Would I buy an e-book reader?
The real question is: Are there any devices out there that perform this task satisfactorily?
In my opinion: no, there are none?
As evidenced by the raging debates on the matter, some suggest that Iliad or Sony style readers are viable solutions, while others argue that laptops or slates are the better alternatives. A viable e-book reader is neither of the two solutions available today. It seems to me that we are talking of two different market segments, rather than hardware alternatives.
It appears controversial, that in spite of the extensive research on e-books, none of the devices on the market today offer an effective reading device and that current implementations fall short of addressing some basic requirements for a practical reading device. This situation is typical of a technology driven approach, rather than a market driven one. Even though most of the bits and pieces for building such devices are there, a deeper look will probably reveal that the core technology for these devices is not quite there yet.
Whereas most of the e-book screens available today (2007) have a size of 6 to 7 inches they are monochrome e-ink devices, which are fine if you read novels, paperbacks or the like. However if you do a lot of technical or business reading, such as (research) papers, technical books, brochures, magazines, reports, etc?then an A4 screen size (portrait orientation) accommodating a whole page without scrolling (sideways or up and down) is essential. It goes without saying it should have a high resolution color display. A reflective/ passive screen is ok, while a dynamic screen with its own light source might be an option in the future.
Also ideally, it should have a 2 page arrangement similar to the look and feel of a paper book while allowing the display of consecutive or different pages. You should also be able to search, annotate, hyperlink, and look-up text as well as create your own customized texts, by bringing in several sources together to create a ?virtual? hyperdocument . Multimedia capabilities are also a key feature that would illustrate concepts, do interactive training, read aloud, and perform similar chores. The device should be able to give you at least 6 hours of battery operation.
Connectivity and communication with other devices, LAN? s, WAN? s and the Internet are essential components of the system and could well be at the core of a publishing revolution. It will only be a matter of time until the publishing houses come up with innovative ways to publish, distribute, lend and sell e-books.
At this stage one should deliberately avoid letting issues of intellectual property rights, or digital rights management, hamper or interfere with the modeling and construction of such devices. If history is any indication, a look at the music industry has a lesson or two to teach us.
With time, the publishers will be able to adjust to the new paradigms Such issues will be resolved separately after the market for e books matures and reaches critical mass.
Alexandria - Egypt.