Recently I’ve been using ebook readers rather a lot – mostly the Kindle DX, though I have given iBooks a spin as well. Obviously, as with MP3 players, the main win they offer is the ability to easily carry about an entire library without the inconvenience of the physical media. I’ve been reading an awful lot more than before since I started using them, mostly by virtue of it being very easy to keep several books on the go at once. What I’ve found especially good with the Kindle is the ease with which I can flip between devices, taking advantage of the tradeoffs between the different form factors.
Phones are obviously portable and these days have clear, easy to read screens (in most lights anyway) and are very light and easy to hold. They’re great if you’re stuck in a queue or on a bus but the small screen size and the fact that keeping the screen on for an extended period of time runs down the battery which isn’t always desirable. Computers are similar, trading off portability and convenience in the form factor for the larger form factor.
The iPad deals with the screen size issue without much impact on either the form factor or the battery life but the LCD display is hard to read in sunlight and can be hard on the eyes for extended use. E-Ink displays deal with those issues by swapping them for others that mean they can only work for eBooks so the devices aren’t at all general purpose. The first generation of displays had problems with frustratingly long refresh times and less than ideal contrast ratios but these have been largely addressed in current generations of device – current generation displays are beautiful.
Thus far I’ve pretty much just been reading copies of books I already have physical copies of so I’ve not really had a think about how I feel about any of the models for eBook publishing that are floating about out there, or about the DRM issues.