eReader Indecision



I love to read. If I had my choice, I'd spend my time in a bookstore or library picking through the books, especially the Science-Fiction and Fantasy area. Then, would come Westerns a la Louis L'Amour, then spy thrillers. In the non-fiction area, books about writing, teaching writing, leadership and motivation. These have been my interests for many years and deviating from what I like means a book finds its way into the resale pile. For me, Half-Price books is as close to nirvana as you can get--well, maybe a Half-Price book near a beach unpolluted by BP Oil Spill might get me closer.

As my daughter and I walked into Half-Price books, the old argument of print books vs ebooks came up again. To buy an ebook reader is to betray those old friends waiting for us at home, some of which I've known since I was as young as 11 years old. Their covers, pages, the stories are a visceral link to the love my father had for me, taking me to the book store to pick out a few books. Our shared love for Dana Fuller Ross' "Wagons West" series continued with my daughter, who still reads the books now. Louis L'Amour, Stephen King, Dean Koontz also grace my shelves, and I

This past week, one of my opening slides at an East Texas school district's convocation keynote--"Embracing Technology for Positive Change"--showed the the impact eReaders are having, eliminating print books. With that presentation, I may have talked myself into buying one. The agony of which to buy, though, began. Should I buy the Kindle 3 or the Nook? As much as I love Barnes and Noble, I'm in love with the books available through it, not the place or the brand itself. That said, I have complained about Amazon's so-called "digital rights management," a practice I disagree with. If you are so inclined, visit Defective by Design for another perspective, especially the Amazon Kindle Swindle.

Amazon deleted books that were already available in print, but in our paperless future—when all books exist as files on servers—courts would have the power to make works vanish completely. Zittrain writes: "Imagine a world in which all copies of once-censored books like Candide, The Call of the Wild, and Ulysses had been permanently destroyed at the time of the censoring and could not be studied or enjoyed after subsequent decision-makers lifted the ban." This may sound like an exaggeration; after all, we'll surely always have file-sharing networks and other online repositories for works that have been decreed illegal. But it seems like small comfort to rely on BitTorrent to save banned art. The anonymous underground movements that have long sustained banned works will be a lot harder to keep up in the world of the Kindle and the iPhone.

Source: Slate Magazine

or consider....

An empirical study done by Patricia Akester, a professor of law at Cambridge, found that DRM does more harm than good on an individual basis and in one instance even led the consumer who otherwise would not have to obtain an illegally shared copy. This user, who is sight-impaired, downloaded an ebook from Amazon and was surprised to learn that it did not enable the text-to-speech option. Upon contacting Amazon, which does not refund ebooks, she was referred to the publisher who in turn referred her back to Amazon. Not receiving any help from Amazon or the publisher, she then decided to download an illegal copy that provided the text-to-speech function. As Nate Anderson writes, “The study confirms what anyone who has ever wanted to rip a DVD to their computer or iPod could have told you: DRM, coupled with anticircumvention laws, makes pirates of us all.”

Source: Defective by Design

You can understand that purchasing an eReader for me is an act of betrayal...a betrayal of the print books that accummulate dust on my shelves at home, kept more for the memories they evoke rather than the stories, the anti-DRM approach I advocate for. That said, I would love to have an ebook reader. My only wish was that such an ereader was based on the Android OS or GNU/Linux OS (that is OPEN without DRM) and was similarly priced (or lower) to the more popular ereaders. . .

  1. Skiff Reader
  2. Alex eReader for $399
  3. More listed here


At this point, it appears the Kindle 3 is the clear winner over the Nook, although some folks--like Bud the Teacher--prefer the Nook because you easily add other content to it. I'm not yet convinced by Bud, although I want to be...and every review for the Nook move me along in that direction. I like the idea of being able to read multiple formats...the problem is, the Kindle 3 looks like it has support for PDF as well. Read this great review. Of course, Kindle WiFi is also a great looking choice.

So, I'm stuck between the 3 choices...Kindle 3, Kindle WiFi, and the Nook WiFi/3G.

What's your advice?

On another note, check out the multi-platform Calibre that allows you to convert from various ebook formats (not DRM'd ebooks though)including the following:

Calibre supports the conversion of many input formats to many output formats. It can convert every input format in the following list, to every output format.
Input Formats: CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC**, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, TCR, TXT
Output Formats: EPUB, FB2, OEB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDB, PML, RB, PDF, TCR, TXT

With all this in mind, I'm really leaning towards the Nook now...which makes me wonder when the Nook 2 will be out.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Comments

Mr. RCollins said…
No love for the iPad? Stanza is a great DRM free ebook reader for it, plus Goodreader does an excellent job with PDFs. And then for purchasing books you can use Nook and Kindle software, so you get the best of all worlds.

Some people will say that the LCD screen isn't as good as epaper, but I haven't found that to be an issue. I'm staring at an LCD screen all day and don't notice anything.

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