E-books: Kindle, Sony Reader, and more

Published March 3, 2010

I finally got my own e-book — no longer will I steal my wife’s Kindle. And thus I entered the still-amazing-me world of electronic books.

Quickie background

Back around 1996, when I would give talks and be on technology panels, one of the discussions was on the future of books. I predicted that “one day, we’ll all own just one book.” We would then take that book to the library or the bookstore and get it loaded with whatever we wanted to read.

I talked about the then-emerging electronic ink technology, and how that would make reading on a screen actually enjoyable

Well, it took long enough, but it’s here. A bunch of companies launched e-books, notably Sony (notably because it’s one of the few brands everyone recognizes).

Then, of course, came the Kindle. The game changer.

Kindle, for starters

The Kindle 1 My wife wanted one. Dutiful husband that I am, I complied. And it’s wonderful. Buy from Amazon and it’s loaded in seconds. Hook to your computer and you can load content from your hard drive.

She bought some books, I bought some books, and we found lots of free content on Amazon. (Just browse Kindle bestsellers — many of the top 100 are free, usually because the authors have a new book out. That’s how I was introduced to Lee Child’s “Reacher” books. Anyway.)

The Kindle has its quirks, but it’s a beautiful machine. Overpriced, to be sure — Amazon makes it so easy to buy books with it that they ought to give the things away.

So I would steal the Kindle, “buy” free books from Amazon, and experiment with converting other content for it — notably PDFs, because there’s so much stuff out there in that format.

This annoyed The Wife.

My turn

Then I needed some minor surgery. I’d be laid up for a few days. I played the sympathy card and won: She got me the reader I wanted.

image I wanted the Sony Reader Daily Edition. It just came out. It’s a bit larger than the Kindle (and Kindle 2), but I wanted it for some specific reasons: It supports PDF files (which Kindle doesn’t), and it supports standard e-book formats (which Kindle sort of does).

It’s also got a touch screen, which is nice — turn pages by flicking the corner like you would a real book, look up a word in the built-in dictionary by double-tapping it, etc.

It arrived the day I got home from surgery. Still groggy, I forced myself to unbox and charge it. And then it was time to see what there was to read out there.

Answer: Holy moly! Not quite what I expected!

But that’s the subject of the next piece.



  1. Chuck Staples says:

    So?… Where’s the next piece?

  2. Jason says:

    Yeah, really. How am I suppose to research these things if people I know and trust don’t tell me about them? :)

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