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November 30, 2007

More on E-Books and E-Book Reading Devices

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Thanks to Amazon's new Kindle, announced a few weeks ago, the debate is on once again about e-book reading devices.

Bezos' Baby

Everyone has an opinion about the Kindle. Half-Sigma thinks that the prices of e-books are out of line. David Pogue writes that this kind of device might make some sense for the textbook market; the comments on Pogue's column are worth scrolling through too. Tyler Cowen and visitors pitch in. Newsweek's Steven Levy visited with Amazon's Jeff Bezos and thought the Kindle had its virtues. Hotshot book designer Chip Kidd thinks that the Kindle is going nowhere fast. Meanwhile, Amazon quickly sold out of the device.

Robert Nagle and I have a bet on about e-book readers. Robert thinks that e-book reading devices will catch on bigtime -- he makes a good case for this, by the way -- while in my opinion e-book readers will never become a hugely successful product.

Let me offer two quick, very practical reasons why I think I'll win our bet:

  • Who needs 'em? Books of the paper-and-cardboard sort are miraculously efficient, enjoyable, and affordable content-delivery vehicles. They're unmatchably pleasing in many ways. For one thing, in order to use them you don't have to do any thinking. Interacting with a book is all a matter of reach-and-grab. You get to reserve your mental power for the book's content. With an e-book reader, by comparison, you have to puzzle out how to use the thing, and then you have to keep relearning your lessons. "How do I make the device behave?" keeps breaking in on your experience of the book's content.

  • Think of the consequences. While being able to store your entire library in one small device certainly sounds appealing, it also means: No passing along your books to family and friends; worries about what will become of your beloved collection should the electronic device it's stored on fail; and -- inevitably -- the nightmare of digital-rights management.

    You don't think that publishers are going sell easy-to-use, compatible-with-everything files, do you? Get real. They're going to do whatever they can to protect their creations from unauthorized copying, and they're unlikely to band together and settle on a single convenient format. In other words: Imagine the Betamax-vs.-VCR wars multiplied many times over. And then imagine contending with all of this: decoding the device, keeping it charged, not being able to rip out pages, and feeling annoyed that the book you want can't be read on the device you own. That's a lot of brainstrain. Now recall what it's like to interact with a book. You grab it off the shelf, and you settle in for a read.

I could be wrong, of course. I find Robert Nagle's enthusiasm for e-book readers very winning, I think that David Pogue's hunch about the textbook market makes a lot of sense, and progress will march on no matter what my opinion about it is, darn it. And the designers of the Kindle have clearly addressed a number of the problems that e-book readers have stumbled over in the past. I confess that, reading about the Kindle, I had a few moments when I thought, "Good heavens, if this thing works as they say it will maybe Robert Nagle is going to win this bet."

But my main response to the Kindle is to marvel once again at the way such a fuss gets made over the whole "e-book reader" question. Every few years a new e-book reader comes along, and -- as if the whole event has been scripted -- every few years big crowds of smart people sit up and pay attention. Will this e-book reader be The One or not? I just plain don't get it.

Let's review how e-book readers have done during the first decade of their existence. (That's right, it has already been about ten years.) Franklin brought out an e-book reader in the late 1990s. Then came the Gemstar, and then the Rocket:


Sony has taken a couple of swings at the e-book reader. Here's the most recent:


Each one of these devices received tons of press attention -- and if any of them have sold more than 10,000 units I'll .... I'll ... Well, I don't know what I'll do. Post a link to a photo of a naked actress or something. In any case: A decade of trying has resulted in nothing but a lot of flops.

Incidentally, I've spent some time playing with a few of these devices. They weren't bad. It's of course cool to be able to keep lots of books on a single device. And the strictly-visual side of the experience wasn't as terrible as I feared it would be. Text didn't hit the brain in quite as clean a way as it does when you're reading ink on paper; the effect was a little dreamy, as it might be if you were reading text printed on the bottom of a swimming pool. But reading text on an e-book reader wasn't unbearable by any means. An e-book reader would be an ideal device to use when you want to read in bed next to your snoozing partner. It illuminates itself -- no other lighting needed.

If everything else about an e-book reader were comparably simple and straightforward -- if buying, handling, marking-up, and passing-along e-books were a snap -- then I could in fact see a plausible market for them. But I don't see any way around the buying-and-handling challenges.

And there is one other thing -- a psychological thing. When you handle an e-book reader, you start to wonder why it's denying you color, links, movement, and sound. What you have in your hands is a computer, after all. So why is it such a crippled one? You start to wonder why you aren't playing with a laptop computer instead.

But, like I say, faced with the e-book question what I mainly find myself wondering about is: Why do people hang up on the form of "the book" so much? It seems to me that the far more important question is the more general one of reading and writing. Perhaps I'm a strange bird, but if I'm enjoying a rewarding reading-and-writing life I couldn't care less whether the physical objects known as "books" are a part of it. So for me, the interesting question isn't, "Which e-book reader is going to work for the masses?" but instead, "When are we going to shift over to electronic reading and writing?"

And, as we all know, the answer to that question is "We already have." A fun fact to point out: Many of the people arguing over the value of the Kindle -- nearly all of the people fascinated by the idea of an e-book reading device -- first read about it online. They're doing their debating about the device online too. Do they not notice the irony?

It's as if many of these (often very bright) people think that e-reading and e-writing isn't enough. None of it is real, or can be real, until an "e-book reader" finally takes off. It's as though only the "it's like a book!" thing will validate the e-reading and e-writing that they're already doing.

Here's an even-more-basic thing I never fully understand: the reverence some people have for "the book" per se. I don't get it. Books are marvelous content-delivery devices, of course. And yes, I have been quite a book-reader in my life. And, yes again, I'm happy to agree that a well-made book with sensuous qualities of its own can merge with content and writin' in ways that can be delightful. I'm also not a complete fool where emotions are concerned. Let's face it: Many people have fond memories of and strong feelings about books.

I enjoy books and respect them, in other words. Yet, at the same time, what's the big deal about them? Why should "the book" be thought to be the standard to which all other media-and content delivery devices have to aspire?

Despite its amazing convenience and its impressive history, a book is nothing more than a container for content. If we encounter better -- or more appealing -- content-delivery systems, why shouldn't we set our books aside? Besides, it isn't as though books are going away, after all. We aren't talking about a one-or-the-other situation. We're talking about a richer media environment in which "the book" will play a one-part-of-the-media-mix role. Nothing wrong with that, that I can see.

What a lot of this seems to me to boil down to is: I think many people are awfully sentimental about books. I don't know what else to conclude. I've never been that sentimental about books myself. Before I spent time in and around the book publishing business, I may have been a wee bit more reverent about books than I am now. (You get used to thinking about books as "product" very quickly when you're in book publishing.) But I never had the deep, quasi-religious attachment to "the book" that many people seem to have. Chuck 'em into the trash when you're done with 'em -- why not? Rip a buncha pages out -- it's your book. Stack your books up and prop your computer on it -- makes sense to me. And there are always DVDs to watch.

Look: The fact is that books aren't what they are -- the length they are, and published the way they're published -- because God wanted it to be so. Books are what they are -- the size they are, the number of pages they are -- in large part because such a product suits the requirements of printers, warehousers, shippers, and retailers.

There is nothing written in Holy Ink anywhere that says that content -- stories, narratives, info-heaps, etc -- need to be 300 pages long. The only reason books are 300 pages long is because they're books, and books are manufactured commodities that are 300 pages long. Many, many, many worthy stories, opinions, and info-bundles do not need to be 300 pages long.

In fact, many of the earliest books were jumbles and grab-bags. Publishers crammed whatever they could (songs, sermons, images) between covers. With these early creations, "the book" was frankly treated as a bin for content. It was only later that people started getting all "aesthetic" and "organic" and "conceptual," and started treating the length of a book as a correctly-sized canvas to work on.

In my mind I compare grab-bag books to vaudeville, variety shows, and pre-WWII musicals. Books whose content is tailored precisely to the length of a book? More like the "unified" musicals of the 1950s.

I usually try to say things modestly and defentially around here but for the moment I'm going to set that aside and blast ahead with an assertion: Book publishers publish books not because they're devoted to the perpetuation of a sacred form but because books are what book publishers are in the business of creating and selling. Which means -- and professors, literary critics, and book editors don't want you to know this -- that if you prefer to read short pieces of writing, or if you prefer to skim around bits of this and that, or if the reading and writing you find rewarding consists of surfing the blogworld and leaving behind comments, it's all OK. There's nothing automatically better about reading through books. Don't fall for the sentimental belief that there is automatically something special about "the book." There really isn't.

Semi-related: Back here I wrote about that funny crowd I called "the book-besotted." Visit Joe Wikert's blog and you'll absorb high-quality thinking and information about the new world of book publishing. Here's a video of what's known as a "print on demand" book-making machine:

(Link thanks to Andrew Sullivan.) Now that may well be the real future of book publishing.



posted by Michael at November 30, 2007


e-books COULD catch on if the books were priced appropriately, if all the books you wanted to read were actually available in e-format, and if the manufacturers GOT TOGETHER and decided on a standard format rather than having petty format wars.

But right now, it seems like the Powers That Be are trying hard to make e-books fail.

Posted by: Half Sigma on November 30, 2007 9:16 PM

I'm pretty sure Sony's Reader has actually sold pretty well. I don't think they'd have bothered releasing a third generation e-ink device (the PRS-505) this year if the second generation (PRS-500) and the first generation (the Japan-only Librie) hadn't done fairly well in their markets. Incidentally, I'm pretty sure the image of the Reader you have there is last-year's model, the PRS-500.

Anyhow, you're right that it's certainly not a market of millions yet. I know only one other person who actually owns a Sony Reader, although I know of two others who have expressed interest, and are waiting for the price to come down a little further. The price of the second generation device has come down about $100 from its initial launch price ($350 down to $250), and I expect it will fall further. All the same, it's a big enough market that Sony seems happy to continue cultivating it.

And I'm grateful for it. This year's device looks very nice, and has some improvements over the one I've been using for the past year. I'm holding out for the next iteration, though, hopefully to come out twelve months or so hence.

Posted by: Taeyoung on November 30, 2007 10:36 PM

It's as if many of these (often very bright) people think that e-reading and e-writing isn't enough. None of it is real, or can be real, until an "e-book reader" finally takes off. It's as though only the "it's like a book!" thing will validate the e-reading and e-writing that they're already doing.

I don't think you'd see anything near the fascination with e-book readers if it weren't for the fact that active screens drain battery life so quickly and are hard to view in direct sunlight. We wouldn't need e-book readers if we had affordable sub-notebooks with 50-hour operating times or something and active screens that had full contrast in direct sunlight. And we may well get there before e-ink technology reaches its full potential, in which case e-book readers and notebooks may just end up as one ultraportable tablet device. And that would be fantastic.

Posted by: Taeyoung on November 30, 2007 10:43 PM

Interesting post.

I'm thinking about buying an e-book reader for one simple reason: space. I live in a flat most of you could likely fit whole into your kitchens (slight exaggeration, maybe, but not by much) and I just don't have space to keep physical books. Bookshelves in the Tall home are reserved mostly for Daughter Tall's kids' books. Also, the heat/humidity here in Hong Kong is hell on books, especially paperbacks. Two or three years deteriorates a paperback noticeably. It's just not worth investing in the stock, so to speak.

I also am not that reverent when it comes to the physical objects that are books; I can look in on that particular obsession and see where it's coming from, but given how much I love to read, I actually feel quite lucky to be free emotionally from book-object-worship. If I couldn't throw away books, I'd be living in tunnels between stacks of them like those poor people you read about sometimes.

One other little note: I noticed that you threw out '300 pages' as the 'here's enough pages to call it a real book' figure. I always figured 200 pages was enough!

Posted by: mr tall on November 30, 2007 11:41 PM

What I want is a reader I can read old Google books on -- the ones that are out of copy right and freely available on line. It is an amazing literature, vast, but hard to deal with on a conventional laptop: can't get the whole page up at once, hard to go from one page to the next, etc.

Also, the idea of a screen that reads like paper in bright sun sounds fantastic. Anybody tried one? I've ordered a one laptop per child for Christmas -- going to give it to my new 6 year old Peruvian niece.

Posted by: Luke Lea on December 1, 2007 1:46 AM

I'd throw my $20 on your side of the bet, Michael. Even if Kindle becomes as indispensable as your cell phone, it's going to drop a lot of your books. The sensation of reading ink and paper is a lot more satisfying to me than scanning text. I will say that if Kindle takes off, that opens up a realm of possibilities for writers, including the return of the serialized novel.

Posted by: Joe Valdez on December 1, 2007 4:29 AM

I don't understand e-books either. The main reason to carry a book around is to show other people you read and to let them know your tastes. It's a subtle way of showing off (especially if you read literary fiction) and a great way to start conversations with intelligent people.

I guess if the Kindle does sell, it will be for its wireless capabilities.

Posted by: Jason on December 1, 2007 5:04 AM

Michael, I thought your most excellent point was the somewhat annoyed perception that an e-book is really just a crippled laptop. An e-book is an example of technological devolution from the laptop. A printed book, on the other hand, is the most advanced version of itself, and doesn't leave you feeling that you've been cheated out of some features. I think you have identified the very thing that will keep the e-book from taking off. The e-book may not reflect desire for a better-designed book, so much as the desire for a more convenient, and useable laptop.

Posted by: Faze on December 1, 2007 9:52 AM

We're so addicted to technology that innovation has a life of it's own now. The eBook seems like a solution in search of a problem. I've seen this many times in my career as a web designer. I made myself unpopular at one job by pointing out that the application we were building wasn't better than paper, pencil and a fax machine.

In other words, for a new technology to take off, it has to increase a person's productivity. Cell phones surely do that, and so does an iPod, if you look at easy access to more music as productive.

But the eBook? Why would you need to stuff 100 books into one little box when it takes you days to read through just one? Songs last a few minutes usually, so I can see why you would want 1000 of them with you. But most people would only need to carry one book at a time, if that.

Still, who knows where all this will lead.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on December 1, 2007 1:04 PM

I ride a commuter train to work. You would think that would be the perfect environment for using an ebook reader. And yet, I have never seen anyone using one.

Posted by: fwood1 on December 1, 2007 2:57 PM

I don't think they seriously expect THIS generation to accept ereaders. I think they're really going for the NEXT generation, and using us to work out the bugs.

It's like when cell phone companies push text messaging. I just don't get the appeal, since I already have a phone right there. But my 15 year old neighbor is constantly typing messages. The up and coming generation (probably a little younger than 15 years old) is who they're looking at for ereaders. I'll probably get one just because I'm a gadget junkie, but I'll bet my 3-year old won't be able to imagine life without one when she's in high school.

As for DRM, I heard all those arguments when the ipod came out, and it couldn't have caught on bigger. Yeah, there are competitors (MS) but it's all working itself out. Publishers will just issue different verisons of the ebooks that will work on different readers.

Posted by: Bill on December 1, 2007 3:05 PM

It is a solution without a problem.

This comment seems to get close to the rationale for this thing:

"The e-book may not reflect desire for a better-designed book, so much as the desire for a more convenient, and useable laptop."

Posted by: Lexington Green on December 1, 2007 3:15 PM

I take the point about books not being some sort of sacred objects, but I like to have them around. They remind me of the experience of having read them - even if I never read them again. Now that I can afford it, I buy almost all of my books, because I have it afterwards, unlike borrowing a book from the library. For the same reason I don't care much for iPods: I want to have the physical CD to look at and to easily find and browse through. They'd have to improve e-books a whole lot before I'd be interested.

Posted by: Dennis Mangan on December 1, 2007 4:23 PM

Egads and little catfishes!

I have become a dinosaur it seems, for I love the tactile sense of a book. If it's a new book, the freshness of the paper and print, a new leatherbound cover, and the slight pulling apart of pages never yet turned. If it's a used book, all sorts of smells can creep out from between the pages, and occasionally the little extra treasure of forgotten handwritten notes tucked inside that can give a mini voyeuristic adventure. Haven't you found those interesting little bits of scrap notes from time to time, or a train ticket stub, perhaps a movie ticket stub?

I enjoy having books on my shelves that I first read as a preteen ("A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"), or a dog-eared, chocolate-smeared copy of "Gone With The Wind". One book in particular holds memory of leaving Nancy Drew behind forever for the thrills of Victoria Holt: "The Mistress of Mellyn".

A copy of Harold Robbins, "The Betsy" marks my further adventures as a teenager into the world of adult literature. All important life markers kept vivid by a casual glance at a particular bookshelf in our house. I would never part with these books.

Gimme a shelf with books,
Long, beautiful books
Leather, vinyl
Gutenberg, Caxton, Gothic

You can keep your e-books. They seem comparable to having sex with a rubber doll. Yech. Not my bag, man.

Wait, I can think of ONE title I might read as an e-book just because the contents fit the delivery: "1984" by George Orwell. That might be cool for a novelty, but nothing more.

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on December 1, 2007 10:14 PM

I remember when the question of electronic books came up several years ago on 2Blowhards, back when I had more time and actually posted comments now and then. Somewhere in the Blowhard Archives is a post where I say I used to think books were doomed only if you could get the Boy Scout Handbook on a reading device that would be practical to take into the woods on a campout. Now that I've seen the announcements for Kindle, I wonder if Doom has arrived a few years earlier than I expected. Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if the Boy Scout Handbook is available for Kindle...?

Posted by: Dwight Decker on December 2, 2007 2:37 AM

Re: fwood:

I ride a commuter train to work. You would think that would be the perfect environment for using an ebook reader. And yet, I have never seen anyone using one.

I use them on the train. Pretty much every day. Although recently I've been watching dramas on my new Samsung P2.

As far as solutions in search of problems, the fact that it takes you days to finish a book isn't really an argument for why an e-book reader wouldn't be useful. If you're on holiday, and you finish one book, going and buying another dime novel just increases the useless luggage space you fill up with what is -- essentially -- disposable crap.

Another use I've seen is for huge numbers of scanned PDFs. Attorneys produce an incredible volume of scanned PDFs, because the inclination is often to PDF every single document. Binders and so on. If you can load those PDFs onto a portable reader, it's a lot more convenient than lugging around 50 binders.

Other people's situation may be different. They may be comfortable carrying around five books for their holiday reading, fumbling to turn the pages on the train, and so on. They may have huge houses where they can amass huge collections of physical books they'll only read once or twice. And maybe they only ever read in the darkness, so a laptop is all they need for e-books.

But clearly, I'm not the only person who bought and used Sony's second generation e-ink reader last year. It may be a niche market, but there's obviously a problem for which e-book readers are a solution.

Posted by: Taeyoung on December 2, 2007 3:35 PM

Y'all have me thinking that, in one form anyway, e-books have already successfully arrived: audiobooks. Download 'em from Audible or the ITunes Store: piece o' cake.. Listen to 'em on your iPod as you travel or exercise -- easy-peasy.

The robots have *already* taken over! It's only a matter of time till we wake up to the fact.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 2, 2007 3:50 PM

In theory, e-books seem like a cool and convenient idea, but I don't really see how the content can justify current prices.

Also, if you haven't seen it already, here's an article about DRM and the Kindle.

Posted by: sya on December 2, 2007 7:49 PM

You don't think that publishers are going sell easy-to-use, compatible-with-everything files, do you? Get real.

Amazon has wrested MP3s from the music industry. Why can't they do the same with the text industry?

Posted by: Braden on December 3, 2007 12:22 PM

I disagree that the Kindle is a solution in search of a problem. The reason I haven't bought one yet is that I have a very specific (set of) problem(s), and the Kindle is somewhere between 70% and 90% of the way to solving it, and I haven't figured out if it's enough.

First, as a few people have mentioned, I work with a lot of documents (heading to math grad school next year). I'd love if I could get all the papers I'm working with onto one tablet, rather than having a three-inch thick stack of materials to work with. So being able to take all the PDFs and put them on one device would be awesome.

Second, I tend to read...rather quickly. The last time I found a new novel that I liked and that it took more than a day to read might have been Atlas Shrugged back in my junior year of high school; a plane flight alone is easily enough time to finish one book and make a serious dent in a second. So it's rather difficult to carry around enough stuff for a week-long trip.

And finally is also something y'all touched on: most of my reading these days happens on my laptop. But reading on a laptop is a fairly unergonomic experience; the screen is shaped wrong, the backlighting strains my eyes a bit, and it takes a minute or two to turn on and off so it's inconvenient to pop it open and read for five minutes. If someone developed a laptop with an e-ink style screen and a five-second poweron with a battery life long enough that I didn't have to worry about it (probably 20+ hours)--and one that was small enough to carry around comfortably, while still giving me a screen big enough to do work on--then yes, the e-reader would be irrelevant. But that's just saying, "well, if there were another product on the market with all the features of this one and other features as well, this product would be obsolete." Trivially true, but since the other product doesn't exist the question is if this one is good enough. And I think it might be.

Posted by: Jadagul on December 3, 2007 1:35 PM

"I ride a commuter train to work. You would think that would be the perfect environment for using an ebook reader. And yet, I have never seen anyone using one."

I've been using ISILO to read public domain books from the Gutenberg project on my Palm PDA during my hour long train commute to Silicon Valley. Started out with the Palm V with only 8 MB of memory, but that was enough memory for a nostalgia trip with all 14 Wizard of OZ books during the 100th anniversary of the publication of the original book. The major advantage was the back-lighting. During this time of the year “it’s always dark in Hollister, it’s dark when I leave for work and it’s dark when I get back”. The major disadvantage was the short battery life and if the battery ever went flat I’d lose everything. The situation was much improved when I upgraded to the Tungsten 5. The battery lasts much longer and the memory is permanent, even surviving a hard reset.

Posted by: Robert Durtschi on December 4, 2007 4:43 PM

Wow, the one time I fall behind on my regular blogreads you invoke my name :)

David Rothman and I have been thinking and blogging a lot about ebook devices in the last month. (We've been blogging a lot about it on TeleRead, the ebook technology blog).

A few weeks ago I did an in-depth interview with a market analyst about the ebook publishing world . The analyst didn't have a big background in publishing but recently finished a big survey of consumers about reading devices. I asked the interviewee a lot of tough questions.

Curiously, David and I are less enthusiastic about the Kindle than we are about the XO laptop (that children's laptop being donated to the developing world). For $200, you get a laptop with Internet access which can be folded into a book-reading position and has a display BETTER THAN ALMOST ANY LAPTOP on the market and uses substantially less power. And displays PDFs, something dedicated ebook readers are still incapable of.

(Americans can only obtain this laptop for $400 that includes the cost of donating one to a developing nation).

This year has been an incredible year for ebook devices. We had three 2nd generation ebook devices introduced and the XO laptop. At $350-400, it's not a good value proposition. But by next summer the prices for these specialty devices will fall to a more reasonable $150-200.

the biggest benefit to me from ebook reading devices are the ability to read public domain books on your device and to distribute/sell your own ebooks via your personal website. No more upfront costs of POD books. I don't think of ebook readers as replacements for books (most used books are still cheap). They are good replacements though for reading you would normally do in front of your computer. Aren't you getting tired of reading all those godawful webpages with the sounds of your computer fan in the background?

Ironically I still read 75% of my books in print form, and last Saturday I blew $75 on books found at the dollar rack at my local Half priced book store.I bought some amazing stuff! In fact, I plan to blow at least $50 more on this week. Books are so fricking cheap when they're two or three years old; have you noticed? It's both awful and terrific. Don't people value books anymore? With ebooks the prices are likely to start lower and end higher (at least higher than 75 cents on!)

Oh, by the way, Michael, you mentioned the buying/handling thing as being complicated. I understand what you're saying, and that's what I used to think, but actually, it's relatively easy to transfer ebook files to your memory card. Do it once, transfer it and voila, all done! the difficulty comes with format conversions (which is pretty awful sometimes). Also, although it's theoretically possible to put RSS feeds for reading on your ebook reader, it's still time-consuming. I find it much more difficult to manage my mp3 player than my ebook reader.

(which reminds me: navigation is not that smooth on any of the devices. Page refreshes on this generation of ebook devices is fast, but it's somewhat hard to turn pages)

For Blowhard readers, I'm going to say three things:
1. don't go to project gutenberg for ebooks. Find the already formatted public domain ebooks on the mobileread site. These guys do a great job.

2. Want to turn your writing project into an ebook, but don't want to mess around with formatting/conversions? Upload it to That will automatically format it for you.

3. There are now three ebook devices on the market now: Cybook, Kindle and Sony PRS-505. All three are excellent devices. I personally prefer the Cybook (produced by a French company) which in a week or so will be sold by a group affiliated to BAEN publishing (google Cybook and NAEB) . Sony is also an excellent reader. The 2007 crop of devices are more the same than different. By summer 2008 at least one of them will be priced at $150-200--or less. Pick the cheapest. In fall 2006 the Sony Reader 500 retailed for $300, but by July 2007, it was selling for $50-99. Wait about 6-9 months, and you should be able to buy something great at a great price.

Posted by: Robert Nagle on December 4, 2007 11:25 PM

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