Sony’s e-reader is now on sale at Waterstone’s. This follows the launching of the Borders’ version, the Illiad, which has been available for some time. People have strong feelings about e-book readers. Some see them as a way of reducing the number of books that clutter up their houses and love being able to carry hundreds of titles on holiday on their device. So if you has been over-ambitious and taken ‘War and Peace’ on holiday only to find that you can’t keep track of all those Russian names, you can have the comfort of knowing that there is a selection of your favourite detective novels on your e-reader.
For other people the smell and touch of a real book is an essential part of reading and the thought of taking reading an electronic device on the beach or in bed is an anathema.
E-readers have improved enormously : they have new e-ink which doesn’t strain the eyes in the way screens do and so can be read in the sun. It now is possible to increase the font size which is a great advantage for long-sighted people who will be able to discard their reading glasses. The Waterstone’s reader is an attractive object bound with imitation leather and a screen which is similar to an iPod. It comes loaded with a selection of fourteen books and extracts. At present downloading is a a bit difficult as even the Sony technical helpline admits. Borders’ Illiad is easier but uploading is still not a seamless process. Until these problems are resolved this may put some people off because struggling with gadgets is a source of much stress these days.
It has been claimed that sales of Amazon’s reader, Kindle have doubled in a year. This is 6% to 12% of their total sales so it looks as if the e-readers are about to take off. But the United States wireless networks allow users to download a book (one of 140, 000 available) for $9.99 from café in less than a minute so the convenience of using an e-reader may outweigh its disadvantages. It will be interesting to see how things develop. It may be that we will still continue to add to our book collection and use an e-reader only when we need to keep our luggage light. You can view lots of e-books online via the Library Catalogue, why not check a few out and let us know what you think of the format?