Kindle, Sony Reader and other less known e-readers were making a lot of noise lately, which is growing to a fever pitch by the advent if iPad. (I do think iPad will make a horrible e-reader just like a notebook/netbook because of the glossy screen unlike the electronic ink technology of other readers).
I have abandoned paper versions of books and magazines for quite some time, but i have not moved on to an electronic reader. I have been thinking about it, but almost always, i am sitting in front of a computer, and the time that i spend away from computer are when i want to engage my mind in non-intellectual activities. So, while it was a very attractive device, I did not buy it, yet.
So, when Amazon decided to make a software version of Kindle, I was very happy. One of the drawback of being a full time electronic reader is the limitation of established content. It is very hard to get electronic versions of print books unless you are subscribing to one of these e-book thingies. So, I eagerly downloaded it and started using it.
The first book I downloaded and read was Darwin’s Origin of Species. It was free. It did not take me long to notice several major differences between reading Kindle and reading other on-line content. The second book, which I am still reading is Richard Dawkin’s God Delusion.
One of the reasons why I don’t like print media is its lack of interactivity. You cannot click on a link and hyperjump to a related article. You cannot just switch to another tab and Wikipedia or Google or Bing for more information about something you want to know more about. I have been catching myself looking for where to click when reading the magazines in the hospital waiting room.
The kindle electronic version does produce very nice looking pages. It is crisp. The size is changeable and it was quite easy to get it to an easily readable size for my monitor. However, once I started reading, I started seeing the same annoying limitations that I find with print media. The text is completely non-interactive. The only hyperlink is to the footnotes, and even full web addresses cannot be clicked on. So, I tried the next thing, try to copy the link address and paste it, but of course, you cannot copy text from it. There is your DRM at work. Soon I found that I cannot search the book either. All I can do is put book marks and jump to pages. It is like a nicely scanned print book!
Today morning, while we were waiting for her radiation at the hospital, Shobha suggested that I buy a Kindle or other reader so that I can read while waiting. But, I don’t think I will do that. I will just people watch the few minutes that I am sitting there. For me, the reading experience has moved away from the passive eye scanning. When I read, I want to control the content. I want to control the narration. I can do it in digital media, whether it is coming as a webpage or PDF or XPS. I can’t to it on the page of Better Homes (for some reasons, every hospital waiting room has Better Homes). I can’t do it on Kindle. I might be able to do it in iPad, but that is not a device for me. If i want to do all those things, I will get something with a higher resolution screen, a multi-core processor and a usable touch keyboard.