The old adage says that one should not judge a book by its cover. Rather, we should take time to open the book and really get to know the content before making a judgment call. But what about in our present and not so distant future of e-books, should that same saying hold true?
One of the best aspects of owning a PDA has been the ability to carry tons of references and books that would have otherwise been in one or two backpacks. For example, when I made the jump from an IIIxe to an m515, I carried in my PDA two bibles and a dictionary. With the 8MB of space in the IIIxe, I was full. Therefore, I went for the m515 because it offered a color screen and the SD expansion slot. Getting the extra space also put me in the market for e-books. What I heard then was that e-books would be the next big literary thing. They would be the final nail in the paper coffin. So I went to places such as MemoWare (www.memoware.com) and Peanut Press (later changed to Palm Reader, and is now eReader www.ereader.com) anxious to find free and low cost books. It was my guess that they would be cheaper than the printed counterparts (no printing means savings are passed on right?).
I was in for a surprise, mainly because of availability and pricing. I did not see any of the books that I was interested in. I also saw prices that were as high, and in some cases higher than the printed counterparts. I was not exactly pleased with that and stuck to the free books in many cases. Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org/) and MemoWare became my main places for looking for books. It appeared to me, that the future of e-books was a closed novel.
Over the last few years, the prices of e-books have gone down somewhat. But try being a college student and finding that textbook for your class as an e-book, it is nearly impossible. I believe the reason for this is because publishers do not control that market, college bookstores do. And there is nothing like a book that can be resold three and four times before it being replaced. An e-book for the college crowd is just not happening.
The good thing is that the rest of the world does not mirror the college world (sorry to all admissions directors). You can find e-books on just about any subject out there. There are even companies like MobiPocket (www.mobipocket.com), Adobe (http://digitalmediastore.adobe.com/) and eReader that offer several weekly and monthly deals to make purchasing the books that you want much easer. These companies, along with Project Gutenberg, MemoWare, and others, have ensured that if one does turn the page towards electronic texts, that there is enough in there to keep e-book readers intrigued until the end.
That being said, I am glad that e-books are still around. For many people, e-books are the best way to get a good read in when in hard to read places, like the subway or in bed late at night (try letting your spouse sleep with that bedroom light on and you know what I mean. So if you haven’t tried one yet, download a popular reader from our e-store (http://www.handango.com/brainstore/home.jsp?siteId=298), and check out an e-book. You might find that the cover isn’t so bad after all.