E-readers are overpriced and overrated

With all the hype surrounding e-books and e-readers, you’d think that they were technology’s gift to god.

But in reality the underpowered, underfunctioning e-reader, whether it’s a Kindle or a Sony or an iPad, is a remarkably expensive gizmo that serves to take value away from books, rather than enhance them.

A DRM infected e-book can’t be transferred multiple times and you can’t sell them on as part of a “licence” that you sign up to when you buy one. Books are not your own.

And the publishers and the manufacturers of e-readers have put the cart before the horse. If you drool over an iPad, like Stephen Fry did at the launch, don’t forget that like all other electronic gizmos, your machine only has a limited life and sooner or later you’re going to have to trade up to a newer model.

E-readers should be given away by the publishers in much the same way as Hewlett Packard gives away highly sophisticated printers, knowing that you’re going to have to pay through the nose for ink.

The manufacturers of the e-readers tout their benefits over reading electronic texts on a computer – citing screen glare as one of the major reasons for getting a dedicated reader. But the readers lack pure horsepower. While it’s true that a notebook is not the most ideal method for reading, it can do a lot more than a Kindle or a Sony or an iPad can.

So the idea is that you pay through the nose for an electronic device in addition to all the other gizmos that you own. The fact is that the technology will get better and cheaper as time passes and you’re going to end up with yet more useless electronic junk to throw away into landfill.

The one thing an e-reader certainly doesn’t have is the aesthetic appeal of a beautifully produced book and doesn’t compare to having volumes on a bookshelf that you can dip into and out of at will. Electronic texts are fantastic as is the access to information over the internet through projects such as the British Library/Microsoft scheme.

Just round the corner from where I live, there’s a fabulous Mind charity shop where I’ve bought some really wonderful books at ludicrously cheap prices. It’s a real pleasure to browse for books whether they’re second hand or not, rather than hunch over yet another fancy bit of electronics and continually browsing the internet.