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Old 11-12-2012, 08:21 PM   #1
vxf
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Posts: 922
Karma: 1414252
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Norman, OK
Device: Sony PRS 350, 900, 950; iPad3, iPad Mini; Kindle Touch, Paperwhite
So, I got caught in this e-reading thing...

In truly did not expect to move to e-readers. I bought one, the SONY PRS900, because I wanted to get newspapers and magazine delivered on time. I tried reading books on it as well and never looked back. Ever since then, 4 years ago, I have read everything electronic. I have gone through 6 SONY readers, 2 kindles, and 2 iPads. Nowadays I read magazines on my iPad and everything else on a Kindle PW. Yet, I am increasingly disappointed. I'll try to keep it brief.

1) Quality. Everything digital seems to have more mistakes. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the Financial Times (FT), but also every book. Typos, typos, typos. Then typos. I don't get it. I compare the WSJ on print and on my Kindle, and the Kindle version has plenty of errors not in print. Same for books. And not just old books - recent stuff, so not scanned.

2) Content. Why do many ebooks not have introductions or footnotes/endnotes otherwise present in print? I want the option to skip those, not someone else to make that choice... Why do digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazine not include special issues, weekend editions, etc?

3) Price. Despite all the promises, everything costs either the same, or more. Well, it might be a subjective issue, I'll admit. I work in academia. I have three libraries around me. With plenty of free print books. Almost no ebooks. This is a major university. The third one I am in over the last decade. Of the three, none had a useful ebook collection. They all had kindles to check-out. Go figure.
I can get discounted subscriptions to most of the stuff I read. But even so... WSJ, FT, and The Economist cost the same in print as digital. Except that print has more content (see above) and that you can ALWAYS get some deal, some discount. Online, you pay the full price.
Books... it's a mixed bag. Some cost less digital. Most cost more. Well, maybe not 'most'. But it is not savings...

4) It is a lot of work. Update firmware. Call customer support because something always goes wrong (at least, it did with every ereader I have owned). Install Calibre, manage plugins, edit metadata because the editor does not think it worth his/her time. Borrowing from libraries is a mess, with most readers. Including SONY. I learned, but it was not as smooth as walking into a library and asking for a book. Figure out how to backup stuff. Which includes figuring out how to strip off DRM. Then actually backup stuff every time you buy something.
A print book, I buy, I read, I put on the shelf.

5) Availability. Actually what started this rant is the fact that I am down to the third book in a row I cannot find digital in the USA.
Rebecca by duMaurier
The Once and Future King by White
Notwithstanding by DeBernieres
Go figure, those were three in a row for my book club. All of them I had to go print or go pirate.
But it really happens a lot lately. At least a dozen books I read this year are not available digitally in the US. For some reason, almost all are in the UK. Which goes back to (4). I can go VPN, make an account on Amazon UK, strip DRM, put on my US Kindle. All of which costs me time and money. Or I can get a free print book from the library, within 5 minutes (ok, ok, I am in a particular spot there, I realize...).

6) I just can't find an ebook reader I am truly happy with. My favorite was my PRS950. It died. Noone makes a similar product. I liked the 7" screen. And how light it was. And 3g. I use a paperwhite today, which is more like a paper-pink-green-spots. But it makes me cheerful. At least the screen has all sorts of relaxing, pastel-like shades. No, really. It's a decent reader. But small (I want a bigger screen). And it has no battery life.

7) Kind of related to (6), my biggest gripe is that no ebook reader seems to support an easy way to store, backup, and retrieve your annotations. Amazon gets closest, but only for Amazon content. It's tricky for side-loaded content. Plus Kindle don't allow free-hand annotations like SONYs. Really, SONY rocks for annotations. Especially if you want to lose them forever once the device fails and you find out that you backed up three of the folders scattered around your hard drive in which SONY decided to store your content, but you forgot the fourth, and anyways you can't restore them to the new version of their god-awful software.

Is it just a technology destined for defeat? Are there just too few people really reading around the world to be worth a decent product? Is it too early, are we just the early-adopters dealing with the inevitable failures, or is it too late, because everyone is watching videos on tablets and no-one cares about black-and-white text?

And, most importantly, should I go back to grading rather than rant?

Last edited by vxf; 11-12-2012 at 08:23 PM.
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