Fresh Brain Juice on EBooks.

What set me off.
I've had a case of the old Gadget lust again lately. This time it's for a good ebook reader. What set it off? Well I went for a short little trip up to Port Macquarie to have a bit of time off and recharge the batteries & went looking for some fresh reading material to take with me. I found a big arse Star Trek story spread out over three paperbacks in a newsagents and snapped them up. I'm a sucker for Star Trek and Star Wars novels. So I had a great break and enjoyed being engrossed in a good story that I couldn't put down.

Then I was finished. `Spent' as they say in the classics. But then the books were still there. They just looked so big and lumpy and well, frankly, a bit dejected and maudlin. All that paper. It felt so wasteful. But I want more! I want to read more like this but not feel so bad about killing a forest to do it. So it got me thinking about ebook readers and as it happened, the Amazon Kindle 2 was being announced about that time so I went and sussed it out.

EBook Nirvana
Short answer. I loved it. Not unconditionally as I will explain. But for the moment it seemed just what I needed. It's small and light, it has huge battery time, something like two weeks between charges. It can hold a hell of a lot of books on it as well as digital access to a lot of major newspapers and blogs. You buy the books from Amazon at under $10 USD which is still cheaper than paperbacks in the Aussie Dollar. Those same Star Trek novels were available to read on the Kindle and there were more in the series available as well as latest release books and a huge variety of others. So I was getting pretty excited about the Kindle. I still love having a physical book. But some books are more special than others and you really don't need them taking up space on the shelf. But wait! It's only available in the USA! Huh?! This is ridiculous. How can this be good business? Lets put this into perspective. This is like Apple releasing the ipod but only for people in the USA. It's the same with the Sony Reader, the Kindle's major competitor. What gives? Both are great ideas. But then frankly, both are not quite there and here's why.

The Ultimate EBook
For me the ultimate ebook reader should be light like the kindle. Easy to navigate and use. Be interactive with either a digital (touchscreen like the iphone) or a keyboard on the device. It should be wireless and it should have a colour screen which the Kindle and Sony Reader don't have at the moment.

I would love to subscribe and download digital versions of magazines I enjoy but I reckon they should be laid out on the reader screen as the magazine intended and not reformatted for the device, So reading a digital edition of Wired or Rolling Stone or whatever mag, should look the same as the `meat space' version. That being said, my ultimate dream machine would have video embedded into emag articles or flash animated ads - which would be great for advertisers too. A fair whack of the ads in Wired Magazine are eye catching and sometimes interesting but if those ads were animated and/or video I'd be more inclined to look at them. Imagine downloading a magazine, reading the article and then downloading a video follow up to the story. It wouldn't have to stay on the pad using up space either. It could stream from the cloud and be deleted from your pads drive when you turn it off. And I want to be able to read full colour comics on it as well. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, all those man's... and some incredo-womans too. Then I wouldn't have to put up with the loud, annoying little shit who owns my local comic shop when feeding my monthly Superhero addiction. I could just download them.

But I'm getting away from myself, which is not an easy thing to do when there's so much of you. For the moment, I've found a great workaround. The iphone is surprisingly good at being an ebook reader. There's a free app available called Stanza. Download one to your desktop and one to your mac, load up an ebook and you can wirelessly copy it to your iphone. And it works great! I bought some Star Trek and Star Wars ebooks to test it out. I'd still prefer a Kindle 2 though - Do you hear me Jeff Bezos!!

And so I wait.

Ross CarrollComment