Ian McShane Rotating Header Image

Moving to eBooks?

bibliophile |ˈbɪblɪə(ʊ)fʌɪl|nouna person who collects or has a great love of books.

I travel a lot for work and quite often my flights are longer than just a couple of hours.
This means that my MBP battery life isn’t long enough to sustain the entire flight and besides, I don’t often get to fly First Class so space is quite limiting.
I therefore usually carry a book or two in my carry on luggage.  Ranging from business style ones (Crucial Conversations, anyone?) to fiction, they can add substantial weight to my bag.  Not forgetting the expense of course.  If i’m bored at the airport, I’ll check out the bookstore there.  For example, I bought a whopping book from Dublin airport last week which wouldn’t even fit in my bag.

I’ve coveted the Amazon Kindle for a long time now, pretty much since it was released and especially since they launched the Kindle DX earlier this year.  I know I’d need a US mailing address to open a US account and get it delivered but that’s fine.  The only thing that has stopped me getting one yet is that I am concerned at not being able to buy books for it.  I just don’t know if you can purchase books “off Kindle” – i.e buy them on my MBP and transfer them to the Kindle via USB.
The last couple of times I’ve been to the US, I’ve had the Kindle 2 in my ‘shopping basket’ about to hit the “order” button but backed out at the last minute.

Given that, you can imagine my excitement last week when I heard via @derrenbrown that the Kindle was finally being launched outside of the US.  I went straight off to Amazon and pre-ordered, despite the $40 import tax on top of the quoted $279 ordering price.
Now a week has passed since I ordered and now I’m really starting to think this through.  A lot of noise has been made over the last few days about the cost of books to the UK market being higher than the US one.  It’s not that which bothers me so much, I’m more concerned about whether it fits MY purpose, not the markets.  I’ve started to wonder if I’ve just fallen for the media hype.  Other than the Kindle, my other option is the Sony Reader which is available in the UK right now.  It’s also the chosen format for Waterstones.

I need/want to be able to do the following:

  1. Carry books with me without over burdening my back/bag.
  2. Be able to buy new books instantly over the web and move to reader easily.
  3. Read PDFs and Word docs.
  4. Occasional annotating and ability to find the notes quickly/easily.

I don’t need web browsing – I have my iPhone when in the UK and my work BlackBerry for when I’m roaming.

Kindle International scores the first 2 but apparently doesn’t fair so well at number 3.
The Sony Reader Touch Edition hits 1,3  and 4 but doesn’t have integrated wireless for instant download.

People have suggested getting the US version of the Kindle DX which has much better PDF support apparently.  However, I think I then lose the wireless aspect.
Now, there is supposedly a new Sony Reader out in December, the Daily Edition.  A larger screen and wireless (3G I think) access to the Sony store are it’s main features.  That could well hit all three of my requirements, if it’s released in the UK.
However, if we are talking about waiting for a new release, the Kindle DX is being touted for a 2010 Q1 release internationally so perhaps I should wait on that one?

Price wise, the Kindle International racks up at ~£218.35 including the import tax and shipping from the US versus £250 for the Sony Reader PRS-600 Touch Edition.  (It doesn’t surprise me that the Sony is more expensive, it’s quite the norm for anything on their brand.)  There is, however, a smaller Sony Pocket Edition at £160 which has fewer features and is basically a bare bones eBook reader.

What am I to do short term?

  • Leave my Kindle order and hope that it’s either good enough for my needs or that the market for used Kindles is good in a month or so.
  • Go with the cheaper pocket Sony reader and wait for the International DX release or the newer Sony Daily?
  • Forget about all of them for the moment and see if this is just a fleeting ‘want’ and not a need?

Let’s see…

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