Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why I'm Resisting the iPad et al

Every time I go away somewhere and have to lug along ten books, I think about buying a fancy e-reader. Every time I see a new one advertised, with all the features and extra toys, I think about buying one. Every time I go online to check out a book and see that it's cheaper as an ebook and I can have it straight away, I want an e-reader.

But I still haven't bought one. For a number of reasons.

1. They cost a lot. I was given a small cheap e-reader for Christmas last year and while it's kind of OK for epub books, it does mash them up a bit and I read really fast, so I got tired of pressing the page button. If I'm going to get one, it has to have a big screen (10 inch) and it has to show books in proper pages. So I am having a lot of trouble justifying $500-600 just to read books that I can hold in my hand for no extra cost.

2. They have batteries (don't laugh). So they have to be plugged in a lot to recharge. I have enough trouble remembering to recharge my phone. I read enough stuff to know I'd have to recharge an e-reader at least every second day, and I'm not sure I could be bothered right now. And if I was reading something really good and the reader died? It might end up across the room, looking worse for wear.

3. I don't mind reading ebooks but I prefer print. I spend a lot of time on my computer and reading books on screen doesn't tempt me enough. For writers like me, I think there's also a psychological aspect to do with revision. I don't like revising on screen - I have to print things out and scribble all over them and cross stuff out. So reading on screen somehow feels like it might make revision harder for me. Weird, maybe, but we all have our own processes.

4. Obsolescence annoys me, and I suspect where e-readers are concerned, we're going to see more big changes in the technology. I want to wait for an e-reader that really suits me, that I know I'll be able to use for the next 5 or 10 years. But see, right now, I don't know what will suit me. Do I want a camera? I would have said no, but now I Skype a lot. Could I type on something like an iPad? Do I want to? Will anyone ever produce the perfect e-reader for me? Probably not. Actually, I think I'm suffering from product overload - too many choices so I don't want anything (look it up - it's a common consumer problem these days!).

OK, the bottom line is if I could rent or borrow one for a month or three, I'd know. I think. But there's something about being able to shove that paperback in my bag and read it anytime I want without having to turn it on that I love. And there's still that $500 price tag...
(If you want to compare every single e-reader - and get totally confused - take a look at this Wikipedia page.) And the one top left is a Nook Colour, which we can't get in Australia anyway.


D. Robert Pease said...

After having my Kindle for about two months now, I can honestly say, I'd much rather read on it than an old fashioned book. And believe me, I love(d) my books. With the Kindle, I love the fact I can read with one hand, or no hands (just laying it on my lap, on the table, etc...). Paper books always flop closed on me. I also am reading more because there is virtually no down time between books, if I don't want there to be. I finish one, I don't have to rush to the book store, or wait for a delivery. I can order it and have it in under a minute. Amazon loves me because I am buying a lot more books than I used to. You've heard all the arguments before I'm sure but here they are again in order of your reasons:

1. Cost - I bought the latest Kindle. $140 (I think). To me that is bordering on disposable. If I can use it for a year or two, what is $140. Heck I spend that to fill my gas tank twice. I don't hardly get any groceries for that.

$140 just seems pretty darn cheap for the benefits. As to size, I don't think the smaller screen on the Kindle is really that big of a deal. Pressing a button is mindless after just a little use.

2. Batteries - With the Kindle, the battery lasts a very long time. I went on vacation, for two weeks. The kindle was being used by me, my son, or my daughter pretty much every waking hour we drove (2,500 miles) or in the evenings. And I think I only charged it one night. So it lasted roughly a week with heavy usage. This is the beauty of e-ink vs. the iPad LCD screen. Also I read in bed every night, and I just have the charger plugged in the wall by the nightstand. If the battery is getting low, I just plug it in before going to sleep.

3. Reading on a screen vs. print - Again this is an e-ink vs. LCD issue. I get eye-strain when reading on my computer, or iPhone. But this just does not happen on the Kindle. It is nearly identical to reading on paper, just without the annoying book closing on me thing.

4. Obsolescence - At $150 who cares. You will never have a piece of technology that lasts you ten years (not in our lifetimes at least). Name one electronic gadget, you still use, you bought ten years ago. I can't.

Bottom line, I am a book lover. I'm also an Apple lover (I love my MacBook and my iPhone) but when it comes to reading, I think there is no better device than the Kindle (or maybe Nook) with an e-ink display. I highly, highly recommend it.

Elaine Ouston said...

I'm picking up my iPad today. I wanted it to take to Europe with me. It is impossible to take many books as they weigh too much. And I'm like you Sheryl, I wanted the bigger screen so I can see a whole page at a time. I also wanted to be able to acess the internet and use it to take notes of my impressions of a place. It will fit in my bag and is smaller than my laptop and easier to use in a bus etc. I'll let you know what I think when I get back in October.

Sherryl said...

Great arguments/reasons, Robert. You might just have convinced me! I think part of my problem is separating the e-reader (like a Kindle or Nook) from the bells and whistles of the touch screens like the iPad. I'm getting distracted by the fancy bits! Which is where the $500+ comes in, of course.

Sherryl said...

Elaine - please do! I'd love to hear what you think about it, especially whether you wished you'd also taken a laptop.

Lisa66 said...

Sherryl, I've toyed with the idea of an e-reader or an ipad for a while now and come to the same conclusions as you. Particularly with the more expensive devices, I just don't think would use one enough to justify spending the money.

I can see the advantages for travel, however I truly don't like reading on a screen.

As far as the ipad is concerned, almost everyone I know has one! When I ask them to explain the advantages most people mumble something about Facebook, Angry Birds and using it as an e-reader. Maybe it's because I don't play games, but I'm yet to see the advantages over the traditional book and a laptop.

Maybe it's just me...

Ellen said...

Hi Sherryl, I think it's really really really important not to directly compare a dedicated e-reader with a tablet (iPad etc). As you say, a tablet has all the bells and whistles for consuming all sorts of fancy content, but when it comes down to spending HOURS with a novel, you want something that doesn't give you eye-strain or wrist strain and doesn't need recharging daily. A dedicated e-reader (whichever one you get) is thus what you want for serious novel reading, and will give almost exactly the same experience as reading a book. I agree with pretty much everything the first commenter said.

(However, I wouldn't be buying a kindle just now, because at the moment it's the only device that doesn't have a touchscreen capability and rumours are that a new model that does should be released later this year.)

I travelled last year with a kindle for reading and a netbook computer for writing/internet etc, and that combination worked really well for me. I don't think the iPad is yet ready for serious writing... although I think it will get there. But even if I had an iPad (and I think I will, in time, for breakfast/TV blog and facebook consumption etc), I would also have a lighter e-ink e-reader for serious reading.

I wrote a blog post on my thoughts on kindles v paperbacks (v iPad) here if you're interested:

My book reading and buying habits have definitely changed. I tend to buy paperbacks if it's a loved author, but more and more often I'm buying e-books because of the convenience, price and portability.

Sorry for the lengthy comment, but this is a pet subject of mine :-)


Sherryl said...

Lisa, I think you and I are in the same place right now!

Ellen - thanks for your comments. It's good to know other people are thinking about this with the same concerns. If the Kindle comes out as a touch-screen, I might be finally buying one. I've resorted to the public library more as books went up in price here, but I'm starting to get rid of books now, which I never thought I'd do. So maybe the ebook will grow on me!

Ellen said...

Good luck with whatever you decide. It's certainly interesting times for the book industry.