E-Reading Challenge VII: The Reader Lives! & Final Thoughts

After a surprisingly difficult series of support calls and emails, the Reader is working again.* I can buy books again and manage my library of Sony-purchased titles to my heart’s content. But it’s time for me to pass the Reader on to another BookNet staff member who will, after mocking the books I’ve left on the device, share their own thoughts of the experience.

After two months of The Challenge, a few parting thoughts:

The convenience of any-time, 24/7 book purchasing with instant gratification is not to be underestimated. If I heard about a book on TV, radio, newspaper, I could go right to my computer and be reading it five minutes later (assuming it was part of the odd selection of eBooks available). Very interesting possibilities for time-based promotions: “Buy this book the same Sunday as the NYT review and receive x% off…”

Over time, I became more and more worried about lock-in: proprietary formats tied to specific devices. The creeping realization that the next device will force me to abandon my Sony purchases makes me want to buy fewer new titles. I sincerely hope that openness prevails.

I have been using a briefcase 1/2 the size of my old one during the Challenge. I didn’t realize how much space (and weight!) books added to my daily baggage. It will be tough to go back.

If I were a student, mark-up and annotation would be much more important (see Tim’s postings on the iLliad). But as a reader, I could care less.

What I missed: small press titles, Canadian literary fiction, poetry, magazines, journals. Content aggregation plays (like Sony CONNECT) naturally favour deals with large publishers. Making smaller publishers available across the tangle of current formats will be a challenge. The music industry has figured this out. The book industry will too.

The possibilities around subscription-based purchasing, daily delivery of newspapers and magazines, daily snippets and excerpts are intriguing.

(* For any who care, the solution came not from Sony but from an unsanctioned discussion forum of other Reader users who were struggling with their eReading love/hate/tech support issues.)