e-book readers and related topics

I blogged about the Sony Reader a couple of months back. The Amazon Kindle is out now too. One of the things I didn’t like about the Sony Reader was the lack of technical books. I did a little searching on Amazon, and they definitely seem to have a better supply of programming books available than Sony. The pricing on them isn’t great though. For instance, ASP.NET 2.0 Unleashed is $36 on Amazon for the dead tree version, and $32 for the Kindle version. That book is almost 2000 pages, and weighs 6 pounds, so I can understand why the physical version costs so much, but I think they should really be able to deliver the electronic version at a significantly lower price. Leaving that aside for now, it’s still pretty compelling to switch from having a big pile of 2000 page, 6 pound books to having a single device weighing less than one pound holding multiple books. And I still think the idea of a partnership with Safari would be great, but I guess that’s too much to ask for at this point.

There have been some interesting reactions to the Kindle, from people like Scoble and Mossberg. One thing that concerns me is that both of those guys have pointed out some interface problems that make the device a little frustrating to use.

Cory Doctorow pointed out a few negatives on a post on BoingBoing, and talked about it a bit during an episode of TWiT from a few weeks back. His big problem is basically the DRM and TOS stuff. I don’t necessarily mind DRM, if it’s done well, and if I can trust that the company behind it will be supporting the system for a while. In other words, I don’t have a big problem with iTunes DRM, but I don’t really trust that anyone else’s DRM is going to be around long enough to make it worth my while to invest any money in it. Of course, I’d rather just not have *any* DRM, but that just doesn’t seem feasible right now. I know we’re getting there on music, but it doesn’t look like we’re anywhere near there on books yet.

I really like the wireless purchase and delivery system on the Kindle. That seems much better than the Sony system. I think that if they can get some of the interface kinks ironed out in the next iteration of the hardware, bring down book prices a bit, and maybe bring the price of the device itself down, then I’ll be ready to take the plunge and get one.

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