Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why E-readers Suck

First, full disclosure: I bought a Kindle - for my wife's birthday. She is a member of a book club where half the members use some form of e-reader; mostly Kindles, but there is an Ipad or two. She asked me for one, and this got me thinking..."I'm a gadget lover, why don't I wan't one of these things?"

Anyway, I bought here the new gen Kindle, and she dropped it. Now I know why I don't like them, and I'm sharing my list with you:

You can't share the books - Outside of the B&N Nook and some of the less popular devices, books cannot be loaned to others. This is not a small problem: Libraries are looking to loan ebooks, but those with Kindles and Ipads can't participate. Also, the fun of browsing bargain bins and used bookstores is completely lost with these devices. I can't see myself going through the online version of a store for a similar experience.

These things are expensive. Even with the new reduced prices, they still cost more than they should for the experience, if not for the electronics inside. This brings me to my next point...

Ebooks are expensive. Really, the cost of the books should be significantly cheaper than the printed versions. Why? All printing costs are eliminated. It cousts the same for the publisher to print 100 or 100 million. Instead, Amazon proudly charges $2 to $3 less for the ebook than the hardcover version. I think I'd pay the difference, so I can loan it to someone later.

Better Tech is on it's way. I'm not a big fan of the Ipad either, but it's infinitely more usable than a Nook or Kindle. I think there is a place for even better tablet computers, just not expensive and fragile readers.

Most importantly, E-readers break, books don't. Apparently, it doesn't take much of a drop (!). Like all electronics, they must be cared for, recharged, and kept dry.

I don't want you to think I hate these devices, on the contrary; there's a lot of cool tech there. I just think that they will never replace old fashoned books, at least until some of these problems are solved.

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