Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why E-books?

E-books are
one of those technologies that seem always on the cusp of taking off but never quite there.

I love books. So why not e-books?

-The Reader: A decent portable reader costs around $350. This is not an insignificant amount of money, especially for a single-use tech item. I could probably find a decent mini PC for that amount of money, or slightly more.

I'd also be very afraid that the damn thing would break. The screen could crack. Dead pixels. Even with a warranty you're going to go through a hassle getting it fixed. With a real book, I can throw it around without fear, or jam it into my backpack or toss it in the backseat. And even when a real book breaks, it's still readable.

An e-book reader is also an attractive target for thieves. If someone tries to steal my dog-eared copy of Hello, I Must Be Going, I'll give it to them. It's a great book and I could probably find another copy for two bucks.

-The Books: Still too expensive. Just at random I picked a Carl Hiaasen book to compare, Paradise Screwed. As an e-book it costs 11.96 (discounted rate). At Amazon.com I can get a paperback for 1.50 and a hardback for 8 bucks.

What's the justification? You're spending more money just to help a company save money on printing costs. And just like the online music retailers, what's the guarantee that the artists are going to benefit from this elevated profit?

Pretty much none.

Maybe in a few more years. I'd like to see a very rugged reader that comes for around a hundred dollars. I'd like to see books at 2-3 dollars. And I'd like to see a site that guarantees the majority of profits to the artists and only takes enough for operating costs.

Pretty please.

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