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Thoughts on my Ebook Reader

December 25, 2011

December is a gift giving & receiving month for many people, whether that may be of altruistic intensions or being bedazzled by the clever marketing ploys. In any case receiving many presents is especially true for me as my day of birth happens to fall on the same month, giving me a double-shot of goodies (thankfully the birthday is earlier in the month allowing peoples generosities to regenerate).

Ask your wife and you shall receive – a modest 7 inch e-book reader. Seeing one on offer from day-to-day-deal website we completed the purchase and waited patiently to receive it in the mail. Pico – the obscure electronics company behind the product perhaps was a gamble of sorts, but with a price of $100 dollars the chips didn’t stack too high and we would still have bread on the table. This was not an e-ink reader like many competing brands on the market, leaving me with mixed thoughts on whether it would have been better to opt for the e-ink instead. Being a backlit device the battery juices are consumed in larger gulps, requiring a recharge in 10 hours of use as opposed to weeks from what I have heard the e-ink devices are capable of.

To take a tick from the positive column, when clutching the e-book reader I am NOT left with a feeling of betrayal to my tri-chromatic vision, opting to make good use of all my vision cones with the many colorful book covers that I have loaded up. Having outgrown child books and no children of my own, full colour books are a rare occurrence, so perhaps it may be a bit of buyer’s remorse talking for me.

I recall an advertisement created by the Britannica (they still around?) Encyclopedia showing volumes and volumes of the famous reference guide next to a single CD-ROM containing all the same information.  The premise was that now it is convenient to have all that information in a much smaller format. Well years later the whole encyclopedia can sit comfortably on an e-book reader flash card and still leave room to add centuries of human thought and talent expressed in written form.

The convenience of carrying that much information with the accessibility of a few pulses of the finger may be the coup de grace for the paper book industry. Let’s get something straight though the compressed wooden pulp form of the book will remain with humanity to the end, but it will eventually acquire the status of the likes of the typewriter and abacus, exchanging hands for its collectable value rather than a source of information.

For now the printed version retains its legion of followers, with an assortment of personalities, ranging from those that ride the coat-tails of adoption to those that have sworn an oath of loyalty to the paper product while others just like the smell or the touch on their fingers.

Having drawn a bleak fatalistic picture of the industry I should say that the paper book may yet have an ace up its sleeve. The human urge to collect and display those collections to others will remain strong. The book shelves stacked with books of various genres and fields have some aesthetic look about them that give the room some gravitas and speak for the person without them uttering a single word. Yet the argument disintegrates quickly if examined through other mediums that are further ahead in the transitional journeys to digital. The music and movie industry have long been the victim of people downloading digital versions illegally. With the help of Apple’s Itunes and other entrepreneur visionaries that saw the CD/DVD status quo crumbling, the move to electronic libraries of songs and movies of high quality that cost a few dollars has taken of significantly. My point is that the success of the MP3 format over the CD version weakens the argument that people want to display their collections in sight of the front door.  Perhaps the book industry does have an ace up its sleeve but the game played is chess.

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