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Books and technology

The Guardian is a UK paper that gives a lot of coverage to books, but an article on e-readers appeared in today's Guardian not under books but under technology. Victor Keegan's post is titled “A new chapter in mobile reading,” and indeed that is what he focuses on— the convenience of being able to read anywhere, anytime, with a handy device you already have with you.

Keegan has had the most experience with using an iPod Touch, but he admits e-ink is easier on the eyes and that the bigger screens of the Kindle and Sony eReaders make for an easier read. He makes some interesting comparisons, and says he considers that ebooks will be to print books what movies were to radio— cutting into their territory but not replacing it. He also thinks ebooks are less of a danger to print book sales than downloading was to CD sales because CDs are albums and people would buy (or pirate) just the single song rather than the whole album. And, as he points out, the iPod made music more solitary but reading has always been solitary. That doesn't account for audiobooks and text-to-speech, however. If I break down and buy a Kindle 2 (or Amazon manages to upgrade Kindle 1's so they can do text-to-speech) and I want to listen to a book while I commute, my carpool riders will hear the book, too.

I consider it a good sign when geeks are paying attention to ebooks.







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