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June 30, 2010


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In terms of convenience and space, an ebook reader is convenient: in the event of being caught somewhere unprepared, I have a number of books in the Stanza app on my iphone to pass time.
However I still prefer lounging somewhere, whether on the couch or bed, and reading an actual book. And spending time perusing the shelves of my book collection to decide what I might read next.

Owen Stephens

I'm reminded of the photographer's saying "the best camera is the one you have with you".

I read my first book on the iPhone using the Kindle app last week. My previous experience reading an ebook was using a Sony reader. I was slightly disappointed with Kindle app - it felt basic compared to other readers - e.g. Stanza - but agree the 'last reading point' synchronisation is a very nice touch.

My impression of using the iPhone was that I skimmed more than I would have been inclined to with a larger display (or print) - but of course, it could just have been the book I was reading, or the mood I was in. I wonder if you (or others) felt that at all?

I was also disappointed so little effort had gone into making the e-book a 'nice' (if electronic) object. So, rather than the 'cover' of the e-book being the cover art, I was left with a bald statement of the title and publisher. Despite realising this makes me sound like someone bemoaning the move from LP to CD because of the impact on cover-art, I do think that a few touches here and there could have made the experience more pleasurable - perhaps this will come as we see more iPad like readers rather than the current greyscale ones.

Perhaps more of an issue is that having finished the book on my iPhone, my wife would like to read it - which is where we get into problems, especially with Amazon/Kindle books and their DRM. While it is trivial to work around this (the most straightforward simply being to share my Amazon account details with her, ignoring the T&C that almost certainly say I'm not allowed to), we clearly need a better way forward here.

I have to admit that so far I've been unable to get away from my love of the printed book - and enjoy having them around still (even though most of ours are currently languishing in boxes). Not sure I'll get over this, although I can certainly see moving more of my reading to electronic devices.

Lex Rigby

I've been playing about with one from work for the last week and I'm totally sold too. To be honest when they first came out I didn't really get what the fuss was about but now I'm reluctant to give the thing back. I use it everyday for everything - reading ebooks, checking email, watching YouTube and even booking my holiday.


I'll admit that I haven't delved into ebooks via phones or ebook readers but my experience of Itunes would make me very wary of this, in addition to Owen Stephens comments on DRM. Itunes is wonderful at organising music and the Ipod is a wonderful music player. However, veering off the Apple track in the slightest led to problems. Music I had bought from the Itunes store could not be played at all on a new Linux computer and was therefore lost money; even music I had put on Itunes from my CD collection wouldn't work on a Sansa Fuze mp3 player, despite apparently being in mp3 format and only being stored in Itunes. Both computer and mp3 player play standard mp3s with no problem. I would not want to invest money in ebooks I'll never be able to read again unless I keep buying Apple products. Although less shiny, I'll be able to read the books on my shelves in decades, fire permitting. I avoid DRM like the plague now.

Further admission: I get most of my books (novels at least) from charity shops anyway. Personal reading is perhaps one area I am happy to be a luddite.

Chris Armstrong

Amazon's 'buy once, read everywhere' is both attractive and interesting, and the automatic bookmarking across devices is obviously to be valued...
About a year ago there was a small Internet storm when Amazon removed books overnight from individual Kindles and refunded the original purchase fee. I and others comments that it was a little concerning that they had the ability to delve into personal devices and erase data. Quite scarey! Subsequently Amazon apologised and the story went away.
We are probably all aware that search engines monitor our activities in order to improve our subsequent searches AND to target advertising... but that is online, Web-based activity AND we have some (limited) control over it. In the case of Kindle bookmarking, it seems that not only are Amazon aware (obviously) of what books you purchase but - because your devides are quietly reporting back to base - how much of each title you have read. As you describe it, Phil, it's a nice service... but what else is being reported back? How long is the data kept?
I _know_ our electronic footprint is easily trackable (website visited, purchases made, etc) but I always worry when the big brothers that are watching me add another string to their collective bow!

Phil Bradley

Well, other than using the App store to download the Kindle app, everything works via Amazon. Just logged onto the store with the app on either device, sync'd everything and that was that.

I get the point about the book reading again thing, but my agreement is with Amazon. And to be honest - I own thousands of books - the number of those that I'll want to re-read is vanishing small, and if I do - well, it's not going to be a huge hit to have to buy again.

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