Guide to electronic reading devices for Christmas. Bah humbug.
Faithful readers of this blog already know I’m agin those newfangled gadgets known as e-readers, and why. But I’d be remiss in my duties, as I discuss Christmas ideas, if I didn’t draw your attention to a an article in The New York Times offering buying tips for those who can’t resist the shiniest new gadget.
In the piece Danielle Belopotopsky notes that Amazon’s Kindle doesn’t have the field to itself anymore.
“The Kindle wasn’t the first e-reader on the market, but it came with a built-in advantage: a wireless connection to Amazon’s vast online bookstore,” Belopotopsky writes. “Today, when we think of e-readers, the Kindle comes readily to mind.”
Belopotopsky compares and contrast s the advantages and disadvantages — function, software, interface and all that wacky digital stuff gadget geeks find so irresistible. In addition to the Kindle ($259), she considers Barnes & Noble’s Nook ($259), the Sony Reader Touch ($300) and Daily Reader ($400), due to go on sale this month with a slightly larger display and wireless capability.
Also discussed: Que (price TBA), from Plastic Logic, which will be introduced in January, though Belopotosky got an early test drive. Irex, a Dutch company, introduces the DR800SG ($399) this month, with an 8.1-inch touch screen display. Cool-er ($249), from Interead, has limitations, Belopotopsky but it’s lighter than its competitors.
Finally, Belopotopsky examines Disney Digital Books, though it’s a subscription service for Macs and PCs, not an e-reader. For $8.95 a month (or $75.95 yearly), you get accounts for up to three children and access to 500 Disney books.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would want to pony up $259 or more for a personal reading device — you still have to buy the downloaded book, usually at $9.99. But according to Geoffrey A. Fowler, writing in the Wall Street Journal, something like 900,000 e-readers will arrive under Christmas trees this holiday season.
Fowler calls it the e-reader’s “iPod moment” –but he warns it could turn out to be the device’s “eight-track moment,” too. In other words, are e-readers already obsolete?
Fowler notes that e-readers “restrict the book-reading experience in ways that trusty paperbacks haven’t.” You can’t lend books bought through some e-readers, for example. But makers are trying to address such drawbacks as fast as possible.
“If you have the disposable income and love technology—not books—you should get a dedicated e-reader,” Bob LiVolsi, the founder of BooksOnBoard, the largest independent e-book store, tells Fowler. He advises everyone else to repurpose an old laptop, or buy a cheap netbook for digital reading.
“It will give you a lot more functionality, and better leverages the family income,” LiVolsi says.
No thanks, I’ll stick with the trusty paperback. But for those interested in reading books digitally, Fowler’s article is long and thorough. Combine it with Belopotosky’s buyer’s guide, and you can be an informed consumer.
Are you buying an e-reader for someone this Christmas? Which brand?