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Friday, August 27, 2010

Oh My Word! Books - Paper or Electronic?

Much has been written, lately, about the introduction of the new Amazon Kindle in the UK.  In case you've been living on another planet; or just don't know, the Kindle is, what is commonly referred to, as an eReader.

An electronic book.


It's been available in the USA for some time, but it's only now that it can be bought from the UK version of the store.

Now, I am an avid reader; as has been written about on this blog in the past.  When I first read about the Kindle; my initial reaction was "it won't be the same, especially without the 'new book' smell!"  Strange? Maybe.
However, since I acquired my iPad, I decided to 'give it a go'.

Let's look at the positives:

  1. The pages won't get torn
  2. You can carry more than one book with you (reference, novel, guide book etc)
  3. There is no need to worry about stock being available - there is no physical stock
  4. The books are cheaper than their paper counterpart
  5. No rustling of pages when people want quiet!!

The Negatives?

  1. You can't lend the book to someone else
  2. It's not easy to tell how far into the book you are (I got caught out when I finished the book, but didn't know it was the end!)
  3. It's not the same as holding the actual book
  4. They're more difficult to read in bright sunlight

Initially, I downloaded the Apple iBooks App and went to the store. WOW! The book prices were extortionate; certainly no savings to be had there.  Indeed, Apple seem to be more concerned with selling the technology, and less interested in the content.

Then I downloaded the free Amazon Kindle App. Yes; instead of purchasing an actual Kindle; Amazon have also created apps for use on a variety of devices; which, if you think about it, is quite clever.

Amazons' core business is selling books.  They are not a computer manufacturer and are not interested in making and selling eReaders.  What they want is for you and I to visit the store and buy books.  The Kindle is a means for us to read them.  With the right pricing structure, and ease of delivery (the book is available within seconds of the purchase being completed), Amazon seem to have taken the lead.

I'll tell you another clever snippit about Kindle.  Because the book is electronic, it can be read on any device.  Amazon have created apps for use across a range of devices.  You can download it to your laptop, desktop PC, iPhone/iPad, and android phone.  Now, all you need to do is synchronise with your Amazon account and you can read the book virtually anywhere.  At no extra cost.

The Apple iBooks can only be read on the Apple device (iPhone/iTouch/iPad)!!

I now have access to the huge range of Kindle books, at much cheaper prices than the Apple equivalent, and I am reading my third book.

At this point, I should mention the price of the device.  The Amazon Kindle is available from £109 (for the Wi-Fi only version).  The cheapest iPad is £429.  However, before you ooh and ahh, and make your decision; just bear in mind that the Kindle is black and white only, and whilst it includes a web-browser, it is designed for reading books.  The iPad, on the other hand, is a complete multi-media device and as such, the price comparison is an unfair one.

It must be said that the 'ink' used on the actual Kindle will make reading easier than on the iPad; but the iPad wasn't designed purely for reading books; and so far, I can't complain.  I agree that the smell of the printed page is severely lacking, but it is so handy, being able to carry more than one book; dip in and out as the mood takes me; and I even have books I use at work.

Will the Kindle (or other eReaders) win over the printed page?  At the moment, I doubt it; but with screen and electronic ink technology becoming increasingly more common (and therefore better value); I don't think it will be long before we see them more frequently in public places.

Do you have a Kindle or other eReader?  What is your experience?

PS. At the time of writing, Amazon have sold out of the Kindle, in the UK. They are quoting mid-September before stocks are replenished.
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