Monday, January 4, 2010

digital books

it's hard to read a book on my laptop. the screen hurts my eyes, and i wind up with a headache. i don't want to print out pages and pages, since it seems like a waste, so i deal with it. most of what i read on the computer are library books that i get through my university's database subscriptions, although i also have downloaded copies of books that i own but don't have with me (due to lack of space; my parents have boxes of my books in their basement, but they live far away).

i'm very tempted to save up for an e-reader, because i've heard that they're easier on the eyes. no one i know has one, so i haven't been able to test this out. my ideal ereader would need to be able to display pdfs, rtfs, and it would be nice if it could also show ms word files and html documents. i'm not sure how many ebooks i would actually buy, because i do like having the physical object to manipulate and keep and share, but i can see myself choosing to buy an ebook when i only plan to read something once, or want to get a book that would otherwise be too expensive or hard to find. i wonder how many publishers will make out-of-print books available as ebooks? that's where i could really see myself spending money.

this is all a dream, of course. ereaders are expensive, and it is still unclear which reader will dominate the market leaving other formats obsolete. it's probably unwise to invest in one right now, even if the money did magically find its way into my pockets. i like the sounds of the sony reader, but apparently the software it comes with contains rookits (the same nasty backdoor-opening virus that sony used to gather data from music cd buyers a couple years ago). kindle seems rather limited in what it can display other than ebooks purchased from amazon. the iphone/ipod touch apparently have decent applications for reading ebooks, but again, i haven't seen them in use, so i'm not sure whether the screen creates the same reading problems as a laptop, and i'm not sure how readable the text is on what is still a fairly small screen.

so for now, i'll continue reading on my laptop. at least it gets the job done.

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