When Will They Ever Learn?

I read a lot. I mean a LOT. (People, please take note: it’s “a lot” — not “alot,” OK?)

Lately, however, I have been just about tattooed to my computer, either at home or at work, and I haven’t had much time to go book shopping.

I love reading, especially books: there’s a touch, a feel, that you get with books that you’ll never get with a digital copy — I love the weight of a book, the resistance the binding gives you as you hold it open, the feel of a page as you turn it, the feel of the irregular edges of the pages as they rest while closed — all of the common, relaxing, tactile sensations one feels reading a book.

It’s why I think eBooks, while a great idea (and audio books, for that matter, but to a lesser degree), will never take the place of the bound paper book. eBooks have their place, and can be valuable to someone like me — busy, on the go, with limited time to shop (even on Amazon.com) — and their presence on the market is a godsend.

To this extent, there are a few notable solutions for this, namely Amazon.com’s Kindle,a $399 portable handheld book reader with EVDO (cell phone-style) wireless access and the ability to hold over 200 titles in storage. It’s portable at 7.5″ x 5.3″ and 3/4″ thick — easily carried in a briefcase or purse, and it only weighs 10 ounces.

Sweet device, eh? It gets better, and I think it’s probably the best bet for portable eBooks — you don’t need a computer to sync it with — the included power adapter and USB 2.0 cable are there for charging, not synchronization.

Have a computer, and a more limited budget, then reading on the computer might be more your style: eBooks are available for several platforms: Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket, and Adobe.

Mobipocket is great if you use a Blackberry or the like, but not if you want to use your computer — and it doesn’t support all mobile devices (forget it, iPhone users!). It would leave me out, too, as a Verizon Wireless customer: Verizon is renowned for its de-balling of its electronic equipment. Utility is not one of Verizon’s calling cards.

Microsoft is… well… Microsoft: they think they are the only computer company worth anything on the planet. Wrong, they are, as we all know. But, as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, right? After 20 years of using Microsoft products, I would still like to know what flavor Kool-Aid they drank…

Then Sony has the eBook Reader , a $299, 9-ounce version like the Amazon unit that can hold around 160 eBooks in internal memory, and a lot more with an extra memory card like you use in your digital camera. Probably the most versatile eBook reader, it’s 1/3 of an inch thick, and can also access other types of documents, like PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, and more.

I’d like to get the Sony PRS505, but there is only one small drawback to this unit: it only works with Windows XP, XP Media Edition, or Vista. And we all know what a bomb Vista has been, right?

One noticeable drawback — no support for someone who, let’s say, might use a different Operating System… like… well… Mac OS X? This unit must sync with a computer, and Sony has been too lazy to include the entire world — as if Mac users didn’t read.

Thanks a lot Sony: you have made me realize that you are trying very hard to live up to your acronym: Sales ONlY.

And then there’s the software-based option I didn’t list above, Adobe Digital Reader, a free eBook reader available from Adobe that will read PDF-based or XHTML-based (web page-based) documents. It’s supposed to be cross-platform, but: it doesn’t work in OS X 10.5 Leopard.

It’s been this way since Leopard came out, which has been almost a full year now. Adobe is officially the last major company that has failed to support Leopard for one of their projects. Maybe they don’t see the importance, or the urgency, but they have failed to come up with a solution, leaving Mac users out in La-La-Land.

Do Mac users not read? Are Mac users considered illiterate? Why are we not supported? Are we not an important part of the technology market? Let’s define EPIC FAIL, shall we?

It will be a great day when computer people start realizing that other people make choices, and they may not the the same choices they make for themselves, and they have the same responsibility for access for all — just as architects and building owners and store owners and the like have to allow access for all to their facilities.

It will be a great day when we realize that for a similar as we all are, we are all still different: we make different choices, sometimes based on how we live or how we think, other times based on how we have to live or think, and sometimes based on how we want to live or think.

It’s time we started thinking about others, especially when we start thinking about how cool our creations are instead of how many can actually use it.

2 Comments

  • by Carole Cohen 30 Apr 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Wow, I love the look of your blog (especially the header). Anyway, a friend of mine said she tried a friend’s Sony reader for a while and she liked it because it felt more like a book. This is a cool review. The only thing is the price of them lol. I love to read too Will. And I guess since I like hardcover books, it wouldn’t take long for me to make up the price of the electronic reader would it?

  • by admin 01 May 2008 at 7:44 am

    Thanks, Carole! And to think it’s all going away with my sever upgrade/redesign… Well, the header isn’t… different treatment…

    No, at the price of hardcover books these days, it wouldn’t take long to make up the difference in price — and save over the long run. But:
    They either don’t work on a Mac, or:
    They don’t work on a Mac, or:
    They don’t work on a Mac, or:
    They don’t work on a Mac

    I *could* use the Sony — but I’d have to start Parallels, then boot up Windows, and pray that Windows can actually find the USB port the Reader would plugged into on the Mac — which takes time, effort, and other mental resources (only for Windows) that I would much rather use by reading.

    They must think that since I’m a Mac user, I can’t read — and they would be wrong. ;-)

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