Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


eBook Readers

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:10 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

If there aren’t any pages, is it still a book?

Does an eBook’s page turn make a sound if there’s no one there to hear it?
What, I wonder, will it take for these miraculous devices to finally catch on? I’m sure it comes to no surprise to my regular readers, but I love books. I love reading and I love writing and I love the printed word, as I’ve written before. But, my personal library is starting to take up a lot of room. I’m not sure how many books I have, but it’s easily in the low thousands. I live alone, in a fairly good-sized house, without anyone, really to check my acquisition of lovely, lovely books, so, the numbers get away from me. But, I can say this, there are books in every room of my house. Every. Room.
Well, another thing that I’m sure will also not be a big surprise to my loyal readers, is how much I love science-fiction. Digital books, in some form or another, have been a staple of science-fiction for a very, very long time. It’s an idea that I love. I like the idea of a single, small device that’s able to access the entire encyclopedia, several newspapers, my favorite magazines, and whatever couple thousand books I might decide I just can’t live without. In a world, real or imagined, where space is becoming a premium, books that take up virtually no room would be a plus.

That’s why I can’t figure out the lack of market penetration that eBook readers have enjoyed! This article on BusinessWeek talking about the new, as yet mythical, revision of Amazon’s Kindle is what got me thinking about it. And, all the more for the fact that they’re as baffled as I am!
It’s not like the Kindle is the first eBook reader, either. The Sony Reader has been around for some time, in one form or another. And, there are others, too, like the iRex Iliad, to name just one. To me, these all seem pretty close in their execution, but none of them seem to have really caught on. Why?

No, really, I have no answers.  Why do you think?


  1. Why does theater persist while movies exist? Why do people still go to the symphony when they can listen to a recording at home? You might rightly argue that both of those “old-school” experiences are not nearly as popular since the emergence of their modern replacements, but note also that the transition didn’t happen overnight. But more importantly, movies and records don’t fully capture the same experience and therefore will never, I believe, render them completely obsolete. Movies are barely 100 years old, the phonograph a bit older. Ask again about eBooks in another 90 years or so. The answer may lie in a leatherbound text on a dusty shelf. 🙂

    Comment by tinyhands — 1/30/2009 @ 9:01 am

  2. For a good reason why this is, Charles Stross has some fine words about that:


    Comment by sysadmin1138 — 1/30/2009 @ 1:58 pm

  3. Do you own one ? If not why have you not purchased one ? They are to expensive for me.

    Comment by im822 — 1/30/2009 @ 2:02 pm

  4. No, I don’t own one. Yet. For the same reason, mainly, that they’re too expensive still. Also, it’s not easy to loan people books on them, even if they have the reader themselves and I still do that. Though, I understand that people are working on ways to make that happen, in spite of the fact that it would no doubt violate the license agreement on the eBooks purchased.
    And, too, I do so love the smell of new books. And old. And the feel of them. Though, I do have to admit, it would be nice to be able to load up a bunch of reference material and take it with me!

    Comment by the Network Geek — 1/30/2009 @ 2:46 pm

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