02 February, 2009

ebooks gaining favour

A report in the Salt Lake City Tribune describes the growing popularity of ebook readers

The high-tech gadgets are still a novelty, but they appear to be taking hold. Already, reading newspapers on a smart phone isn't such a big deal anymore, so these book readers appear to be the next logical step in how new technology can change our reading experiences. Driven by sales of the Kindle, the most iconic of the devices, these hand-held book readers are larger than an iPhone and, with adjustable font sizes, can make reading text easier. Made by Amazon and touted by Oprah Winfrey, the Kindle showed up on several holiday shopping guides and is one of the few products this season that appeared to be recession-proof. Demand for the $359 device has been high, and it is sold out until February.
I brought back a Rocket eReader from the US in June 2000 - they were very new then and I had rather more problems buying one than I had imagined. However they grabbed our imagination at Brisbane City Council, and we purchased 20 of them for the opening of the Toowong Branch in March 2001. They were certainly a great novelty, and easy enough to use, but we had a lot of problems getting the content for them. Yarra Plenty also bought one to familiarise staff with. However, the end came when the website we were downloading the titles from just disappeared.

The Kindle reader, the Iliad and Sony’s reader are some of the new offerings on the market. It was a pleasant surprise to experience the quality of the screen and the ease of using an Iliad, compared with the first generation e-book readers. The higher quality screens and print resolution make it a much more viable proposition. It seems that the ebook may indeed be taking off.

However, before we get too excited, we need to be aware that the Kindle is not available in Australia and is unlikely to be in the near future - this is from the Amazon site:

"At this time, we are unable to offer the Amazon Kindle and associated digitalcontent from the Kindle Store to our international customers due to import/export laws and other restrictions. When you place your order for an Amazon Kindle, both the billing address for the payment method and the shipping address for the delivery must be recognized by our systems as valid U.S. addresses. To successfully purchase digital content from the Amazon Kindle Store, the 1-Click payment method listed on the Manage Your Kindle page must be a credit or debit card issued by a U.S. Bank with a U.S. billing address. We value our international customers and hope to make Kindle available internationally in the future."
The library service does have a growing collection of audio books, music and videos including best sellers and new releases are able to be downloaded from the library's customised website. Some of the authors available are Garrison Keillor, Ian McEwan and Dean Koontz. Classical music, feature films, movie classics, concert videos and other popular materials are also available. Check it out!

Have you had any experience with ebooks? What do you think the future of them is? Let me know!

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