eBook Readers – Reappraised to an Extent

I love books. Real, physical books. Two arrived in the post just today! And I have 30 pages left to read in the thriller in my bag. In fact, why am I typing this in my lunch break and not reading it?
As such, I’ve not bothered buying something like a Kindle. They seem vastly popular among the commuting crowd – especially on the line that I use to get to work. But thus far, I’ve not been interested.
However that may soon change. I’m still going to stick with physical paper where I can, but a couple of things have happened recently that are making me change the way I think.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Byliner’s business model sounds interesting. The mid-length pieces that they’re publishing are never going to find their way into print, so digital is the obvious route.
Then something else interesting.
A few weeks ago I went to the excellent new British Library exhibition on science fiction: Out of this World. It’s an excellent distillation of science fiction from its very earliet days through to the current (including the Arthur C Clarke winner Zoo City by Lauren Beukes – a great read by the way).
As I went around, I found myself taking notes of books that I’d never read and wanted to read. For complicated reasons I lost the list, and will have to visit again to put together a full list. But I remembered a handful, and headed off first to Waterstones on Gower Street, and when I struck out there, to Amazon. Shockingly, all of the titles I was looking for (or could remember at least) were out of print – even books that had been published this century were no longer available. One book in particular seemed to be achieving very good prices indeed in the second-hand market.
So that’s why it’s excellent news that the UK’s leading science fiction imprint, Gollanzc, is launching the SF Gateway in September. Launching with 1,000 titles, the number of books available will rise to 5,000 by 2014 we’re promised.
These are books that you’d otherwise have to search high and low for. Perhaps you can get a copy in your library, although the average fiction title has a relatively high turnover in libraries. And no doubt you might find a copy in your local second-hand bookshop or charity shop (I passed an Oxfam recently made great use of yellow-covered Gollanzc books in its window).
Combined – these two initiatives might just push me over the edge. I’m not sure devices are quite there yet however. Amazon will undoubtedly update to a new iteration of its Kindle in time for the run-up to Christmas, and Sony has recently announced a new line-up of eBook readers. I may just be in the market for one…

1 Comment

  1. You’ll not regret it. Particularly, the “try the first chapter for free” – available on Kindle only – has saved me money in warding me off a few books; yet I have read more books than ever. Currently, my head is in a book that came out last week: I bought it two months ago, and it automatically downloaded itself when the time was right.
    Rumour has it, Amazon will bring out a Kindle Android tablet, which I have my eye on for a number of reasons (not least because I suspect the hackers will enjoy having fun with it). It won’t, however, be an ePaper device; and given Kindle is a free download on the Android market, if you’re looking for a sensible eBook reader, then the Kindle might be right.
    My mum has a beBook; this gets ebook downloads from Waterstones, but you need a computer to operate it and transfer the books. What I particularly like about the Kindle is the availability – I’ve been known to download a book on the tube’s short overground section, using my mobile phone’s wifi hotspot functionality.
    Doesn’t mean I’ve stopped buying paper books, however; and, once more, the future isn’t a binary decision but a multiplatform one.

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