As some of you know, I’ve been an eBook fan for years. I’ve been counting the days until eBooks really took off, and well, it looks like the time is now. Amazon has been amazingly successful with its Kindle; Sony has plodded along with superior hardware but little marketshare; Barnes and Nobles got all the geekboys in a tizzy with the announcement of The Nook, and well, there are probably a dozen other lesser players that have released or are about to release readers.
Finally, earlier this week, Amazon released their Kindle reader software for the PC,with a special nod to multi-touch tablet PCs. That, in itself, does the heart good. I immediately downloaded the software and checked to see if my current programming tome was available.
It was. So I bought the damn thing.
You see, the book is over 1300 pages long, making it unwieldy to hold, horrible to carry with you, and it weighs as much as my tablet PC. So, even though I didn’t have the money for another copy of the book, I bought it. Check out this screen shot:
Dig this – I’m actually able to resize the Kindle reader so that I can have my book on the right side of the screen and my IDE on the left. With Windows 7, it makes switching and resizing windows really nice, too. Anyway, it’s soo much better than trying to manage a HUGE book on my laptop desk along with my tablet. I can now read it on the bus, at school, virtually anywhere.
The only real complaint I have is one that the original version of the Kindle had – it’s too easy to accidentally flip pages! Do you see those light grey borders on the sides of the Kindle reader page? Click either one of those and you’ll advance a page ahead or a page back. I find that as I’m programming I sometimes need to move the windows so I can see more and then move back to the Kindle Reader software…when I do, I often click the border and have to figure out what page I was on. The Kindle software also doesn’t do page numbers – instead, it tells me that I’m 60% through the document and identifies “locations”. The page I’m currently on is “Locations 13,739 – 46” out of a total of 23,294 locations! Okay, that’s not the most friendly way to do it, but I assume it has something to do with Whispernet, their syncing software and the fact that page sizes differ whether you’re using a Kindle (either size), an iPhone, or a PC. I can deal with that, but I would really like it if it offered a little customization. Right now, other than setting the font size and placing bookmarks, the software is pretty bare bones.
Another minor problem is the way it handles graphics. In Microsoft Reader software, for instance, a graphic could be clicked on and made full size – which is GREAT. In Amazon’s Kindle, you don’t get that option. There’s also not an option to zoom in, so it’s what you see is what you get. That would be fine, but the code samples in my book are inset as graphics and can’t be resized. And they’re small. Very small. Of course, my tablet PC is a high resolution little guy – 1440 DPI on a 12.1 inch display – so text tends to be small anyway. So while I LOVE the Kindle software, it’s more about the selection of books than the actual implementation. If Microsoft Reader hadn’t crashed and burned, I would be happy to use that software and own a gazillion books in that format. Unfortunately, it never took off, and Microsoft seems to have abandoned it well before eBooks finally came of age.
Hmm…have they really come of age? My guess is that if each manufacturer insists on using their own version of DRM, the future of eBooks is rather bleak. Why can’t businesses learn from past history? Nobody wants a gazillion formats hanging out there. My guess, if this isn’t resolved quickly, there will be a shakeout. I’m putting my money on Amazon, because let’s face it, they’re currently the it-girl when it comes to eBooks, and well, they are where America goes to shop. I read recently that the number 1 item in both unit sales and revenue on their site is the Kindle. If they open it up to other vendors’ eBook reader devices, which they should, it’s game over for the other formats. Adding the PC was a stroke of genius – as was the iPhone – so they’ve got a serious head start on the other players in the market.
Okay, back to programming. Man, it sure feels good to update this blog after such a long lapse. Yeah, I’ve been on Facebook, but sometimes being able to put down your feelings/thoughts/ideas in a more complete manner is nice, too. I think I’m back.