What I Want In An Ereader

I’ve been following the development of electronic book readers with some interest. I love to read and probably go through three books a month on average. My problem is that my bookshelves are overflowing and I’m running out of space. This is after donating several boxes of books. What is a space-challenged reader to do?

An electronic book is the obvious choice, but it’s hard to beat books at the optimal technology for reading. E-readers have been expensive and clunky and had a lack of content. At least until recently. Now there seem to be three major players, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony. I’ve read about each though I’ve only touch Amazon’s Kindle in person.

Kindle and B&N’s nook have the same price point and similar features. The nook seems to have software that isn’t quite there in terms of quality and performance but uses more open standards than Kindle.

I’d probably get a Kindle in a heartbeat if it weren’t for one thing. The Kindle’s DRM locks me into Amazon. I don’t want to buy books that lock me into a single hardware vendor. The Kindle has some great features but the DRM implementation is onerous and I don’t trust any single company to keep my best interests at heart. If we must have DRM then let’s have interoperable DRM and the EPUB standard seems the best bet for this. Unless Amazon switches to an open standard, I’m not very likely to buy a Kindle even though it’s arguably the best reader on the market with the largest library of material of likely interest to me.

The nook has the advantage of supporting EPUB but the performance is so sluggish that I’m not sure I could live with it. Hopefully that will improve. Yesterdays firmware update (v1.1) seems to help some, but it’s yet to be proven that the hardware platform is up to the task. I’m pretty sure that nook2 will be much improved but will this nook ever live up to it’s hype?

Sony’s readers look nice. They support EPUB. The UI looks good. The touchscreen models suffer from glare from the video’s I’ve seen and the low-end,  non-touchscreen model uses a screen that’s just too small.

Because B&N uses a DRM model that is different than Sony, the advantage of EPUB for interoperability is largely gone. A nook can read Sony’s DRM but, at least for now, a Sony can’t read nook’s DRM. That may change, but for now EPUB isn’t living up to it’s promise.

So, I sit back and wait and my bookshelves continue to overflow.


  1. I got a chance to play with a nook yesterday. It had been updated to the just released v1.1 firmware. While some operations were pretty sluggish (opening a book for the first time), page turns were not horribly slow.

    Assuming they continue to optimize the not quite ready for prime time software, it should be a good ereader platform.

  2. CES has come and gone and there was nothing there to dissuade me from choosing a nook as the best compromise. I was keenly interested in the Plastic Logic Que, but not at $650 for a device in a space that is changing so rapidly.

    Sony’s Daily Edition, the PRS-900 also is interesting except that I doubt I’d ever buy a book at Sony’s store given the cost difference compared to other stores. That makes the wireless connectivity useless to me and in effect making a pretty big markup compared the the PRS-600 for an inch taller screen.

    On paper, the Irex DR800SG sounds great but it still has no release date and reports from CES weren’t encouraging.

    So, looks like I’ll continue to wait for a nook unless Apple manages to do something later this month with their tablet that blows me away. Even if they do, it likely won’t have the great battery life of an E-Ink screen.

    Hopefully B&N’s next nook update will fix the worst of the issues people are reporting.

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