Embracing the Money Factor While Struggling with the Form

Well, now that Michael has started our e-reader challenge off with a bang, it’s time for the rest of us here at BookNet Canada to put on our dork beanies and venture out into the future of reading. And with that task in mind, here are some of my early, if not so insightful observations.

The Iliad reader from iRex is very expensive! The total cost Cdn was around $1000.00! That is more or less 3x the cost of the Sony reader. $120.00 of the cost was for shipping, (which will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever used Canada Post). The truly sad part of that cost is that the handling fee was only $8 and GST and PST made up the rest, so I guess I can’t really blame Canada Post too much, but it is fun to blame someone!

It may be telling that I have yet to pick up the Iliad e-reader to start using it as a reader. It may also be telling that with the Sony Reader I turned it on almost as soon as it was in my hands (first, I had to be told where the on/off switch wasbut that is another story) and started to load things onto it… only a few burps with the install of their updates. I had to uninstall the software and start over and not apply the update that was offered. There is nothing more hateful than an update that makes the thing it is updating stop working altogether!

The Sony reader which, as Michael indicated, is not even available in Canada, came with excerpts of books. The excerpts were about as useful as the content you get from the back of a booknot to knock the back-of-the-book industry, I buy a lot of books based on those little tidbits. You do expect a bit more from a $300 device! Include the whole text or nothing, don’t pretend you’re adding value by providing excerpts of books. So, I promptly headed off to Project Gutenberg and got a public domain copy of Vanity Fair. It felt appropriate somehow to introduce Vanity Fair to the future. I also loaded some work documents. The work documents so far have been the best use of the reader for me. Technical documents make a lot of sense on the readers. But then the London Book Fair happened and well you can read all about Michael’s adventure here.

With the Sony Reader gone on a busman’s holiday, we were left with the Iliad reader to start playing around with. I have heard and read that people think the Iliad is more technical and harder to approach as a non-technically minded user. I have to add that even the somewhat technically minded are intimidated by the thing. I have heard tell of those who say things like ‘there isn’t anything to load onto it!’ I have also developed a use case scenario for testing the form factor. I ‘secretly’ turn the device on and then pass it over to someone steeped in technology with the challenge that they figure out how to turn the thing off. Not an easy task!

So, the Iliad has been sitting on my desk for one reason or another for over a week. I would like to say it is because I am too busy, but isn’t that what new technology is supposed to resolve? At any rate the $1000.00 portion of our challenge is about to be taken for a test drive, but first… how do you get content on this thing?