Saturday, February 28, 2009

E-books get serious

E-books have been around for a long time but few people have found the idea very appealing. I can read a few pages of a report on a screen but then it becomes a strain on the eyes. We're all waiting for an e-book reader that is light, easy-to-use and has an eye-friendly screen.

Amazon's new Kindle e-book reader could be the answer according to reviewers. It's lighter than most paperbacks, can contain a couple of hundred books, newspaper or blogs and you download your content via a wireless link. Very similar to the iPod for music. The catch is that just as Apple virtually cornered the market for legally downloaded music so may Amazon for printed material.

In an article in Slate magazine, Fear the Kindle, Farhad Manjoo argues that Kindle gives Amazon a virtual monopoly on the e-book market since you can only buy content for your Kindle from Amazon. I love the idea and would love to try it out but I only wish that we could somehow move away from all these proprietary solutions and have devices that are compatible with all suppliers. Imagine a cross between the Kindle and the iPod that could hold books, news, music, photos, films and games and could access the combined resources of all suppliers. I'm sure the technology exists but the business model is the problem.

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