Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Well, as they say, folks ... you read it here first!

It's eighteen months since we predicted an ebook reader at less than £100 in the UK and under $100 in the US well before the end of 2011.

In past weeks and months, several manufacturers and retailers have already beaten the hundred-buck-barrier over the Shining Big Sea Water and just this week Waterstones in Britain has announced the Sony Reader Pocket Edition on sale at £99.99

This neat and powerful wee e-ink gizmo can hold up to 350 titles at once (bye-bye excess baggage charges for holiday reading), but by using free software like Calibre there is no limit to the size of the virtual library you can build on a PC or laptop to store your books for instant download and to qiuckly and easily convert digital files from one format to another, according to what's best for your electronic reading device.

On a single charge, you'll have about 7,000 page turns -- that would account for some twenty-five or more standard novels before you need an hour or two's re-charge. Text size can be increased, of course, which is a big deal when your eyes are as old as mine (122 years between them, they have -- and they've seen some heavy use). And your favourite classics and other public domain books are out there for free download as well as tens of thousands of contemporary works and best-sellers at major and minor new ebook stores. Our own, for instance.

I use a Sony PRS 505 for recreational reading and I can't recommend the Sony hardware highly enough. (We're in no way associated with the company. This is merely informal and personal opinion.)

So I wonder if the prediction I made at the very start of the millenium will also come true ... and that we'll see reading devices, bubble-wrapped and on display at supermarket checkouts for fifty bucks, before 2012 is out.

Fingers crossed. Neil


  1. Competition and advances in technology, and a shift in comfort levels of readers using such devices, your 2012 prediction is quite possible.

  2. It is realistic, Terry. There are already equivalents of the Apple iPad (manufactured in the very same Chinese factory as the iPad itself) on sale in China at around the $100 mark. When you're on the louukout for sustained quuality *and* falling prices in technology, it's always as well to cast a glance to the east, I think. Cheers. Neil

  3. Well, Neil, I guess I'm going to get dragged into this, kicking and screaming, sooner or later.

  4. Ricky, you'll never look back. It's the difference between carrying a play-all, vamping blues harp and pulling it from your pocket when the musical fancy hits ya, and a bloody sousaphone. Wth an e-reader. you need a library down the street like you need a band on your doorstep to experience everyhing. Guaranteed the best reading move you'll ever make. Bestest. N

  5. So we should look forward to looking over someone's shoulder on the train and see our book being 'page-turned' as we trundle station to station. It will be a sign of having made it.
    One sign of having hit the mainstream big time is finding your books in secondhand stores. It's a spooky feeling, and yes, it's happened to me, twice!

  6. I guess so, Rosanne. Do bear in mind that some grumpy old cusses actually consider second-hand bookshops that sell contemporary books to be the original book pirates.

    They make their profits from secondary sale of copryrighted work without any benefit whatsoever to the creators.

    The reader who sold the book to the shop or gives it to friend who may freely pass it on is fairly exercising his right of ownership and has already paid for this right with the original purchase from which the creators benefit.

    'But is secondary on-sale for profit morally acceptable?' these miserable, spoil-sport authors, publishers and editors will ask with the raising of one grizzly eyebrow.

    Best wishes. Neil

  7. It doesn't make the publisher or the author any money THEN - but it plays an important role in word of mouth. Something that gets picked up twice is better than just once. Word of mouth and popularity are vital, and secondhand bookshops are a kind of tradition in the English-reading world. So call it free advertising, for the author, the title, and the publisher of course. It's something that hangs around... and around.

  8. Sure, Rosanne. It's a lovely tradition and nobody would seriously challenge its right to remain in place. Used book stores are where we all grew up.

    But don't you see some similarity in the way commercial onpass of copyrighted material is excused in used book dealing (as in your comment) and the way torrent pirates try to justify their value to the creators of and investors in movies?

    And, if it's all about aiding positive viral promotion, does that justify the Chinese and Russian banditry involved in fake paper and ebook runoffs of best-selling books -- often on their day of release as with Rowling and Brown? Wouldn't those encouraged by good informal review opt for another, easily available, rogue copy or darknet?

    Cheers. Neil

  9. Yes to all that, Neil - it's natural and easy to dislike and oppose all unfair dealing. The dishonest way pirating is done is tantamount to cheating. Secondhand stores do not cheat. Perhaps there is no need to excuse their operations, since it is bound by traditions born of thrift and interest, rather than dishonesty, deception and bamboozling.
    Dishonesty and cheating, duping and lack of regard is unfortunately made rather easy for perpetrators by technologies that serve their purposes.
    New technologies help everyone: including those who steal and crib and gain through the hard work of others.
    Somehow, I cannot lump secondhand bookstores in with that lot.

  10. Perhaps my comparison was a tad extreme, Rosanne. Second-hand book dealers do provide inspiration. And, by tradition, they conduct their well-loved businesses in plain sight. Nefarious piracy -- for financial profit, ego, or the sheer thrill of riding rough-shod over the rules of fair play -- can claim no such honourable purpose. But it does. N

  11. I'm starting to delve into the world of ebooks and netgallery etc, so anything that's budget friendly is always welcome news...I wonder if you'll be able to get Kindle branded things onto it though (I know nothing about how these things work - yet!) I must give bigger hints for Christmas ;)

  12. Not exactly sure what you mean here, Michelle. ePub is the industry standard ebook format, but Amazon insists on using its proprietary Mobi format on Kindle readers.

    You can very easily convert from one format to another using free Calibre library software so that books can be read on any electronic reading platform from PCs, through the range of ebook-dedicated reading devices, to iPods and smart phones ... IF the books are not protected by detested Digital Rights Management software padlocks.

    Hope this is of some help, Michelle. Happy weekend. Neil

  13. By the way, Michelle, most machines can also read PDF files (you'll be familiar with that) and you can convert PDF into other formats with Calibre.

    The hitch with PDF, though, is that its a format meant for print and, although great on PCs, laptops, netbooks, iPads, etc, a PDF won't always convert well for use on small-screen readers and phones. Neil