L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

09 March 2009 Blog Home : March 2009 : Permalink

The Up and Downside of Paper. A Post for Ebook Week

Read an ebook weekBy coincidence I reread The Deed of Paksenarrion last week in paper. I have the enormous 1000+ page single volume paperback version and reading it was interesting as I haven't read such a large paperback book for a while. In fact this was the second paper book I've read this year (the first was Lois M Bujold's Horizon) whereas I've read a dozen or more ebooks (I haven't consciously listed them).

Just for fun I thought it might be interesting to compare the reading experience of paper compared to electrons.
eInk (Bookeen Cybook3)
Boot up time in 0-10 seconds
(depending in whether reader remembered to put in his bookmark)
Boot up time 30-40 seconds. Bookmarks always there (for me at least).
Readable in sunlight. Not readable in the dark
ditto - see comparison shots on my flickr page.
One handed reading nearly impossible (and no I'm not referring to the pr0n sense!)
One handed reading is normal.
Book is heavy, hence tend to rest it on knee, table. This may cause feline lapwarmer to complain a) that book is taking up valuable lapspace or b) book is too heavy to be rested on feline lapwarmer
Cabook3 is light no need to rest it anywhere and if rested on feline lapwarmer then he doesn't mind
Book is bulky. Cannot readily be taken to the shop for reading in checkout queue. Or pulled out while waiting for airport security theatre
Cybook3 is slim enough to fit in large pocket. Easily to take and read anywhere.
Book can have doodling in the margins
No doodling
Switching between books (e.g. when finished with one) takes minutes at best, and can be hours if you aren't at home or near a book store
Switching between books takes seconds as long as the book is on the reader. If laptop is on the copying a new book is c. 60 seconds
Skipping pages is easy. Skipping to a specific chapter can be a bit harder
Skipping to a specific chapter is generally easier that skipping 10 pages
Font size fixed. OK for me. Bad for someone older
Fonts and font size massively customizable.
Price - Deed of P costs $13.14 from Amazon.com and £12.41 (=c.$17) from Book Depository.
The cybook costs $350 or £200. The ebook costs $6 from webscriptions.

When I started the list I thought one was going to be the clear winner. But actually I think its more of a horses for courses thing. One thing I have noted is that my habits change and I read more with the ebook reader. Some of the changes are subtle. e.g. I get used to working around the 30s boot time thing by switching it on slightly ahead of time. So, for example, when I'm about to get in the security theatre line I've already hit the on button.

The reading more thing needs some expansion. Though I do tend to read more at times when I have nothing much specific to do (on the train, bus, waiting for same...), it might be more correct to say I spend less time reading throwaway newspapers and airline magazines and more reading books.

The pricing is also interesting. By buying the ebook version I'm able to save about $10 on the purchase price in this case. Now that isn't the sort of price difference I would always expect - in the case of Horizon the prices are probably about equal (mutter mutter). Still if you buy a lot of books, as I do then even $5 savings quickly add up. And there's the instant gratification thing. Now it is true that if I go to a bookstore I get instant G too but I tend to have to pay even more for it. The wonderful thing about ebooks is that you cna buy them whenever, get them immediately and usually more cheaply than the real paper ones.