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The once and future e-book: on reading in the digital age
ars technica ^ | February 1, 2009 | John Siracusa

Posted on 02/02/2009 1:00:38 PM PST by MrEdd

I was pitched headfirst into the world of e-books in 2002 when I took a job with Palm Digital Media. The company, originally called Peanut Press, was founded in 1998 with a simple plan: publish books in electronic form. As it turns out, that simple plan leads directly into a technological, economic, and political hornet's nest. But thanks to some good initial decisions (more on those later), little Peanut Press did pretty well for itself in those first few years, eventually having a legitimate claim to its self-declared title of "the world's largest e-book store."

Unfortunately, despite starting the company near the peak of the original dot-com bubble, the founders of Peanut Press lost control of the company very early on. In retrospect, this signaled an important truth that persists to this day: people don't get e-books.

A succession of increasingly disengaged and (later) incompetent owners effectively killed Peanut Press, first flattening its growth curve, then abandoning all of the original employees by moving the company several hundred miles away. In January of 2008, what remained of the once-proud e-book store (now called eReader.com) was scraped up off the floor and acquired by a competitor, Fictionwise.com.

Unlike previous owners, Fictionwise has some actual knowledge of and interest in e-books. But though the "world's largest e-book store" appellation still adorns the eReader.com website, larger fish have long since entered the pond.

(Excerpt) Read more at arstechnica.com ...


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Computers/Internet; Education
KEYWORDS: apple; books; deadtree; drm; ebooks; godsgravesglyphs; kindle; tech
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The article is long, but engaging in its detail of how the print media in general is now being dragged down the digital path that the RIAA futilely fought against.
1 posted on 02/02/2009 1:00:39 PM PST by MrEdd
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To: abb; Swordmaker; ShadowAce

Ping for tech and death of dead tree print.


2 posted on 02/02/2009 1:06:25 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

3 posted on 02/02/2009 1:08:32 PM PST by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: MrEdd
My wife LUUUVs her Kindle. It was my Christmas present to her.

Sony/Amazon got this one 95% right. There are a few gripes, but the display is phenomenal and the battery lasts for days and days, not just a few hours.

Only gripes: Hard to hold it without pushing a button somewhere; Clicking hotlinks on converted documents sometimes doesn't work very well at all; Reference books don't work well on it, but plain ol' reading is superb

Overall, excellent device!

4 posted on 02/02/2009 1:18:12 PM PST by TChris (So many useful idiots...)
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To: MrEdd

Bookmark


5 posted on 02/02/2009 1:19:04 PM PST by IronJack (=)
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To: TChris

Totally agree. And with Kindle being able to order books over wireless rocks - free, instant shipping - love it!


6 posted on 02/02/2009 1:22:05 PM PST by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: TChris
Ditto, the Kindle has got me back to reading books again.

Thought I would mention that for Kindle (and probably other e-book users) that the free Mobipocket Creator (Publisher Edition) is great for converting various formats into Mobi which the Kindle seems to handle better than other formats, especially PDF.

The Mobipocket Creator is available here.

7 posted on 02/02/2009 1:32:46 PM PST by Proud_texan (Scare people enough and they'll do anything.)
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To: 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten

I agree Kindle is terrific! I ordered mine the day it was announced, and regard it as one of my most prized possessions (of course, along with several firearms).


8 posted on 02/02/2009 1:32:49 PM PST by RandyGH (Democrats--So far left they've left America)
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To: MrEdd

I love my Kindle. Plenty of non-DRM books available for it too.


9 posted on 02/02/2009 1:36:16 PM PST by TopDog2
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To: MrEdd

I’ve currently got about 25 books on my iPhone. I owned the iPhone anyway, and found one app with 18 classics (99 cent download) and another with 10 books for 99 cents. All are public domain, but there are more and more coming out.


10 posted on 02/02/2009 1:40:30 PM PST by Richard Kimball (We're all criminals. They just haven't figured out what some of us have done yet.)
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To: Temple Owl

ping


11 posted on 02/02/2009 1:40:56 PM PST by Tribune7 (Obama wants to put the same crowd that ran Fannie Mae in charge of health care)
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To: MrEdd

Thx for the ping. Cross-posting to today’s Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™ thread.


12 posted on 02/02/2009 1:42:21 PM PST by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: MrEdd

Another impact of this will be to make dead-tree books much cheaper on Amazon and at library book sales.


13 posted on 02/02/2009 1:46:31 PM PST by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: MrEdd

Interesting. I personally do not like to read on the computer. I find it more tiring on the eyes, less convenient (I can’t sprawl out on a couch, for example, even with a laptop), and less pleasant (there is something about the change of pace I like in reading a book; I use a computer all day at work and sometimes at play—books provide a nice way to get away from it all). This isn’t to say, of course, that I haven’t done it. Particularly with harder to find books, I have used gutenberg, archive, and sacred-texts. I just don’t like it as well.

Maybe a reader would be better. I don’t know. At the moment, I am not really inclined to try it, though. :)


14 posted on 02/02/2009 1:55:40 PM PST by Se˝or Zorro ("The ability to speak does not make you intelligent"--Qui-Gon Jinn)
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To: MrEdd

Meh. Get back to me when there’s an e-book reader with a photo-level color display.


15 posted on 02/02/2009 1:56:58 PM PST by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: Se├▒or Zorro

I drive for a living and have found Audible.com to be a splendid choice. You download books to an mp3 player and off you go... I’ve been doing it for years and they have more books added to their already large selection all the time.


16 posted on 02/02/2009 1:58:23 PM PST by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: TChris

Can one mark text & make notes in the margins?


17 posted on 02/02/2009 2:15:28 PM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: KosmicKitty
Can one mark text & make notes in the margins?

From the User's Guide:

"You can highlight lines of text and add notes to any of the content on Kindle. Amazon automatically stores all of your annotations in the "My Clippings" file and even backs them up on Amazon servers so they will never be lost even if you lose your Kindle. As an example, this paragraph has a highlight and note attached as indicated by the surrounding box and small note icon to the right of the text. Using the select wheel, move the cursor to the note icon, press the select wheel, and choose "Edit Note" from the menu to see the note. To add your own note, simply move the cursor to the line where you want to add your thoughts, press the select wheel, and choose "Add Note" from the menu. Then type your note using the keyboard and select "Done". You can later view the note, edit it, remove it or see all of your annotations in something you are reading by selecting "My Notes & Marks" from the menu."

"Using Notes

To add, edit, or delete a note, follow these steps:

1. Scroll to anywhere within a page you are reading.
2. Press the select wheel.
3. Scroll to the "Add Note" selection if you want to add a new note, the "Edit Note" selection if you want to change an existing note, or the "Delete Note" selection if you want to delete an existing note.
4. Press the select wheel.
5. Use the keyboard to enter a new note or to edit an existing one.
6. When you have finished, scroll to "Done," and press the select wheel.
7. If you added a note, once you return to the page, notice that a note icon now appears on the right side of your text."

The notes go into the .mbp file for the file you added the note on, and a copy goes into the "My Clippings" file.


18 posted on 02/02/2009 2:21:29 PM PST by TChris (So many useful idiots...)
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To: Se├▒or Zorro
I agree with your sentiments...I'd have to do some looking but some time ago, recall reading a study that people generally have a much higher retention of information when read off a printed page than off a monitor or screen...besides, I can't quite figure out how you'd press a flower with an "e-book"


19 posted on 02/02/2009 2:27:21 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: RandyGH

Ditto on the firearms! (and the cars, and the dog, etc. etc.)


20 posted on 02/02/2009 2:33:13 PM PST by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: MrEdd
Some of the cool features of the Amazon Kindle:


21 posted on 02/02/2009 2:34:36 PM PST by TChris (So many useful idiots...)
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To: MrEdd

I think Amazon could have come up with a better name for their device...”Kindle” makes me think of “Fahrenheit 451” and burning books.
Kind of gives me the creeps.


22 posted on 02/02/2009 2:36:30 PM PST by hawkboy
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To: KosmicKitty

I have an Ebookwise 1150 (http://www.ebookwise.com/). It’s great for just reading books. Very easy to hold and turn pages, has backlighting (so you can read it in the dark), the battery lasts literally for days between recharging, and it only cost me $140. Has a little stylus so you can scribble notes on pages, which are saved so you can go back to them later. Doesn’t have wireless like the Kindle, but it was much cheaper. I load several books on the device before I travel, so I don’t really need wireless. It’s great for reading at the airport and on the airplane.


23 posted on 02/02/2009 2:41:16 PM PST by shorty_harris
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To: MrEdd; All

I love anything computer and digital, but I just can’t get myself to read a book on an e-reader device.

They just don’t look as good as a real book...resolution, the light coming off the screen like a computer screen etc.

Just don’t like that.

Are there some good ones out there that are easy on the eyes like a real book?


24 posted on 02/02/2009 2:44:25 PM PST by rwfromkansas ("Carve your name on hearts, not marble." - C.H. Spurgeon)
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To: steve-b

As you wish. give up a bit of battery life and you get a thin seven inch color screen, online anywhere and it fits in your pocket.

25 posted on 02/02/2009 2:49:33 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: MrEdd

For a book reader I want something like an iPhone, just with a paperback-sized screen. Even get rid of the button. I want something that only has a thin border around, just like a paperback.

I want the ability to make notes, see them on the page, and be able to get an index of all notes, where clicking one takes you to the page where you wrote it, or just pops up the surrounding text right there.

I want to be able to synch my notes wirelessly to anybody who has the same device and book, and to have them synch back to my computer.

I don’t want mandatory DRM. A publisher can DRM (loosely like iTunes does), but I don’t want the books I got from Project Gutenberg to be automatically DRMed like the Zune did when transmitting.

I want to be able to give books to friends wirelessly. At least some intro chapters if it’s DRMed, the whole thing if not.

I want it to have enough memory to hold an entire library. Gonna need at least 32 GB.

It should be able to do audiobooks with the option of auto-flipping pages to where the sound is, and even hilighting the words or sentences as it goes (great for beginning readers).

I’ll think of more later, but that’s my minimum for finally buying an ebook reader.


26 posted on 02/02/2009 3:06:41 PM PST by antiRepublicrat ("I am a firm believer that there are not two sides to every issue..." -- Arianna Huffington)
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To: antiRepublicrat

Just for you there are five and eight inch models of the Ipod touch being launched later this year.

Enjoy


27 posted on 02/02/2009 3:09:39 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: ShadowAce; SeaDragon

I love my ebook! I have the ebookwise.com critter. I’ve had it for years. Got my family hooked on them too.

Instant gratification, woo hoo. I must have about 20 sites bookmarked where I can purchase and download books.


29 posted on 02/02/2009 3:27:06 PM PST by RikaStrom (Bitter? Who me? Nah, I'm just clinging to my guns!)
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To: MrEdd
Just for you there are five and eight inch models of the Ipod touch being launched later this year.

That's still loose rumor status.

30 posted on 02/02/2009 3:27:34 PM PST by antiRepublicrat ("I am a firm believer that there are not two sides to every issue..." -- Arianna Huffington)
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To: shorty_harris

I have that one too, actually, I have two of them. I blew up my first one by removing the chip while the device was on. Don’t do that. Bad juju.

Then I bought one and thought it had a screen burn (operator error), so I bought a second one to replace it, now I have two.

One goes with me everywhere. Jury duty, airports, anyplace that I may have to wait.

:-)


31 posted on 02/02/2009 3:30:17 PM PST by RikaStrom (Bitter? Who me? Nah, I'm just clinging to my guns!)
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To: TChris

Hubby has a kindle, I have a Sony 505. Love them. Take everywhere. My battery is better but AMazons book list is better. Mine is smaller, more elegant, thinner but the kindle has the advantage in readability with a better screen or at least it looks better to me.

There are so many free books out there. Burgomeister has an incredible list, you get 100 free classics on Sony but gutenberg is free. And there are bootleg books out there,,not out of copyright but free.

It is the best tech thing I have had. Hubby likes the access to internet and email on Kindle,,I don’t miss it.

It took me one chapter to get used to it and you can increase the font as your eyes tire.


32 posted on 02/02/2009 3:37:07 PM PST by cajungirl (no)
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To: MrEdd

I’ve been reading books on my Palm for years.


33 posted on 02/02/2009 3:40:25 PM PST by CaptRon (Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead)
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To: cajungirl

PS get the warranty. I dropped mine on a tile floor and it went kaput.

I then dropped it in the bathtub full of water from about four feet up,,it floated and was fine.

The kindles buttons are too easy to hit,,always changing pages but I got used to it.

Sony has a cover with alight now,,it is hard to read in dim light but I have a cataract so it is worse for me.

I love my ereader and gave all my kids and sons in laws them as presents before our beach trip. Five kindles and one ereader,,they read more than evern. ANd the grandson got one for his birthday and he loves it,,age 12,,he uses it for email and such things.


34 posted on 02/02/2009 3:44:28 PM PST by cajungirl (no)
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To: MrEdd
I find it a little surprising that the author seems to have missed one other aspect of this new world - the content owner doesn't have to be the publishers. An individual who can sell his car on the Internet can sell books too. It is little wonder that conventional publishers were reluctant to advance this technology - pace the author, they recognized a nascent competitor.

What they do to make a living is vet, purchase, and edit the material, do the publicity, manage the physical shipment in both directions, and of course run factories that produce the product. What they'd be left with is the publicity part and maybe some preparation. If it looked to them like a less profitable proposition, it was.

Personally I'm reluctant to saddle myself with one more piece of electronic crapola to carry around. I've tried the PDA thing and found I couldn't scroll down as fast as I read, so a dedicated reader may be inevitable. Not tomorrow for me, anyway, but soon. What the heck - I already spend 12 hours a day in front of a computer monitor.

35 posted on 02/02/2009 4:14:33 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: RikaStrom
I love my ebook! I have the ebookwise.com critter. I’ve had it for years. Got my family hooked on them too. Instant gratification, woo hoo. I must have about 20 sites bookmarked where I can purchase and download books.

It is just a shame that more publishers don't release in multi-format. They miss a lot of sales that way.

36 posted on 02/02/2009 4:25:19 PM PST by SeaDragon
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To: MrEdd

Reference bump ... ;-)


37 posted on 02/02/2009 4:35:25 PM PST by Tunehead54 (Nothing funny here ;-)
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To: TChris

Seems like a lot of steps, but, ten, I guess it makes up for losing your pencil & having to go look for it :-)

I have to add my comments in the margins - especially when I’m reading something I disagree with.

How god is it for recent publications? I’m studying fr a National Security degree and have to read a lot of new, non-fiction.


38 posted on 02/02/2009 5:15:25 PM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: RikaStrom

I like mine too. I also read in bed, and since it’s backlit, I can read and not annoy the wife. When I fall asleep, it turns itself off after no activity for 5 minutes or so.


39 posted on 02/02/2009 6:27:35 PM PST by shorty_harris
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; 31R1O; ...

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

 
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My view is, these devices should be replacing all textbooks soon. In fact, textbooks should be published electronically, and not in hardcopy. It would make education more economical among other things. Imagine toting all your textbooks plus other needed texts in one lightweight package, which includes full text search, personally annotating, etc. This is a Pages topic.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

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40 posted on 02/02/2009 7:10:32 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________ Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: KosmicKitty
How god is it for recent publications? I’m studying fr a National Security degree and have to read a lot of new, non-fiction.

There are over 230,000 titles now.

230 results for "National Security" at Amazon.

I think they have new releases immediately, as far as I have seen.

41 posted on 02/02/2009 7:16:18 PM PST by TChris (So many useful idiots...)
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To: steve-b
Meh. Get back to me when there’s an e-book reader with a photo-level color display.

Really? Does your computer have a color photo-level display? No.

Does that mean it's useless, and you can't read it? No.

How many paperbacks have you read with colored text? Me neither.

B&W for actual reading is just fine. And the display on the Kindle is VERY high resolution.

42 posted on 02/02/2009 7:21:12 PM PST by TChris (So many useful idiots...)
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To: shorty_harris
I love to read myself to sleep, but often end up dropping the book on the floor when I doze off. Could it withstand this? Also, the few times I have tried to have my computer next to the bed to check some thing in the middle of the night, I find I have problems reading the screen sideways, a problem I don't have with books. I suppose being able to hold it at any angle would solve this problem? Is there any advantage to having one if almost all the books I read are borrowed from the library?
43 posted on 02/02/2009 7:31:55 PM PST by stayathomemom (Cat herder and empty nester)
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To: MrEdd

Now when we can get Free Republic on Kindle, that would be something. I would definitely buy a Kindle then.


44 posted on 02/02/2009 7:37:47 PM PST by SamAdams76 (I am 28 days away from outliving John F. Kennedy)
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To: steve-b

I’m waiting for the pop up E-book reader.


45 posted on 02/02/2009 7:41:31 PM PST by Redcitizen (Good Bank, Bad Bank, I'm the one with the cash.)
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To: AnAmericanMother

Bibliophile ping


46 posted on 02/02/2009 7:41:34 PM PST by aposiopetic
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To: Proud_texan
How is it on the john, in the tub, and for ease of flipping back & forth? Type face/size?

Last "electronic book" I tried is the Franklin Bookman, so I wouldn't have to lug (and perhaps damage) a Bible while I was traveling a lot. My wife bought it for me around 15 years ago.

I rarely even think about it, let alone use it; instead I pick up a 5 pound large print edition....

47 posted on 02/02/2009 8:18:01 PM PST by ApplegateRanch (Islam: a Satanically Transmitted Disease, spread by unprotected intimate contact with the Koranus.)
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To: stayathomemom
The device I have weighs slightly more than a paperback book. You can hold it at any comfortable angle. There's a function to turn the text 180 degrees, so you can hold it with either hand and still use the page up and down buttons (it reverses their operation, too). I haven't dropped it yet, but it seems solidly built, and I imagine it could easily withstand a fall from the bed to the carpeted floor.

If I could check out books from the library and download them to this device, it would be absolutely perfect. I know my local library has ebooks that can be checked out, but their selection is very limited, and they are in a format that's incompatible with my device. There is third-party software that will convert various formats to the one used by my device, but results are not always the best, and it's a pain having to do that anyway.

48 posted on 02/02/2009 8:21:53 PM PST by shorty_harris
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To: Proud_texan

Forget it; sorry I asked the previous!

$360, plus just as much money for each book to read on it, as I pay for paperbacks or used HBs anyway.

And no batteries to go dead; other people’s servers to go down; too many places around here that I can’t get reception—tied to wires; I’ll stick to print.


49 posted on 02/02/2009 8:54:15 PM PST by ApplegateRanch (Islam: a Satanically Transmitted Disease, spread by unprotected intimate contact with the Koranus.)
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To: MrEdd

I am all for e-books especially in school. Most of my textbooks from nursing school were a huge waste of trees. In fact, my cat is having fun batting them around the basement floor till I pick them up. I still like reading trade paperbacks though. I’ve never take my palm pilot (or future Apple iphone) to the beach or the worse yet...the sauna.


50 posted on 02/03/2009 6:02:30 AM PST by cyborg (Enough studying. Let's get on it with already!)
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