Showing posts with label tech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tech. Show all posts

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Death of the dedicated eReader? I think not...

This is an interesting and vaguely weird article about the potential death of the eReader. Yes, you read that correctly - now we speculate as to when eInk technology will become obsolete because of tablets and alternative eReading devices. To which I say the same thing I say every time someone freaks about the impending death of the book: um... no? Or rather, I suppose: probably not?

The reason I am fairly confident that dedicated eReaders will survive (in some form) is similar enough to the reason I think that print books will survive. While there are relatively few people in the world who are considered dedicated readers, there is still a fairly large global market for people who read enough to justify buying an eReader. Some will prefer the shift to digital, true, but not all digital is made equal. I cannot see someone like my aunt - who now reads exclusively off her Kindle - making the move towards an iPad or any other tablet computer. It's just not the same. Every time I've tried to read off tablets, I've found that it's a little more distracting than my Sony Reader. The reason I like my Reader is because it mimics the traditional reading experience incredibly well (while also giving me a few bonuses, like internet access). A device as glossy as my laptop? Not quite as appealing.

What I find especially interesting about this article, though, is that it establishes eInk devices as part of our general reading history. By attempting to spell its doom, Jeremy Wagstaff is essentially acknowledging eInk's position as a legitimate reading form. And like with the case of critics crying about the demise of the printed word, I get the feeling that this article will only emphasize just how wrong it's assessment is...

Monday, August 27, 2012

People use technology

This weekend, I happened to read a bad book (hereby referred to as Meh) . Among the many things that made it very disappointing, there was the small matter of the "contemporary" feel. Or rather, the lack thereof. This Israeli novel was published in 2010, and its late-teens characters stand in line to use a public phone (and not because their cell-phones have mysteriously died).

There were a lot of other factual problems with Meh that frustrated me even more, but this minor detail seemed particularly jarring. How can it be that these characters, who are supposed to be my contemporaries, do not have cell-phones? How can it be that these characters do not ever refer to the internet in their conversations? How is it possible that the author thought that readers would not feel this?

An interesting post over at The Book Lantern raises similar concerns:
It’s 2012. People hardly ever use regular mail anymore, and a great part of our daily interactions happens online. Whether we like it or not, the ways we communicate are changing and, more importantly, those interactions shape us as much as we shape them.
It's becoming a serious problem, especially in books about young adults. Meh is a great example, in which the characters' styles and interests and level of technological savviness seemed more in line with the author's generation than the one he appeared to be writing about (though to be fair, he never really specified...). So many young adult books fall into this category. Many books that feature teens only show them calling each other in the evenings... but that doesn't really happen anymore, does it? There's text messaging, there's online chat, there's Twitter, there's Facebook... And I'm not saying every single young adult uses all of these outlets all the time, but while you'll authors will give you a young adult watching TV or reading a book, nobody will ever mention if this same character went online.

I think there are two reasons for that. The first is that by naming a currently popular form of social media, the author is immediately and officially dating his/her book. Social media is an ever-changing spectrum. If I read a book that references MySpace, I chuckle. In five years, Facebook may be a mere blip on the social media timeline as well... what author wants to take the risk that their book too will become outdated well before its time?

I feel like maybe the other reason authors avoid inserting technology into their stories is a little more complicated (and speculative on my part). I can only imagine how hard it must be to keep up with online trends the older you get. I myself am still a young adult, and I can hardly keep track of the various sites and online outlets that have cropped up in recent years. It is, perhaps, a safer choice to avoid discussing technology at all, as an adult author trying to write an authentically young book. But I am not certain if it is wiser.

Not every book, not every character is the same. Some people spend their entire lives on the internet, others spend only the bare minimum. Some spend the entire day texting and utilizing their smartphones, others still use old flip-phones. There is no clear consensus. But authors have to begin integrating technology into their stories. The internet as a whole is here to stay, even if various social media sites, forums, and blogging platforms have gone the way of the dinosaur within a few short years. People use the internet for more than just the occasional Google search. The internet is a natural part of our modern society. People have laptops and cell-phones and tablets and game consuls - people use technology. Fictional characters should catch up quickly.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thoughts on a semi-literary week

During this final week of vacation, I finally got the opportunity to do two things I don't normally have the time (or the correct country code) for: buy books at Borders' "Everything must go!" sale and read.

I've completed six books this week, most of them short or easy-to-read young adult books. In addition, I acquired almost 20 books to bring back home with me in a few days. Among these books, the clear preference was for sci-fi and some fantasy. The remaining books are, for the most part, novellas in translation. These purchases are fairly in-line with my recent literary identity crisis.

I've been thinking for the past few months about how I'm an incredibly uneducated reader. Actually, I've been thinking that for years, pretty much from the moment I started reading in an organized and adult manner. I've read neither the famous books, nor do I have a particular niche that individualizes my literary tastes. When blogging (and reading other blogs), I repeatedly get the impression that I'm not "reading right". That I'm not reading enough. And then I start to get stressed and nervous. Then I stop enjoying the books I'm reading. I start over-analyzing books and whether or not I "understood them properly" and whether or not I'm "missing" something.

But this week - reading a wide variety of books, well-known and less - made me realize that it's all in my head. That is, the reason I haven't been enjoying books as much recently is because I've been building up unfair expectations. By mentally hyping every books I read (through the obsessive following of reviews and blogs and author interviews, etc.), I set myself up for disappointment. Meanwhile, when I stumble upon books with little fanfare or expectations I enjoy the experience much more.Set alongside this my ever-shifting literary taste (the pendulum swings back towards sci-fi...), I'm finding that it's harder and harder to "do it properly". Writing reviews and blogging and reading suddenly becomes too much.

So why not do it not-properly? I keep having to remind myself that reading is supposed to be fun - if I make work out of it in my free time, it shouldn't influence that original intent. Sure, I didn't read many books in translation this week... but do I have to? I read some very enjoyable books, as well as some very thoughtful ones. Isn't that what counts? And like my realization last week of the joys of the impulse buy, not knowing what lies in store, I'm learning that maybe my extensive research and analyzing tendencies are harming my reading experience rather than helping it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What did people used to do?

When I first got a cell-phone at the ripe old age of 14, I found myself suddenly in possession of a great deal more freedom than I'd even known. Pretty soon, though, I was forced to use the phone. Leaving the house without it suddenly became "irresponsible". Walking around without any form of instant communication became unthinkable. Now, on vacation abroad, I find myself walking around without a cell-phone. When my family gets annoyed that there's no way to contact me, a common (and bitter) sentiment pops into my head: "What did mankind do before cell-phones were invented?!"

When I walk into a bookstore, I buy mostly based on reviews and author familiarity. Though I've begun to branch out in recent years, I'm still fairly adamant about only buying books I know I want to read and keep. I'll rarely buy a book that I only just discovered. First I'll research the book on Amazon, I'll read reviews and I'll try to figure out how worthwhile the book might be (and if there isn't maybe another book by the same author that would be better suited to start with). Even in the case of books I've heard of or authors I like, I do careful research before picking the next read.

But rather like cell-phones, I find myself wondering what it used to be like. I barely remember an age without the internet, without this marvelous tool that allows me to look up books and book reviews within minutes. I've been using Amazon since I was eight, and various other book-cataloging sites since I was maybe nine or ten. To be honest, most of my reading life has been grounded in the internet and the research process it has enabled. It's hard for me to imagine anything else.

Yesterday, while browsing in a used bookstore, I came across A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel. When I'd considered reading another book by Mantel (after being completely and absolutely blown away by Wolf Hall), I'd sort of pushed the idea to the side, not finding any clear indicators of what the next book should be. I'd heard of The Giant, O'Brien but that was all. Though Mantel wrote the best book I've read in the past two years (hands down), I never bothered to look for more. A Place of Greater Safety came as a complete surprise, having never even heard of the book*. At that moment, I had no form of researching the title and I was desperate to buy any book. It looked interesting, it was cheap, so off the shelf it went and into my hands.

Which leads me back to cell-phones. Today, with information almost always at our fingertips (particularly for those people who, unlike me, have smartphones), it's possible to know everything you need before making your purchase. But what did it used to be like? What did people do before there was the internet, before there was easy access to book review? Obviously newspaper book supplements were a lot more common, but was that enough for the masses? Was everything based on name recognition and bookseller recommendations? How would you know exactly which book to buy? Maybe my extensive research is my own bizarre little quirk...

The older among us can shed light on this matter. Though I obviously have no idea what it used to be like, I have to say that almost every time I buy a book without extensive research and based purely on my gut feeling, I enjoy the experience that much more. Even when the book itself is terrible, it feels fresher and cleaner. I'm much less aware of the plot and of the characters and I have far fewer expectations, making for an overall more carefree and enjoyable reading experience.

Maybe I should also get rid of the cell-phone. Life is so much calmer this way.

* In retrospect, I see that A Place of Greater Safety was recommended in a comment left on my Wolf Hall post. My memory is truly terrible...

Monday, March 15, 2010


“Tablets currently focus on the web-surfing experience,”
This is a key sentence in the great Wired article about Tablets versus eReaders, which suggests that the two can (and perhaps should) coexist. It points out that Tablets are great for textbooks and magazines but not so much for fiction (it also puts non-fiction with that group but I'm not certain I agree - more on that later). The article rightly explains that eReaders are great because of their battery life and screen quality, while Tablets are awesome because of everything else.

E Ink screens aren’t particularly good at anything other than books, leaving newspapers and magazines out in the cold. That’s where tablets could step in, says James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research. [...] But it will be a battle that could take a toll on e-paper based displays, he says.

“For people who read more of those media than they do books, tablets will be an ideal device and can easily take some wind out of E Ink sales, once we get beyond the fourth of the population that really enjoys reading books,” says McQuivey.

Still, tablets won’t immediately supplant lower-priced electronic paper-based e-readers, he notes. “The first thing you need to consider is whether tablets will actually be as good for book reading as the E Ink readers are,” says McQuivey. “Having a two-week battery life and a device that’s comfortable to stare at for hours at a stretch without strain (as with e-paper based e-readers) is hard to beat.”

Indeed. There's the price issue too and with this Tablet vs. eReader split, eReaders will probably need to become cheaper. It's an interesting article, raising several ideas I'd never thought of before (and am still not certain I agree with). It's one of the better roundups I've encountered on the matter - those curious about the impact Tablets might have on the eReader market should certainly read it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Calibre convert

I'm not very good at technology. If programs get to be too complicated, I raise my arms in defeat and forget about it. I like simplicity in the use of technology, complexity in its quality. I am that spawn of the internet age - at once lazy and inquisitive.

On the one hand, this trait made me fairly pleased with Sony's Reader Library when I first started using it. Moving files to my PRS-600 was so simple, downloading and viewing files even more so, and arranging them in bookshelves proved to be surprisingly convenient once I started amassing books. And taking notes on my computer? A cinch. But it's an annoying, frustrating program too. The inability to adjust metadata means that many of the files I've acquired have bizarre/inaccurate titles and authors, making it incredibly difficult to keep track of where my books are at, once on the Reader. I started searching for ways to change the settings, certain there must be some simple solution. Instead, I kept coming across the name Calibre again and again. I finally downloaded it, after using a computer for a couple of weeks that seemed unable to use Sony's program (it turned out the problem was that the Reader Library had been installed on an external drive to the computer that was no longer there...). The results? Calm, blissful, and altogether impressive. I am now a Calibre convert. Sort of.

Calibre doesn't resemble Sony's iTunes-esque library at all. On the one hand, it's simpler, with large, easily recognizable buttons along the top displaying the many available options. On the other hand, it's more complex, because -- it has buttons along the top displaying the many available options. I don't mean the option of "change author", "change title", etc. No, it's "edit metadata" and "convert format", both of which lead to new and seemingly complicated screens. Except there's really nothing to it. Within seconds, I'd managed to figure out how to maneuver Calibre's basic options, even picking up the quick keyboard commands (they're entirely intuitive - v for view, e for edit, c for convert, etc.).

There are two main features that make Calibre worth your while, no matter what eReader program you use otherwise. The first is the ability to convert files. Almost every format can be converted to something else (I think .doc is the exception), so if you've found a great book in PDF but don't like how it looks, hit a couple of keys and bam--ePub it is. I'm not sure if it works for .azw (Kindle) files, but the open screen indicates that it's a Kindle compatible program too (through .mobi, I think). For the rest of us, though, it works like a charm, even if converting PDFs reveals funny glitches like page numbers in the middle of the screen.

The second interesting feature is "Fetch news". Upon command, Calibre connects to the internet and downloads the most recent newspaper or magazine from a multitude of sources (in a multitude of languages), making it possible to read The New England Journal of Medicine and then getting updated with The Chicago Tribune. For those with Kindles who pay for some papers, this feature may seem silly (particularly since one needs to connect the machine and the fact that often the papers are incomplete without a subscription...) but in all honesty it's great for me. I recently took a flight across the Atlantic and instead of buying my typical Economist magazine, I downloaded the free (and mostly complete) version to my Sony and enjoyed it on the flight for no extra charge. Calibre automatically downloads the papers into the suitable format for your device (specified upon installation), complete with internal links to specific articles, to menus and the black-and-white pictures.

It's not a perfect program. Far from it. It's slow, somewhat unorganized at times, and cannot actually be used alongside Sony's Reader Library. Technically. In reality, it's possible to use both by taking advantage of Calibre's useful features and avoiding letting it come into contact with the actual eReader. Still, it's an added step and an added hassle. But for the ability to fix those pesky PDF files that come with crazy metadata (by converting them to ePub with the proper info, or self converting to PDF, as strange as it sounds), for the newspaper feature, and for the ease with which I figured out theoretically complex stuff, I give Calibre my stamp of approval.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pretty price, same device

It's called the iPad and while it's cheaper than those mysterious tech specs speculated, I find myself having to say I told you so.

In a nutshell, Apple has produced a large iPod Touch, which is very spiffy, yes, but not very practical for most people's needs. Curiously, though, those who are unimpressed technologically suggest that the iPad will revolutionize eBooks and challenge the Kindle (and for some odd reason, keep mentioning the lackluster Nook). On one count the iPad may make a difference - magazines. Magazines look great glossy and shiny, and now they'll look even cooler, with the potential for embeded videos, sound clips and more. But eBooks? Just because publishers are excited for the future of eBooks doesn't mean consumers (or the readers of these eBooks) should be. Or as Chad Post of Three Percent so eloquently put it:
[I]f I had one of these things—and I read a hundred plus pages every day—and had the choice between video, gaming, and books, I’ll tell you what I ain’t going to choose . . .
I'll just reiterate my point. This iPad is a curious mashup that seems unlikely to stand on its own. It's not an eReader, as it does not have eInk screen technology and while it allows for reading, that does not mean much. Publishers are eager to get in on this because they think this is what consumers will go for, except consumers and publishers seem to be at odds more and more on this subject (more on that another time). Basically, the whole thing is a mess but some things still stand: the iPad is not an eReader, it shouldn't be a game-changer, and publishers (and consumers as well!) should stop hoping that Apple will magically take care of a system that is in desperate need of an overhaul. It won't.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Apples and oranges

Okay, this will probably be the last eReader related post for 2009 (at least, I hope...) so I have to think extra hard about how to go at it. Things to keep in mind are that I've got a Sony Reader Touch Edition (and I like it), am not a fan of closed formats, DRM and all that fun stuff, and that I'm one heck of a nervous consumer who bought a Sony for a reason - it's called "I didn't want a Kindle" syndrome and this concept exists. All right, let's go.

We'll start with the Nook. A few weeks ago I casually noted the growing obsession with Barnes & Noble's new eReader device. It's gotten a bit out of hand. There have been very few early reviews and even those have not actually said much. Or have said not much to flatter B&N. It's a new device and consumers need to understand this. Sure, it's appealing on paper but with so little information, how can people seriously think that this is a game-changer?

As for the few reviews, the NYTimes was not impressed, calling it a Kindle ripoff and noting that almost every charming pro that made consumers drool came with a downside. The color touchscreen is random and unrelated, the page-flip time is long, the touchscreen is unresponsive, and a whole list of hardware issues that seemed to the reviewer to make the Nook "a mess". Which is unsurprising, given that this is a new product. There's still this assumption that any new product will be the game changer. I've seen articles referring to almost any non-Kindle device as precisely that, whether or not it even makes sense. Everyone wants the Nook to change the eReader realms because current non-Amazon guys (Sony?) aren't doing much, and a lot of folks don't want Amazon to monopolize the market so quickly and, shall we say, evilly? Actually, that's wrong. Sony has some great products, the problem is that they don't care enough to enter the battle seriously and loudly. Irony, right?

And then there's Apple. The mythical Tablet has been talked about for so long that it's turned into the publishing world's obsession. People have honestly said, "I'm not buying an eReader until I don't see what Apple comes out with." So this needs to be said once, clearly and loudly:

Apple's Tablet will not be an eReader!

Apple will, as usual, provide consumers with a cheerfully convenient device. They'll have some spiffy "Amazon-killer" eBook store (with their own personal DRM, I'm sure...), a huge marketing campaign, and hundreds of automatic customers just because it's got Apple stamped on it. Except it's not going to be a proper eReader like what we've come to imagine. It won't have eInk screen technology, it won't focus on books, and it won't be tailor made for readers (like the Reader, Kindle, Nook, iLiad, etc.). What it will be is a giant iPod Touch, which is really not the same thing.

All right. I recognize that for some consumers this is exactly what they want. They want an all-purpose shiny, glossy device that connects to the internet, surfs the web, lets them read, write and type, and do just about anything with Apple's trademark style. Fine, legit. But to hear publishers and serious readers try to compare a Tablet to a Kindle (or any competitor, etc.) is stupid. It's like saying an iPod Nano is comparable to a computer because they can both play music and show color things on their screens.

Yes, I am certain the Tablet will be shiny and awesome and will look amazing. I'm sure when (...if) it ever comes out, many tech lovers will drool over it in delight. I'm sure that some readers will find this a suitable device for reading and will forgo purchasing actual eInk eReaders (which was kind of the whole point, but all right...). Those considering buying eReaders for their crisp, comfortable screen quality should understand this, though. A giant iPod Touch sounds like fun but it's not the same thing. It's not what I'm looking for in an eReader, at least.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Enjoying 600 books (and how!)

Disclosure: I like my Sony PRS-600 Touch Edition.

The evening I bought it, I plugged it in, let it charge fully, installed Sony's incredibly convenient eBook Library, got my first book from GoogleBooks ("Fruitfulness", Emile Zola) and began to read. I was in a state of nervousness that perhaps I had made a bad choice buying the Reader and so I approached it more cautiously than I might have otherwise. Every negative comment I'd seen about it sprung to mind again, and I was certain that I'd be incredibly disappointed.

I wasn't. Two hours later, I was engrossed in my reading, taking notes in the "margins" (something I would never do in a physical copy, for fear of ruining it) and overall pleased with the device. The biggest point against the Reader was that the screen quality was poor but in all honesty, the glare was hardly noticeable. I suppose that for those eReader experts it might have been bothersome, but the screen didn't cause me eye strain, didn't bother at all, and served its purpose quite well in providing me with a book to read. The extra features are fun, easy and wonderfully convenient, like the dictionary and the ability to take notes in the margin (the stylus is extremely responsive and is fairly easy to use, just don't let your hand rest on the screen! A mess ensues...). Embarrassing side note about the dictionary: it is so useful that when I was reading from a print book the other day, I actually attempted to double-click on the word.

Another common complaint was that flipping pages was difficult and unintuitive. Quite the contrary. It took me a little while to get used to flipping the pages with my thumb across the touch screen, but once I figured out that a little bit of nail will help, it became quick and easy. Furthermore, the buttons are perfectly placed for how I hold a book, with my thumb resting at the bottom-centre and the rest of my hand supporting the book from the back. The movement is completely natural, as though I'm reaching for a page in the bottom right corner and I'm "dragging" it across to flip.

As for access to books, I was rather pleased. The idea of free library books sold me the device and I was happy to see that the process runs smoothly. Gutenberg, GoogleBooks, and various free eBooks filled up my library quickly and easily. My Reader now holds more than 50 books I downloaded and the grand total space used comes to... ~20 MB. ePub files are about 1 KB per page; PDF can take up to a few MB (e.g. a book with 640 pages is 2 MB). Some books have pictures in them and load a little slower but the images show up just fine in black and white. Some PDFs take longer to load the first time they are accessed (a slight downside to the Reader) and though they initially appear to be tiny, upping the font size on the PDFs will lead to readable texts (though the page formats will be a little funky - not a big deal, easy to get used to).

I have other qualms as well. Take, for instance, the occasional blips. GoogleBooks sometimes-to-too-often misreads/mistranslates the original documents, leading to strange mistakes. For instance, "j" may replace ";", "
A lot of people may shy away from the lack of internet on this Reader, but as long as the internet provided remains 3G, somewhat limited, and not wi-fi, I'm okay without. The screen quality is quite good for those used to computers (I can't say about those upgrading from older Sony models) and reading from it is comfortable. Overall, the convenience far outshines the downsides and the device is both fun and useful.

The reader is obviously not right for everyone. There are many die-hard print supporters (though clearly this will not replace the printed book, they will coexist) but for those interested in technology and willing to dip their toes into this volatile market, I can say that Sony's product is certainly worthwhile. Here's to hoping the price will eventually drop, though. Perhaps soon enough that I'll get a refund as well...?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some Sony

I've been to Sony stores around the world. I've handled the old 505s, the fairly poor quality 700s (sloppy original touch screen), and the newer models. I've had the opportunity to see just how the products work, read a couple of pages and figure out the pros. Other eReaders? Nothing. Blips on the radar. I've heard much about the Kindles, written tons about them, even seen them in the hands of random people or acquaintances... but Amazon never openly came and offered them to me for even a store run. I am a naturally suspicious consumer and Amazon did not make the situation easier for me. Sony did.

Months ago, when I realized I didn't want the Kindle 2, a friend who had handled a Sony PRS-505 suggested I check it out. After seeing the 505 and the 700, I was immediately drawn to the 505 (standard size, a series of buttons along the edge; a quintessential original-style eReader) but knew that a new model was sure to emerge soon. I waited patiently and out came the 600 and the PRS-300 Pocket Edition (immediately ruled out; too simple, too small). The 600 intrigued me: I enjoyed handling it, the screen quality was miles ahead of where the 700 had been (though I'll admit that it's still not quite as crisp as the 505 or the 300, though it's pretty good), and the touch quality made it comfortable and convenient. But this did not sell the product to me. Again, I'm a suspicious consumer and serving as a guinea pig for eReaders did not appeal to me unless the product went above and beyond.

So Sony went above and beyond. It offered me free books. Lots of them. One of the original points that bothered me with the Kindle was that it had no library offer (incidentally, the most viewed post on this blog, thanks to numerous Google searches). eBook prices are unjustly high and in addition to purchasing the machine, I have to buy the books as well for about as much as the paperback? No thank you. But Sony's library option took my terrible original idea and made it good. I take a U.S. (or U.K.) library card, plug it into the system, see if my library participates and can then check books out. I am lucky to have 4 active library cards of which 3 are participants in the program, and given time I'm sure the fourth will join too. I add a book to my cart, check it out, upload it to my Reader and two weeks later it just expires. Simple, to the point, and blissfully free. Coupled with the ability to take advantage of Gutenberg, GoogleBooks and any PDF eBook or document... that's a lot of convenient free material. And all of it open; no DRM. I bought the PRS-600 Touch Edition in silver.

This is not to say that Amazon's price cuts the day following my purchase didn't disconcert me. The fact that it was suddenly open round the world bothered me too (much of my time is spent abroad), because that point had initially disqualified the Kindles. But I quickly realized that it was silly to second guess. I had many initial doubts with the Kindle. I still do. I don't like Amazon's totalitarian take on things - closed format, buy all through Amazon, sneaky fingers in accounts, charging for certain free public domain books (at lower prices), etc. I don't like the lack of PDF compatibility. I don't like the placement of the flip page buttons (I don't hold books that way). I don't like the 3G (which for the abroad folks probably costs a lot more than Amazon is letting on). I don't like the giant keyboard, as convenient as it may be for taking notes. Sure, the Sony's touch keyboard is a bit slow at times but it gets the job done and doesn't add extra bulk to the device. Most of all, I don't like paying for eBooks. Amazon, as ruler of the online purchasers, has created the standard expensive eBook price (my complete rant will come another time) and leads all others to follow in their footsteps, not wanting to be outdone. I want my eReader for free books and so the Sony won out with its library, its comfortable GoogleBooks support and the various other options.

Why now? Now, when things are changing every ten minutes? One day the Kindle is priced the same as the Sony, the next the Sony is the more expensive of the two. One day Sony is king of eReader land, the next Amazon launches new products. Barnes & Nobles wants to join in, the iLiad gains attention, color eReaders seem on the horizon, wi-fi is expected (at some point, hopefully)... why would I buy what seems to be a sub-par eReader now, especially if it's unreasonably priced?

I've thought about it a lot. Nervous consumer and all that. Ultimately, the current market continues changing constantly. Even if new brands pop up, I'm not going to jump to them because a new product is typically less reliable than an established brand (Sony, in this case). I can't sit around waiting for the product to be perfect because that's never going to happen. If I want to experiment with a new device, I'll need to pick one at some point and go with it, just to see how it is. Maybe at some point I'll realize that I don't like my Sony and I'll get the newest Kindle. Or I'll decide that I don't like eReaders at all and will stick to my print books with religious love. For now, I took the plunge and made my decision. Let's see what comes of it.