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The eBook, Mark 2 203

Posted by timothy
from the expiring-libraries dept.
Selanit writes "David Pogue recently published a review of the Sony Reader, under the title Trying Again to Make Books Obsolete. Though he likes the device in general, he concludes that it's not destined to replace the book any time soon. Well worth a read."
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The eBook, Mark 2

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  • by Woldry (928749) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @02:56PM (#16445027) Journal
    From TFA: "One charge is good for 7,500 page turns. That's enough power to get you through "The Da Vinci Code" 16 times (electrical power, anyway)."

    So my question is: Why would you want to?
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I realize that you are trying to be funny, but I think the point is to show you how many books you could read on a single charge. Some poster above you pointed out that the advantage of paper is that you don't need electricity. This kind of information shows that you don't really have to worry about electricity, since you could read 16 good sized novels before having to charge the thing. Although I think that's a little unbelievable. My Cell phone battery will die after a month even if I don't have it
      • by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @04:04PM (#16445505)
        Although I think that's a little unbelievable.

        You didn't RTFA.

        If you had, you would find out it only consumes power when you have to redraw a page.

        You would also have discovered that there is a prototype that has been displaying the same page for 3 years.

        Sure, batteries slowly leak power. However, have you noticed that watch batteries can last for years - even with a constant power drain? As long as you don't need to provide huge bursts of energy, like those needed by a digital camera, you can design the battery to be more efficient in the long term.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You do realize the quote you are including already made this joke, only much more subtly, right? Right?
      • by Woldry (928749)
        Actually (he said, hanging his head in shame), I overlooked that joke altogether. You're right, of course.

        Can I blame my density on having had to read the article on a backlit LCD computer screen instead of on a Sony Reader?
    • Is The Da Vinci Code really the new standard for literary dwarven bread? [wikipedia.org] (You always have it to read, but strangely you find something else to do in meanwhile.)

      I guess I'll have to read it someday...

      • That book has been lying in my room for months now.
        You're spot on.

        (and I didn't had to click to know how dwarfish bread is made :P)
  • Pun (Score:3, Interesting)

    by From A Far Away Land (930780) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @02:58PM (#16445041) Homepage Journal
    "Well worth a read."

    Was that some pun humour in the summary?

    Anyway, I'd not trust Sony to make an eBook reader that wouldn't install a rootkit anyway. Installing Sony software is about as good an idea as installing sofware from MyWebSearch. They messed up Audio CDROMs for cripes sake, now we want them to control a book format too?
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Well, maybe not a rootkit, but after using SonicStage for my MiniDisc player, I'd have to say that I don't expect anything good from Sony. How they could release a piece of software that bad, and expect to have repeat customers and good reviews is beyond me. When I bought my iPod, I asked what other MP3 players they had. The guy said they had Sony players, and then pointed to the shelf filled with open box Sony players. He very much didn't recommend them.
      • by Firehed (942385)
        Ugh, don't remind me about that software. Now I'm going to end up in the fetal position for the rest of the day because you brought it up. So much for that essay due tomorrow...
    • by zoeblade (600058)

      [Sony] messed up Audio CD-ROMs for cripes sake, now we want them to control a book format too?

      In all fairness, they also helped Philips invent the audio CD format in the first place, which includes the bit about it not having any DRM. It's probably safe to say that they're such a large corporation (making blank CDs, CD-ROM burning drives, CD players, pre-recorded albums, and so on) that they sometimes conflict with themselves.

    • by StikyPad (445176)
      Sony makes perfectly good software. SoundForge and Vegas are excellent tools. I agree with your distaste for some of their business practices in the past, but I wouldn't go so far as avoiding something just because it has the word Sony on it, especially if it means avoiding something particularly useful. That would just be cutting off the nose to spite the face.

      That said, e-books are an interesting idea, but it's hard to beat the usability and durability of a good paperback.
  • by Woldry (928749) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @03:04PM (#16445063) Journal
    The paper book will be obsolete at around the same time as existing technology succeeds in supplanting other more-or-less longstanding mainstays like the pocket knife, the pencil, the match, the internal combustion engine, corrective lenses, transparent glass windows, tumbler locks, zippers, analog clocks, shoes with laces, the wheel -- well, I think you get the idea.
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @03:19PM (#16445161) Homepage
      Here we go Pocket Knife -> Leatherman/Multitool Pencil -> PDA with note pad The Match -> Lighter (I don't know anyone who regularly uses matches over a lighter Internal Combustion Engine -> Hybrid engine cars. (Yeah I know there's still an Internal Combustion Engine) Corrective Lenses -> Laser Eye Surgery Transpaent glass windows -> What, you wnat them replaced with opaque brick? Tumbler locks -> Many locks are now electrical and based on RFIDs. Zippers -> Buttons work so much better, I hate how zippers always fall down, If you want a constant barrier use velcro. Analog clocks -> Digital clocks Shoes with laces -> Velcro, or shoes with elastics so there's not tightening required. Anyway, although i know that none (save for the lighter) has come close to replacing the others, There are alternatives, and I believe that in the future, many of these things will be replaced, once the cost comes down. If it's $200 every couple of years for glasses, and laser eye surgery only costs $500, doesn't have to be redone, and is risk free, then I think may people will opt for that instead of glasses. If you still think glasses look good, well then get laser surgery and wear window glasses.
      • by Woldry (928749) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @03:30PM (#16445255) Journal
        See my reply below to another poster.

        My point, which I apparently failed to convey, is that alternative technology exists to accomplish the most common uses of all of the things I mentioned -- and in some cases, has existed for quite some time -- without "replacing" those things in any meaningful sense of the word. Yes, the new technology infringes on the size of the market for those things, and yes, some people will opt to use the newer technologies exclusively. But the older technologies have their advantages, too -- whether it be cost, safety, ease of use, familiarity, or simple idiosyncratic aesthetic appeal. As a result, I think that the use of the older technologies is far more likely to last than most of us neophile technogeeks seem to think.

        (My mention of transparent glass windows was in reference to a trend some years back, now thankfully largely reversed, toward replacing clear glass in schools and office buildings with, yes, opaque brick, or else opaque glass, in the interest of "reducing distractions" in schools and "increasing productivity" in businesses -- till studies began to show that the end result tended to be exactly the opposite. Most people apparently need distraction occasionally to function at their best.)
      • If it's $200 every couple of years for glasses, and laser eye surgery only costs $500, doesn't have to be redone, and is risk free, then I think may people will opt for that instead of glasses.

        One of the things that people with perfect vision (or vision that is not absolutely abysmal like mine) do not really get is that nearsightedness can also be an advantage. For example, when I am not wearing corrective lenses I can read microprint. This may seem trivial, but it definitely came in handy when I was up

    • by joto (134244)

      As for making paper books obsolete. It will happen at most a few decades after e-books hit the mainstream. Sure, some people will insist on p-books, but they will be enthusiasts, just like the people who insist on vinyl today. Or black and white film. Or steam engine trains and boats. Or any number of other obsolote technologies.

      Matches are already obsolete, lighters have surpassed them in number of fires started by a huge margin. People use matches mostly for nostalgic purposes. I can easily see tumbler

      • by jp10558 (748604)
        Biometric is just so much more convenient, and once I can get biometric locks cheap enough for putting on my bike or locker, I can't see much reason to have tumbler locks anymore.

        Major issue often overlooked (but often brought up as well, so how people overlook it anymore is beyond me): Your key gets compromised, or your combination/password... You can get a new key/password. Hell, just buy a new lock entirely. Problem solved.

        Someone (not with much difficulty - watch mythbusters hollywood myths) copies your
        • Getting a new lock is easy. Unless, of course, you need to replace dozens of them and have a secure building in the meantime. And they aren't hard to lose.

          The best thing is keycards. They are incredibly easy to replace and reconfigure and easy to make on the spot. They can also be tracked. RFID keycards can make it possible to just walk though doors.
    • It's pretty rare to see glass in new windows these days, it's all going to synthetic plastic type stuff. Convenient because if you throw a baseball at it, it doesn't break so easily. Don't ask how I know that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 15, 2006 @03:05PM (#16445073)
    The Web has certainly replaced magazines for the most part, and is even starting to replace academic journals [arxive.org].

    I wouldn't be surprised to hear that textbook sales are decreasing in real terms since the introduction of easily found information [wikipedia.org] suitable for helping out with a lot of university work.

    And there are already exact replacements [gutenberg.org] for some book content.

    Just look at what porn is doing - are porn mags still used as much as they were? Nope, it's on the 'net. The web is the main component of a book replacement and once you can get paper like displays which don't need any bulky electronics another feature of books will be replicated in modern technology.

    Blogs have replaced journals, and TV guides are now transmitted over the air and published on the net too. All paper based content moved to "book" replacements.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Woldry (928749)
      The Web has certainly replaced magazines for the most part

      This is true only if by "replace" you mean "infringe somewhat upon the use of". While web sites have begun to take on some of the uses to which people put magazines, and while many people now forego printed magazines in favor of the Web, magazine sales are still strong enough to keep the industry going. I've worked in public libraries for nearly 20 years now, and the magazine reading room is always full of people browsing the shelves or using th
      • by shmlco (594907)
        "New technology rarely completely replaces old."

        Thank you for that marvelous insight. However, to borrow an old saying, "A difference that makes no difference is no difference."

        Or to put it another way, by the time you get to the 99th percentile (or even the 80th, IMHO) you've effectively replaced the technology. Do 99% of the people who use candles in the US buy them at the store or make their own? Do the vast majority of today's consumers listen to MP3s or CDs, 8-track, or vinyl?

        Given horses and cars, whi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Unfortunately, we won't replace the text book until our professors stop telling us that we have to do questions 1 through 47 on page 394 of the book that comes out with a new edition every other year. I know a few people who bought very few textbooks in university. Many courses are easy to get through without them. Some courses it's impossible without it. Making that decision is quite hard. I know my professors often told us which ones we would need, and which we could do without. Although some of my pr
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Honestly, the primary uses of Wikipedia by folks in higher ed (faculty, students and staff) are probably 1) settling pop culture arguments that can't be settled via IMDB and 2) doing research about things like Wikipedia. Sorry, but they still haven't figured out a good way to deal with the kooks. Anyone who actually knows something is always going to give up before the kooks, because they almost certainly have better things to do in "real life". The great thing about the internet, of course, is it gives the
  • iRex is better (Score:2, Interesting)

    by network23 (802733) *

    The iRex Illiad [irextechnologies.com] is a better choice.

    - - -

    Online education? http://online.edu.org/ [edu.org]

  • The Sony ebook reader doesn't support pen input or any kind of annotation. It uses eink and takes one to two seconds per pageturn to refresh the display. It supports plain text, PDF, and Sony's proprietary DRM'd ebook format... so at least Gutenberg.org material can be imported.

    Still, without annotation - forget it. My ten year old Newton MP2100 is still a more useful ebook reader!

    Bah!
    • While this particular machine isn't exciting, what is exciting is the new e-ink technology. From everything I've read its very very good. Being able to write on it will have to come with later editions, though I wouldn't ever expect much in the way of interactivity, e-ink isn't intended for moving images or even for touchscreen. The ability to write on it would have to come from a sensor behind the e-ink screen and some radio emiting pen. Touch sensativity never. Now I could imagine something like this w
  • ... what I want to know is can you load .pdfs that don't have DRM on here? Personally, I would love something like this for journal papers... especially if it could mimic the parts of the dead-tree versions that I like... like being able to scribble notes in the margins.... without that ability though, I can't say I'd ever care to get one of these things... why carry around a $350 device and worry about charging, DRM and finding the e-books to begin with when I can just carry around a $9 paperback? It's not
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      From what I remember reading, it supports txt, UnDRM'd PDF, DOC, and a few other formats along with whatever DRM format it also supports.
    • by teslar (706653)
      Personally, I would love something like this for journal papers
      Yeah, plus, then you could pay for it out of a grant - or get your supervisor/thesis advisor to pay for one out of a grant if you're still a student ;)
  • Printed books (Score:2, Redundant)

    by kimvette (919543)
    Printed books:
    - Give me my fair use rights
    - Enable me to lend them to a friend
    - Enable me to donate them to libraries
    - Five me my first sale doctrine rights
    - Enable me to sell used if I tire of the book
    - Enable me to give away if I tire of the book
    - Don't crash
    - Don't malfunction
    - Don't run out of battery power
    - Work in dim lighting, office light
  • by toby (759) * on Sunday October 15, 2006 @03:25PM (#16445219) Homepage Journal
    I guess I'm not the first to figure out that maybe e-books have an uphill battle to market, because a book or two is already portable. Which means that maybe the marketing effort should focus on commercial users of piles of books -- mechanics, doctors, computer technicians, etc. (When I had a service call from Sun recently, the technician was lugging around a laptop to read service manuals.)
    • by Cochonou (576531)
      I guess I'm not the first to figure out that maybe e-books have an uphill battle to market, because a book or two is already portable.

      One book or two are the key words of your sentence !
      I really feel the pain of moving my books around whenever I have to move, and I know I am not alone. The heaviest boxes are almost always the ones that are packed with books. That is one of the main reasons I have always considered these ebook readers with a special interest, up to the point to be really attracted by th
      • by toby (759) *

        (I forgot to mention students, too.)

        I don't think ebook readers are aiming at first to replace your entire library. (Although I understand perfectly what you mean about boxes of books; I own many, and my remedy is not to move around much!) An e-book reader is "portable information" like an iPod is "portable music". And that's where the marketing difficulty may lie: Because it's just as convenient for people to carry a paperback (e.g. on a train or plane trip) as it is to carry the reader. And you don't hav

  • Fucking ironic. A book will last as long as it's language, so anything published today, if preserved (just leave it somewhere DRY) should last a few hundred years years. Think Shakespeare's English makes good sense to us. The English we use is standardised and well documented, compared to Chaucer's varietie of spellings and meanings in a day without dictionaries. Global communication is leading to a convergence of British English, American English etc.

    Now an eBook. Whatever technology they're tauting today
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by heptapod (243146)
      It's important to keep a book dry and out of the reach of insects but today books are being printed on paper which is highly acidic. When you find a book with yellowed pages, that's from the acid taking its toll on the paper fibers.
      The reason why really old books from the Renaissance and earlier have survived to this day is because they are printed on rag not pulp! In 500 years even a carefully preserved hardcover book will be extraordinarily fragile.
      • by matt me (850665)
        Do you regular reading would help? Separating the pages rather than letting them melt into each other.
  • For me, the big failing of it is the "who the hell decided this was a good idea?" user interface. And, of course, the price tag - but time will fix that.

    I don't see it replacing books in the near future - I see it replacing my computer as a viewer of my collection of reference PDFs - journal articles, datasheets, user manuals, stuff like that. Stuff I need, but don't want to have to keep laying around in printed form to yellow and get water damaged and whatnot.

    I understand that it's not much more than a n
  • DIY (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hahnsoo (976162) on Sunday October 15, 2006 @04:00PM (#16445477)
    If you don't like either Sony's reader or the iLiad (my personal e-Ink favorite) you can make your own! [eink.com]

    Awesome.
  • For what it is worth I'm finding the Nokia 770's 200dpi inch screen to be great for reading, though I haven't yet downloaded the FBReader maemo offers. The Nokia fits in my back pocket is solid, rugged, and has good battery life. At 800x480 it is also great for websurfing or blogging on the go. If I find a good supply of affordable or free reading I definitely plan on using this as my eBook reader. I have already downloaded Moby Dick and 20000 Leagues Beneath the Sea to round out reading some classics -
  • Some die-hards at Sony still believe that, properly designed, the e-book has a future.

    Like Sony is the one to be making that statement. I wouldn't trust Sony to make anything right. My parents owned a Beta, I think thats the last thing that has ever been a Sony in my family. Oh wait, I did buy a Sony DVD+RW because my Fuji one gave up the ghost after much rewriting, and that was all the store had left. It was garbage and I replaced it first opportunity I had with another Fuji.

    • I've had only good experiences with Sony. Every pair of Sony headphones I have used beat out every pair of non-Sony headphones I have used, a Sony Walkman CD player continued to work after constant abuse(it stopped working when I took it apart to see what was inside and accidentially broke off the motor), and the non-Sony HDTV upstairs was so broken that my dad had to go to the CEO to get his money back, and we bought a Sony, that works perfectly. I also haven't had any rootkit problems.
    1. Color reflective technology display, at 200dpi or better. Reflective display technology doesn't suck battery power when the image is static, and also doesn't waste energy on powering back-illumination, as it is read by ambient lighting.
    2. Portable. Approximately 9"x12"x3/4" or so, weighing not significantly different than a hardcover book of similar size.
    3. Standards compliant. Can import Adobe Acrobat files for viewing.
    4. Shock-resistant. Withstands drops of several meters without damage.
    5. Waterproof. Eas
  • Title pretty much says it all, but with Sony's history of format lock-in and recent DRM root-kit shenanigans, I'm inclined to avoid any Sony electronics, let alone something like an e-book.
  • The Good:
    -The screen is nice. Very readable even in sunlight, fairly high res for it's 6" size at 600x800.
    -The battery life(although I didn't play with one nearly enough to drain it's charge.

    The Bad:
    -64MB of flash. What is this the 90s? Even plain old text could fill that up pretty damn fast, and it's damn near useless for graphics or audio.
    -2-bit greyscale is great for text, but is on the lower edge of acceptable for manga (and the resolution could stand to be a bit higher for manga as well). I realize
    • by Jeremi (14640)
      Sony really ought to take a page from the iPod's book on minimalism


      Hm, I have a better idea... Aple should take a page from Sony and incorporate a nice eInk display into its next iPod. A device that delivered both audio and printed media, and didn't suck (in all the ways that Sony's products tend to, and Apple's products tend not to), would be a great thing.

  • by Lehk228 (705449)
    wait for the hanlin ebook from jinke. it will support open formats and run linux
  • E-books should cost less than paper books damnit not more (note that I can sell used books). And companies wonder why no one buys their overpriced DRM filled crap then try to shove more of it down our throats hoping we've somehow become idiots in the meantime. If I remember correctly Baen are the only ones who actually make money on ebooks and they sell non-drm cheaper-than-paper-version ebooks.
  • If I could get a text file of a book, just pure ascii text, I would buy one or two books a week, every week, or at least $50 a month. Since they don't, I am forced to buy "real" books, which means waiting at the door for the UPS asshole who won't deliver on the weekends, which means no buying online and instead I buy a single book once in two months, if I am lucky and am near the bookstore, which is closer to $5 a month.

    I wonder how much money the DRM has saved them by protecting them from "book pirates"?
  • After reading the article, I have to say it's not bad for a start. I know people who have literally shelves and shelves full of books. What would it be like to keep an entire library in a single tablet? (that was somewhat of a deja vu for when we asked "What's it like to keep an entire encylopedia on a single CD-ROM?" back in 1991)

    There are a few glaring details that need to be addressed.
    1. The price. $250 is entirely too much for the reader. Time will make it cheaper, though. When it hits the $99 mark I'll b

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