Speak Up

Since the Tools of Change conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about women, technology, eBooks, and most of all, complacency.

While I have some specific standards about fiction, particularly romance, I’ve never been one to really question corporations. I figure, if they make decisions I don’t like, I won’t shop there, if I can avoid it.

But with ebooks, and specifically epublishing, the community and the market are too small. If Amazon does things I don’t like, I won’t swear not to shop there because the fact is, I do, for many different things. I’ll be frank: with this site, plus my other job, plus the small young dudes, I have in effect three full-time jobs. So the possibility of delivery of most of the things I need that aren’t fruit, vegetables, and milk? I’m on that like damn and whoa.

And because of that lack of time, I no longer have acres of leisure time to figure out why file A won’t play nicely with device B, or why this particular computer program isn’t working. Used to be I could hack my way through anything. No, I’m doing six things at once and don’t have any time to focus solely on some ebook that’s having a temper tantrum because it’s DRM is refusing to leave the swingset even though its turn is over.

Yet Amazon continues to make decisions that affect e-reading and e-book buyers that make me pull my hair out. The bubble boy, for example: Kindle 2.0? BIGGER than the previous device in length? What, I ask, the fuck? The monolithic attitude toward formats that sacrifices my ability to bargain shop for the sake of relative ease of use? Again, I say: Feh!

Since the ToC conference, I’ve had a big wake up call. The ebook, epub, and ereader community is so small that disgruntled users cannot be ignored. And more importantly, women, who buy more technology and spend more on fiction, cannot be ignored either. While my usual course of action is to quietly do my own thing, it’s time I yelled more and spoke up about the things that make me nuts, and demand changes where I think they ought to be made as pertains to digital publishing and reader issues.

At the exhibition hall, there were devices like the readius that seemed to have been developed without questioning what the customer would actually want in a device as pertains to loading content. A fold-up reader with a touchslide and fast-changing e-Ink? Nice. A completely closed system that doesn’t allow me to add my own books? I remain mystified by the entire concept.

I said repeatedly at the ToC that I didn’t think the program reflected enough of the reader experience. My rant at our panel was simple: women readers are the readers you are looking for. We are the readers you need – if you want to make money and continue to develop digital publishing and reading initiatives.

Angie James linked to a poor customer service rant about the Sony Reader that discusses the six month warranty and how frustrating it is to have a device go bad after such a paltry warranty period. While my experiences with Sony have been fantastic, a six month warranty is troublesome. But larger than that, I’ve been ranting lately about the void into which any and all of my feedback email messages to Amazon have disappeared, with nary and answer or even a form reply in sight. While the phone-based support is alarmingly fast – request that they call you, give them a number, and in less than 5 seconds your phone rings – the answers I’ve received to any problems have been based upon a theme of “It’s a network problem in your area. Check back with us later and it should be fixed.” No answers that satisfied my curiosity were forthcoming to my queries as to why a particular PDF or HTML file didn’t go through, except to say “That feature is experimental.”

“Experimental,” it seems, is code for, “Don’t know why it didn’t work, and don’t care anyway. So move along.”

Customer service, shopping options, and ease of use are the trifecta of attracting the female reader to digital publishing and ebook reading devices. In the coming weeks, I’ll be staging Olympic competitions between Kindle I, Kindle II, the Sony 505 and the Sony 700, to see which device reigns supreme. I welcome your testing or obstacle course suggestions – let me know if you have any ideas or experiences you’d like me to replicate.

But most of all, the time has come for me to Speak the Hell Up and Get Loud. After ToC, I realized, perhaps the reason we women readers aren’t being heard or responded to is because we haven’t made enough noise. Being the largest consumer demographic buying electronics, and the largest group buying fiction clearly isn’t enough.

Women readers need to explain point by point to manufacturers and digital publishers what specifically appeals to us, why, and how those publishers and device manufacturers should reach us through product development and marketing campaigns. We shouldn’t have to explain what to me seems obvious – women read more, women buy more electronics, and women are loyal, repeat customers – but it seems that we do. [Thank you to Jane for the links.]

So bring it on. What makes you happy in an e-reader, digital publisher, or retailer? What turns you off?


Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. Tae says:

    As a new e-reader, but having purchased 2 e-readers in the last 5 months, I’m still testing things out.  What I enjoy about both the Sony and the Ebookwise is multiple formats.  I purchased the Sony mostly for the pdf capability, which Ebookwise does not do.  However, I like that the Ebookwise turns pages faster than the Sony.  Also the sony takes too long to load up sometimes if you have too many books on a SD card.  However, I do love the SD card option better than the Ebookwise which absolutely requires you to pay download/pay for their library program. 

    I also love that the Sony can charge using a USB port instead of a wall charger, but I’m having problems with a wall USB charger/converter. 

    I hate that some books still charge the hardcover price for an Ebook when the paperback comes out.  This drives me nuts.  I will pay for the books at the pb price, but not the HC price. 

    I dislike paying for ebooks when the files are specifically for the e-reader.  What happens when I change readers?  If I lose interest in my Sony Reader and decide on a new machine, will all the books I purchased off the Sony site still work on a new reader?  I’m buying PDFs and MSLit copies of all books for the most part and using ConvertLit – which doesn’t always do the best conversions. 

    This is what I can come up with thus far…

  2. Angela James says:

    While I love my Sony Reader, one of the things I often mention when people ask me what to buy (Sony versus Kindle) is that anecdotal evidence suggests that Amazon’s customer service in terms of replacing damaged/defective Kindles has it hands down over Sony, who makes their customer jump through hoops and ultimately pay for any repairs/replacements needed. One of the reasons I linked to Colleen’s plight both here and at Dear Author was not just because I’m hoping for a good resolution for her but because I’m hoping Sony is listening. When people like Colleen (a literary agent) say there’s a customer service problem, too many people who are Sony’s target market are there to hear her.  Kindle is already gaining a toehold on the market, don’t hand it to them ultimately because of a customer service fail. That would be a tragedy.

    Also, I just want you to know that it’s not just customers that have a hard time getting Amazon to respond to emails. As a publisher, we JUST (Friday February 13th) received a reply to an email about something I would consider time sensitive. An email that was sent the beginning of September. Oy.

    Although, to be fair, I had emailed Amazon about six weeks ago about a problem with the battery on the Kindle and they were super prompt in emailing me back.

  3. Sarah L says:

    At this point, based on what I’m seeing in the market, if I decide to go for e-books in a big way, I’ll probably just buy a smartphone. None of the dedicated e-readers are special enough to make me be willing to put up with their shit, especially when, as far as I can tell, with a smartphone I can load software that would allow me to read all formats. I’m not willing to tie myself down to one format just because that’s all Reader A will open without whining.

    There are things I like about the current e-readers, but not enough to put myself at the mercy of these companies. And if I shell out that amount of money for a gadget, it’d damn well better do more than just (sometimes) load my e-books. I’d rather have the capabilities of a mini-computer at my fingertips.

  4. DRM. I don’t know what else I can say about this, but every time I buy a book I wonder if I’ll only have access to it for a few months.

    Why aren’t we making a bigger noise about this?

    I actually don’t understand why anyone would buy a Kindle or a Sony reader. Where’s our MP3 of books? We need that ASAP, and then we can start to demand better-looking, functional devices and not be forced into choosing them because they’re only mildly convenient.

    The sooner we have a single format, the sooner the ebook market can explode and we can see real advances.

  5. Jessica G. says:

    @Tae – Skip the USB AC converter and pick up a Sony PSP charger. They’re much cheaper than the Reader AC charger and work perfectly. The Reader doesn’t charge AC via the mini USB port.

    My biggest gripe doesn’t lie with the makers of the devices, but the publishers. A lot of them are seriously dicking around with the price points of ebooks. I’m quite happy with an 11.99 price point for hardcovers and 5-10% off mass markets, but even this seems too difficult for them. For example, I went to buy “Grave Peril” by Jim Butcher, the third book in a series that came out several years ago. On Sony’s site, it was 16.76 and showed a release date of Nov 2008. I thought this was weird, because the book went into mass market before the ebookstore even opened. I checked fictionwise, same problem, so I know it’s not just Sony. The only two places that have it for mass market price in ebook are amazon and the publisher directly. Bullshit, I say. Either amazon has enough clout to get them to drop the price, or the publishers are playing favorites. What screws me over is that I still want to read the god damn book, so I still have to give money to the publisher in some way or another (I ended out buying it in mass market).

    This frustrates me beyond belief, since I’m not asking for a massive discount. Just keep your friggin price points the same or below the pbooks. And while I’m on it, Amazon is NOT the only ebookstore. I was all excited to buy Trudi Canavan’s new book, only to be supremely pissed when it’s not available on Sony but is available on Amazon (I know this isn’t Sony, they actually post books as soon as they get them, and fictionwise doesn’t have it either). Grrrrrr….

    I’ll give a big hunk of kudos to Harlequin though. You guys kick ass. I honestly hope you guys are drawing in some serious cash for actually understanding your ebook consumers.

  6. Angela James says:


    DRM. I don’t know what else I can say about this, but every time I buy a book I wonder if I’ll only have access to it for a few months.

    Why aren’t we making a bigger noise about this?

    We heard a LOT of noise about DRM at TOC, but the people in charge of the decisions still often believe DRM works. I just saw a link to an interview on Teleread, with Ingram’s Digital’s new chief commercial officer and there’s a quote from him:

    –DRM. Frank’s unabashedly pro. His DRM comments begin just short of nine minutes into the interview. Listen carefully. and please be civil in our comments section if you’d like to respond. “We’ve not seen DRM to be any kind of barrier to a sale.”

    My rising theory is that what it comes down to is that 1) no, publishing can’t learn from the music industry and 2) unless someone can actually provide numerous studies to prove that DRM prevents sales, or until the digital industry is foundering so badly it’s a last ditch effort to get rid of DRM to try and save digital, that the big corporations will hang on to DRM as long as possible, no matter what the anecdotal evidence from consumers or history of the music industry suggests about DRM.

  7. ev says:

    Skip the USB AC converter and pick up a Sony PSP charger. They’re much cheaper than the Reader AC charger and work perfectly.

    I just told hubby that, so i guess we will be buying one of these instead. Thanks!!!

    And while I’m on it, Amazon is NOT the only ebookstore. I was all excited to buy Trudi Canavan’s new book, only to be supremely pissed when it’s not available on Sony but is available on Amazon (I know this isn’t Sony, they actually post books as soon as they get them, and fictionwise doesn’t have it either). Grrrrrr….

    I had this problem with the new Evanovich- and some one who was answering her emails wasn’t very good with an answer about it either. I finally got ahold of someone else who apologized and then let me know the minute it was up on Sony.

    I haven’t had any problems with Sony service- my new 700 had it’s sylist confiscated by the TSA (why??? ball point pens are bigger and sharper for fuck’s sake). when I called Sony they had one on the way to me asap.

    My biggest bitch is still the format- and it’s not really the format itself. I have no effing clue what I am doing or what all the technobable is about so trying to figure out which format from a site that is not Sony, that I can use is awful. My problem with Harlequin is the digital adobe format- it totally fucked up my adobe program that I use to publish a newsletter when I downloaded it from my library so I could borrow books. I am hoping that this month I have the problem fixed.

    I really wish they would do better in their help sections in NOT using so much tech language and just put it in plain english. I know many of you know what they are talking about, but I don’t, which is why I ask questions and then get frustrated when I don’t get answers. Don’t answer my question in the same techno geek speak that I can’t translate to begin with. I don’t understand these other programs you can download to translate other programs for you. Doesn’t work. I can’t wrap my brain around it anymore than I could learn to speak Spanish even after four years of classes. Doesn’t mean I am stupid, just that I am wired differently is all.

    As for the short warranty on the Sony- we buy almost all electronics through B&H Photo Video in Manhattan and they are really good when something goes bonkers and you bought it there. They replaced my daughters ipod when it got run over by a car because we had the extended warranty through them. Apple would have never done that.

  8. ev says:

    I went to our favorite Chinese restaraunt to pick up dinner last night and it was packed. I was off in a corner reading my Sony while I waited. I had a least 2 people scoot over to me and ask about it and a bunch of others who were reading over my shoulder (hope they liked Suz Brockmann!) or evesdrop on our conversations. Amusingly, the two that spoke to me were guys.

    I had a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory literally sit and ask a ton of questions the other day about it. I think she was heading to Border’s after work to get one. And she’s a Romance reader too!!!

  9. Jessica G. says:

    I haven’t had any problems with Sony service- my new 700 had it’s sylist confiscated by the TSA (why??? ball point pens are bigger and sharper for fuck’s sake). when I called Sony they had one on the way to me asap.

    Wow that was nice of them!

    If anyone is having any issues at all with their devices (ev, someone might be able to help you with your problem), head over to mobileread.com. We’ve got a smart group over there. Also, if you’re thinking about buying a device and need some advice, it’s a good spot.

  10. ev says:

    Jessica- Thanks!! I will do that.

  11. MichelleR says:

    I was in a Sony store exactly a week ago. While I was there I saw the readers and started asking questions. I said to the salesdude, paraphrasing: I have a Kindle on backorder, I’m not 100% set on it, and it would be nice to have something today. Tell me about your product and why it’s better.

    Even instant gratification couldn’t make up for his lackluster interest in selling me one. When I was by the laptops he had plenty of opinions, but all I could get from him about the reader—and this was after prodding—was how to order a book.

    Welp, Amazon is a habit for me, and being from a small town I buy more than books there. Since he was not giving me any reason to buy his product, which would involve me to starting a new habit, I told my husband that I would wait to hear the Kindle 2 announcement.

    The salesman had instant gratification on his side and he chose not to play on that,  so before I even left the store I was leaning back toward the company I knew, and the site I use—and when the announcement came they talked up their product. Oh, and by then I’d had to talk to Sony again about the laptop, and there was very much an attitude of, “We have your money know, why are you bothering us?”

    I look forward to my Kindle 2.

  12. Anne Douglas says:

    @ ev

    I’ve had the same results every time I I’m reading my Sony out in public. From other patrons to waitstaff they all want to know what it is, why it is, and how it is and they are all mightily impressed.

    It’s only one person at a time, but that’s one more person who might pick up an eBook when they get home…

  13. rebyj says:

    I’m still whining about affording any kind of e-reader. When are the prices going to come down? I have a book buying budget each month and they’re all missing out on that revenue because I can’t spend 300 bux for a device!
    I talk to anyone out in public, yeah I’m that annoying woman you meet at the store. In conversations at the used book store with other patrons they invariably say the same thing. ” I wouldn’t be here fighting this crowd if I could afford an e-reader!”  The UBS is constantly packed, it’s hard to find a parking spot, so people are spending money on books. I would love to sit home and browse bargain books to download and read within minutes .  So if any e-reader company reads this and wants someone to test them out they can send me a free one. I’ll wear that puppy out trying it out and commenting on it online everywhere.

    I like Tae’s point

    I dislike paying for ebooks when the files are specifically for the e-reader.  What happens when I change readers?

    Especially if the $ 300 + device only has a 6 month warranty! It needs to be a year with option to buy an extended warranty.

  14. Jessica says:

    When you test the e-readers, check out library books.  I really want to know if and how easy it would be to check out library books, since my library has an e-book program.  I’m asking for money for an ebook reader in a later this month, but I just can’t decide which one is best.  Being able to check out library books would be a big plus.

  15. Laurie says:

    I use my iPhone to read eBooks via Stanza.  I had hundreds of eBooks in different formats when I got the iPhone and they all imported via Stanza.  I don’t like to carry tons of electronic devices around with me, so I make the sacrifice to use the small phone screen for reading. 

    Although Stanza can do DRM books, I don’t mess with that.  I had some run ins with DRM books a while back and it’s such a pain that I just refuse to by DRM protected books anymore. 

    Apple is an evil genius!

  16. Jessica G. says:

    @Jessica (LOL, I’m confuzzled) – Both the Kindle and the Sony can get library books, but here’s the tricky part. It’s uncommon to see mobi books (the ebooks that the Kindle reads) available from the library. Most of the time, it’s ePub, which is a format the Sony reads. In general, the Sony will be better for library books, but it is worth checking your library to see which formats they offer.

  17. Liza Daly says:

    The MP3 of ebooks is called “ePub.”  Say you want your books in “ePub”.  By default, ePub has no DRM, although it can be added.  So specify “DRM-free ePub.”

    The Sony Reader and Stanza already support ePub.  Probably every other ereader besides the Kindle will do so as well.

    The reason ereaders are $300 is that eink is still expensive.  The screen alone costs $100.  Of course the price will come down eventually, but don’t expect to see a $99 eink reader any time soon.

  18. Myriantha Fatalis says:

    DRM is not necessarily evil (although multi-format, DRM-free is obviously preferable!).  I despise location-based DRM—the types that “can only be authorized on 3/5/whatever number of machines,” like MobiPocket, iTunes, and Spore (among other games).  However, I find that eReader’s form of DRM is much better, since it’s based on the buyer’s credit card number.  I can “loan” my eReader-format ebooks to anyone that I’m willing to trust with either my credit card number (or my Palm TX), which in practice works out to mean members of my immediate family and possibly house-guests.  And I won’t run into any bizarre scenarios where I’ve authorized 3 machines (home PC, laptop, Palm), and then tragically drop my Palm into a toilet, and then am unable to deauthorize my Palm because it’s dead as a doornail.  (And don’t ask how I came up with that scenario.  Really.  I mean it.  Ker-SPLOOOOSH!)

  19. darlynne says:

    I’ll be staging Olympic competitions between Kindle I, Kindle II, the Sony 505 and the Sony 700, to see which device reigns supreme.

    Thank you! This is exactly what I need. Well, and what rebyj said about pricing.

  20. Nialla says:

    “We’ve not seen DRM to be any kind of barrier to a sale.”

    If that’s what the industry folk think, they’re totally missing the boat.

    It might not be a barrier to a sale for those who’ve already taken the gamble and selected a device and are stuck with the formats that come with it.

    DRM and inflexibility in formats are reasons I’m not willing to invest in an e-reader in the first place. I want to be able to keep my library, no matter where I am or what device I’m using.

  21. Leslie H says:

    Okay, here is Auntie Leslie’s Crystal Ball results.

    Sony doesn’t yet really give a rat’s ass about the Reader. PS3 has taken up all their time and energy. On the other hand, I can also tell that they are waking up.

    Nintendo is going to kick their ass. Back at the last big computer summit Nintendo announced that they were adding PDA function to the DS Lite (only $150.00) and a recent article (I lost the link to) said that they are testing a new cartridge in the European market that contains 300 public domain books, poems and plays (Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare etc…) for 30 Euros.

    Electronically Amazon will quickly lose their ability to compete with these guys. PSP and DS Lite already had wireless down pretty pat, and if ANYONE understands format issues it is those guys.

    If Microsoft wanted to play this league they have a vast library of digitized books although they foolishly pulled the plug on the project a year or so ago.

    Finally, Amazon DOES in fact own the publishers. That is about distribution of actual books.

  22. Kit says:


    Do find out from your library what their “ebooks” are. At our library, you can’t download them – you have to read them directly on a website. It was the same way at my graduate school library. Saying that you “check them out” was only a way of limiting how many people could read an ebook at the same time, for the purpose of determining how much the vendor charges the library for the book: more multiple readers = higher cost to the library.

    Most public libraries that I know of are just getting started with audiobook downloads, and I don’t know of any that have ebook downloads. But maybe you have a very technologically advanced library!

    To get back to the topic :), I like my Kindle. Working in a library means I don’t buy books very often, but I bought all my paper books from Amazon, so buying all my ebooks from Amazon doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.

  23. Do you even know how complicated all of this sounds to a layman? I am by no means a techno idiot, but even I get confused with all the choices and ebook speak. I don’t have a reader so I have used my laptop to read a couple of the free harlequin ebooks. I can totally see the appeal of ebooks. I found myself reading faster and being distracted less than when reading a paperback.  At the end of the day, until they make it easier and less expensive, it is still easier for me to pick up a paperback and start reading.

  24. robinjn says:

    Reading all this makes me very determined NOT to get any kind of ebook reader in the near future. To me it sounds like a huge crapload of issues and problems at a very expensive price and the only incentives I can see to buy are “fewer books to lug,” and “it’s cool.”

    Well I’ve never been much for cool, and it would take lugging a whole bunch of books to make this mess appealing to me. I buy a book. It’s mine. I can lend it, sell it, throw it against the wall or into the trash. I can donate it to my local women’s shelter. With ebooks, for which I will have paid a boatload of money for a reader that may or may not make my eyes hurt, I’m paying basically the same price and it’s not mine, I can’t lend it or sell it or donate it.

    If they come out with a cheap (I mean, under $100) reader where the books are either transferrable to other ebook readers or inexpensive enough that it’s not a big deal (as in, from $1.00-$5.00 each) I’ll think about it. Until then? I’ll pay my $7 to $15 for the thing that is MINE.

    (p.s., something in this reminds me of car leasing, which sounds good on the surface but only benefits the dealers in the end…)

  25. JenD says:

    My biggest gripes are the price of the unit, the price of the books (I’m not paying HC when I’m not getting one) and the limits on the DRMs. I quit using iTunes because they won’t let me *own* my own music. I bought the damn thing, now let me do what I want with it!

    I am going to use my DS Lite as my eReader. There is a program you download, use the SD Micro card slot and boom- eReader. I don’t have to shell out three hundred bucks, it’s DRM free and it’s more portable than most eReaders.

    Also, for those interested in the classic book ‘game’ for the DS Lite- the games aren’t region coded so if you can find it- you can buy it.

    normal79- not even close

  26. Suze says:

    Apple is an evil genius!

    Yes, I am totally hooked on Apple, and WHY won’t they create the ereader I want?  I’d buy an iTouch tomorrow, but it’s too small.  (The iPhone is WAY out of my budget, I need that money to buy books.)  I need to be able to lounge, and rest the device on my boobs, for maximal comfort.  I kind of suspect the reason my boobs are as big as they are is to provide a handy shelf to rest books on.

    I currently have a laptop, which I graciously share with my roomie, to the point where days go by when I can’t use it (in exchange for which, he charges me rent that I can afford).  I have no iPod, no cellphone, no ereader.  And I honestly don’t want to have to get a special purse or Bat-belt to carry a bunch of devices, or have to stay on top of charging them.  And I really like having long stretches of time when I’m incommunicado.  You can’t talk to me on the phone when I’m in my car, or in the bathroom, and I like it that way.  I borrow a cell phone for road trips in case of emergency, but otherwise, I’m happy without one.

    I DO want an ereader.  I want it to be the about size of a steno pad, I want to be able to add notes and highlight text into my copies of my books.  I want the reader to be light, comfortable, easy to use, and durable.  (I suspect that if I get a digital camera, it’ll be a Fisher Price one, because I’m clumsy, and drop things into rivers and onto rocks.)  And if it was a personal DVD player too, that’d be fine with me.

    I want to have a library of ebooks that I have access to regardless of the time, temperature, and the type of ereader I own.  Whether that library is on my computer, on a personal web page, or on a book coop website, I don’t care as long as I have access, and it works.  My book buying is ridiculous, and I have to purge my library way more often than I want to, which frequently means I’m buying books that I gave away a few months ago.  So, I want to buy a book, and have continued access to it.

    I can see a coop kind of website, where I pay a membership fee for them to maintain the library, any maybe update formats as necessary, and provide backup in case of crashing servers and hard drives.  And any book I’ve purchased (I guess they’d have to keep records of that, or I could upload them, or something), I will have access to forever.

    In fact, if there was some kind of scheme whereby the author got a percentage of every subscription to every book, that would be good too.

    And there could be a shared library function, where you lend a book to a friend, and if they want to keep it, they buy it for their own library.  First read free, kind of thing.

    I have no clue how practical this coop idea is.  I just think that there has to be a way where the authors, publishers, and ebook makers get paid, and I get to read books I’ve bought whenever I freaking want to, and share them with my friends.

    Should I start posting comments and wishes and complaints on the websites of ereader makers and publishers?  Who needs to be hearing this?

  27. Alex says:

    Looking forward to the device face-off!

    One thing about DRM— We hate DRM on music files, but if you like Netflix on Demand you’re using DRM’d files. It all comes down to delivery at the end of the day. One of the problems with the way publishers have been dealing with DRM is that they are trying to be platform agnostic – but by doing so, they are licensing content to of small companies that may go out of business, and take the files with them. Publishers need to take responsibility for the DRM on their files – they can’t let the bookseller define a bad experience for the reader.

  28. Kerry D. says:

    Let’s see, my issues would be:
    – DRM. Please, stop with the stupid.
    – Remember there are people who read ebooks who don’t live in the US.
    – Don’t price ebooks at hardcover prices. If you absolutely MUST, then drop to paperback price when the paperback comes out.
    – Release ebooks when the paper books are released.
    – Compatability please. I don’t want to be locked into one device or unable to read my books when I upgrade.

    I read on a Palm TX (I’m perfectly fine with the screen size and backlight). I’m much happier doing that and knowing I can load appropriate software to read most formats, as well as being able to use it for other things. The cost of a dedicated eReader is outside my budget (not helped by the fact I don’t live in the States, see above) and I am even more put off by being stuck in one or limited formats. What if I choose beta instead of VHS? As it is, I’m already buying some books I have in paper as ebooks, I don’t want to have to buy them yet AGAIN if I change reader or the market leaders change.

  29. Nialla says:

    One thing about DRM— We hate DRM on music files, but if you like Netflix on Demand you’re using DRM’d files.

    In that case it’s much like renting an actual disc from Netflix. I’m not purchasing it, so I have no expectations of keeping it. It’s not mine.

    When I purchase a DVD, I expect it to play on any DVD player, not just a specific brand or only if purchased from a specific store. Same with buying music or an e-book.

  30. Becky says:

    I’m very interested in the DS Lite as ebook reader idea.  I’m not a gamer, but there are one or two available on DS that I’m interested in.  I never bothered though, because $150 was way more than I wanted to spend just to play one game.  $150 for a reader though?  I’m so there.  The occasional game is just gravy.

    My concern- I am totally techno-deficient.  Anything more complicated than point and click is beyond me.  How much work is it to get the books onto the DS Lite?  Can I still buy Kindle versions from Amazon for it?  (I compared prices for a few books I want, and the Amazon price on those titles were better than Sony or Fictionwise.)

    The big reason I haven’t gone for reading ebooks on my phone is that the screen is too small.  How is the screen size on the DS compared to a cell phone?

    Sorry, I know I have a lot of questions about this.  If anyone wants to email me or comment on my blog about this instead of getting into a big discussion here (‘cause I’m sure I’ll have more questions) that would be great.

  31. Faellie says:

    I read ebooks on my 15” laptop at home, and as I’m on the train a lot, I’m thinking of buying one of those very small laptops/netbooks for the train. 

    I’ve seen the Sony ereader, and it looked OK, but I wouldn’t buy an ereader, as I prefer to have a bit more flexibility in use – I don’t think single-use gadgets are the way to go for me – a game of solitaire every now and then helps, I find.  Plus there’s the DRM issue, and being tied into particular suppliers, which I don’t like the idea of.

  32. Fenchurch says:

    If you are interested in seeing one of the more advanced digital library offerings (as far as I’m aware), check out Greater Phoenix Digital Library—put together by a consortium of libraries in the Metro Phoenix area, it has downloadable ebooks and e-audio.

    I’m really tempted to get a Sony eReader, but am put off by the cost and the entire DRM concept for all the reasons people have previously mentioned.  Plus there’s the fact that, if things go really bad for me (like almost getting laid off recently) I can, reluctantly, sell off my precious precious books to pay the rent.  Can’t really do that with a SD card with 100s of books on it.

    But now that I know there’s a homebrew Nintendo DS eReader?  So on it….I heart my DS, making it an eReader and a PDA and I’d never need another device again.

  33. This is why I bought a Hewlett Packard IPAQ. It reads any format a regular computer would read, as it’s a pocket pc. When I first got it, I assumed I’d stick with Adobe files. But I’ve learned I much prefer Mobipocket. Or I can use Microsoft eReader if I want. I don’t have to strip DRM (as if I could or would). I download to my laptop and sync to the IPAQ. It also has my Outlook, picture files copied from the laptop, etc., etc. And it’s wireless, so if I want to check email at a WiFi hotspot I can. It’s small and thin, and once I’m reading a good story I don’t care that the screen is smaller than a paperback—because I choose text size that’s comfortable for me. I carry a very small handbag, and the IPAQ fits into it easily. For me, this was the perfect choice.

  34. JenD says:

    About the ‘DS Reader’:  It takes a little bit of set-up but it’s worth it. You turn the DS on it’s side like a regular book and go forward and backward with the arrow keys. You have to run a program on your computer to format the files onto the SD Micro card, but once you set it up you’re golden.

    You need an SD micro card, reader (some pc’s come with them already) and DRM free books. Amazon books wouldn’t work with the format for the DS. That’s the big drawback. You have to change formats a bit with this idea. There are more hacks in the works for the DS/eReader idea so I’ll keep you posted.

    If a main stream supplier would start putting ebooks in a format for the DS? OMG Pure Golden Delights From The Sweet Center Of The Galaxy!  I’d forget all about eInk and just buy buy buy. That’s another point they are missing somewhat. While eInk is great- it’s too expensive for most people. Why not go ahead and Finally Get Their Poop Together and make a format the goes across the board? It’d get everyone.

    That way if you can afford a dedicated eReader then go ahead. For those of us who can’t afford it- give us ONE kind of file to use. I agree that I don’t want to buy the betamax eReader.

  35. Kaetrin says:

    I’d like to be able to buy books from the Sony ebookstore (and take advantage of their special offers etc) but I can’t because I’m in Australia.

    I’m reluctant to buy from Fictionwise because they don’t sell a format which is native to the Sony and I’ve no experience in stripping DRM etc.  If I’m PAYING for a book, I don’t want to have to fiddle with it so it reads well on my device.

    Sony support have been a bit lacking – when I emailed questions, although they did get back to me promptly, the answer was some variation on “read the user guide, here’s a link”. 

    Also, has anyone had any issues with Adobe DE and Calibre?  I’ve downloaded quite a few books in this format and the Sony reads them quite well I think.  I use Calibre for my elibrary.  All but 2 of the Adobe DE formatted books went into Calibre and onto my reader with no problem.  But, on the weekend, 2 books (both by the same author, but I’m not sure what the significance of that is) downloaded okay but wouldn’t go properly from Calibre to the reader – I got just one page which said “protected”.  I opened Adobe DE and saw that my reader was showing there, so I “dragged and dropped” and the books went onto the reader with no problem.  Any ideas?

  36. Tae says:

    Jessica G.> Thanks for the info.  I try to use the USB wall charger because I’m in Korea.  However, I should be able to find a Sony PSP charger with the correct voltage here. This will save my life!

    Also, I agree with others about customer service.  I have changed cell phone services in the past because of bad customer service.  That may influence in me in the future should I have problems with my PRS 505.

  37. Tae says:

    oh and the DS thing…. I have a DS Lite and so does my husband, but not one of the new ones with the SD slot.  We have the older ones with the Game Boy Advance cartridge slots, however, it may be worth it to buy a new one – for things like downloading older games onto the SD cards and also turning it into an ebook reader.  I figure the times my husband wants to use my Sony PRS I need an alternate form which is less bulky and smaller than the ebookwise reader.

  38. All good points. However, there is one that trumps all of this. Most of these devices are being designed BY MEN. Men and women (big generalization here) have different focuses when it comes to tech gadgets.

  39. Jessica G. says:

    I’m reluctant to buy from Fictionwise because they don’t sell a format which is native to the Sony and I’ve no experience in stripping DRM etc.  If I’m PAYING for a book, I don’t want to have to fiddle with it so it reads well on my device.

    Actually, fictionwise does have the native Sony format, LRF. You purchase the multiformat version, and then when you actually download it you select LRF. Confused the crap out of me when I first used their site. Stripping DRM I don’t know anything about. I’ll be honest, the concept doesn’t bother me. It’s bad, I know.

    All good points. However, there is one that trumps all of this. Most of these devices are being designed BY MEN. Men and women (big generalization here) have different focuses when it comes to tech gadgets.

    I think ereaders are very simple devices. It’s not that they are targeted specifically for men, they target everyone. The great thing about them is for the most part even technophobes can use and enjoy them.

  40. Diane/Anonym2857 says:

    I’ve been eagerly reading all of the various eRreader commentary, both here and on Dear Author, and I am looking forward to hearing the results you come up with.  I know that an eReader in some form or fashion is ultimately in my future, if only because of health issues—my eyesight gets more precarious each year, and I also have problems holding things (books, phones, etc). I’ve been putting off buying an eReader, hoping they’d get their ducks in a row and create something I could purchase, immediately be able to use w/o too much brain damage, and be in a format I could confidently use well into the future.

    Things that I would like to have would include, in no particular order:

    *  User-friendly, even for the clueless users like myself

    *  Readability—no glare/ blurry/ flickering/ movement in the lettering, and with adjustable fonts/ sizes

    *  a light feature that can be adjusted for brightness, or turned off entirely when not needed

    *  “MP3-like” universal formatting (so it transfers from device to device)

    *  All book files downloadable to my PC/ memory stick/ portable backup/ burned CD, etc—not just ‘on their system’—I want to own them myself, TYVM,  and not wonder if/when they’ll attempt to hold them hostage or take them away from me. (I even do this with my iPod—I don’t download music, just load from my own CDs, since I want a backup in case they decide to lose my tunes.  I’m a child of the government, and as such, I’m not overly trusting). I’d even swear to never share them with anyone else, but I want my very own copy.

    *  Cost-effective pricing of units AND books. I am all for capitalism. By all means, let them earn a profit, but don’t rob me blind in the process. And keep it competitive, not proprietary, so if one vendor can’t make me happy, another one can.

    *  Durable construction to withstand the occasional bump or drop. I don’t expect it to survive a bounce down numerous flights of stairs, but to accidentally fall from desktop to floor and still survive would not be unreasonable. And some sort of water-proof (not immersible, but cleanable and splash-safe) view screen would be good.

    *  Good warranty w/ reasonable replacement expenses

    *  Good customer service

    *  Size and weight—Decent-sized screen for readability, but light-weight and easily held/ manipulated in one hand, and that easily fits in purse/ briefcase/ backpack

    *  Ability to upload books I already own onto unit (in various formats, including adobe pdf)

    *  Preferably with the ability to read txt and word documents, so I could upload book lists, etc.

    *  Notation/highlighting a plus

    *  Ability to buy ebooks from multiple bookstores (not just eReader-specific)

    See, I don’t want much, now do I?

    Diane :o)

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