Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ebooks: the verdict so far

no kindle for me. not yet. want, but not want enough to pony up the cash.

however, i've recently been carrying around jesse's netbook because he wasn't using it and it's teensy and adorable. and about the weight of a book anyway. plus, i recently noticed that the cross-the-water buses (aka the MAX) have internets, which occasionally comes in handy... and/or distracting.

anyway, since i was carrying book AND computer around, i thought i'd give combining the functions a go. after a little shopping around, i found that ereader.com had digital editions of some of my current brain candy series (jim butcher's dresden files, for the curious) for cheaper than most.

and now i've finished that book. and bought another. and have a couple things off project gutenberg stored for good measure.

for now, though, i'm still keeping a real book on me, too. minor irritations i find with reading via the netbook: bootup time (hear that dedicated reading devices don't have much of this), not so great in full sunlight (again with the kindle fixing it), shortish battery life (go go dedicated devices), and having to keep electronic devices off for big portions of airplane flights... the ones that really bug me, though, are the not being waterproof -- not that conventional books are terribly waterproof, but reading in the bathtub or by the pool or carrying a book around in the rain is risking a book, not my entire library and a pricey device! -- and feeling conspicuous. the latter will improve with time, but right now it's a bit of an issue... if i'm sitting out in the open reading along on the netbook, people seem compelled to talk to me and ask questions about it, which is pretty much the opposite of what i want when i'm trying to lose my environment in favor of a book. i expect that any of the fancier dedicated gadgets would just make this one worse. jesse suggested that the easy way around this is putting in a pair of earbuds, even if they're not playing anything. guess i'll give that a go on ebook #2.

there's plenty to love, though. #1, weight. the process of packing up the apartment is making this one hit home... i get attached to books, i have a hard time bringing myself to sell or donate the ones i've read and loved; if i can keep 'em in (pretty smallish) files, problem solved. on the other hand, however, lending gets a bit messier. (tangent - anybody want to "borrow" any of the novels i've read recently? for long-term to forever? jesse's asked me if thinning the bookshelves would be possible, and i figure handing things off to friends would be easier on my packrat instincts.)

an offshoot of the weight issue, if i can keep the battery running, i'm not going to realize halfway through the trip to work that i'm at the end of my novel and have nothing to keep me entertained the rest of the day's trips...

for the netbook, anyway, low light is no problem. it at least feels less disturbing on nighttime flights or in cars than the little spotlights.

the eyestrain isn't bad. granted, i haven't been sitting down for hours-long reading marathons lately, but with the adjustable-size font i think it may actually be less straining than a typical paperback if you're not out in the sun.

as a good little environmentalist whenever it starts to get convenient, i don't think i'm really concerned that they're charging as much for a bunch of electrons as they do for a paperback. print media publishers are struggling, a little profit's not going to kill anyone. and with ereader, anyway, i don't think the books actually are as expensive -- most of the full prices are comparable, and they apply a little credit to your account with each purchase to go towards the next one. and it's quite a bit cheaper when you're too antsy to wait for the paperback edition.

if we all switched to ebooks, i'd miss the physical bookstore experience -- i admit it, i love going, grabbing some overpriced coffee, browsing my way around slowly, reading backs of books. i love the conversations that start when you go to a bookstore with someone.

but anyway. so far, tentative thumbs up on the ebooks.

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