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Choices, choices in reading formats

As much as I like the iPad, Kindle and similar digital readers, this issue of not being able to easily share a book is the primary reason why I’m reluctant to pay for ebooks from Amazon, Apple and others... Tim Stahmer, Assorted Stuff

Newsweek "Back Story," August 9, 2010 

I just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I can't wait to read the next in the series. But what format and acquisition method* makes the most sense for this title?

When it comes to the "reading experience" itself, I am quite happy with print books, reading on my first edition Kindle**, or on the iPad. Some environments work better with some formats:

Print books are convenient, rugged and don't run out of batteries. I can read them during take off and landing. I know how to turn the pages and I like knowing how far I've read at a glance. There is a sentimental pleasure in print books.

The Kindle is really light weight and has a screen that's easy on the eyes. If the machine drops in price to the sub-$50 mark, I won't be nearly so worried about taking it on bike rides or leaving it in the back of an airline seat pocket. The newest one claims two-weeks battery life.

The iPad is great for low light conditions and it's really convenient to drag along just one device for both reading the latest Michael Connelly, my e-mail, RSS feeds and the NYT. It is bad to read in bright sunlight.

While I am sure it is a form of senile dementia, I am actually enjoying the "social" parts of reading on the Kindle - when passages that other readers have marked are highlighted - especially in non-fiction. Reminds me of getting a used textbook in college where the important parts were already highlighted.

I suspect my major reluctance is the same as Tim expresses in the quote that begins this post. I can't pass the books I buy along to others. Yes, the LWW and I can both read a Kindle book - me on the iPad and she on the Kindle, but my extended family has always shared books. I'm being a bad son buying books that the rest of us can't read.

I am guessing I will be buying both print and electronic books well into the future unless a first sale doctrine for e-books suddenly materializes. And I suspect this will be true for most individuals, schools and libraries.

And here's a situation I've been thinking about: What do I take on my Kilimanjaro hike? I am on the mountain, away from electricity, in what may be dirty, wet conditions for 8 days. Do I take the Kindle and worry about running out of battery life but not worry about running out of reading material; or take a nice fat James Michner paperback and not worry about batteries, but worry about running out of book? I suspect that I will be carrying whatever reading material on my back - not a porter - so weight is a factor too.

Damn change!

* I realize checking books out from my public library is an option, but I am just too impatient to sit on a waiting list and I rarely finish a book in my allotted two weeks.

** The $139 price point on the new Kindle is really, really tempting.

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Reader Comments (7)

Hi, Doug,

I wish Amazon would adopt Barnes & Noble's lending approach to ebooks. On the Nook, you can loan an ebook for two weeks.

We're going to use Nooks in our middle school library as a way for kids to try out books and we'll loan ebooks to their iPods if they'd like to keep reading.


August 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

Hi Russ,

I didn't know that about the Nook and being able to loan a book out. I have a B&N reader on my iPad. I wonder if it works on it as well.

Thanks for the information,


August 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Thanks, Russ. This lending ability might make the difference in choosing what supplier of e-books I settle on.


August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi R,

Just think - you'll have room for a pool table now. Or a TV with a Wii attached ;-)


August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I can't really tell from the B&N website, but as I was looking at e-readers, I could swear that the Nook sales person told me that not all books are available to share with others, and that you could only share a title once and for 2 wks. Then it returns to the original device. It's not really worded like that on the site, that I can see, but it's something to check out before you make a decision. Anyone else know?

August 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjamie

I love my nook - and much of it's reading ecosystem, but the "Lend Me" feature is worse that no lending option at all. In theory, it's a good idea - loaning out mirrors the physical loaning experience - I can't read a book while others are reading it. But it's a bust because I can only lend a book that way once. Ever. Then I can't loan that title ever again. Ever.

Russ - Do you have a way around that restriction? If so, I'd love to hear about it.

I like my devices. I just wish the content were easier to work with. C'mon first sale.

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBud Hunt

Unfortunately, I don't have a fix for that. I didn't know about the restriction. I had gotten ahead of myself theorizing about how we could use the lending, and didn't check it out fully.


August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

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