acid then those tomes would certainly outlast their electronic counterparts. Over time books will become brittle and fragile because the acid is deteriorating the paper.
        • by gnutoo (1154137) * on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:51PM (#23345888) Journal

          Well maintained, redundant archives should last forever - the ability to copy reliably is equivalent to imortality. I have not lost a single file in the last eight years and I have all of my mail going back 20. Devices may and have failed me but my work, letters, photographs and music has survived and grown. They can be passed on to my kids but books will be too bulky for the same. Every library is overflowing with the result of estate overflow. Some put them on the shelf as a "free library" the majority goes to the paper mill to make TP. Such is the sad fate of your paper media and this is why public libraries are important repositories of culture. In the end, not even libraries last forever. All civilizations have their down time and public libraries are often torched. The entire library of the ancient western world, for example, now fits on a single six by twelve foot shelf because the vast majority of it was lost. The US Library of Congres itself is rotting as we speak. Digital libraries will be much hardier than this.

          • Ancient libraries (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:20AM (#23346424)
            While it's true that a lot of the ancient library was lost, much of it was not very good; a lot of the good stuff was saved. And there is much more than will fit on a single shelf, certainly! I have five or six shelves of it just in my office, and that's not nearly everything.

            Karen Carr, Dept. of History
            Portland State University
            • by LuYu (519260) on Friday May 09, 2008 @03:37AM (#23347278) Homepage Journal

              While it's true that a lot of the ancient library was lost, much of it was not very good; a lot of the good stuff was saved.

              Owning that you have not read the lost material, how are you in any position to judge whether it was "good" or not? All you have is the opinions of people whose materials did survive, and we all know from current politics and scholarly literature that there are many works that are improperly labelled as "bad" or "incorrect".

              Further, just because a book is badly written or mostly wrong does not mean it does not contain good or useful ideas. Maybe the author was terrible but could inspire a genius to reach a new and ground-breaking mode of thinking.

              No one can judge the value of lost materials.

              • by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Friday May 09, 2008 @04:58AM (#23347634) Homepage Journal
                Even if the lost works were boring crap, it is still sad that they were lost. Writers both good and bad reflect their times, and historians can better understand what life was like through not only the lost literature, but even lost reports from the field and letters, even cargo manifests.

                Not only that, I suspect many surviving plays and poems may have been remakes of older works, or repackagings. But we may never know, as only the most popular copies survived.

                Which returns us to the only true way to ensure a work's survival: make copies, and every so often make fresh copies. No medium is forever. Old works died out because they were either copy-protected or because they were not considered valuable enough for the effort of making a copy.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by CastrTroy (595695)
                  Exactly. The only reason the bible is still around is because there had so many monks tirelessly copying it out many many times (millions?). Same goes for many other religious texts. Very few works survived from the era before the printing press, because it was too costly (in terms of time) to create multiple redundant copies. Now that we have digital recordings that can easily be copied perfectly, bit for bit, it should be much easier to preserve the information we have. The library of congress [wikipedia.org] only
          • by RealityThreek (534082) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:32AM (#23346490)
            Heh. Just think, the equivalent to a library burning in the digital world is 'rm -rf *'.
          • the ability to copy reliably is equivalent to imortality.
            Copyright violation as a basis for religion?
            Well, it's as good as any other, I suppose, and would vilify the usual demons - RIAA, MPAA, publishers, etc.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by LuYu (519260)

            What you are saying is: Digital technology puts archiving in the hands of the individual, and there are several orders of magnitude more individuals than governments and philanthropic organizations combined. If even one individual's archives are preserved, the information is preserved for all of us.

            That is definitely a pleasant thought. :-)

          • by The_reformant (777653) on Friday May 09, 2008 @03:49AM (#23347336)

            public libraries are often torched
            Wow, you live in a bad neighbourhood.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by LuYu (519260)

          Yeah, but if your books start to degrade, can you copy them with a single command?

      • by Architect_sasyr (938685) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:42PM (#23345824)
        I happen to agree with the moving and all the rest of it. But I personally disagree with running everything to PDF. I read PDF's on the laptop - maybe on the way to work or occasionally on my lunch break - but the majority has to be in books. There is nothing quite like having 5 or 6 books open to various pages while I code, flicking my eyes to various books or turning pages to keep track. My screens just do not have that kind of real-estate space.

        For me, there is no question in this debate, PDF's might be a lot better to move and transport, but nothing is better than a i-killed-a-tree text book IMHO.

        Just my $0.02 AU
        • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:39PM (#23346234) Homepage Journal

          My screens just do not have that kind of real-estate space.

          So get more screens!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by pla (258480)

            My screens just do not have that kind of real-estate space.

            So get more screens!

            Why did this get modded "funny"? I would make the same suggestion.

            A trio of widescreen monitors gives you room for one development environment, one open web browser, a handfull of small tools (calculator, volume control, console window, file browser, etc) and three PDFs/CHMs/LITs/whatevers all open at the same time.

            And while you can take the dead-tree editions with you to the bathroom, the primative search functionality (

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tknd (979052)

          I hate books for programming. Give me electronic. The main reason is electronic text search. With a book I have to flip through the pages, look through the contents, or manually search through the index to find the topic. Bookmarks get less effective as you add more and more bookmarks to the book. But now full text search and search engines... no more flipping through pages. Find me "BufferedString". Bam. I'm there.

          For me small screens and PDFs suck. The DPI isn't good enough on small devices to display e

          • by WuphonsReach (684551) on Friday May 09, 2008 @06:49AM (#23348120)
            I hate books for programming. Give me electronic. The main reason is electronic text search. With a book I have to flip through the pages, look through the contents, or manually search through the index to find the topic. Bookmarks get less effective as you add more and more bookmarks to the book. But now full text search and search engines... no more flipping through pages. Find me "BufferedString". Bam. I'm there.

            Actually, I find that to be a blessing with paper books (and I generally prefer paper for technical books, even though I own a Sony eReader). Reference works like the old command/function lists, showing parameters, are probably an exception (I prefer those to be integrated into the IDE, or I'll look them up on a 2nd screen).

            One thing that I learned 10-15 years ago... don't put blinders on when searching for information. As you search, spend 10-20% of your time looking at results that aren't exactly what you were looking for. Anything that catches your eye, that is the least bit connected, or that may shed light on another issue. You don't have to read the extraneous information in-depth, but you should at least file the concepts away in the back of your mind.

            Which pays itself back in spades down the road when you, even vaguely, remember what the possible solution for a new problem is. You'll be able to better form a search query to pull up that information you saw a few months earlier. Which is a lot better then doing another blind search with not a lot of idea about what you're looking for.

            I work with a bunch of technical folks. The most frustrating (and self-limiting) folks are those who simply want "the answer" to their current problem. They never grasp the concept that by trying to learn in small spurts, their work will become easier down the road. Instead, they say "I'll learn the details later, just help me fix this", and thus never get anywhere.

            (Which isn't really germane to the topic at hand... except that when flipping through a paper technical reference manual, it's a lot easier to glance at content other then what you are specifically looking for. Giving me an opportunity to learn a bit about something else while I'm trying to look up something specific.)
      • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:07PM (#23345984) Journal
        I have e-book, newton, and zarurus as readers. The e-book is a piece of junk (bitch to get anything on there that they do not want you to have; it was not worth the 99). The newton is awesome, but only supports ascii text. The Zarus is way too small. I would love to have the e-book, but with the ability of the kindle; Give me CF for mem, and a better battery or possibly e-ink. Finally, make it open arch. so that new formats can be put on it.

        But at this time, I do not like any of these except for special cases.

        In the end, I KNOW that e-books will come within 5 years. So at this time, I buy few paper backs and/or computer books. OTH, I am buying leather-bound books. Esp the classics. The easton press are OH so nice. They should last all the way to my great grandchildren or beyond. But for simple items, far better to go with e-books.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          So you prefer the killed-a-tree-AND-a-cow book - I am seeing an interesting pattern develop.

          Any of you have even-higher-death books they like even more?
      • Somes days I just LOVE my spiffy Kindle! It makes puppies smile and rainbows sing!

        Other days I just don't see the point. I mean why even bother reading ANYTHING? We're all just going to die eventually anyway.
    • by garcia (6573) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:42PM (#23345836) Homepage
      I just went to the used bookstore, enjoying the smells, the sight, and the interaction with a person who was able to tell me based on a loose idea of what I told him I liked several books I should read. I'm currently reading a paperback copy of Patricia Cornwell's Post-Mortem and it's something that there's no way I'd have read any other way and it's something I'm really enjoying for a quick and relaxing read. Yeah, Amazon gives me recommendations (and one's I have taken them up on before) but Amazon smells like my living room and the recommendations just feel stale.

      Now, the price. I paid .75 for this particular paperback and $2 for two others (John Sandford, a Minneapolis-based author). I didn't have to front load the cost of these books by purchasing an expensive reader that only helps another big corporation make its stockholders happy rather than a local guy a few miles from my house.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)

      I will always prefer to read a "dead tree" book.... There is a sense of achievement when sitting in the living room surrounded by bookshelves full of varied book.

      "Always" is a long time! I can understand the collector's mentality. I used to feel that way about tapes and CD's. But now I feel close enough to the same thing as I flip through the albums on my livingroom PC using a remote control. Or maybe I don't, but the overwhelming advantages (convenience, cost, ability to make backups...) are just to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wilsonng (900790)
      There's a point. a house full of books encourages the kids. And it is easy to push the kids to read when its available, and can be seen. A file inside your cell phone or ebook reader does not compare, unless it is easy to pass on.
  • Freedom, duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnutoo (1154137) * on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:19PM (#23345658) Journal

    I want it to use KPDF, USB and just work. Sell me the book/paper and let me read it with software that works the way I like it to work. If you make it free, people will figure out how to make it usefull.

  • Palm Tungsten (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:19PM (#23345660)
    I have a Palm Tungsten. Very nice PDA, used primarily as an ebook reader. The screen is easy on the eyes, the armored case means I can stick it in my pocket and forget it's there, the small size makes fitting in the pocket possible in the first place. My only complaint is that it has a short battery life.

    Any of the modern phones SHOULD be able to do ebooks but the vendors keep the damn things so locked down it's impossible to do much with them. You want some app on a Palm nobody's written yet? You can write it yourself. Want something someone else wrote? You can install it. The Palm is more like a PC, very open, and the damn smart phones these days, even the blackberries, are more like Xbox 360's, technically capable of being open but deliberately locked down due to the parent company's infamous douchebaggery.

    I will also say this: none of the books I've read have been paid for and the prices charged for electronic distribution are obscene. Electronic distribution removes most of the costs associated with publication and you're still going to charge me the full price of the hardcover? Fuck you.
    • by sznupi (719324)
      Your CARRIERS keep locking them, not vendors.

      Where I live, I haven't yet encountered a phone that doesn't allow installing your apps (as far as technical capabilities of given phone go of course)
    • Re:Palm Tungsten (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Angry Toad (314562) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:34PM (#23345768)
      Amen, I love using my Tx as an ebook reader. I haven't read a paper book in ages. The portability is great - on the plane, the bus, waiting in the car, wherever, I have a library with me at all times.
    • by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:50PM (#23345880) Journal
      Sure, you can multipurpose your gadgets into reading books. But the draw of the ebook reader is eInk.

      If you havn't experienced eInk yourself, you're missing out. Not only is it as readable as newspaper, but the power consumption at rest is ZERO. You don't worry about that nasty backlighting or the headaches you get from reading off a screen - it is completely different and without trying it, you really can't say 'your' non-eInk device is better.

      I was an early adopter, and I've still got dead tree books... but I love my sony reader because I can keep all my paper books in one small unit.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:31PM (#23346168)
        I was going to bump you up to a +5 then I noticed your username. Never going to mod up anyone who has fanboy in his username. Them's the rulse. If'n it'were up to me. You'd be banned. Or rather it would be impossible to register with such a username. The attempt would install awesomeware on your computer that would forever prevent you from putting those letters together in that combination. It might also have required you to re write the linux kernel in x86 assembler as further punishment.

        as to the fact that your comment was actually intelligent and showed a higher degree of analysis than the parent, Well as they say, even broken clocks are right twice a day.
      • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:44PM (#23346264) Homepage Journal

        If you havn't experienced eInk yourself, you're missing out. Not only is it as readable as newspaper, but the power consumption at rest is ZERO. You don't worry about that nasty backlighting or the headaches you get from reading off a screen - it is completely different and without trying it, you really can't say 'your' non-eInk device is better.

        The e-ink is nice, but what really matters is the design and form factor. I've read on a Kindle, and it's very nice, and I want to get that or a Sony, but my trusty old Gemstar e-book, with its high-resolution paperback-sized screen is every bit as nice to read on, and it has the advantage that when I want to I can turn on the backlight and read in the dark.

        That's actually my one big complaint about the Sony and Kindle readers, that they don't have any sort of internal lighting. I do most of my reading at night, in bed, next to my sleeping wife. The Gemstar's backlight, set at its dimmest, is perfect for me to read by in a dark room, and dim enough that it doesn't bother her at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shmlco (594907)
        BTW, speaking of eInk, I absolutely, positively HATE that annoying flip-all-of-the-pixels-to-black-then-white thing it does every time you "turn" the page.

        From my perspective eInk has almost nothing going for it OTHER than battery life. As we come up with more efficient display technologies, like OLEDs, eInk will be little more than an amusing footnote in the digital history books.
  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:21PM (#23345672)
    I like having a physical library. Books are perfectly convenient for my purposes, and don't typically come with a triple-digit buy-in.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tknd (979052)
      I've paid triple digits for many college text books. I would gladly buy an ebook and ebook reader if it meant all of my college material would cost half as much. Of course I wouldn't be able to sell the books after I was done with them. But it didn't matter half the time because they'd just release a new edition and obsolete your current book so new students were required to buy the latest edition.
  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:23PM (#23345688) Journal
    I'd love to buy one, but two things hurt them right now:

    1. Refresh time on turning pages. I know that it doesn't bother some people, but I do notice it. I'm told that it's getting better, though, and that gives me some hope.

    2. Price of digital books. The price is still too close to the cost of physical books. The discount from the physical edition is only a couple of dollars, despite not having to come up with materials and shipping. I don't mind paying a little for convenience, but not that much.

    Going along with the price is the issue of title selection (not many science or computer books seem to have made the jump yet), but that will improve. Early in the CD days, many things in which I would have been interested were unavailable in that format.
    • by Lershac (240419) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:33PM (#23345762) Homepage
      But you realize that the costs of printing and distribution in the paper industry are already very very low? Like under a buck a book for mass market paperbacks? So as long as the traditional publishing houses are involved, the price will stay high as they need to put food on the table for their employees.

      Prices can only drop as we cut out middlemen.

      If an itunes-like publisher were to open up, and offer low priced books direct from the author (like on the itunes app store model maybe) this would revolutionize (read KILL) the dead tree publishing industry. It would also open the door to lots of CRAP. But a ratings system would emerge I am sure.

      If wishes were fishes...
    • by Your Pal Dave (33229) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:40PM (#23345808)

      2. Price of digital books. The price is still too close to the cost of physical books. The discount from the physical edition is only a couple of dollars, despite not having to come up with materials and shipping. I don't mind paying a little for convenience, but not that much.
      The worst part is, because of DRM, you also can't sell, lend or give away an ebook after you finish reading it. That reduces the value even more.

      I'm OK with DRM on ebooks from a lending library which expires them at the end of the check-out period. But if I'm going to purchase a DRM encumbered ebook it had better come at a substantial discount over the dead-tree version.
    • by kickabear (173514) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:43PM (#23346254) Homepage

      1. Refresh time on turning pages. I know that it doesn't bother some people, but I do notice it. I'm told that it's getting better, though, and that gives me some hope.
      I've been reading a Kindle since the third day after release. I was annoyed by the page turn for about 10 minutes, and then my buffer adjusted. Most of us, when reading the last line on a page, skim the last few words of that line, and process it as we turn the page. With the slightly increased page turn time of the Kindle, I just had to learn to buffer a little more of the last line. Now, I don't even notice the page turn. Oh, and if you haven't tried e-ink for at least half an hour, you should do it before you compare your PDA/Laptop/SmartPhone to it. It's not the same. Not even close. I can stare at a backlit screen for about an hour before my eyes start to burn. I can read the Kindle for hours and hours and never get the slightest eye strain.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nguy (1207026)
        I was annoyed by the page turn for about 10 minutes, and then my buffer adjusted.

        That's for sequential reading. Sequential reading is easy on anything. The problem is that these devices are horrible for flipping around.

        I can stare at a backlit screen for about an hour before my eyes start to burn. I can read the Kindle for hours and hours and never get the slightest eye strain.

        Imagination is quite powerful, isn't it?
  • by sznupi (719324) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:26PM (#23345698) Homepage
    When it comes to story, I much prefer dead-tree book.

    BUT...I'd really like to see subnotebook with e-ink. Yeah, no colours and low refresh rate...but that doesn't really harm www/im/e-mail/writing. With a huge bonus of prolonged battery life.

    Sadly, market works against me, in similar way how it established 15,4' "laptop" as perfectly acceptable standard (cheapest) size...
  • Yes, but.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xzvf (924443) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:27PM (#23345712)
    I travel a lot and read for entertainment and work related. Give me an ebook when I purchase the paper version. Make ebooks cheaper. Take out the cost of paper, inventory and labor. Make ebook readers less expensive. Sell more ebooks in volume when they are cheaper and the reader is free or subsidized.
  • by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:28PM (#23345722)

    ()Yes
    ()No
    ()Hell No!
    ()The 70's called they want their 8-tracks AND the Kindle back.
    ()Dead Tree or Dead Me!
    ()Didn't I see one of these in Star Wars?
    ()Cowboy Neal Kindles his Spindle
  • by Octorian (14086) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:29PM (#23345730) Homepage
    Regardless of how nice the reader is, its worthless to me as long as I can only get something from "their online store of X number of books". Until I can find any random book (yes, including all the zillion tech books we all collect) in eBook form, the device serves no purpose to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)
      Amazon has an email address you can send PDF files to and get back files in the Kindle format. You can than upload said files to the Kindle over USB. Works like a champ for all the PDFs I use (specification documents, open source software documentation, etc).
  • Pages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blice (1208832) <Lifes@Alrig.ht> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:32PM (#23345754)
    With a real book, there's something magical about turning pages.
    As you get closer to the end, you keep a mental track of where you are in the book by the thickness of either ends. Having a digit tell you what page out of the total pages you're at just isn't the same.
    Especially as you get closer to the end- Having the second half of the book shrink as you go, getting excited about the end (Without knowing -exactly- how close you are). Sometimes it even surprises you; you get close to the end but you know you aren't there yet, and then it -does- end, with a thick index in the back.
    But not just the turning and thickness of the book. Also the texture. That rough texture of paper vs. slick plastic. That's just something that an eBook reader isn't going to replace.
    However, I do think eventually next generations will get used to this. I don't dislike ebooks because of functionality or looks, I just don't like them because I'm not used to them. Sort of comparable to Windows and Linux, where Linux is actually more functional and capable of more things, but at first it doesn't matter because you're just not used to it.
    At any rate, I think there is definitely a market for them, and that it'll grow. It'll just take some time of people getting used to the new feelings.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:36PM (#23345776) Homepage
    1. *NO* DRM.
    2. Uses the same amount of electricity as a solar-powered calculator, so that it can be passively powered rather than rely on batteries. All it needs to do is display text at a decent resolution, enough that it's readable without eyestrain, and scroll about as fast as a 300 baud modem used to be able to put text on a screen back in the day.
    3. durable enough that I can take it places, drop it, let it get wet, and worry about as much about damage as I would a book, or less.
    4. Screen is readable under the same lighting conditions as traditional print on paper -- particularly under bright sunlight. I don't want a backlight for reading in the dark as much as I want to be able to read in daylight.
    Nice features:
    1. Extendable via a USB port -- let me plug in a keyboard for annotations and note-taking.
    2. Let me also use that USB port to directly access the storage on the device.
    3. I don't need wifi (too energy-costly) or network connectivity, as long as I can plug it into something that has that capability, such as my cell phone or a laptop or other IP node, and share its connection.
  • Indispensable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kabdib (81955) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:43PM (#23345842) Homepage
    I have a Sony PRS-505. It's really great having 300-400 books available at my fingertips, wherever I travel.

    The device has PDF support, but it is glacial and nearly inadequate for reading (say) ACM papers. There are conversion possibilities here, or the device may get better support in the future (it wouldn't be hard, frankly).

    But for plain text it's wonderful. I'm on vacation now with my unit, and have ploughed through 3-4 books in the last few days.

    My balk at getting a Kindle: Having to route your content through Amazon. The privacy aspects of this are terrifying.
  • by slack of thyme (1286490) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @10:50PM (#23345876)
    It won't reliably handle many non-English characters. I won't use it for Chinese texts especially. And anything where the illustrations are critical to full understanding of the text is also useless at this stage.

    It's very weak when it comes to handling most books with code samples as a critical component, but in most such cases, the kludginess of transporting Kindle text to a machine where I might use the code sample is such that the attraction of stocking up on programming references that contain significant caches of adaptable code is not really there on a Kindle -- and most publishers now offer some simpler means to supply sample code in an accessible manner if you own a hardcopy of the book.

    I actually find its main use for me is as a laptop substitute, at least in settings were I'm not looking at a lot of quantitative material, and as a pinch-hitting connection to the 'net when I might be someplace without a convenient phone jack or other connection. My book collection is already too large and I won't replace most of it with Kindled copies.

    Still its connectivity is useful for following a few current papers, storing public-domain classic texts for text search and reference purposes, when I want to be able to answer some question quickly, but still want to "un-plug" for the most part from phones, e-mail and other pointless distractions.

    I can also store reference documents of my own on the device in what is usually a more readable form than I could managed with most PDAs, if the text in question can be readily formatted as HTML without too big a loss of readability.
  • Wishlist. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:02PM (#23345962) Homepage
    1. Dead-simple operation. Reads e-books, and does very little else.

    2. Minimalist Interface. Possibly the Kindle's greatest shortcoming. Should have no more buttons than an iPod (or, say, the original Game Boy).

    3. Books easy to download/retrieve. Should be wireless, though the actual purchase doesn't necessarily need to originate from the device itself (see #1 and #2). Perhaps a hybrid system by which content may be purchased online via web browser, and then "pushed" to the unit wirelessly?

    4. Open access. Any seller must be able to supply content via a common format. DRM is somewhat acceptable, as long as it isn't obnoxiously intrusive (eg. Apple's FairPlay). Free content must also not cost money (tsk, tsk, Amazon)

    5. Books must be considerably cheaper than their dead-tree equivalents.

    6. Large, crisp, legible, glare-free display. Should be able to withstand some degree of abuse. I want to feel like I'm looking at a piece of paper, not a screen.

    7. Sleek design. Doesn't need to be revolutionary, but also not ugly. This should naturally follow from #1, #2, and #6.

    7. Page-turn lag must be kept to a minimum.

    8. Cheap enough for normal folks to afford. Under $300?

    Under these conditions, you *might* be able to successfully market one of these.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Helios1182 (629010)
      Also,
      1. book sized
      2. thin
      3. a "cover" or something to protect the display (clamshell with dual screens would be awesome)
      4. quick search/bookmark
      5. annotation with a stylus so you can write on the pages
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WuphonsReach (684551)
      The Sony unit comes pretty close on a lot of those elements. Especially #1 and #2.

      #3 - Isn't that important, IMO. Unless you're plowing through a book per day or more, it's not difficult to load up the unit once a week (or even once a month) with the next dozen books that you want to read. (WiFi is nice for daily RSS feeds if you want it to act like a newspaper though... so I'm not completely against WiFi. It just isn't a must-have for me. I wouldn't mind a docking station setup though, or better RSS
  • by iteyoidar (972700) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:11PM (#23346010)
    So far a lot of the features in e-book readers are focused on making them closer to...real books. The big deal with the kindle is apparently that the screen looks like...paper. Or that you can mark pages and write notes on your e-books, just like a real book, only with a computer interface getting in the way. There is so much convenience in having a real physical paper book where the pages can be written on and flipped through and folded that it is hard for to come up with an electronic design that is as easy to use and still looks like a book.

    From what I've seen of e-book readers so far, I can predict that in The Future, the "perfect" e-book reader will be almost identical to a paperback book, only slightly smaller than a real book, with electronic pages, and dozens of seldom-used features like dictionaries and trivia games and thesauruses. And I guess the pages might as well light up too. Maybe it will be useful if there is a paper shortage

    On the other hand, the newspaper functionality has potential. Unlike novels, reading the newspaper can be very clumsy and annoying unless you have an entire table to read it on. And the online distribution method is so much more convenient than real newspapers. Of course you can already get news on your cell phone or computer for free, but all the same I think e-book newspapers have some serious advantages over the real thing, which I can't say about the e-novels.

  • Still pricey (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:17PM (#23346046) Journal
    Books have some really annoying drawbacks, which ebooks promise to solve. Unfortunately for ebooks, the virtues that books do possess are really hard to match in ebook format.

    Books, even cheaply printed ones, offer excellent resolution and contrast. All but the most awful will last for ages without any special effort. The ability to use marginal notes, bookmarks, underlining/highlighting, sticky notes, and dog-ears gives one a lot of markup options.

    I've yet to find an ebook reader even close to my price range that can touch paper on any of those counts. Until I do find one, I'm sticking with my current setup. A cheap secondhand palm pilot of some sort + plucker + project gutenberg. It isn't even close to reading a real book; but it comes in awfully handy on the subway, in waiting rooms, and so forth. Until the tech catches up, I'm treating ebooks as complements, rather than substitutes, to real books.
  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:29PM (#23346144)
    ... it's just that no one has done it right yet. Personally the ability to edit, copy, cut and paste text from books or make 'clip marks' is a BOON. I'm sure many of us do this already manually through either: Bookmarks, or cut-paste to notepad or other word processor/blog/what have you.

    Would you go back to regular mail from email? I wouldn't. The ability to search my email and find things from a long time ago is just way too useful to go back to using bulky dead-tree mail. The same goes for books, ever wanted to share something with someone that you read somewhere... there's lots of quote farms online but there are lots of other things you'd love to quote or read online but it is locked behind copyright. Right now I LOVE being able to use google for books but HATE being locked out of the book itself (only getting one page, etc).

    I wish we could just subsidize copyright for written works since the internet makes locking up written work a kind of pointless thing if you believe in progress. How many insights and advances are now being stumbled onto because of the net and being able to mine the collective data human beings produce? A lot I would say.
  • by yotto (590067) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:29PM (#23346152) Homepage
    How much electricity does it take to "turn a page" on an e-book? Could a person generate that power easily? In addition to accepting drm-free pdf/txt/whatever files, I'd like, if it's feasible, to be freed from battery dependence as well. If I could generate enough power to turn the page by, say, closing and then opening the device (with, say, a toggle switch for "turn the page" or "I'm just closing the book") you could get that book feel even more, and never worry about your battery running out when you're on a plane.

    In my mind, the e-book would look a lot like a paperback, and open in a similar manner.
  • by jht (5006) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:30PM (#23346160) Homepage Journal
    I have a massive general-interest book collection (about 6 full bookcases in my house plus more in storage). I read 4-8 library books per month. I buy books frequently, and I also have a big technical library that I only refer to when I need it. I even have two bookcases in my office (which isn't that big) for the fraction of tech books I think I need handy. I also have all sorts of gadgets and computers. I have an old Newton. I've got an iPhone, I've owned Palms and PocketPCs as well over the years. They are all OK for reading, but none have replaced paper for me except in very limited circumstances. So I may not fit the profile they are looking for, but I am an the pretty far end of the reading scale.

    To realistically have a shot at dethroning books in my life, a device would have to:

    - Weigh a pound or maybe even less.
    - Have a battery life of at least 24 hours (of usage - not just standby) on a single charge.
    - Be rugged enough to handle the same kind of conditions as books.
    - Tactile comfort. Plenty of it.
    - Easy loading of content, including stuff I download myself (PDF manuals, for instance).
    - Wireless? Sure. That'd be nice too.
    - Cheap enough that I won't be bitter if I lose it or have it swiped.
    - My library needs to support it.

    In other words, not for at least a couple more generations of reader. Maybe never. Paper is cheap - really cheap. If I buy a book for $10-$20 and I take care of it reasonably well, it'll still be there 20-30 years from now. My 6-year-old son reads books now that my wife and I owned when we were kids. Those books are almost 40 years old, and they are still useful today. If I buy a Kindle now, I'm probably looking to get rid of it in 2-3 years.

    I think that for the foreseeable future (at least 5-10 years) e-books are at best a niche product.

  • by jazir1979 (637570) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:35PM (#23346196)
    http://store.naebllc.com/ [naebllc.com]

    This is a great alternative e-Ink reader to the Kindle and Sony Reader. It supports open formats as well as DRM'ed mobipocket, runs linux and comes with the promise of firmware updates to add future format support and bug fixes.
  • by Brandee07 (964634) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @11:38PM (#23346222)

    I've had my Kindle since February, and I never leave the house without it.

    I use it primarily for textbooks and the newspaper. The Washington Post downloads automatically to my Kindle every morning, for about 1/4 of having the print edition delivered to my door. If I miss a day (never turn the wireless on), I have seven days to grab it from Amazon's website, which is less than perfect but easier than trying to get an older paper copy.

    Many of my assigned readings for class are available for free from ProjectGutenburg or similar websites, so those go on the Kindle via USB. Articles from JSTOR are easily converted to Kindle, as long as they don't have too many funny characters (mine generally do). Class syllabi are often distributed online, so those go on the Kindle as well. The Kindle is a student's best friend.

    As pointed out by others, the Kindle's main weakness is PDFs. As some of you well know, the PDF format can be tricky. Some can be converted by Amazon's email service or by MobiPocket Creator, but if you've got a document made up of scans of a book, you're out of luck. It'll display, but at a size far too small to read, and since it's an image, there's no way to increase the size.

    Foreign character support would also be awesome, but there's only so much room for OS and drivers on the 256MB of internal space. 180MB are available for use on a fresh unit. (More storage can be added with SD cards, but face it- text is small. There's 20 novels and over 100 newspapers on mine and still about half the space is unused)

    The real "Killer App" of the Kindle is the EVDO connectivity. It's not fast and active web surfing will kill a battery in minutes that would otherwise last days, but it can be a lifesaver. I tend to browse the Kindle store on my computer and send a few dozen samples to my Kindle, and only turn on the wireless on the Kindle when I have read the sample and decided to buy it- which I can do anywhere I get cell coverage. Wireless book/newspaper delivery is bundled into the cost of the books, and Amazon is making a healthy enough profit off of that to cover our websurfing as well- while having it there is great, it's clumsy enough that no one is going to use up more than their fair share of bandwidth. When my computer failed for a few days, I was using my Kindle to check my email- and even to register for classes, a very time-sensitive operation. It was slow and clumsy, but bad internet is better than no internet at all.

    Book prices have impressed me. Most of them are priced well below their print counterparts, normally around 20% lower than the paperback version. Some books come out priced higher than the hardback versions, and then suddenly drop a week later as the author realizes how the pricing model works. Most books off the bestseller list are 50% or more cheaper than what you'd find in a store.

    The battery lasts days, books can be read in full, bright sunlight and doesn't cause eyestrain, and the refresh is fast and doesn't bother me at all. The buttons can be a little too easy to press, but if you keep it in the cover that comes with it (or one of a few aftermarket covers that are already out there) then that's not a problem. The back battery cover has a tendency to slide off, but the Kindle itself has never actually come loose of the cover to float freely in my backpack.

    The price of the actual unit is really high, and it's got some of the hallmarks of a v1.0 product, but these will be addressed in the future. Having an imperfect product is part of being an early adopter. And yeah, it's not the most aesthetically designed thing ever, but I've been an Apple fan my whole life. I've got a thing for white plastic.

  • by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:06AM (#23346356)
    My opinion is the same as it always has been:

    - Paper is a fantastic technology, and hard (but not impossible) to beat for books.

    - Reading low-resolution text on a glowing screen sucks for long stretches, and always will suck.

    - Electronic paper is a fantastic idea that has yet to be perfected. No, the Kindle is not a good reader. A good e-paper reader will handle all reasonable text and document formats, will be DRM-free, will effortlessly connect and sync with my computer, and will include features like margin notes, text highlighting, dictionary/encyclopedia lookup (think Leopard's pop-up dictionary), and other stuff I haven't thought of -- features that actually make it *superior* to paper books instead of merely equivalent.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:21AM (#23346434) Homepage

    I worried a bit that Amazon might discontinue their service someday, in a way that would break books people have already bought, but then I realized that this didn't really matter to me. Different people will weigh things differently.

    Looking at my modest physical library (a couple thousand volumes or so), I note that most of them have only been read once.

    Kindle books (at least the ones I've bought, and the ones on my current to-buy list) are about 20-30% off the least expensive physical edition.

    If Amazon does NOT end up screwing us down the line, then I'll be in the same position as I am with my physical library. I'll have a bunch of books that I am not going to read again, and a handful that I do reread. Except I'll have saved a lot of money. Works for me!

    And if Amazon DOES screw us someday? Then I use some of that 20-30% I've saved to re-purchase physical copies of the handful of books that I will want to reread. I'll still end up with a library that contains all the books I actually will want to reread. It will simply be missing the books that I only wanted to read once. But it will probably have cost me less for that library. Seems like a good gamble to me.

    It is kind of interesting to compare this to music with DRM. With music, I do listen to most of my albums more than once. If my albums were to go away, I'd want to replace pretty much all of them.

    Thus, for music, I am much more DRM-adverse. I have bought a few things from the iTunes store, but it has been obscure things that I could not reasonably find on CD, and there is the old "burn and rip" method to keep them working even if Apple pulls the plug. I also figured that disk space would be cheap and plentiful enough that if I did have to do "burn and rip", I could do the rip losslessly, and so this method of stripping DRM would not lead to a loss of quality. Thus, I had things covered, and could go ahead and buy a few things from iTunes. But I buy from the Amazon DRM-free music store if I can.

  • No, and... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThousandStars (556222) on Friday May 09, 2008 @12:28AM (#23346468) Homepage
    Here's why [wordpress.com]. And here's another good reason [wordpress.com].

    My problem is chiefly with the content distribution rather than the hardware: I'm just not willing to invest substantial amounts of money in a service that might disappear, or that I might not be able to access, or that might force to pay future service fees, or whatever. As the first link states, one reason the iPod took off was that people had a huge amount of unencumbered music ready to go, and they could rip CDs with ease. If the same were true of books, I'd happily buy a Kindle, but it isn't, and I'm not willing to go the proprietary route until I'm sure it's worthwhile.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:23AM (#23346746) Journal
    I want a full color, 200dpi or better, a4 or letter sized display that is light reflective rather than light emissive (ie, e-paper), and if one is using external lighting instead of a built-in book-light (for night time reading), it can ideally can be utilized strictly as a reader entirely via solar power. That is, so as long as there's external light to read the display by, you can use the apparatus without draining the internal battery. The entire unit itself should not be more than three-quarters of an inch thick or so, and with batteries should weigh no more than a similarly sized hardcover text. Oh, and it has to be impact resistant enough to be able to handle accidental drops onto the floor and I'd also like it to be completely water-resistant, so that if it drops into water it won't be destroyed either. The device must be capable of reading common file formats such as PDF and CBR/CBZ, and should not require that any files it accesses be laden with DRM in order to be utilized. It should have an SD card slot for additional local storage (that can cover up completely so as to be watertight), and a wireless facility for downloading content from a PC or the internet into the reader. It does not need to be able to play music files or multimedia files, nor does it need to play games or function as a PDA or general purpose portable computer in any way.
  • DRM free content (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JoshHeitzman (1122379) on Friday May 09, 2008 @01:30AM (#23346772) Homepage
    DRMed content is what stops me from buying e-books and in turn e-book readers. I'm willing to re-buy paper books as e-books, but I'm not willing to re-buy e-books just because my device died, was stolen (I don't have to worry about anyone stealing my entire book collection), the license server was taken offline, I want have the file on more then one device at a time (I'll want more then one reader so I can have multiple books open at the same time on different devices or the same books open to different pages on different devices), or I want to get coolest new reader on the market.
  • Sony eReader (Score:3, Informative)

    by Time Doctor (79352) <zjs@zacharyjackslater.com> on Friday May 09, 2008 @02:23AM (#23346988) Homepage Journal
    I really enjoy my sony ereader, once you use it you realize that the physical design is vastly superior to the kindle.
  • Iliad sucks (Score:3, Informative)

    by nguy (1207026) on Friday May 09, 2008 @02:48AM (#23347078)
    I've used an Iliad for a few weeks and found that it sucked: flipping pages is slow, quickly skipping around in a book is nearly impossible, the user interface is mind numbingly broken, and the much talked about contrast of the eInk display is underwhelming. The Sony didn't seem to be any better. With a better user interface, the Iliad could be tolerable despite its display technology, but even then, it wouldn't be a good device.

    I think the future of electronic books is with higher resolution cell phones, media players, and tablets, not these kinds of special purpose devices.
  • Non-starter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frisket (149522) <peter AT silmaril DOT ie> on Friday May 09, 2008 @05:58AM (#23347906) Homepage
    They're all still non-starters until they get rid of the proprietary formats and use (eg) eBook.

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