Friday, January 29, 2010

My little ebook reader - do I want one?

Would I like to have an ebook reader (eReader)? You betcha I would! Can I afford it? That comes down to how much do I want one. I could spend that much money on one, but is it worth it to me?

After so many years of Kindle, now all of a sudden there are a dozen eReaders on the market. (See;txt for a discussion of eReaders.)

What would I like in an eReader?
  • An absolutely mammoth number of book choices
  • An easy way to find the book I'd like to read
  • Light in weight so my hands don't get tired while I read
  • Easy to read so my eyes don't get tired while I read
  • Pleasant design - I don't care much for just silver.
  • A cover or envelope to protect it.
  • Able to read it in any light.
  • It would be nice if it would read the book to me when I'm tired.
Here's a big one. I'd like to be able to hold it in my hands and try it out before I buy it. Is that too much to ask?

The first Nook (Barnes & Noble) I held in my hands wasn't operational. It was a non-working dud. I don't think much of that as a marketing point.

Today, some months later, I was able to hold a working Nook (Barnes & Noble's eReader) in my hands. That was after I
  • Saw the sign and a cardboard version of the Nook at Barnes & Noble
  • Asked if I could see a real operating Nook.
  • Waited while the clerk went to get a key
  • Waited for the clerk to unlock the drawer with the key
  • Waited for the clerk to set it up in this locking display so I couldn't run off with it
  • Waited for it to boot up and contact the Internet
By the time the clerk put it in my hands, I wondered how they could possible sell the Nook if they kept it under lock and key all the time. Why not have the clerk wander the store offering to let people try it? It's what I wanted to do - try it.

Once I had the Nook in my eager hands, I read that I would receive a discount for a Nook Book (is that what you call them) when I bought the Nook. That's not a selling point for me. I want to experience reading on a Nook, or a Kindle, or a Sony eReader. Let me just play with it for a minute, OK?

The clerk finally decided to trust me with it for a moment. No matter what arrow I pushed I couldn't get rid of the coupon. It kept asking me if I wanted to buy the coupon for free. I did not. Finally I caught the clerk's eye and told him I couldn't make it work. "Oh, here's how" and he clicked some things that caused the control panel to pop up. OK, I was able to call up a list of best sellers, read a bit of it, download it for a very reasonable price compared to buying it in hard back.

I punched buttons a while, just looking around. Then it hit me. Every time I asked for something else, I had to wait. What if I was reading a book? Would I have to wait every time I wanted to turn the page? I read in great gulps. That is, I read very quickly if I'm enjoying what I read. This would slow me down.

I explained to the clerk what my problem was. He said it wouldn't be like that if I was just reading a book. It was happening because it was connected to the store's wireless. He didn't explain how you turned off the wireless.

I had looked forward to actually having my hands on an eReader. I'm pretty sure I'd like to own one, but which one? In my opinion, they are still experimenting.
  • There is no common interface. While Barnes & Noble seems to be sharing its technology with other eReaders, is saying my way or no way. Now, with the iPad coming out with its ability to be an eReader and do other things, we'll have another standard for the books.
  • For the most part they're ugly. I don't want a flashy design that would compete with the book I'm reading and drive my eyes crazy, but what's wrong with a soft leather in a creamy shade? I'm in favor of texture because I know that stainless steels, brushed aluminum, whatever that cover is, will show any little thing that gets on it. I intend to use an eReader just like I do my paper books - in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee and maybe a cookie or two by my side.
  • I want to be able to tuck it in my purse.
  • I want a cover on it
  • I want it to be light
  • I want it to be sturdy. When I drop a paper back book, I only worry about my bookmark falling out of place. I want my eReader to be nearly indestructible.
But wait. Are the manufacturers even asking the readers what they want in an eReader? Oh my, I hope they are!



  1. Great commentary! I've been toying with the idea of getting one, too, and you bring up so many of my own fears. How lovely if its encased in a leather cover, indestructible, and lightning fast.

    Perhaps I'll take the plunge some day. I'll probably go Apple, so that I can read anything. Unlike so many companies, they seem bent on making their stuff compatible with everything.

    Thanks for the discussion! I think I'll save your post for when I go out and look on my own!

  2. I think Apple has an advantage in that a lot of us like their products and we understand how to download them. I don't need to learn something new. The price - well, I really don't need that much function in an eReader.


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