I am, by-and-large, not an early adopter of technology. By which I mean, I am not the sort of person to go after the “Latest And Greatest” just because. Sometimes I’ll be on the leading edge, but it will be for some idea I love, know exactly how I want to use, and intend to stay faithful to it for years. Which doesn’t always pan out the way I envisage. (MiniDisc is a good example – great tech, but the execution was bumbling and the industry moved on before Sony really sorted themselves out. Which some would argue they never really did.)
But it is why I never bought a Kindle years ago. Why I don’t now is a different reason. But I do have a Sony T1, which I find just barely useable. Mostly because it’s just a little bit too slow.
The ebook landscape has erupted in the last few years something amazing. It has also been part of the story of why so many bookstores have vanished, including the collapse of one of Australia’s biggest book chains. Buying on the Internet has helped in both ways. When you know exactly what book you, going to a website is much faster than finding a bookstore that might have it at best, or having one being able to order it in at worst. Buying ebooks this way, where as soon as the purchase is complete, you can download the file then and there, was a red-hot obvious next step.
Despite pressure from basically the rest of the industry, Amazon still will not put ePub support into their Kindle ebook readers. Amazon doesn’t seem to like the rest of the ebook industry existing because they are strongly rumoured to want to be the only place all books, physical or not, are bought and sold. You’ll never hear them say this, of course. But it goes quite a long way to explain the whole Kindle ecosystem they built. Their ebook reader is not a standalone device: it is tightly integrated with the Amazon ebook delivery mechanism. They spent a lot of time and money making it stupidly easy to purchase Kindle-format ebooks from them.
Would that someone else had copied that and figured out how to do it better. Apple could, as they also excel at creating an integrated ecosystem. But they didn’t want to become a publisher. Sony could have, too, but they have a bad habit of dithering around until they can successfully hit their own foot. MiniDisc again. However, it’s obvious they actually know how to do it, because they’ve been pretty successful at it with their Playstation Network.
As it happens, I genuinely prefer a physical book, often referred to as “dead tree” edition. But ebooks aren’t going away and there are just enough that I want to read that my T1 was recently exhumed from the shelf it was gathering dust on and recharged for adding new material to.
But is it the best choice? I often have my Surface Pro with me nowadays. And people have been reading on iPads and Android tablets for years. Should I go looking for a good ebook reader for my Surface Pro? The one in Calibre is not bad, but it is quirky. Or should I go looking for another e-ink device?