I own a Kindle. It was given to me as a gift and I am happy.
I cannot say whether I would be more or less pleased with a Sony Reader or a Nook, but I am delighted with the Kindle. I love a beautiful hardcover book printed on high-quality paper as well as anyone and I intend to keep reading such books. Trade paperbacks can be nice too. The farther you go down the quality line, the smarter it is to trade in paper for electrons.
How many traditional, paper newspapers do you read? If you are like me, you read articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers online. With an ereader (the Kindle at least), you can read take those newspapers with you on the bus, to the park, on the train, or anywhere else. Plus you can take your favorite blog with you, quickly download an Edgar Allen Poe short story it references and the Jonathan Lethem masterpiece it reviews, and still make it to work on time. Or maybe you have a brief you need to review one more time on the way in to work. Send the brief to your device and read that on the train instead.
The reason ereaders will replace most books is because ereaders are convenient. They are also easy to use and read as easily as paper. The E-ink displays are not like your computer monitor. They do not cause eye strain, there is little glare, and it is simple to adjust the text-size. You can take thousands of pages of text with you, from the web, magazines, newspapers, new books, old books, and blogs, as easily as carrying a very slim novella.
Now, I am gushing. It is true, but I am not done yet. You can highlight text (invaluable for a blogger), download mp3s, or access the dictionary to immediately look up an unfamiliar word. I absolutely enjoy the Kindle.
There are downsides. At present, you can only read books for the Kindle on the Kindle and who knows which ereader will eventually corner the market, whether an open source ebook will become the standard, and, importantly, whether the ebooks you buy for your Kindle today will be transferrable to the leading ereader of tomorrow. I like it, but I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on books that might become all but obsolete within a few years. Of course, you might say that I am doing that with most of my paper-based books. Sort of, but I am pretty confident I will still be able to locate a device to access the information in those paperbacks ten years down the road.
My interim solution is to primarily download free books. There are hundreds of classics to choose from that are absolutely free. Thank you Project Gutenberg and other volunteers who convert classics to ebooks. Bartleby, the Scrivener? Free. Alexander’s Bridge? Free. Intentions? Free. You get the idea. Copies still under copyright cost and, horror, I cannot find Coetzee books in eform. Of course, for books that I know I want to have in my own library, I still like the idea of a nice hardcover on quality paper.
What does the future hold? Well, here are some predictions for ebooks. You can find an alternative, or maybe complemenatry, view of the future here.
If you are interested in the author side of the equation, I found this article very interesting. Authors, ebooks could liberate you from publishing houses. Or you could get buried in a tsunami of etrash. Maybe bloggers are part of the solution for identifying those ebooks worth reading and those that aren’t?
There are many interesting questions regarding the future of publishing and ebooks, but the future of publishing is largely in ebooks. I think prices for ebooks will come down because the marginal cost of distributing one more ebook are virtually nil. This is particularly so for name authors. Why would Richard Russo ever need to share royalties again? Okay, Amazon takes a huge cut right now, but that cannot be the future. At least, I don’t think it is.
Regardless, I love having the Kindle, being able to carry a multitude of books with me wherever I go, and being able to download yet another, almost instantly, if the ones I have don’t suit my mood. Basically, if you are still thinking about Christmas presents for yourself or another book lover, an ereader is a something to think about, whether Kindle, Nook, or Sony.