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Old 01-16-2007, 05:25 AM   #1
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What makes e-book readers expensive?

An interesting question, asked by this guy (or girl). Quote:

Quote:
With all this [e ink] technology, you can understand why e-book readers are so expensive now. However, I do have a question for everyone to think about. Notice how through technological advancements, we are able to create paperlike reading in a paperless device that costs a big chunk of change. It seems that no matter how far we try and get away from the physical paper books, something about it always pulls us back. So is it worth spending an enormous amount of money on something that just wants to emulate the physical paper filled book?
What do you think? For me, it was definitely worth the money to buy the Sony Reader. But of course tastes differ...
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:36 PM   #2
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For me, worth it, no question.

I do see their point, I just find that the advantages of e-reading outweigh it for me.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:14 PM   #3
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I think the key here is in the way one defines “paper like.”

First is the general proportions and orientation of paper and by default devices like the Sony Reader. The portrait orientation is what we have developed over thousands of years of written language in the west. It works best for us. A few basic sizes have emerged and become standard A4, A5, and A6 in most of the world along with letter, legal, folio, and “book or paperback novel” size in the USA. All of these sizes provide a good balance between line length lines on a page. Also, each can be handled easily by one person. (When was the last time you tried to move an unabridged dictionary?) The modern eBook readers have simply followed what has proven to be a shape and size that humans find comfortable to use. This is also one reason why I believe eBooks never caught on when read on a desktop or laptop – the screen orientation was wrong.

Second is the sharpness of the text. The ability to have multiple font types to express and amplify the mood of the text. E-ink for the display panel provides a better viewing than any of the LCD technologies or the old CRT technologies could ever hope to achieve. Additionally, you are looking at reflective light rather than direct light so the eye fatigue is greatly reduced. Currently the Sony Reader (as an example) provides three base fonts for most documents and an unlimited number of fonts when used with correctly formatted PDF files.

Was it worth it for me? Yes!
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:27 PM   #4
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I think Cory Doctorow said it best when he pointed out that many of the best features of eBooks are orthogonal to the best features of pbooks, and in my case, I'd specifically note portability and searchability. If someone doesn't keep books or never moves house, and never feels the need to search through books, perhaps eBooks are pointless. For some people, pbooks may always be the preferred medium. (Heck, for some people, audiobooks or even film adaptations may be the best medium :shudder: ) It's nice to have choices.
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:42 PM   #5
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Absolutely worth it. I like that my reader imitates the best qualities of pbooks, because it also reduces (or avoids adding to) the bulging shelves and teetering stacks of books all over my house. I bought it for those specific reasons - to save on storage space and the inconvenience of going shopping while still being able to curl up on the sofa with something in the familiar size and shape, with a screen that's easy on the eyes.
I also keep telling myself that I'm making up the price by saving on content, which may even turn out to be true, eventually
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:45 PM   #6
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To me the short answer to the question posed in the title of the thread is that e-book readers are a niche device so the economies of scale do not apply. A slightly modernized Ebk1150 (more storage, more pixels, reading directly the formats it can convert now, but with the same fast navigation and excellent ergonomics) selling at comparable price with the current one and marketed by a well known company could break out of the niche.

An all purpose handheld with a big enough screen (Nokia, iPhone, Pepper) could do it also, but I am quite skeptical since the technical requirements will either make it too expensive or not very usable.

In the meantime we use whatever is available and suits us, and there are enough choices out there with more announced by the day it seems. Now if commercial content reasonably priced would follow...
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Old 01-17-2007, 08:49 AM   #7
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ETI is working on a replacement for the Ebk1150, so it will be interesting to see what happens over the next year. I think Amazon could pull it off, if their reader came in under US$300. They have the leverage with publishers to "encourage" conversion to digital formats of much of their product line, and enormous market presence. They'll need a better design that the leaked image we saw, though.
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:52 AM   #8
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The two main reasons...R&D and the thin ice type risk of going in a direction where no one could follow or will never go.

The ebook has seen so many failures that something special had to save it. Eink.

Until things really pick up, the concepts that will keep prices high are; novelty and exclusivity. The US only sales come up to mind as a nice ploy for that.
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Old 01-18-2007, 09:59 AM   #9
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It was worth it to me too. Now their valentines version with the D&B cover. Nope, I wouldn't pay into that one <G>
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Old 01-20-2007, 01:03 AM   #10
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I think cost recupement is whats currently keeping the price high. I keep on looking at the market and say to myself will eink readers ever go away? (Which is what a lot of the naysayers are intimating) Frankly no. Whilst it may not become a ubiquitious device, I would hazard a guess that large percentage of individuals who buy more than 5 books per year would be interested in the device. People are not comfortable with the idea of downloading books, rather than buying them, but this is the same unease a lot of people would have felt if you mentioned in the pre-mp3 days of downloading from iTunes, before it became a reality.
Whilst the Sony is a good start, I think the turning point will be the Kindle, if it succeeds, I would no doubt be expecting eink readers to be within the $50 dollar range within 5 years time. (If you think thats too steep a drop compare that with the price of DVD players and LCD panels when they first came out)
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Old 01-21-2007, 01:42 PM   #11
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Was it worth spending an enormous amount? For me, yes. I travel internationally almost monthly. I have always hauled tons of books (the curse of being a reader). An e-ink based reader (in my case, the Sony) proves to be a very good solution. Not only does it eliminate the weight, it also provides several other benefits, to wit:
  • I don't have to decide which books to carry on versus pack in checked luggage. No longer do I need to predict my mood 5 hours hence.
  • I don't have to advertise to others what I am reading. I once was reading a book about airline disasters on a trip. The flight attendant came by and asked me to put it away (she was joking, thankfully, but still...).
  • I can fall asleep while reading, and even if the ebook hibernates, I can find my place again when I wake up.

The e-ink solution breaks new ground for this sort of device. The screen resolution (dots per inch) is significantly higher than a standard computer display (which is typically either 72 dpi or up to 100 dpi). A handheld 170 dpi display renders text at a level of fine detail similar to ink on paper, making the reading experience far superior to reading from a liquid crystal display. Fonts are rendered beautifully on my device!

The miserly power consumption of an e-ink display takes the urgency out of reading. I do not have to wonder if I'm going to make it through the chapter before my device runs out of power. I now wonder if I'll ever even make a dent in the battery from normal reading. The only time my reader dropped below a full power indication was when I forgot to turn off the MP3 player, and it played silently for a couple of hours while the book sat on a table. (I generally do not read and listen, so I don't consider the MP3 player a critical feature of this device.)

If the primary consideration is cost, an ebook reader is not a wise choice. An ebook reader offers convenience whose price cannot be measured by the discounts (or lack thereof) realized through buying ebooks.
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