Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ooooh, ebooks!

My professor showed us the Kindle app on her iPhone and I realized one of the downsides to such a tiny piece of technology--it's really easy to spend money without realizing it!

But this solves the dilemma I've had about buying a Kindle or Sony eReader for a long time. Is it worth it to buy such a single-use device at several hundred dollars?

I work in publishing. I read a lot. But I don't actually buy books that often. Part of it is that I can hardly keep up with my reading list just of books that my own house publishes that I can get for free. Part of it is the stereotype (which is true!) that I work in publishing so I don't get paid a lot, and don't want to spend all my money on more books (and have limited free time to read books for pleasure anyway). Part of it is that my apartment is small and I'm still moving every few years, so I don't want to have a lot of books to lug around (I keep a LOT of books at work). But the biggest part of it is that I'm a huge library user, and neither device is optimized for checking out library books--the Kindle does not support PDFs at all. The eReader does display PDFs but it's the least effective format to use--PDFs do not reflow, so the font size can't really be bumped on the eReader.

So it's not just a matter of an outlay of a few hundred bucks for one of the actual ereader devices--it's the fact that I would suddenly need to start BUYING ACTUAL BOOKS, which I don't do now. The price tag for one of these devices is therefore measurable in the thousands, not the hundreds, of dollars for me and I just can't justify it.

But if I used the Kindle app for iPhone, I'd have all the benefits of a reader device without shelling out lots of money for the actual reader. Except that I'd be limited to public domain books for free and have to start paying for all the ones I can currently read for free through the library--and I'd even have to pay to convert my work documents to a format the Kindle reader would recognize ($0.10 each...but still).

I don't think this will be a deciding factor one way or the other, but it's pretty much made me decide against ever buying either the actual Kindle or Sony eReader. If my job decided to give me one for free, however, I would use it every single day for work projects. Hint, hint. :)


  1. You've verbalized why I don't own an e-book reader already.

    That, and because I live in Canada :(

  2. The problem with a Kindle app is that most public domain books can be read for free on the internet. I have the Touch, and I can just navigate to gutenberg.org and read stuff there. Of course, this might be worth it for the next time I have a flight and can't get internet...


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