Are eBook readers a dead end? 1

Cory Doctorow has an article here, that explains why he thinks eBook readers are not going to succeed. His arguments are based mostly on cost and Manufacturing.

Now Cory is a fantastic author who has not only had his books published he has also released them for free on the internet using the Creative Commons license. I am sure he would agree it is not practical to read a full book on a computer screen, well ok you could read one but its not something you would do regularly. So why has he released his books via the internet if he thinks the eBook readers are going to fail?

I personally am a full blown computer geek who also loves a good read. I never even looked at an ebook reader because I like books not reading off computer screens. However I was going for an extended holiday and couldn’t face having to lug around 10+ paper backs and either not reading them all or running out. So I bought a sony ebook reader (sony PRS-505) and am now a full convert. They are so easy on the eyes and being able to carry around 100’s of books makes them a big winner in my view.

Here are some of the reasons to own an eBook reader

  • Fantastic Books for Free or requiring donations (see
  • Convenient. The reader is smaller than a normal book
  • Practical. Can be read using one hand.
  • Cheap. Long term they are cheap. For £150 I spent on the reader I could have bought 18 Books at the average price I pay. That would last me around 12 weeks on average. I am getting free or very cheap books that will give me a payback time of around 9 months.
  • Quality, when books are free you don’t feel it is essential to keep wading through a book. You can make a judgement about an author after reading half the book and put it down if it is bad or not to your taste.
  • Being able to get the books off the internet instead of having to stand around in WH Smiths with their limited range. This may not apply if you live in a big City with some good bookshops.
  • Being able to carry 100’s of books around at a time, including Novels, Biographies and reference material. I have put a lot of my reference notes into PDF format and stored them on my eBook.
  • You can get your newspaper in eBook format and don’t have to fight huge sheets of paper to read it. Especially usefull on trains, buses and planes.

These gadgets although not targeted at specific markets will do well in the following.

As the recession hits more and more people will be looking for cheaper ways to enjoy themselves. Although the initial cost of the reader is high the long term returns financially make it worth doing. Another side effect of the recession is that people will be prepared to commute further to get to work. Having an ebook reader loaded with books for your travels will make the journeys more bearable.

Motorhome, Caravan and RV owners.
Quite a few Motorhome owners are buying these devices as they not only cut down on space used in the motorhome they also reduce the weight of the vehicle. Carrying 20 books will add 10’s of KiloGrams to your vehicle.

Add to this the techy types who are always buying gadgets.

Prolific Readers
I would say I fall into this catagory. As I only have a small bookshop and a WHSmiths in my small town I had to rely on Amazon. With the eBook reader I don’t have to ensure I am at home to accept delivery and I can get an immediate delivery.

Finally please note I am not having a Dig at Cory Doctorow, I just disagree with his prediction. I highly recommend you read his book Little Brother. I think this was aimed at a younger generation but is a very readable book. It does explain geek talk quite a bit so if you are up to date this can feel a little tedious in places. For example I didn’t need an explanation of tunneling or paranoid Linux. However if you don’t know what these are his explanations are clear and concise and don’t get in the way of the story. The story itself is extremely good and having just read Big Brother before this I think that it is a much better book. You can read other reviews at Amazon if you want a second third or 73rd opinion on the book.

It is free in eBook format if you don’t want to take the risk of buying it. However he does ask that if you want to reward him for his work you donate a copy of the paper version to a local library or school.

Anyway I am off to download a few more of his books and yes I will be donating a copy to my local school.

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