Lots of people I know like books. But many – including me – lack the space to keep as many as they’d like. E-books offer a solution to that, accommodating a large library in less space than a single bookcase.
This year I’ve taken the plunge, and bought some, and given them as presents to my, erm, nearest and dearest. Specifically, one to the girlfriend, and one to the parents. The latter just got it yesterday evening, as I’m visiting for the weekend.
I was a little unsure about the parents: my dad is a bit of a technophobe, and could’ve turned his nose up at it. But he’s also a huge bibliophile and laments bitterly the lack of space for a proper library. The mother is happy with technology, but though she enjoys a good read she’s not such a bookworm as to suffer from only having a few hundred in the house.
Turns out I needn’t have worried: both parents love it, and I’m going to have to get them another, or they’ll be fighting over it! Interestingly, they’ve previously seen and disliked an e-book reader: the one marketed by Waterstones, which I believe is by Sony. So it’s just as well I’d selected the BeBook, though my choice was governed more by an evidently-enlightened attitude to Freedom, with a wide range of formats supported rather than a tie-in to someone’s restrictions.
The BeBook is indeed a nice product for its intended purpose. For the size and weight of a slim paperback, you can carry a library of thousands. It has a tiny battery with a long life. It is indeed easy to use and comfortable to read, and offers some additional goodies like audio book support. 150 titles – works out of copyright, being mostly but not exclusively books – are bundled, and the BeBook website claims to offer another 20000 for free download. Plus of course a rapidly-growing number of titles available for purchase, in both DRM-encumbered and unencumbered formats.
At the same time, this is clearly an emerging technology with a way to go. Navigation is rather slow, and will doubtless be more smoothly and elegantly presented in future devices, though at the same time has some excellent features like well-designed automatic bookmarking of your place in a book. There are quite a few mild to moderate glitches in the 150 free titles bundled with it, though nothing that’s a showstopper (so far as I’ve seen). And it can’t download books directly: it relies on a USB connection to a computer to do the work. Oh, and this is a device crying out for a touchscreen, though I’ve a suspicion that would require a much bigger battery or kill the battery life.
Still, a nice little device, and everyone likes it 🙂