So why haven’t e-books taken off? Here are major villains as listed by Joshua Fruhlinger, free-lancing for an IBM magazine called developerWorks:

  • E-books can be physically uncomfortable to read (whether you’re sitting at a desk looking at a monitor or squinting at a tiny PDA screen).
  • They’re not portable if you have to read them on a desktop computer; if you read them on a laptop or PDA, you can’t read if you run out of power.
  • There’s a number of often incompatible formats that the files come in.
  • And the user’s ability to access the book’s content is often restricted by various digital rights management technologies. (It’s notable that the Baen Free Library, one of the more successful e-book outfits, gives away books that are DRM-free — and, for that matter, free as in beer. I guess it’s easy to be successful when you don’t expect anyone to pay you!).

Related: Review of the Nokia 770, from The nearest the review gets to the topic of e-books is a mention that the Nokia can read PDF. In DRMed formats? At any rate, the review is a good symptom of the problem of e-books being low on many people’s radar–thanks in part to the Tower and the reader-hostile DRM.

And speaking of the 770: Stay tuned for Mike Cane’s forthcoming review for TeleRead and other sites, which–don’t let us down Mike–will include an entirely different perspective. Apparently the review is the first of the 770, but I’d agree with Mike. It’s less of a review than a regurgitated spec sheet. See Mike’s earlier take on the 770s, as well as Roger Sperberg’s. I wish Nokia would hurry up with a unit for Roger.

(Via Mike and Slashdot discussion and MobileRead.)


  1. OMG! Now I am going to have to pore through texts to see which one I will want to spend SIX HOURS with.

    Reader programs and text suggestions welcomed! (Do NOT suggest Stephen dammit King! Think public domain; what’s out there by Hugo or Balzac?)

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