November 19, 2007 4:00 AM PST

Will e-books ever be a best seller?

Will e-books ever be a best seller?
Related Stories

Amazon to debut Kindle e-book reader Monday

November 15, 2007

Have e-books turned a page?

August 27, 2004

Barnes & Noble shelves e-books

September 9, 2003
The average commuter seems to be doing OK reading an old-fashioned newspaper on the way to work.

Why, then, do Amazon.com and Sony think they need to replace traditional books with electronic readers?

On Monday, Amazon unveiled the Kindle, a $399 handheld device that can download digital books, newspapers, and magazines from the Internet. Like the name suggests, Kindle is Amazon's way of burning down the traditional paperback book business.

Just last month, Sony launched an upgraded version of its Sony Reader.

Sony and Amazon apparently think the public finally is ready to trade its paperbacks in for more computer screens, even though various attempts to do this have largely failed for a decade.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an executive from Rosetta Books last week who estimated that e-book sales range between $15 million and $25 million annually. That would be a tiny portion of the $25 billion in revenues the publishing industry generated last year.

So what tea leaves are these companies reading to convince them that consumers are finally ready to go digital with their books?

These electronic reading devices are expensive. There are always questions of durability and portability with something that's too bulky to fit in a pocket. And it's not clear many people are clamoring to spend that kind of money on an electronic reading device when they can basically do the same thing on a multipurpose device like Apple's iPhone at nearly the same price.

"At this stage, their intent is to try and teach the market and publishers about what the device can do. Remember, it took the (digital-music crowd) a while to find a business model."
--Stephen Baker, NPD analyst

"Sony's Reader has been a tough sell at $300," said Stephen Baker, an analyst with NPD. "The early adopters will be willing to pay a premium, but the mass market won't be ready until the price comes down--and it will. Amazon is probably not expecting to sell a zillion units of their reader at $399.

"At this stage, their intent is to try and teach the market and publishers about what the device can do," Baker added. "Remember, it took the (digital-music crowd) a while to find a business model."

There is no question that e-readers have improved. They are lighter than in the past, easier to read, and at least in the case of Amazon's Kindle, don't have to be connected to a PC to download a book.

The Kindle will hook up to the Web via a Sprint EVDO connection. That means owners can buy and download books to the Kindle wherever they can connect to the Web. That's far more convenient than being tethered to a PC.

Kindle comes with a 6-inch, 800x600 display--which uses technology from E Ink--to make it easy on the eyes. The company, which provides the same technology for the Sony Reader, fills its displays with small capsules containing thousands of microscopic black-and-white particles made out of the same materials as ink and paper.

Kindle gallery

Because of this, the screens reflect light in the same way as a book page. Instead of staring into a flashlight, which is what reading most backlit computer screens is like, E Ink is more like reading paper and ink than any screen technology developed so far, said E Ink's CEO Russ Wilcox. He declined to discuss the Kindle ahead of Monday's announcement.

"You can see the words from all angles," Wilcox said. "There's no backlight and most of the time the reader sees the page while the power is off. This allows the user to read for hours without draining the battery."

The other big selling point, of course, is weight. Carrying around an e-reader is easier on the spine than lugging around a bunch of books. The Kindle can hold a small library but weighs just 10.3 ounces--a little more than a half-pound. For those concerned about the environment, e-readers will obviously save a lot of trees and create less waste.

On the other hand, when was the last time a John Grisham novel ran out of battery power? E-readers offer a certain amount of convenience, but consumers will have to see clear advantages if they're going to make the shift.

In short, there's still plenty of room for improvement. In a review of the Sony Reader, CNET Reviews, lamented a slight delay in turning pages on the device, sluggish controls, and no support for audio books in the Audible format. But perhaps the biggest knock on most e-readers that have come before Kindle was a limited selection of books that could be used with the device.

In Sony's case, the company compounded the issue by using a proprietary technology for its book files that isn't compatible with other devices.

And again, there's the price. The readers cost about the same as a good smartphone, and Sony's e-books often cost the same as a regular book. "If the digital version of the book costs the same as hard copy of the books, what's the motivation?" asked Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC.

Another way that Amazon can succeed is to display newspaper and magazine publications in ways that more closely resemble the print versions. One of Kindle's features will be the ability to download content from between 50 to 100 newspapers, magazine and other business publications, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Amazon also has to hope that Apple doesn't show up. Providing the iPhone with e-reading abilities (in addition to the obvious point that you can already read anything on the Web with the device) would be simple, said NPD's Baker.

"I don't think Apple would get in now," Baker said. "Apple tends not to jump in during version one of a product's development. They prefer to wait until a business model and hardware specs are a little more developed."

See more CNET content tagged:
Amazon Kindle, E Ink Corp., Stephen Baker, Amazon.com Inc., e-book

330 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Advantages of a paperback novel
- The "reader" comes built in
- Does not need batteries, but needs an external light source since there is no backlighting; this is no disadvantage as newer readers focuse on good contrast and use of reflected light anyway
- Once you have read it, you can sell it second-hand; e-books generally locked to your name and/or device
- And even get it cheap by buying second-hand in the first place
- Do not need to buy books from vendor A if I have reader B, unlike the electronic readers with their prorietary formats

Who needed e-books again?
Posted by JadedGamer (207 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Advantages of E-Reader
I bought the Sony PRS-505 E-Reader 3 weeks ago. Yes it cost $300 but it also came with 100 free classic e-books (from a selection of more than 1000). The BBeB restriction is disquieting but I have observed the BBeB format is designed to optimize the display of the reader. I'm thrilled with the device. When I'm finished with a text, I don't have to wonder what to do with the hard-copy. As for the light source; the device uses e-ink and has the same look as a paperback. The battery provides 7500 page turns between charges so I haven't recharged mine yet. In short, I'm sold and won't go back.
Posted by allen.gotwald (1 comment )
Link Flag
forgot a couple advantage of pbks
If I drop my paperback in the tub or pool I don't really care. If the book sucks I don't mind throwing it out. If I accidentally spill a coke on it, no big loss. And I can get any title I want, even if it isn't a classic. So, if my plane is delayed and I want a quick read - a paperback will do and can be left behind without regret. And they are a lot cheaper than an ebook.

And you can't get an ebook signed by the author, or sell your signed first-edition ebook, or pass it on to your children.

I can see the ebooks for school - so students don't need to get spinal surgery for their graduation gift after carrying those back-packs. Or for professionals who could carry their law library or medical library with them. Or people doing fieldwork like naturalists, or paleontologists, or bird-watches to carry their reference books with them. But don't try to convince me that an ebook is a better beach read, or sick-bed read, or rainy afternoon on the couch read, or by the candles when the power goes out read.
Posted by debll (9 comments )
Link Flag
another advantage
You don't have to buy it at all. You can borrow it from the library. Think they'll ever allow that w/ ebooks? No way. DRM is too entrenched.

Also, if you lose it, you're not out $300.

You can drop-kick it across the room and it won't break. If it gets wet, you can dry it out and it'll be fine.

Much as I'd love to save some trees, I see no benefit to ebooks or readers. In fact, the electronic junk that's produced by manufacturing the readers is probably more environmentally unfriendly than clearcutting.
Posted by wyliefool (3 comments )
Link Flag
Sell it ssecond hand
Paperback books resell for practically nothing, pretty much guaranteed to be less than the difference between the paper and electronic forms of the book. Resale as an advantage is a fantasy.
Posted by temugen (1 comment )
Link Flag
Why can't make Apple make iBooks?
To me this is a total no-brainer. The iPhone is the perfect platform
for e-books, why anyone would by a seperate reading device for
them is beyond me. Apple could see them on iTunes like everything
else they have. It will launch e-books just like they launched selling
digital music. Here's hoping Steve Jobs sees the light.
Posted by tinleyharrier (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
that would suck
Reading on a screen that size would be painful to say the least. That's why every ebook reader that hit the market was far larger.

That said, if Apple were to release 'iBooks' it would probably sell like crazy and be heralded as bigger than the next coming of Christ. Oh, and Steve Jobs invented them...
Posted by jrm125 (334 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Why can't Apple make iBooks?
As the other poster pointed out, reading a novel on the iPhone's small screen is probably painful. Add to that the fact that the iPhone uses LCDs rather than e-ink and, thus, would probably run out of battery way too quickly (although I don't have a clue as to how long iPhone's battery lasts, there's no question it's a fraction of e-ink based devices.) Remember, e-ink based devices don't use *any* power until you change a page - an iPhone's LCD consumes power as long as you look at the screen.

Having said all that, I agree with the original article that single-purpose e-reader devices, including the Kindle, probably won't succeed. Anybody who has $400 to spend on a mobile device, will spend it on the likes of the iPhone and live with its e-reading limitations.

Oh, the article states that Amazon has to hope that Apple doesn't include e-reading on their iPhone. I thought the iPhone already supports PDF format? So, in a sense, it's already an e-reader, no?
Posted by twolf2919 (278 comments )
Link Flag
Apple did make an iBook
They were discontinued a few years ago. I have one, it still works
great! <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.apple.com/support/ibook/" target="_newWindow">http://www.apple.com/support/ibook/</a>
Posted by Lee in San Diego (608 comments )
Link Flag
Books on Phone
There is more than 20,000 books already available on iphone and ipod touch for free.
Faster, cheaper, better, easier to carry and easy to use (no downloads) ...

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://BooksonIPhone.com" target="_newWindow">http://BooksonIPhone.com</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.apple.com/webapps/entertainment/textonphone.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.apple.com/webapps/entertainment/textonphone.html</a>
Posted by hitno (4 comments )
Link Flag
iPod to read a novel? Are you nuts?
I can't believe that anyone would want to use a telephone to read a novel. Not only is the eyestrain a killer, but battery life will suck. Let's say you're reading a novel on that iphone. You've managed to read up to page 895 of a 900 page novel. You're excited because you're almost at the end. You get a phone call. You talk for 2 minutes and the phone dies. What? How come? Because instead of saving your cellphone battery for calls you've wasted it on frivilous activities, such as listening to music, reading books, browsing the web, play games, taking pictures and watching videos. If you use it for reading books only the battery won't last more than a day anyway.

A dedicated reader, on the other hand, is dedicated to books. You can read and read and read for days on end before the battery dies. The screen is larger, easier on your eyes, and as I stated before the battery lasts longer. It's a lot of money for what it does, but being able to have a 9-ounce unit instead having to carry of pounds and pounds of hardback books makes it much more worth it. If you need to write notes to scribble pictures then get an iRex Iliad.
Posted by watsdamattau (18 comments )
Link Flag
Many Books Available
CNET's assertion that ebooks in sony format are difficult to come by is inaccurate. There are numerous places to find free Project Gutenburg books that have been converted to the correct Sony BBeB format. (ie. MobileRead)I loaded my Sony Reader with more books than I could read in a life time, and I didnt have to pay a cent....legally....
Posted by bloomstorage (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sony ebooks
There are tons of books available for the Sony Reader - plus, you can get a lot of them at no cost.

I LOVE being able to carry an entire library with me. My Sony Reader rocks. You have to use it to appreciate it.

As we become more and more of a paperless society, there will definitely be more people using the readers.

As a book dealer and an avid reader since the age of three, I was a hard sell for the Sony Reader. But now that I've comfortably read both classics and new releases on my Sony Reader, you'd never be able to take it away from me.
Posted by KuanShiYin (3 comments )
Link Flag
e-books will never fly
at least not until something like electronic paper becomes a
commercial reality.

The current e-books are more like PDA's than books, and most
people don't want yet another electronic gadget to carry around.
IMO, this will only appeal to geeks and early adopters.

In the meantime, I prefer to spend my $400 on 60 - 70 books -
most, I'm sure they'll be glad to hear, from Amazon.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not your father's e-book reader
Umm, you haven't been paying attention. There are three e-books utilizing electronic paper on the market right now, including the Kindle.

Having been an e-book reader for a decade now, on Palm devices, I really look forward to the new kids in town. LCD displays are really not very good for reading, although they do have the advantage of being nice to read in bed with the lights out. With battery life measured in a handful of hours, though, you're always one long plane trip away from not having reading material.

The cost is still too high for the regular Joe, but that won't last long. There's no reason that the cost of these things can't get well under $100 within a few years, and publishers or booksellers will almost certainly start subsidizing them as volumes rise. The cost savings versus printing and distribution of paper is substantial.

Amazon's choice to use the cellular network for book distribution is absolutely brilliant.

I guess we'll see, but I bought a Kindle just to see how I like it.
Posted by jimafrost (31 comments )
Link Flag
Making a killer e-book reader
I think the following would make e-books a "killer app":
Price: $100 max.

Display: E-Ink or one the other similiar techs being developed.

Support Multiple non-proprietary formats: pdf etc.

Unbound to a particular distribution channel(I can hear Amazon groaning already). We can buy a book from any book store. Stop trying to take this away for e-books.

Support for SD and other standard memory expansion.

If not DRM-Free than at least a system that can allow for multiple devices for a single purchase.(Most gadget heads have several devices and would like to have the possiblity to access everything they have purchased on ALL their devices.)
Posted by mmcaulay (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Making a Killer E-Book Reader
Great ideas - go for it!
Posted by KuanShiYin (3 comments )
Link Flag
Absolutely spot on
I seriously looked at getting an e-book reader for Christmas this year, but have given up looking. The reasons I've stopped are:-
* Proprietory non-interchangeable formats, and lack of support for non-proprietory formats (pdf / html / text)
* Lack of availability of the genres I like (sci-fi/fantasy)
* Cost of e-books; if I've paid for an e-reader and internet connection, I don't think I need to be charged for the price of publishing and print distribution.
* Cost of devices; it's just too much to pay the same price as a (really) cheap laptop.

Still, I'll be looking again next year, and eventualy the big disadvantage of paperbacks, I've run out of wall space for bookshelves, will go away.
Posted by rp.gen (3 comments )
Link Flag
Its called the "Hanlin" eBook Reader
Its made in China, supports multiple doc formats (inc DRM free) and plays MP3s while you read.

Some models are 10" screen, WiFi and let you write on the touch screen (in development).

I've just ordered one, Sony and Amazon readers are laughable in comparison.

I haven't checked the ebook purchase capability (ie outside of the restrictive ebook services that Amazon etc use) but I really don't care.

Home site is www.jinke.com.cn
Posted by StephenB54 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Going after the wrong market
I personally like e-book readers. Since I bought my RocketBook e-book reader, I've been sold. The problem is, as others have pointed out, the average user will not make the change until they see a benefit. And until e-book prices come down (come on, there's no printing/distribution costs so why do I get charged the same or MORE as a traditional book???) there will never be a mass market for them.

I really believe the manufacturers need to market these to schools, police stations (cops have to carry around all the city/state codes in their bags), and other areas where people have to carry around multiple books throughout the day. That's a huge benefit to these types of people and it makes a huge impact on their daily lives. Once these people start using them regularly, they will start finding their way into the mass market.

Just my 2 cents.
Posted by dp2sholly (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Marketing Ebooks
Market to the traveler - I wouldn't travel without mine.
Posted by KuanShiYin (3 comments )
Link Flag
Cost of ebooks
I've compared and ebooks do cost a bit less than the same book on a dead tree. The cost savings isn't huge but the cost of ink, paper and distribution isn't a large percentage of the cost of a book. There is still the writer, editors, designers, typesetting, copyediting. The major cost of most products, these days, is the human cost rather than the materials cost.

On the whole, I figure the ebooks I buy cost about 20 percent less than their dead tree counterparts. Not a huge savings but I can get 5 for the price of 4...or is that 6 for the price of 5?

CathWren
Posted by CathWren (9 comments )
Link Flag
advantages
Just like any technology if it just duplicates an old method why change. But I assume an ebook will have search features which is highly useful for non fiction books. For fiction it would be nice to click on a characters name and see a brief description perhaps be able to jump back to the characters introduction.

Schools might be early adopters. The cost of the device and the loading all the books might be less than buying hardcover textbooks for all the students. This only works if there is the ability to add annotations.
Posted by HerbWexler (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The book industry needs a "file sharing" shock akin to the music industry!!
What the Mp3 format and Napster did to the music industry needs to happen to publishing. The old world thought process still permeates publishers. A digital book has none of the reproduction costs of a paper book...and therefore should be sold at a hefty discount. In addition, the e-reader needs to shave at least another $100 off the $399 price in order for it to pickup market momentum. Still waaay too expensive. Consumers have to resolve the following dilema "I already own a laptop, a home computer, a PDA phone and an iPod...why do I need some specialized device for reading books? WAKE UP PUBLISHERS!!!!! The music industry waited until it was too late. You may also learn your lesson the hard way. Be forward thinking and in the end you have will have more profits!
Posted by intel-i-gates (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not Likely
While I agree that publishers seem to have the same blind spot as the movie and music industries, I doubt that they will ever have to worry about file-sharing. Who is going to scan in 300-400 pages of a book to upload?
Posted by Ushiikun (30 comments )
Link Flag
what about Audio books?
I listen to audio books! I can listen to a book while working in the yard, working on the car, garage or working on the computer. I'm listening to "to kill a mockingbird" now. It's rally good on the road while driving, especially on vacation or just on a trip to the store.
Posted by Tdubya45 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Needs to be waterproof
The first online novel I read was "***** Goddess" in Upside magazine in 1996 . I've also read "The Count of Monte Cristo" ( interesting hash scene ) on my notebook .

Would be nicer to have a tablet form , but what I really want is that the it be waterproof so I can read in the bathtub .

Electronic reading has the great advantage of searchability so you can remind yourself where some character was introduced .
Posted by CoSyBob (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ziplock bag
it's cheap
it's see through
it's easy
it's dummy proof

waterproofing an e-book reader would just increase the price everyone is already complaining about
Posted by PoeticaL (14 comments )
Link Flag
E Book Best Seller
The problem is not the hardware but the software. The books that people want to drag about with them in sufficient quantity to justify an ebook reader are probably highly individual and variant. I doubt folks want to drag around fifty volumes of popular fiction. More likely fifty volumes that have to do with either their profession or their hobby, and these are not the types of books that are being produced in ebook form.
As a physicist I would like to have a mixture of physics and maths books readily available in a reader - the real thing, not popularizations - so I can consult them quickly without having to hunt down the volume in the bookcase or drag it about in my briefcase. But are any substantial number of these available? Remember there have to be some number, my guess is in the range of 5-10, for the reader to be attractive. My previous investigations have consistently come up with xero available of the title I consult frequently - daily to weekly.
Posted by SmpCtryPhys (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wrong Market
They went after the wrong market for e-books. The schools are the obvious market because children HAVE to carry around a lot of books. And it should have been designed specifically for schools - personalized, reloadable - plus library books.

The device would pay for itself in one year of use by school children and think how many trees would be saved not to mention the backs of those poor little kids that have to carry around those backpacks of books.
Posted by eyeswideoopen (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, but it has to be in color...(nt)
nt
Posted by sevort (140 comments )
Link Flag
Scanning paper books
Ushiikun:

Who would bother scanning 300 to 400 pages of a book? Geek readers of science fiction, for one.

Let's not underestimate the spare time and drive of a) geeks, b) young people, and c) young people who happen to be geeks. (Especially those committed to the idea that "Information wants to be free.")

There's also, quite frankly, the allure of piracy and breaking copyright laws.
Posted by RHartzell (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Three letters: P.D.F.
Until ebook readers use PDF natively, they will all fail miserably. Does Apple need to come in and show everyone how it's done again?!?!?!
Posted by frankz00 (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So right ...
Of course. And here comes the iphone ...

SFX
Posted by StarFields (2 comments )
Link Flag
PDF sucks
As to apple, do we really want to pay extra so that a device can natively open a PDF file. Apple is way to greedy to let this software go for free. So imagine instead of 299.00 per unit how about 350.00?
Posted by clhd (3 comments )
Link Flag
PDF is lousy for ebooks
they're big, rigid, and don't support scaling or dynamic reformatting, which is kind of the point. They're fine if you need to provide a fixed format document. For everything else they are oversized, slow, don't take advantage of a reader's flexibility, and have only the fact that they are difficult to copy as a possible selling point.
Posted by Hogleg MacDrillun (79 comments )
Link Flag
NO
If someone wanted to carry around digital copies of a book to
read, there exists a wide assortment of options, that are far
more useful than a device dedicated to that task.

For those that enjoy actual books, well, no market there really.
If they were smart, they would device delivery method that can
take advantage of the existing handhelds, phones, laptops,
personal computers, etc. Of course, this would have to be
coupled with decent 2-3 pronged marketing approach to
hobbyists, education, and solutions for everyday works. This
would have to be in the addition to "just the sake for reading a
book". Also, devising the solution to take full advantage of the
text to speech capabilities built into current operating systems
would not be a bad thought.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EBooks Target Academics
The successful ebook should target the college academic fields first, especially the sciences and advanced coursework. EBooks should allow the authors to make periodic changes that are immediately updated online. Reduce textbook cost by a targeted 70% of present levels. Ebooks also need annotation and search features and the ability to bookmark pages. EBooks should be interchangeable between the Ebook and the student's computer.
Posted by BLommel (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Why an e-book reader?
Laptops are almost as convenient and can fulfill many other needs. The smaller ones are very light. If e-books came in RTF or Adobe Acrobat they could be easily read. Copyright is already up to the honesty of the user. Even print versions can be quickly scanned, OCR'd and then available on computer. Provide an e-book in easy to use formats at a cheaper price than print and I'll start buying them. Provide them with a stand alone reader or at a higher price then print and I'll continue to ignore them.
Posted by shanedr (155 comments )
Reply Link Flag
an extra machine for $399?
I'm an author and sell my books in ebook format of pdf....no one complains to me and their laptop is more than sufficient. Why would someone need to buy another $400 machine to read from? Only 10.3 ounces? No one's concerned about carrying a laptop due to weight these days....Seems strange to me! I agree with shanedr...convergence onto less machines, not more.
Posted by Bethlives (2 comments )
Link Flag
E-Books are E-Z
I have been reading ebooks on my PDA's since the very first Peanut Reader (and early Palm Pilot), with screens improving yearly this is a no-brainer solution - I would never carry another unit - convergence!.
Whenever I mention ebooks I always end up showing how easy to view they are because they can't believe it at first.
I have used my PDA on Trains and Planes and waiting at the Dr.s office. And can listen to podcasts and usdio books, all for less than the cost of Sony's or Amazon's, plus I can buy (or rent) from whatever source I wish to purchase from - fictionwise or ereader or booksonboard or itunes or.... I have books, periodicals, podcasts, manuals, newspapers and more on my flash cards right next to my music and always with me. I cannot believe why this easy to use concept hasn't caught on more. I can listen to music while I read or finish a memo. I just can't read and write at the same time.
Maybe the problem is fewer people actually read, period. I still love the feel of a first edition hardcover in my hands, but after that - Ebooks!
Posted by brupub (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
got readers?
I wish I could give you e-ink on your PDA so you could be an instant convert. However, I like what you said "the problem is fewer people actually read". I think this is why iPod's are big sellers and e-books aren't. Nobody reads anymore...or at least not as many people as those that listen to music.
Posted by PoeticaL (14 comments )
Link Flag
Um... no?
How does anyone believe it makes sense to replace a cheap, easy, useful product with an expensive, more difficult, limited product?

There is a market for e-books, but it will probably remain limited for a very long time.
Posted by ejevo (134 comments )
Reply Link Flag
e-book readers are far from difficult
I pity you when you have to heat something up. Do you pull out the matches to avoid the microwave display button complexity?
Posted by PoeticaL (14 comments )
Link Flag
e-books
I read a book a week and have not bought but one or two in paper in two years. Even best sellers are now available as e-books on a timely basis. I use my Treo 650. Not interested in a separate device.
Posted by whmurray (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Is it a fully digital book?
The stories I have read about these electronic books do not mention whether the documents retain the digital attributes that make researching and writing on computers desirable. How easy is it to search through a book, or all the books in memory, for particular words or phrases? Is there an intelligent search engine that can run from plain English sentences to find things? Is there a cache for saving the found pages so you can set them aside and read through them later? There should be a significant market for reference books that can be carried in this way. What about the ability to highlight portions of text? Perhaps in distinctive ways? To cache all the highlighted portions and jump through them while skipping the unhighlighted text? To copy and save it to a new document, say if you are writing a research paper? One of the reference books that is most frequently used is the Bible. Additionally, copies of state and Federal statutes, or Federal court decisions that are relevant to a case you are working on, would be highly valuable.

The bottom line is that, because a reader can also highlight a paper page, can insert PostIt notes to mark passages, can write marginal notes in response to the text, and can copy and paste the text (using a copier or scanner), paper books are more interactive and therefore "high tech" than a simple digital book reader. Some PDAs and small laptop computers can do all these things. Is there an ability to interact with the text in this way in e-books? If not, you are only marketing to people who are linear readers, people who would be served just as well by buying paperbacks on eBay.
Posted by coltakashi (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I have been reading ebooks for years
And not on a proprietary ebook device. I have used Palm/Treo unit or my PocketPc for ebooks. I like the convenience, and the ability to have a few dozen good books on one smallish SD card.
Posted by Anysia (104 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ebooks
You really enjoy reading a novel on a Treo? Really?
Posted by bartnj (12 comments )
Link Flag
Books on Phone
While dedicated eBook reading devices like Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader will appeal to some hard-core readers, we've found <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://TextOnPhone.com" target="_newWindow">http://TextOnPhone.com</a> provides a quick and easy reading experience on a small device that fits in your pocket.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.apple.com/webapps/entertainment/textonphone.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.apple.com/webapps/entertainment/textonphone.html</a>
Posted by hitno (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
let me know when Apple has e-ink
then I'll read on their phone. Or perhaps when iPhone is available on the network of my choosing. Or maybe when...pigs fly.
Posted by PoeticaL (14 comments )
Link Flag
I Love Kindle -- And I just bought Two!
I've bought ebooks in the past. Notably, mobipocket titles for reading on a laptop. I also bought a couple PDF-based books from Amazon. Reading on a computer sucks.

I also have an iPhone, and the idea of reading a book on it strikes me as insane. First, because it would consume the battery, second, because the screen size it too small to be desirable.

Here's why I like Amazon's Kindle:

(1) No recurring cost (yes, if you have subscriptions)

(2) Immense Storage capacity. I'm picking up two 4GB SD Cards on my way home tonight to put one in each of my Kindles (the other Kindle is for my wife).

(3) The ability to have my subscriptions delivered automatically, so when I go off to work each day they're ready and waiting.

I commute on the Washington DC subway and while I can browse the web on my iphone for a few minutes, most of my trip is underground where I can't read anything on it unless I happened to have downloaded a long blog before I went under.

(4) The books are cheap.

(5) The screen size is great, and the ability to read in sunlight or inside is wonderful.

(6) The battery life is great. When I'm done with my kindle each night, I'll plug it in until I go off to work the next day.

(7) Access to Wikipedia. Wow. Whenever I want to read on a topic, I always Google "wiki subject" and now I can do it for free anywhere.

So yes, the upfront cost was not insignificant, but I like it. As long as the media content is inexpensive, I'll buy. If they get stupid and raise prices, I'll go back to getting the stuff for free from libraries and the web.
Posted by ddanckaert (122 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Recurring Fees
Merely using the device costs you;
to view your OWN PDFs on your own SD card costs you $0.10 per page, non-negotiable.
Posted by Tomcat Adam (272 comments )
Link Flag
Sharing books
Is it possible for you to download a book, read it and then pass it on to your wife's Kindle? What protection does the Kindle have to keep users from trading books on line?
Posted by brushcut (1 comment )
Link Flag
Missing 2 important points
1) By using ebooks, one can save forests of trees being cut down so that people can read a book (typically) only once. Ebooks are bad news for paper salesmen, but great news for the earth.

2) While one can use the iPhone or any other small form-factor device to read books, it's far from an effective method. The iPhone may have cool finger-swiping zoom features, but that is simply proof that one shouldn't be viewing large amount of text (or images) on such a small screen. i.e you need the right form factor to make a book conveniently readable. Just because you can dig a trench with a teaspoon instead of a spade doesn't make it sensible.

The right tool for the right job. That's what an ebook should be - and saving a bit of the world doesn't hurt either.
Posted by maven12 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
wrong again
There are plenty of ways to produce books on recycled paper. But what about the continual cost of electricity for all these devices (if they're plugged in), or the cost of batteries, to recharge them if they're capable of it, and to eventually throw them out? Is that a sophisticated environmental response? I think not.
Posted by CrimeandPun (5 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.