eBooks: Good, but not great

Given that it costs no more to produce one eBook than to produce one million I am a little disappointed that they are not cheaper.
They do not have the printing, storage, handling and shipping costs of physical books so should be way cheaper, they very often are not. I would suggest it is because publishers don’t want to ‘cannibalise’ their paper books, however, I can see a parallel with the newspaper industry and online news and it is the newspapers that have suffered. Publishing is a slow industry to embrace change.

Reading an eBook is also a barrier to widespread use. There is a reason many people print stuff to read… reading from a computer screen quickly becomes tiring. Reading from a phone is dreadful and a tablet/iThingy, not much better, though it does build the arm muscles.

The only e reader I enjoy using is the Sony, its ’10 000 page turn’ battery life is great.. but it isn’t backlit of course. Not a great negative but you do need a ‘book light’ to read in bed. The devices that are backlit have short (less than a day and often not much more than a lunch break) battery lives. Having to be constantly tethered to a power source isn’t ideal.

Getting content onto an eReader is also less than easy in many instances requiring a number of programs in order to work, and DRM of course.

There is a lot of hype around eBooks at the moment, perhaps more than they deserve.

There are some real benefits to eBooks though. The ability to have the equivalent of 20 kgs of paperbacks in a small device is tantalising. Probably more than I’ve read in my lifetime, a weeks reading for my wife though. Great for travelling.

It will be interesting to see where things are in five years time.

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