Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Tue Aug 27 12:11:10 EDT 2002

On Tue, 27 Aug 2002 14:10:03 +0100, <Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk> wrote:

>Which brings me to another slightly off topic question.  What do people on this
>list think about electronic books?  I mean, how do people's reading experiences
>of e-books compare with paper books?

The e-books I've read have all been on my computer, since I don't own a
reader (except possibly the PalmPilot and that is a teeny little screen that
I would never want to read for long periods of time).  It's very
uncomfortable for me even to read email that way, let alone lengthy
documents.  For a long time I wouldn't even compose on the computer; I wrote
things longhand and then typed them in, so I could focus on the paper and
not the screen.  So assuming that I'd have to read books off the computer

As to an e-book reader:

>What would they want to make the technology more user-friendly?

Back when we still got a lot of TV channels off the satellite system, I sat
through a BUNCH of tech shows because Jacob loves to know what the latest
gadgets are.  (That sounds pretty negative.  I just mean that he was
choosing the channels, and I was usually doing other things and not actively
watching.)  The e-book reader was a common sight precisely because of all
the drawbacks that make it less comfortable than a good old-fashioned book;
manufacturers wanted to be the first one to develop a perfect model.  While
most people still use their PocketPCs or other handhelds to read e-books
(which, as Philip says, have a number of serious drawbacks as readers),
there were a number of dedicated readers that came close to being actual

This was over a year ago, so I really don't know what's currently available,
but some of the features were screens that could be read even in full
sunlight; readers with "pages" that could be turned and could be closed like
a book (don't remember if you could fold them back on themselves); displays
that showed two pages at a time; search features to allow you to locate a
particular phrase or word and then go to that phrase; storage for many, many
texts (this impressed me--you could carry a small library in some of the
units); user-controlled display, to allow you to customize the look of the
text (font size and style as well as zoom features); bookmarking features
and annotation.  Those are the ones I remember.  By now there are probably
e-book readers with wireless connections to the Internet so you can
instantly download sequels.  At least, that would be a useful function.  No
doubt they can walk your dog and order you a pizza as well.  :)  I'm sure an
Internet search would bring up more accurate and current information than I
can provide.

The big drawback was that most of these units didn't live up to their
potential, and those that did cost a bucketload of money, which is probably
why I don't recall more of the details--I knew I'd never be able to afford
it.  It doesn't matter as much to me because I prefer having a hardcopy, and
I'm not usually in a situation where I need to haul several books around.
For me such a beast would be a useful gadget...though ask me again in five
years, and who knows?

Melissa Proffitt

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