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The eBook, Mark 2

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the expiring-libraries dept.


Selanit writes "David Pogue recently published a review of the Sony Reader, under the title Trying Again to Make Books Obsolete. Though he likes the device in general, he concludes that it's not destined to replace the book any time soon. Well worth a read."

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the one advantage (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445023)

pulp books do not need electricity

Re:the one advantage (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445061)

pulp books do not need electricity. . .

Why yes, I do live in a basement, you insensitive clod.


Re:the one advantage (4, Insightful)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445217)

pulp books do not need electricity

That's the only advantage you can think of for traditional books? They also have no DRM; they have to be treated pretty badly before they stop working; they contain both the data and everything necessary to read it.

I have a fifty odd year old book I bought second hand recently. It has one or two holes in it where it got torn up pretty badly. However, I can still read it. I probably couldn't say the same thing about a fifty year old computer text file, as it would pre-date ASCII and likely be written on some old format like a punch card, so I'd probably need to buy some specialist hardware like a punch card reader, then write a program to translate the data into a modern format.

Of course, digitised books have advantages too, such as not taking up space, and being easily searchable. It seems like an ideal format for non-fiction reference books such as encyclopedias and guides, but not very good for fiction.

Re:the one advantage (1)

gerbalblaste (882682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445313)

To be fair the comparison between a 50 year old book and a 50 year old text document is hardly accurate. A 50 year old text file (provided such a thing exists) is comparable to something written in Latin or old English.

Re:the one advantage (1)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445389)

To be fair the comparison between a 50 year old book and a 50 year old text document is hardly accurate.

It's impossible to say whether a popular modern format such as PDFs will seem as obsolete in another 50 years or not. Only time will tell. Still, technology's moving at a faster rate now than it was then...

Re:the one advantage (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445415)

I have a fifty odd year old book. . .

i.e., a fairly new book (about half of my thousands of books and magazines are between 50 and 100 years old, a few rather older); whereas the standard eternity for computerized gear is three years.

I probably couldn't say the same thing about a fifty year old computer text file, as it would pre-date ASCII

Of course ASCII is moving in on 39 years old and is fairly stable. With a bit of work it's even human translatable, even from certain kinds of computer storage media.

Of course, digitised books have advantages too, such as not taking up space, and being easily searchable. . .

And being considerably easier to move. Trust me on this one. Did I mention that I have thousands of books and magazines? I also have thousands of ebooks/documents. They slip into my pocket.



Re:the one advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445697)

And being considerably easier to move. Trust me on this one. Did I mention that I have thousands of books and magazines? I also have thousands of ebooks/documents. They slip into my pocket.

Which prompts the next question: Where's my e-paper PDA?!

Re:the one advantage (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445761)

Which prompts the next question: Where's my e-paper PDA?!

How are they going to tie you in to a propriatary estore with one of those?


Re:the one advantage (2, Funny)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445461)

I have a fifty odd year old book I bought second hand recently. It has one or two holes in it where it got torn up pretty badly. However, I can still read it. I probably couldn't say the same thing about a fifty year old computer text file, as it would pre-date ASCII and likely be written on some old format like a punch card, so I'd probably need to buy some specialist hardware like a punch card reader, then write a program to translate the data into a modern format.
I know some 50 year olds who could read that punchcard for you...

They do too have DRM! (3, Interesting)

m_hemaly (886170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445547)

Pulp books stricly forbid copying & pasting (though there is a hack going around called a scanner + OCR, but it's pretty expensive, hard to use and worst of all: requires you to get off your computer!). They cannot be emailed. You can't even link to them from a blog. And without the aforementioned hack, you can't transfer them among your various devices, even though you legally purchased them.
PS: I'm going back to reading His Dark Materials in this evil format now.

Re:They do too have DRM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445589)

Sure you can copy and paste them. In those events my mind becomes the copy buffer and my fingers do the pasting.

What's missing.... (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446013)

What's missing is the Audible [] store for ebooks.

For $22.95 a month I get two books of my choice, which are usually current best-sellers in fiction / non-fiction. Work it out, and that's about $11.50 for the current hardback which sells at $27.95, or the iTMS version selling for $25.95, and definitely beats the $30-50 needed to get the complete audio version on CD.

I travel quite a bit, and currently have about a hundred audiobooks on my iPod that I can listen to in a line, on a plane, or where-ever. The selection means I have quite a bit of flexibility in terms of what I can listen to to fit my mood, as opposed to lugging a single hardback or a couple of paperbacks. And let's me watch recorded TV shows and listen to music to boot.

So "players" can afford that kind of flexiblity. But...

The point is also that if they want to speed up the adoption of ebooks then they need to provide incentives for consumers to adopt them... and paying for a dedicated reader so I can buy the same book at the same price as a hardback is NOT an incentive.

Re:the one advantage (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445617)

pulp books do not need electricity

But strangely, many pulp authors do. Either in small jolts to stimulate output, or in a large surge to halt the next Dianetics.

Re:the one advantage (3, Insightful)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445687)

>> pulp books do not need electricity

Unless it's dark. And where I live, it's dark about half the time. Farther north, planetary motion is even less compliant with readers' needs. Fix that, and you've got something!

I happen to split my time between web development and book design and typesetting, and I can't imagine that the old, er, analog format can't live in harmony with the new digital formats. I prefer to read print on paper, but I do keep several reference and classic books on my PDA. I don't find them as easy on the eyes, but that's details -- the fact is, I have more data than I could ever carry in print form in a little box the size of my wallet, and I can refer to it when the chips are down (the U.S. Constitution is getting quite a workout these days, for example). And if I have something digitally that I'm reading at home on paper, I can wait out a dentist or something and just move my physical bookmark when I get home. Moreover, you can't run a global search on a hardcover from the library. But you can hold it and smell it and enjoy all the tactile magnificence of a well-manufactured book.

Working in publishing, I hear a lot of either/or -- people strongly believe that the advent of eBooks spells the end of print books. They can live together and compliment each other, as long as the proponents of each don't think the other is a mortal threat to their bottom line. No different from a lot of other digital-vs-analog arguments, really. People freak out far too easily when they think something that will compliment their industry will actually replace it. Whereas the smart people (read: the ones who will still be there at the end) get involved in both.

Re:the one advantage (3, Informative)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445701)

pulp books do not need electricity

True, but how much is "enough"? I have a electric quartz watch that I have had for about 10 years and have changed the batteries twice. I would regard that as maintenance to the point of it being negligible.

The Sony Reader has an eInk display. Charged plates underneath capsules arranged in a fine grid push either dark or light ink into view. The resulting display is basically the same as ink on paper and needs no back light in the same way as conventional paper doesn't need them either. And crucially, there is no power required other than to change the display. I fully expect that in a few years, eInk will require about as much power as a quartz watch and will have as long a life without a change of batteries.

The Sony Reader isn't going to "replace" books or magazines any more than dishwashers "replaced" washing the dishes, or the car "replaced" the train. It's going to simply find a niche to co-exist with paper. All this huff-puffing about how you need batteries and can't swat flies with an eBook is hokum. DRM is going to be the biggest problem - by far - with this technology. Luckily, Sony haven't carried that particular innovation through with the Reader it seems.

PS: Here's a review of the Reader published on our company blog [] , which concludes that's it not too bad. Has a video of it in operation too (the Reader's screen refresh is rather slow, apparently), which is more than the NYT can manage.

Just one question: (4, Funny)

Woldry (928749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445027)

From TFA: "One charge is good for 7,500 page turns. That's enough power to get you through "The Da Vinci Code" 16 times (electrical power, anyway)."

So my question is: Why would you want to?

Re:Just one question: (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445069)

I realize that you are trying to be funny, but I think the point is to show you how many books you could read on a single charge. Some poster above you pointed out that the advantage of paper is that you don't need electricity. This kind of information shows that you don't really have to worry about electricity, since you could read 16 good sized novels before having to charge the thing. Although I think that's a little unbelievable. My Cell phone battery will die after a month even if I don't have it turned on. Most rechargable batteries have some kind of leakage. I hate my digital camera, because almost every time i pick it up the battery is dead, even if last time I used it it was fully charged.

Re:Just one question: (4, Informative)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445505)

Although I think that's a little unbelievable.

You didn't RTFA.

If you had, you would find out it only consumes power when you have to redraw a page.

You would also have discovered that there is a prototype that has been displaying the same page for 3 years.

Sure, batteries slowly leak power. However, have you noticed that watch batteries can last for years - even with a constant power drain? As long as you don't need to provide huge bursts of energy, like those needed by a digital camera, you can design the battery to be more efficient in the long term.

Have you ever seen technical standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445083)

Have you ever seen some of the more complex technical standards? Many of them can reach up to 9000 pages of actual specification, not including tables of contents, indices, appendices, and so forth. 7500 page turns wouldn't be nearly enough for such documentation.

Re:Have you ever seen technical standards? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445307)

If you can read 9000 pages in one sitting you've got something sick and wrong. Though I could imagine the issue if you need to quickly flip through that many pages. One could hope that they might consider some type of preview feature where you could fit 4 smaller preview pages on a single normal page allowing you to flip quickly through the book.

Re:Just one question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445095)

That's enough power to get you through "The Da Vinci Code" 16 times (electrical power, anyway).

So that's, what, like a quarter of a Neal Stephenson novel?

Re:Just one question: (2, Insightful)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445107)

You do realize the quote you are including already made this joke, only much more subtly, right? Right?

Re:Just one question: (1)

Woldry (928749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445309)

Actually (he said, hanging his head in shame), I overlooked that joke altogether. You're right, of course.

Can I blame my density on having had to read the article on a backlit LCD computer screen instead of on a Sony Reader?

Re:Just one question: (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445993)

Is The Da Vinci Code really the new standard for literary dwarven bread? [] (You always have it to read, but strangely you find something else to do in meanwhile.)

I guess I'll have to read it someday...

Direct link (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445035)

.. to tfa []

Re:Direct link (4, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445275)

Link to printable version []


Re:Direct link (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445343)

Now that's funny. Well done.

Pun (2, Interesting)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445041)

"Well worth a read."

Was that some pun humour in the summary?

Anyway, I'd not trust Sony to make an eBook reader that wouldn't install a rootkit anyway. Installing Sony software is about as good an idea as installing sofware from MyWebSearch. They messed up Audio CDROMs for cripes sake, now we want them to control a book format too?

Re:Pun (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445093)

Well, maybe not a rootkit, but after using SonicStage for my MiniDisc player, I'd have to say that I don't expect anything good from Sony. How they could release a piece of software that bad, and expect to have repeat customers and good reviews is beyond me. When I bought my iPod, I asked what other MP3 players they had. The guy said they had Sony players, and then pointed to the shelf filled with open box Sony players. He very much didn't recommend them.

Re:Pun (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445965)

Ugh, don't remind me about that software. Now I'm going to end up in the fetal position for the rest of the day because you brought it up. So much for that essay due tomorrow...

Sony (1)

zoeblade (600058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445249)

[Sony] messed up Audio CD-ROMs for cripes sake, now we want them to control a book format too?

In all fairness, they also helped Philips invent the audio CD format in the first place, which includes the bit about it not having any DRM. It's probably safe to say that they're such a large corporation (making blank CDs, CD-ROM burning drives, CD players, pre-recorded albums, and so on) that they sometimes conflict with themselves.

Re:Sony (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445759)

In 1980, certainly to the people making the decisions, the idea that you could copy a cd for $0.15 using $30 hardware wasn't even on the radar. If somebody warned them about it, they would have thought the idea was insane.

Re:Sony (1)

arose (644256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446125)

Actualy the CD format has a do-not-copy me flag.

We've heard this before... (2, Insightful)

Woldry (928749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445063)

The paper book will be obsolete at around the same time as existing technology succeeds in supplanting other more-or-less longstanding mainstays like the pocket knife, the pencil, the match, the internal combustion engine, corrective lenses, transparent glass windows, tumbler locks, zippers, analog clocks, shoes with laces, the wheel -- well, I think you get the idea.

Re:We've heard this before... (3, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445161)

Here we go Pocket Knife -> Leatherman/Multitool Pencil -> PDA with note pad The Match -> Lighter (I don't know anyone who regularly uses matches over a lighter Internal Combustion Engine -> Hybrid engine cars. (Yeah I know there's still an Internal Combustion Engine) Corrective Lenses -> Laser Eye Surgery Transpaent glass windows -> What, you wnat them replaced with opaque brick? Tumbler locks -> Many locks are now electrical and based on RFIDs. Zippers -> Buttons work so much better, I hate how zippers always fall down, If you want a constant barrier use velcro. Analog clocks -> Digital clocks Shoes with laces -> Velcro, or shoes with elastics so there's not tightening required. Anyway, although i know that none (save for the lighter) has come close to replacing the others, There are alternatives, and I believe that in the future, many of these things will be replaced, once the cost comes down. If it's $200 every couple of years for glasses, and laser eye surgery only costs $500, doesn't have to be redone, and is risk free, then I think may people will opt for that instead of glasses. If you still think glasses look good, well then get laser surgery and wear window glasses.

Re:We've heard this before... (3, Informative)

Woldry (928749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445255)

See my reply below to another poster.

My point, which I apparently failed to convey, is that alternative technology exists to accomplish the most common uses of all of the things I mentioned -- and in some cases, has existed for quite some time -- without "replacing" those things in any meaningful sense of the word. Yes, the new technology infringes on the size of the market for those things, and yes, some people will opt to use the newer technologies exclusively. But the older technologies have their advantages, too -- whether it be cost, safety, ease of use, familiarity, or simple idiosyncratic aesthetic appeal. As a result, I think that the use of the older technologies is far more likely to last than most of us neophile technogeeks seem to think.

(My mention of transparent glass windows was in reference to a trend some years back, now thankfully largely reversed, toward replacing clear glass in schools and office buildings with, yes, opaque brick, or else opaque glass, in the interest of "reducing distractions" in schools and "increasing productivity" in businesses -- till studies began to show that the end result tended to be exactly the opposite. Most people apparently need distraction occasionally to function at their best.)

Re:We've heard this before... (0, Offtopic)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445599)

The slashdot post without line breaks -> The condescending slashdot post linking to a basic html tutorial. []

Re:We've heard this before... (0, Offtopic)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446341)

I kept on trying to remind myself to switch it from html to plain text before I hit send, but alas, I clicked send, and all my formatting was gone. Here's an option I want. HTML formatting, but replace my carriage returns with
, so I can still use HTML, but I don't have to enter
every time I want to leave a new line.

Re:We've heard this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445919)

I have 2 "pocket knives", 1 is a leatherman the other is a gerber. The leatherman is, quite simply, crap. The metal is so weak that one of the screwdriver heads has become stripped and the corkscrew is bent. The gerber on the other hand is a solid product, much more capable of being "the replacement" for a standard pocket knife.

Actually, I do prefer a box of matches over a lighter any time. You can play little drinking games/jokes with them and still light your smoke afterwards. Matches also seem more stylish/classy and there is the added bonus that they are usually free from the shop or pub.

A PDA isn't a very good choice if you need to exchange information or give your telephone number to someone. How many people do you honestly think you meet who have a PDA? Just the tech-geeks, because I can almost fully guarantee that the hot looking brunette on the dancefloor won't have one for you to IR beam to her. Additionally, I much prefer a paper notebook to write down the status of my projects and for sketching designs. Paper (or napkins) and a pen(cil) will always be needed.

Hybrid engines are poor replacements if you want a car with power.

Having laser eye surgery done doesn't mean that your eyesight cannot continue to deteriorate. Corneas cannot be replaced, contact lenses and eyeglasses can be.

Glass windows, of course will not be going anywhere for a long time. Plexiglass, lexan and other transparent polymers tend to "cloud up" over time due to stress and shock. Sure glass can be broken easier, but I don't have windows broken enough to justify a switch.

Many locks are digital, if you work at a bank or some other high-security area where "keys" need to be changed often. I still don't see too many of them on homes or businesses. My house has electronic locking devices only because I used to work for a company that manufactured them.

Buttons are even older than zippers, so much for replacements. Velcro is just tacky :P

Digital clocks have pretty much supplanted analog clocks in most places, however I'd hate to see a digital grandfather clock or a digital clock out in the city square.

Shoes with laces are still the standard. Velcro was tried, but didn't ever catch on (probably due to being tacky). Admittedly, none of my shoes have laces. My boots use zippers, my dress shoes and casual shoes both have elastic.

It's not a but but a feature (1)

MisterSquid (231834) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446015)

If it's $200 every couple of years for glasses, and laser eye surgery only costs $500, doesn't have to be redone, and is risk free, then I think may people will opt for that instead of glasses.

One of the things that people with perfect vision (or vision that is not absolutely abysmal like mine) do not really get is that nearsightedness can also be an advantage. For example, when I am not wearing corrective lenses I can read microprint. This may seem trivial, but it definitely came in handy when I was upgrading the hard drive on my (now ex-) girlfriend's 12" powerbook. At some point I came across a ribbon cable that was keyed, and not until I got WAY up close and personal without my contacts could I see where to place a very tiny pin to unlatch the plastic key. The dimensions of the plug/socket were about 1/16" square if I remember correctly.

Now, I know I could have used magnifying lenses which engineers use for precision work, but that would miss the point that nearsightedness is sometimes a benefit. I generally avoid corrective surgery if there are non-invasive means of correcting the problem. For me, impaired vision in the mornings is lovely. I like being able to see my lovers up close and in focus. I would not be able to do this if my vision had been surgically "corrected."

Re:We've heard this before... (1)

joto (134244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445331)

As for making paper books obsolete. It will happen at most a few decades after e-books hit the mainstream. Sure, some people will insist on p-books, but they will be enthusiasts, just like the people who insist on vinyl today. Or black and white film. Or steam engine trains and boats. Or any number of other obsolote technologies.

Matches are already obsolete, lighters have surpassed them in number of fires started by a huge margin. People use matches mostly for nostalgic purposes. I can easily see tumbler locks becoming obsolete. Biometric is just so much more convenient, and once I can get biometric locks cheap enough for putting on my bike or locker, I can't see much reason to have tumbler locks anymore. But I agree the rest of them are stayers (at least for now ;-)

Re:We've heard this before... (1)

jp10558 (748604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445581)

Biometric is just so much more convenient, and once I can get biometric locks cheap enough for putting on my bike or locker, I can't see much reason to have tumbler locks anymore.

Major issue often overlooked (but often brought up as well, so how people overlook it anymore is beyond me): Your key gets compromised, or your combination/password... You can get a new key/password. Hell, just buy a new lock entirely. Problem solved.

Someone (not with much difficulty - watch mythbusters hollywood myths) copies your fingerprint . . . You ... are screwed?

Now, of course, we can argue other biometrics are more difficult to capture - but none are impossible, and at worst, I'd expect the same scams as ATM readers etc will propogate at the same time as the devices are rolled out.

Say no to biometrics for security!

Re:We've heard this before... (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445971)

Getting a new lock is easy. Unless, of course, you need to replace dozens of them and have a secure building in the meantime. And they aren't hard to lose.

The best thing is keycards. They are incredibly easy to replace and reconfigure and easy to make on the spot. They can also be tracked. RFID keycards can make it possible to just walk though doors.

Magazines and the Web (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445073)

The Web has certainly replaced magazines for the most part, and is even starting to replace academic journals [] .

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that textbook sales are decreasing in real terms since the introduction of easily found information [] suitable for helping out with a lot of university work.

And there are already exact replacements [] for some book content.

Just look at what porn is doing - are porn mags still used as much as they were? Nope, it's on the 'net. The web is the main component of a book replacement and once you can get paper like displays which don't need any bulky electronics another feature of books will be replicated in modern technology.

Blogs have replaced journals, and TV guides are now transmitted over the air and published on the net too. All paper based content moved to "book" replacements.

Re:Magazines and the Web (2, Informative)

Woldry (928749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445173)

The Web has certainly replaced magazines for the most part

This is true only if by "replace" you mean "infringe somewhat upon the use of". While web sites have begun to take on some of the uses to which people put magazines, and while many people now forego printed magazines in favor of the Web, magazine sales are still strong enough to keep the industry going. I've worked in public libraries for nearly 20 years now, and the magazine reading room is always full of people browsing the shelves or using the magazines for school research. The usage is declining, but far too slowly to say that the Web has "replaced magazines".

New technology rarely completely replaces old. There is a period of adjustment during which a new technology will show rapid adoption, and then a new equilibrium is reached, in which users have expanded technological options, which they select on costs, relative merits and individual tastes. Radio exists happily alongside hardcopy recorded music and online music and live music. The arrival of cars did not "replace" the use of bicycles, horses, trains, or shank's mare. Chlorinated swimming pools have not replaced recreational swimming in oceans, lakes, rivers, and ponds. People still pay vast amounts of money for actual, as opposed to virtual, chessboards. Mass production of candles, soap, paper, and even vegetables have not replaced the older means of producing such goods; strong markets still exist for the handmade (or hand-raised) versions of these.

Re:Magazines and the Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445281)

I'd argue that the web has taken the magazine's place (behind newspapers) at the most widely used form of quickly published, disseminated, read, discarded and then renewed literary conveyance. It may even beat newspapers in terms of readership.

Additionally regarding the periodicals reading room, as many people using the same copy of the materials there, it isn't a good indication of the decline in use of the magazine as more copies are sold to individuals than institutions (for many periodicals) and people who use the periodicals reading room access magazines for 'free', and 'free' content is one of the main boons of web based media, negating one of the main benefits for such users.

Re:Magazines and the Web (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445705)

"New technology rarely completely replaces old."

Thank you for that marvelous insight. However, to borrow an old saying, "A difference that makes no difference is no difference."

Or to put it another way, by the time you get to the 99th percentile (or even the 80th, IMHO) you've effectively replaced the technology. Do 99% of the people who use candles in the US buy them at the store or make their own? Do the vast majority of today's consumers listen to MP3s or CDs, 8-track, or vinyl?

Given horses and cars, which one will 99% of the people here in the US ride or drive to work tomorrow. Which one has been effectively replaced for that use?

If I visit a hundred businesses am I more likely to see a telephone or a ticker-tape reader or a telegraph pad? A computer or a typewriter or a Wang word processor? A wax dictaphone or a cassette recorder?

Once you reach a tipping point, one technology effectively replaces another, and the older technology either finds and occupies a new niche, or dies and is relegated to the museum along with all of other other fossils.

Re:Magazines and the Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445175)

That first link shouldn't have the e on the end - sorry. [] .

Re:Magazines and the Web (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445229)

Unfortunately, we won't replace the text book until our professors stop telling us that we have to do questions 1 through 47 on page 394 of the book that comes out with a new edition every other year. I know a few people who bought very few textbooks in university. Many courses are easy to get through without them. Some courses it's impossible without it. Making that decision is quite hard. I know my professors often told us which ones we would need, and which we could do without. Although some of my professors said, "this book is extremely good, and it costs $150, so I'm not going to base the course on it, so don't buy it if you don't have the money, or buy it later after you graduate and have a job".

Re:Magazines and the Web (2, Insightful)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445289)

Honestly, the primary uses of Wikipedia by folks in higher ed (faculty, students and staff) are probably 1) settling pop culture arguments that can't be settled via IMDB and 2) doing research about things like Wikipedia. Sorry, but they still haven't figured out a good way to deal with the kooks. Anyone who actually knows something is always going to give up before the kooks, because they almost certainly have better things to do in "real life". The great thing about the internet, of course, is it gives the kooks a sense of community - it's an echo chamber. You see the same thing with the neocons in the Bush administration, talk radio, and here on Slashdot, where a lot of folks are convinced that Linux must count for a third of the desktops out there, and it'll overtake Windows any day now.

Re:Magazines and the Web (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445835)

You know, I sit here at my linux desktop editing the Wikipedia article on Rush Limbaugh's impact on the structure of the Bush administration, and all I have to say is


Things need for ebook success (1)

dgg3565 (963614) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445115)

Three things prevent ebooks from taking off: Resolution, ease of use, and DRM. Get displays up to 300 dpi, make it as intuitive (both the UI and form factor) as an iPod, and make the DRM manageable (something along the lines of iTunes) and ebooks might actually become competitive. Then again, audio books as downloads are probably more profitable.

Re:Things need for ebook success (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445207)

If we're done with all the rootkit jokes and dismissive asides, TFA's description of this thing is fascinating: *only uses power when turning page. Leave a page "on" (visible) on your desk and go to be. And the description of how it manages to be as easy on the eyes as paer is cool.

Size & weight would be a big deal for me; I'll need to see this in person (or at least in cyborg) to assess its chances. Oh, and I agree that DRM BS can kill theses.

Re:Things need for ebook success (2, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445251)

In addition to your list
  • resolution
  • ease of use
  • DRM
there are at least three more things that are big issues, IMO:
  • cost of readers -- They cost hundreds of dollars.
  • expected obsolescence of readers -- probably 2 years until the reader you paid hundreds of dollars for is obsolete
  • cost of books -- Most publishers have been selling e-books for the same price as printed books, which is nuts.
The way that e-books have really taken off is in the world of free books -- see my sig.

Re:Things need for ebook success (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445995)

I'd like to add...

e-books aren't practical for my "reading room". If it's not practical to read in the hot tub or while I'm sitting on the can, it's not going to replace books or magazines for me.

Re:Things need for ebook success (3, Interesting)

jp10558 (748604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445645)

I've always felt that the RCA e-book reader had a lot right, especially for the technology at the time. The interface is intuiative - you load a book, top button under your thumb goes forward one page, bottom one back one page.

What was bad was the low resolution.

I personally want something with a similar interface to the RCA e-book reader, better screen and better importers. I really like the backlight myself - and having a battery that can last "only" ~20 hours seems fine to me - hell, we live with cellphones and mp3 players that get significantly less always on battery life. I mean, is it that hard to plug it in at night?

That's not to say longer battery life is bad, but I really think backlights are a great benefit to e-books, and should not be discarded for an "authentic" experiance. If I wanted a paperback experiance, I'd buy a paperback!

Finally, am I the only one who thinks content industries in general just don't get it? I mean, why would I pay the price of a hardcover book for a DRMed computer file? For that matter, why would I even pay the price of a paperback for that? I would pay $2-$3 for that though, if it's something I'm going to read once or twice...

It needs to be cheaper than Amazon's used books are or I'll just buy a real book.

Now you're seeing it our way (1)

MisterSquid (231834) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446045)

It needs to be cheaper than Amazon's used books are or I'll just buy a real book.

This is exactly what those who control distribution want, to hamstring digital media so they will not prevail.

ebook reading (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445119)

Slightly off-topic, what cell phones are good for reading plain old ascii text files? It seems to be an easy thing to build in, but never seems to be attempted.

Re:ebook reading (2, Informative)

godIsaDJ (644331) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445287)

Mobipocket is available for all Symbian phones (e.g. Sony Ericsson P900, Nokia N80, etc) I use my smartphone to read books and have done so for the past 2 years! It's great and such a space saver!

iRex is better (2, Interesting)

network23 (802733) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445125)

The iRex Illiad [] is a better choice.

- - -

Online education? []

Re:iRex is better (1)

Pensacola Tiger (538962) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445187)

You've got to be kidding? The iRex costs over $800!

Re:iRex is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16446217)

Not only that, their specs are crap. 640x480 resolution will look like CRAP even if it is the size of A4.

All things considered, you are better off buying an 12" Apple laptop (with x200 storage size, double the linear display resolution, a built-in keyboard, and a real OS. (and about the same price, or much less if you buy used).

I sure hope so - they're charging twice as much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445235)

The Illiad is 649.00EUR at their online store. According to the current rate of exchange, that's about $800 US.
If they're charing an extra $450 for their product, it should be a *lot* better.

"There's no backlight, however" (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445177)


Re:"There's no backlight, however" (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446059)

OMG! None of my printed books has a backlight either!

No annotation support. Bah! (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445189)

The Sony ebook reader doesn't support pen input or any kind of annotation. It uses eink and takes one to two seconds per pageturn to refresh the display. It supports plain text, PDF, and Sony's proprietary DRM'd ebook format... so at least material can be imported.

Still, without annotation - forget it. My ten year old Newton MP2100 is still a more useful ebook reader!


Re:No annotation support. Bah! (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445369)

While this particular machine isn't exciting, what is exciting is the new e-ink technology. From everything I've read its very very good. Being able to write on it will have to come with later editions, though I wouldn't ever expect much in the way of interactivity, e-ink isn't intended for moving images or even for touchscreen. The ability to write on it would have to come from a sensor behind the e-ink screen and some radio emiting pen. Touch sensativity never. Now I could imagine something like this with a second smaller LCD screen on the left side of the page that is turned off most of the time for power saving.

Re:No annotation support. Bah! (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445499)

eink offers nothing in power savings over black & white LCD. Further, it has a ridiculously slow refresh rate. The Sony unit doesn't include a backlight, so good luck reading in bed at night. But to my original point, for serious work annotation support is critical. I don't just read for pleasure. I take notes and highlight material to note future quotations and mark counter-arguments. This device is worthless to me.

Re:No annotation support. Bah! (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445739)

> eink offers nothing in power savings over black & white LCD.

I don't believe that's true at all, double-especially in the size and resolution we're talking about here.

Re:No annotation support. Bah! (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445917)

Honestly, it's difficult to compare since eink utilizes energy proportionally to the number of pixels turned per page refresh (not page turns). LCD draws power per 30hz refresh. But I think in real world use, one would find that a modern 800x600 LCD (same as the resolution of this eink device) would last about as long per charge. In comparison, I note that I get over twenty hours of constant use with the backlight turned off on my Newton (B&W, 480x320, ten years old). I really think eink is a technology not appropriate for this use. It might be great for billboards though.

TFA seems a little thin... (1)

Morphine007 (207082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445191)

... what I want to know is can you load .pdfs that don't have DRM on here? Personally, I would love something like this for journal papers... especially if it could mimic the parts of the dead-tree versions that I like... like being able to scribble notes in the margins.... without that ability though, I can't say I'd ever care to get one of these things... why carry around a $350 device and worry about charging, DRM and finding the e-books to begin with when I can just carry around a $9 paperback? It's not like I read more than one paperback at a time (okay, maybe two, but big deal...) but carrying a stack of ~100 papers to and from university, that's a pain in the ass...

Re:TFA seems a little thin... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445265)

From what I remember reading, it supports txt, UnDRM'd PDF, DOC, and a few other formats along with whatever DRM format it also supports.

Re:TFA seems a little thin... (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445317)

Personally, I would love something like this for journal papers
Yeah, plus, then you could pay for it out of a grant - or get your supervisor/thesis advisor to pay for one out of a grant if you're still a student ;)

Re:TFA seems a little thin... (1) (1013625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445323)

According to the site it displays TXT, RTF, unencrypted PDF, their own BBeB format encrypted or unencrypted, JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, and plays unDRMed MP3 and AAC audio. It can import Microsoft Word documents, which it converts to RTF.

Too bad no CHM though.

Printed books (1, Redundant)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445209)

Printed books:
  - Give me my fair use rights
        - Enable me to lend them to a friend
        - Enable me to donate them to libraries
  - Five me my first sale doctrine rights
        - Enable me to sell used if I tire of the book
        - Enable me to give away if I tire of the book
  - Don't crash
  - Don't malfunction
  - Don't run out of battery power
  - Work in dim lighting, office lighting, and even direct noontime sunlight without washing out
  - Are not platform-dependent; no vendor lock.

Don't forget the most important item (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445303)


Yet again content owners just don't get economics. Look at the first part of the article. How much does a E-book cost compared to a P-book. Why exactly the same offcourse. Nevermind the huge savings in both production, shipping and stocking, just like music and movies on the net we want the same amount of money as for the physical version. Oh and give the buyer fewer rights as well.

E-books sound handy especially for those of us who want to read books no longer in print. But why exactly should I buy an expensive reader only to then have to pay the same price for the e-book as for the paper version.

Why do content owners just not accept that if a product costs less to produce you pass some of the savings on to the customer? Imagine if you said "no thanks I don't need a plastic bag" in a real store and they then told you that will be 25cent extra. If you pick up your pizza at the restaurant instead of having it delivered you got to pay more?

Content owners are either plain stupid or plain greedy. There is a reason e-books failed commercially. This had nothing to do with the tech. It is because customers know when they are being ripped off.

Re:Printed books (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445603)

The device in TFA is a document reader, not a dedicated e-book reader. It reads TXT, DOC (which it converts to RTF), unencrypted PDF, and their proprietary, DRMed e-book format, in addition to a number of image filetypes.

The marketing problem: A book is portable (3, Insightful)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445219)

I guess I'm not the first to figure out that maybe e-books have an uphill battle to market, because a book or two is already portable. Which means that maybe the marketing effort should focus on commercial users of piles of books -- mechanics, doctors, computer technicians, etc. (When I had a service call from Sun recently, the technician was lugging around a laptop to read service manuals.)

Re:The marketing problem: A book is portable (1)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445591)

I guess I'm not the first to figure out that maybe e-books have an uphill battle to market, because a book or two is already portable.

One book or two are the key words of your sentence !
I really feel the pain of moving my books around whenever I have to move, and I know I am not alone. The heaviest boxes are almost always the ones that are packed with books. That is one of the main reasons I have always considered these ebook readers with a special interest, up to the point to be really attracted by this technology today.
Unfortunately, if I can rip my music collection with iTunes/MMJB/whatever and put it on and iPod/iRiver/Zune/etc, this is not going to be as easy with my bookshelves and an ebook reader.

Yes, but... (1)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445709)

(I forgot to mention students, too.)

I don't think ebook readers are aiming at first to replace your entire library. (Although I understand perfectly what you mean about boxes of books; I own many, and my remedy is not to move around much!) An e-book reader is "portable information" like an iPod is "portable music". And that's where the marketing difficulty may lie: Because it's just as convenient for people to carry a paperback (e.g. on a train or plane trip) as it is to carry the reader. And you don't have to worry about theft, batteries, breakage, etc.

But then there are those other categories of user, who need a portable library, which is where they should probably focus.

Obsolence. (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445291)

Fucking ironic. A book will last as long as it's language, so anything published today, if preserved (just leave it somewhere DRY) should last a few hundred years years. Think Shakespeare's English makes good sense to us. The English we use is standardised and well documented, compared to Chaucer's varietie of spellings and meanings in a day without dictionaries. Global communication is leading to a convergence of British English, American English etc.

Now an eBook. Whatever technology they're tauting today as the future will be as obsolete as the telegraph by the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Storing data anywhere for more than twenty years is difficult - think of NASA's trouble rescuing Apollo stuff from magnetic tape. (Propose solutions? CDs, tapes, are NOTHING to scratching inch deep letters in solid rock) Of course, regardless of which side of copyright hell we reach, I somehow doubt one would even possess the text of the book, but download it from the grandchild of our internet. So yes my children will inherit my first hardback edition of Harry Potter and not some joke of a device.

Now tell me your petrol engine will obsolete my bicycle.

Re:Obsolence. (2, Interesting)

heptapod (243146) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445353)

It's important to keep a book dry and out of the reach of insects but today books are being printed on paper which is highly acidic. When you find a book with yellowed pages, that's from the acid taking its toll on the paper fibers.
The reason why really old books from the Renaissance and earlier have survived to this day is because they are printed on rag not pulp! In 500 years even a carefully preserved hardcover book will be extraordinarily fragile.

Re:Obsolence. (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445437)

Do you regular reading would help? Separating the pages rather than letting them melt into each other.

Why? (1)

ZlatanZ++ (978060) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445327)

would you want to make the book obsolete? im all for gadgets which make my life easier, goodness knows i have a few. but a book is not a hassle, imho books are great things, there is nothing like getting a new book and smelling the pages, or sitting on the can and having a good read. people are just wasting their time with stuff like this.

Re:Why? (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445411)

I just finished my college degree a few months ago. I would have much prefered carrying around a single e-book reader for all my textbooks than the 4 or 5 heavy books in my bag.

Re:Why? (1)

ZlatanZ++ (978060) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445515)

thats still not a reason to make books obsolete is it?

Re:Why? (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445657)

If you honestly think the summary's phrase about not making real books obsolete any time soon was more than wit or sarcasm, you are naive in the extreme.

Hey Pogue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445425)

Hey Pogue, you don't have to be Pogue anymore. Jesus is here!

It's a step in the right direction (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445459)

For me, the big failing of it is the "who the hell decided this was a good idea?" user interface. And, of course, the price tag - but time will fix that.

I don't see it replacing books in the near future - I see it replacing my computer as a viewer of my collection of reference PDFs - journal articles, datasheets, user manuals, stuff like that. Stuff I need, but don't want to have to keep laying around in printed form to yellow and get water damaged and whatnot.

I understand that it's not much more than a novelty if all you're reading is the latest fiction off the NYT list. I think the marketing is pitching this thing at the wrong people - they should be selling it to academics and technicians.

DIY (3, Informative)

Hahnsoo (976162) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445477)

If you don't like either Sony's reader or the iLiad (my personal e-Ink favorite) you can make your own! []


Re:DIY (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445767)

at $3000, it's such a bargain I'll have to buy two!

Nokia 770 (1)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445485)

For what it is worth I'm finding the Nokia 770's 200dpi inch screen to be great for reading, though I haven't yet downloaded the FBReader maemo offers. The Nokia fits in my back pocket is solid, rugged, and has good battery life. At 800x480 it is also great for websurfing or blogging on the go. If I find a good supply of affordable or free reading I definitely plan on using this as my eBook reader. I have already downloaded Moby Dick and 20000 Leagues Beneath the Sea to round out reading some classics -- they are very readable with the Notes application, but it doesn't save your place (you could mark where you were, but that's not very quick or handy). Not only is the resolution 800x480, but the Opera browser appears to be antialiasing the fonts as well. Very readable especailly with the magnify icon, which maintains smoothly formed fonts instead of pixelating them. I assume FBReader would do the same for whatever size font you find most comfortable to read.

needs (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445621)

Things to happen before an ebook is of use. It needs to improve on the paper back. Right now it seems the ebook is just that an eversion of the paper, it does nothing more. The tape improved on the LP because of size, the CD improved quality and usability, the mp3 player improved on size, storage, usability over and beyond the CD. The ebook isn't a big improvement. 1) I need to highlight and take notes in the books. Too many famous notes were taken in side margins to eliminate the ability to take margin notes (Fermat's last theorem to name one). To add on to this I also want to be able to save my notes and share them over the internet a wiki of notes so when I go to read "the name of the rose" I can download a few sets of margin notes. 2) I need to be able to resell the book when I am done and buy used ones. Right now I can pick up a used paper back for a dollar or two and I can buy a new for $10 one and sell it to half priced books or on ebay when I'm done. It cuts down my costs, especially for college texts. Don't try to sell me the over all cost will be down. I buy most of my books at half priced books so until there is a half price ebook it won't work for me. I'll be able to buy over 50 books for the price of the reader alone and about 3 books per e book. 3) Make it fast and easy to use. I want to turn it on and read I don't want any load time or lag between pages. I often pick up a page and read (many books I read have small sections) so it is doable but if I have to wait 5-10 seconds for my book to load that will annoy me. 4) I need to import anything, gif, tiff, pdf, jpg, html, rss, doc, google docs, etc. (I understand the Sony can do some) I want variety after all I read magazines, journals, newspapers, hard backs, paper backs, guides, maps, all sorts of stuff the ebook needs to do it all before I get one. I want it to load my rss feeds in the morning so I can read those on it. 5) Be durable, be water resistant, shock resistant, drop resistant, TSA proof. If it gets ruined in the rain it's no better than a book and a whole lot more expensive. I'm going to drop it or keep it someplace it will get dirty make it able to stand daily ware and tare. 6) Read to me. If your electronic you might as well read out loud while your at it. Right now I don't want one. I tested the rocket ebook back when it was new, I carried it to high school one day it was nice, not an easy read, to heavy but it took notes.

This probably explains why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445753)

Sony never released an Ebook reader for the PSP. However for those capable of running homebrew on their PSPs, bookr is an excellent program for reading ebooks. []

I've seen a similar device... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16445869)

...and it's a seriously nice piece of kit. (This is the Iliad, which TFA references.) The screen is deceptively unimpressive. It looks like a sheet of plastic with text printed on it, until you see it change. You look at it for about five seconds and suddenly realise how horrible LCDs and monitors are --- this is how screens are supposed to be.

The software, however, is dire. The one we have is Linux based, with some ghastly software running on top of X. It's slow and clunky; the device responds to all keypresses about half a second late. I have a strong suspicion that the screen itself is operated via vector operations from some little microcontroller, and Linux is emulating a framebuffer on top of this, which may go some way to explaining the speed. Whoever designed the user interface also needs slapping around a bit, too; there's a big rocker switch, spanning the height of the device, on the left hand side of the screen. To go forwards through your book, your press it left. Apparently this is supposed to simulate the direction in which you turn pages. Sigh.

To summary: deeply impressive. Too expensive. Crap software. Wait until it flops, and then buy one off ebay to hack.

Great quote (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445887)

Some die-hards at Sony still believe that, properly designed, the e-book has a future.
Like Sony is the one to be making that statement. I wouldn't trust Sony to make anything right. My parents owned a Beta, I think thats the last thing that has ever been a Sony in my family. Oh wait, I did buy a Sony DVD+RW because my Fuji one gave up the ghost after much rewriting, and that was all the store had left. It was garbage and I replaced it first opportunity I had with another Fuji.

Brilliant Article (1)

Crash McBang (551190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16445997)

I rate it... 3 out of 4 trees!

Out of "print" eBooks? (1)

Flopy (926705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446037)

I have many old books that are already out of print. Also, I've bought some books trough used-books dealers, but they are sometimes hard to find. I mean, I love my books, and I want to be able to keep them indefinitely, but will an eBook publisher sell me, say 20 years from now, a book published this year? For me, it is a concern, because you don't always want or need the latest book when an old out-of-print book will do. Storage is cheap, but are they going to keep old books forever? Since a book can be given away, it's possible, although difficult, to find it eventually. An eBook cannot be given away, but if they are digitally kept around for a long time with no compatibility issues in the future, then eBooks might be a good option.

Did... (1)

Five Bucks! (769277) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446127)

they publish TFA in paperback yet?

What *I* expect from an e-reader (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#16446331)

  1. Color reflective technology display, at 200dpi or better. Reflective display technology doesn't suck battery power when the image is static, and also doesn't waste energy on powering back-illumination, as it is read by ambient lighting.
  2. Portable. Approximately 9"x12"x3/4" or so, weighing not significantly different than a hardcover book of similar size.
  3. Standards compliant. Can import Adobe Acrobat files for viewing.
  4. Shock-resistant. Withstands drops of several meters without damage.
  5. Waterproof. Easily usable in wet weather, also could be dropped in puddles or even a bathtub without consequence.
  6. Weather resistant. Useable outdoors in any weather without risk of damage due to extreme cold or heat.
  7. Solar powered. If there's enough light to read the display, there should be enough light to power the unit.
  8. Robust. Can hold several books in memory at one time.
  9. Affordable. Under $500 for a reader.

Not that I'm expecting it to happen in my lifetime, but something like that would probably go a reasonable distance towards replacing conventional books.

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