Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I wandered into our local Waterstone's last Saturday and whilst I was browsing I came across the Sony Ebook reader which they have just launched there. Being curious, I had to have a little look.

I want to like ebooks. I quite like gadgets, so the idea of getting so many volumes on one little piece of equipment is appealing. It would certainly save space in our house which is looking more and more like a public library ( but less tidy). I do sometimes read ebooks on my laptop now, just to save a few trees.

But I don't think I could justify buying an ebook reader. For a start there is the cost...£200 before you've even put a book on it. Yes the Sony comes with a vast CD of out-of-copyright classics, but most classics are available to download as free ebooks anyway if you search the web. Another ebook reader available in the UK costs almost £400. Then there is the cost of the books themselves. Ebooks are only marginally cheaper than the list price of their print equivalent, depite the fact that once the ebook has been produced there is no ongoing manufacturing cost. Why, when I can walk up the road and pick up a paperback novel for as little as 39p in our local hospice charity shop, would I want to pay that much money (except perhaps for books that are hard to source)?

Then there is the digital rights problem. Ebooks come in a number of formats which are not compatible with each other. Not every book is published in every format and they can only be read by the purchaser on a small number of compatible and registered gadgets. So if you go with Sony now, you may well be tying yourself into Sony in the long term...fine if you get on with it, not so good if you don't.

I'll admit that I do have some ebooks on my computer and two different ebook readers...Microsoft Reader and Adobe Digital Editions. Many of the books are classics I have downloaded for free, others are slightly obscure writing textbooks or other nonfiction which I have purchased electronically to save space at home. I don't really enjoy reading books on a screen enough to read for pleasure that way, so for now I don't really see the point of an ebook reader. I don't commute, I don't go on long flights,I'm quite happy with just a paperback stuffed into my handbag when needed.

The only ebook benefit I can see is that because the print can be resized I can pop some OU manuals and other textbooks onto a memory stick and read them on the tiny screen of my Eee pc using Microsoft Reader or Adobe Reader, if I am away from home. For now I think that will have to do, though of course were I to be given a Sony Reader for Christmas I'm sure I could probably be converted...

Three notable things:

1. Got son 1 to the dentist yesterday. He did have to have one filling but it was only a tiny one and was done then and there.

2. The juggling the doctor's appointments on Monday didn't work out well. I just knew it wouldn't!

3. Better late than never, I forgot to mention earlier that the lovely Calistro has had not one but two bits of brilliant and well-deserved writing news recently, something to give hope to us all!


Sue Guiney said...

this whole ebook thing...I just can't decide. My publisher says it's great, will help more books get published and read. I hope he's right. And I have friends who have them and love them. AND they are such cool gadgets. But still, I don't know.....

CL Taylor said...

Thanks for the lovely mention Cathy :o)

Ebooks...Scott Pack has just been given one for free (lucky sod!) and has been blogging about it ( I'm not about to rush out and buy one at £200 a pop (plus the cost of the ebooks) but if they dropped in price to about £50 I might consider it. It would be great for holidays (if you can use it in bright sunlight) as it would save the space taken up by 5 or 6 paperbacks in my suitcase!

Cathy said...

Yes they are cool, Sue, but like Calistro I'm going to wait for the price to drop .I just wouldn't use it enough to justify the current expense. But I guess they'll have to take off before the price drops...

I'm watching Scott Pack's reactions and dovegreyreader has just got one to test as well.

Andrea said...

I'm torn about the ebook issue.
Cost aside, because I'm sure the price will eventually come down, I'm not sold on the idea.
I can see the environmental and storage benefits of the ebook but to me picking up an ebook just doesn't have the same comfort factor as picking up a print book. It's not just the story but the weight of the book, its smell, the little notes in the margins of second hand books-I would never dream of writing in anything other than a text book but I love when I find a comment. It's almost like you're talking to the previous reader. The ebook reader changes the reading experience and I'm not sure I want that.

Jenny Beattie said...

I love gadgets too but I love books more. I can imagine further down the line when they're cheaper ... maybe... possibly. But I can never imagine not buying books. I mean, it's just not right, is it?

Anonymous said...

I think it's worth looking at but maybe in a few more years these will have caught on properly and will be a lot cheaper and easier to get hold of.

CJ xx