Shamefully, I don’t read many books so an eBook reader has never been high on my list of priorities as it would probably become a moderately expensive white elephant and yet another gadget to carry around.
However, Amazon’s high profile marketing campaign for the Kindle eBook reader sparked my interest sufficiently to download the free Kindle Reader application for Android to sample the experience of reading an eBook on a mobile device.
In addition, I’ve just purchased a higher capacity (16GB) SD card for the Android phone which means it could replace my iPod Touch as I can now store all my music on the Android phone and start to consolidate two of my mobile devices. If the Android Kindle Reader application is usable, could the HTC Legend also fulfill the role of an eBook Reader ?
I have had (courtesy of my employer) an HTC Legend for 3 months and I have been staggered at the razor sharp quality and resilence of the screen. Even without a screen protector, the display is pristine and crystal clear despite moderate use during that period.
Reading text on the Android is pretty easy on the eye. The font is large enough and clear enough for me to read easily and the contrast is excellent. Also, I am only reading for short periods (up to half an hour on my commute into the city) and the fact that ‘Blood Sweat and Tea’ is merely a compilation of blog posts means each story is a very short and manageable chunk. This light, casual reading may be slightly easier on the eyes than ploughing through ‘War and Peace’ for prolonged periods.
The larger screen on the Kindle does look great and I have heard great things about the screen technology but there’s one reason I would currently not even contemplate buying a Kindle.
I selected a popular book being advertised for Christmas - ‘The Fry Chronicles’ by Stephen Fry. The paper edition of this book costs £8.20 at Amazon (UK). To my amazement, the Kindle version of the same book costs a staggering £12.99.
Yes - you read that correctly. £8.20 for the hardback book and £12.99 for the electronic version of the same book for the Kindle.
Now let’s think about this. For the paper edition, the publisher has to print a book on 448 pages of paper. The book also has to be bound and this is the hardback edition. For the Kindle edition, the publisher has to, err, well, create an electronic copy of the book.
How in God’s name can the publisher/Amazon justify charging an additional, extortionate, staggering premium of 58% for the Kindle edition ?
Now this may be a one-off rare example and it’s true that some books are cheaper on Kindle than for the paper book. For example, the popular ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is slightly cheaper on Kindle (£2.68) versus £3.89 for the paperback edition. Now I don’t have the time or inclination to exhaustively check the comparative prices of paper versus Kindle editions for the remainder of the best seller lists and it is true that some classic texts (e.g. Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes) are freely available for eBooks.
However, in a sense that’s irrelevant - the Kindle edition should always, always be cheaper than the paper book - guaranteed, 100%, every time for every book regardless. Until that is the case, I won’t be buying a Kindle or any other eBook reader.