Mike Elgan clearly didn’t read my post on the Sony Reader before he wrote his Computer World article Why e-books are bound to fail. (Side note: Don’t you just hate it when they split an article across several linked pages? Is that crap usability or what?) I’m nailing at least 20 page views a day at this point, so you’d think he’d have heard the news: My wife is carrying on a love affair with my Sony Reader.
My wife is not some silly Sony Reader fangirl; in fact she kept trying to talk me out of buying it. Nor does she have advanced technical prowess. She’s capable with word, excel and an internet browser. And yet in spite of her lack of slide rule aptitude, she curls up every night with my Sony Reader. Yep, Mr. Elgan, she curls up with it. It’s actually a surprisingly easy thing to do. I thought you’d like to hear about it, as you twice mentioned your doubts on the “curling up” scenario.
Of course my wife’s behavior is purely anecdotal, but then so is the example of one book being only $1.25 cheaper on ebooks.com than Amazon. Many books are free on websites like ManyBooks.net. Free beats any price you can find on Amazon. Of course, many of these free texts are classics, but classics are heavily read each year by both students and literature junkies.
As the price of the hardware comes down (and it will), a few lingering quirks are worked out (OK, there’s more than a few), and more eBooks become available at competitive prices. I absolutely believe you will begin to see eBook Readers take off. It already has in the technically-savvy bookworm community. The reduced price will help it spread into the academic and business/road warrior community, and eventually into the non-technical, novel reading community.
And even if I’m wrong, it’s only a matter of time before the feature creep of mobile phones, MP3 players and PDA’s expands to include improved eBook reading features. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of eInk. It’s too revolutionary. While you might be correct in the sense that none of current line of readers will become the next iPod, eBook readers are not going away.
UPDATE: I originally wrote this most of this post last night, and in a great ironic twist, I found my wife curled up with an analog reader. Yeah, a paper book. I was shocked. I asked her why she wasn’t hogging my reader. She said there “weren’t any nice books left on it.” She had polished off Infidel and The Science of Getting Rich (the original The Secret) and wasn’t interested in reading my Allan Quatermain novels. Looks like Sony will be getting a few more bucks from me soon.