Friday, December 18, 2009

One Solution to the Proprietary Ebook Dilemma

From the Desk of David Pogue - Should e-Books Be Copy Protected? -
At the moment, the e-book companies are trying to make the copy-protection thing work, to make it as convenient as possible. They're making your e-books "playable" on Mac, PC, iPhone, iPod Touch, and multiple e-book readers in your household, for example.

But none of that addresses my reader's initial complaint: what if, someday, you want to jump ship from Amazon's reader family to Barnes & Noble's? This is precisely the nightmare scenario that faced iPod owners who wanted to switch to a Zune. (O.K., there's no such person, but you get the point.)
I can tell you how I solved this. I bought an Intel-Playmate tablet or "convertible" netbook from 2gopc earlier this year.  While I really have trouble with the small keyboard size, this small machine has a lot going for it. 

First, it has a plastic handle that is SURPRISINGLY helpful.  Second, it's netbook-priced (I paid a show special price, which was $399 with 80GB hard drive and 1GB RAM).  Third, it came loaded with Windows XP and the netbook remix of Ubuntu installed easily on it for dual booting (although I'm still having a drive issue with the network card--someone help!).  Fourth, it has the six-cell battery so it gets 4 - 5 hours of battery life pretty easily.

And here's the kicker.  I can not only load the Windows version of Kindle on it, I can also load all of the free e-book reader software that's out there as well, flip the screen around, and I have a small, very comfortable e-book reader--for not much more than I'd pay for the specialty devices but that doesn't lock me into a proprietary format if I don't want (there's lots of great reading material available in unrestricted formats).  And I'm also running full Windows/Ubuntu, so it serves as a backup computer for me when I'm traveling (it runs a presentation to a remote projector just fine) and is quite handy for reading PDF files, browsing the Web, even watching Hulu in a very comfortable position on the couch.  :)

Additional note:  One bonus to the Kindle software for Windows is that you can download preview chapters from books you're interested in.  Very helpful!