Why do I need an e-reader?

I just saw this article (Why I Just Pre-Ordered The Barnes & Noble Nook And You Should Too). I’m not convinced. I wasn’t convinced when a friend of mine let me play with the Amazon Kindle, either.

Yeah, it’s a nice toy. But I’ve got a number of concerns:

  • It’s still too expensive. When it’s $40, I’ll buy one. (Content providers are at least theoretically going to make money on selling content, right? Well, razor-blade manufacturers give away razor handles!);
  • Who owns the content? I still remember the edition of 1984 (how appropriate, as pretty much everybody has commented) that was yanked back by Amazon.
  • Forget about yanking the content – what about when the format changes? I’m old enough to have boxes of LP’s, cassettes, and VHS tapes, and the machines to play them are harder and harder to find (and who repairs these things?).
  • I’m not just nicknamed “Snobby Jim” because everything else was taken. My living room is full of bookshelves. When somebody walks into the house, they see all the stuff that my wife and I read. I’m not snobby about money (like there’s any way I could be!), but I am snobby about knowledge. What am I gonna do with the e-reader, brag about how little space I have left on it?

The book is an almost perfect technology: cheap, portable, and lasting (so far) hundreds of years. Before we move on to a new technology, we ought to be sure it’s an improvement over the old one.


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