I used to love ebooks. When I got my first ebook reader, a Bookeen cybook, I used it all the time and swore it was the future. I used to buy all my books from a place called Fictionwise that used bizarre economics whereby I always got more back in credit than I spent (to date I still have $100 in credit). And those I did buy cost me just a couple of dollars. I loved that place.
But then their stuff started getting region-locked which meant that I couldn’t get 99% of the books I wanted. Also publishers seemed to drop support for the mobipocket format in favour of epub. This was to be expected. It was like the early days of MP3 vs AAC vs WMV.
So I went back to books. Good reliable bulky books. I missed ebooks but Fictionwise burned me badly
The iPad and iBooks seemed to suggest that epub would become the dominant format. Whilst I never planned to use the iPad as a reading device (I don’t like backlit screens over e-ink), I did think it would give epub enough of a dominance to overtake Kindle.
But it never happened, Apple never pushed iBooks enough, never really took the fight to Amazon. Instead they were content just for it to be another bulletpoint on what the iPad could do. Amazon fought. Amazon put the Kindle reading device to my phone, my iPad, and my computer. They did clever things like syncing and I watched as my friends have almost all gone over to Kindle.
I worry about format lock-in, but whilst it was a pain, I managed to take all my legally bought Mobipocket books, de-DRM them and convert to epub. I suspect if enough people use format there will always be tools to crack and convert.
So I’ve been looking at the Kindle since before Xmas, would have asked for one from my parents if the snow hadn’t come and deliveries gone up the chute. I even went looking for them in John lewis after Xmas (the only place to sell them other than Amazon) only to find them sold out. But PC World and Currys now do them, and so the other night I used my Xmas money to go and get one.
On the surface it’s just an ebook reader like any other but I think the clever stuff is behind the scenes, like how I can buy from Amazon and it’ll push the novel to whatever device I want without me having to hook things up or download. It’s a iPod for books. I know some will resist it because of its market dominance but I gave iBooks 9 months to get their act together.
I do find that I’m already reading more, as evidenced by a couple of late nights and exhausted mornings. I got a light for it, so I can read in bed without having to get up and turn the lights out when I’m finished. I love it, like being ten again and reading by torchlight.
I’m trying to resist the urge to go out and buy a lot of books for it. Instead, I’ll buy them as they’re needed. I have started an Amazon wishlist though and have been trawling the site adding books to it.
With space a consideration, it feels good to be back in the digital era. I just wish it was easier to transfer books between devices without feeling like a criminal.