Home » Amazon, Ebooks, Kindle, Non-US » The eBook (r)evolution takes hold

The eBook (r)evolution takes hold

26 November 2011

From IOL (Independent Online in South Africa):

“Disruptive” is a much abused buzzword at the moment. The biggest offenders are clueless corporate types trying to sound as if they’ve got a handle on the latest trends.

I hate to break it to you, but slapping a QR code on all your advertising will not make your company disruptive.

. . . .

Another oft cited disruptive technology was the Model T Ford, which did for the horse-drawn carriage what the iPod will eventually do for the CD.

But my favourite is hundreds of years older and even more ubiquitous than the automobile.

It’s the printed word. Before print pioneers like Gutenberg and Caxton, written knowledge was the preserve of the privileged few fortunate, or rich, enough to have access to the relatively tiny supply of laboriously hand-produced books.

Now, a new technology is threatening today’s gatekeepers of the written word, the press barons and publishing houses, with the fate of their mediaeval monastery predecessors.

It’s the e-book, an electronic version of the printed book, distributed over the internet and read on a range of devices from smartphones and tablet computers to dedicated e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle.

As an ardent bibliophile I’m chagrined to confess I’ve done my bit to hasten the rise of the e-book and decline of the physical version I revere so much.

. . . .

The killer advantage of the e-book was immediately apparent back then: its sheer convenience and portability. Don’t get me wrong. I love the feel and smell of a “real” book. But am I heretic for also loving the ability to carry literally hundreds of books around with me, to have a book recommended by a friend and be reading it less than five minutes later?

Today’s e-book readers, led by their undisputed king, the Kindle, offer an altogether slicker, more pleasing reading and purchasing experience. Instead of displaying the print on a back-lit, highly reflective LCD screen that can be hard on the eyes and virtually impossible to read in bright sunlight, the Kindle employs a technology Amazon has imaginatively called e-ink. I won’t try to explain how it works, but the result is a non-reflective screen you can read in the brightest sunlight. It’s uncannily like reading a real book, down to the need to use a bedside lamp, or after-market cover with a built-in book light, to read it at night.

. . . .

The good news is that prices of dedicated e-book readers have come down quite significantly recently, with Amazon recently releasing an entry-level Kindle costing just $79 (R644).

Be warned, however, that this is the ad-supported US version. The one Amazon ships internationally costs $109 which adds up to just over R1 200 including customs duty and courier delivery to your door. It’s backed by Amazon’s astonishingly generous no-questions-asked return and replace warranty.

If you’re still nervous about dealing with a company half way around the word, you may be prepared to pay R200 more to buy it from a local retailer.

. . . .

You can also buy and download e-books on your PC and laptop and transfer them to your Kindle via the supplied USB cable.

If your “buy local” philosophy extends to e-books as well as the devices you’ll read them on, Kalahari and Exclusive Books have fairly extensive e-book stores.

Do check their prices against Amazon’s before you buy, though.

Link to the rest at IOL

Amazon, Ebooks, Kindle, Non-US

2 Comments to “The eBook (r)evolution takes hold”

  1. Great article, shame it wasn’t concluded very well.

  2. I agree completely. I’ve been having this discussion with folks who call themselves “early adopters” yet can’t fathom why people would read books electronically. They attribute the higher sales of ebooks to an impulse. I have been educating them. This is just about as seismic a change as the printing press itself.

    To be pedantic: Amazon didn’t name the technology “e-ink.” E-Ink is an independent company which licenses its technology to Amazon, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and many others (http://www.eink.com/). Sony had an e-ink reader first, but it wasn’t near as useful as the Kindle. I had even contemplated building my own reading device, then I heard Jeff Bezos launching the Kindle on Good Morning America back in 2007. I had one in my hand the next day. I explain the technology as microscopic capsules of pigment controlled with an array of electromagnets.

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