Does Anyone Actually Like eReaders?

POSTED ON Oct 27, 2009

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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Have you ever made a podcast? I listen to them all the time, every day while I’m at the gym or in the car. It’s a great way to take in information and I find a really good podcast can bear repeating because each time I hear it a different part of my brain seems to be listening.
PRS300SCI’m planning to start making podcasts for but I’ve been pretty disappointed with the sound quality of my experiments so I headed over to Best Buy to find a replacement.

Sometimes You Find What You Weren’t Looking For

Here’s something you may not know: Best Buy doesn’t sell microphones. A friendly floor-walker there suggested Radio Shack or the local music store. On my way out, grumbling over a wasted trip, I stopped to have a go at the Sony Reader display.

The basic model, the Sony Reader Pocket Edition was fully operational and I spent some time moving through the menus and loading up texts. I have to say that the liquid paper screen technology these e-readers use is quite good, giving a readable surface without any glare or backlight that wears on the eyes after a while.

Other than that, and the efficiency of being able to carry “hundreds of books” on you all the time—none of the ads for these readers can supply any credible reason why someone would want to walk around with an entire library in their pocket—I just can’t see why these things are popular.

You Call This Reading?

Forget for a minute that even the stripped down model is two hundred dollars. Scrolling through the menus was anything but smooth. Page “turns” caused the unit to do that “LCD flash” thing each time, which disturbs the restful state you had been in from reading the page you just finished.

Except for title pages and the odd decorative element the pages are bleak, the type faces choppy, the justification awkward, the sizes boringly the same. All in all, not really a pleasant experience.

Even a mass-produced printed book is a far superior experience. What’s more, it is likely to transmit the author’s thoughts and expression far more effectively than the experience you have—moderated by still-primitive technology—with an e-reader.

Is This The Future? Don’t Close the Paper Mills!

Maybe this is the future of books, when all the trees will be saved from the paper mills but we’ll be consigned to a world of flat and lifeless e-readers. Of course this technology will continue to improve and, for a while at least, the printed book will be the model on which the e-readers are based, and against which they’ll be judged.

But I’m not looking forward to it. How about you? Are you a Kindle-lover? An e-reader enthusiast? Why? I’m curious.

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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