Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Bookish Bits & Bobs: Going Digital (2)

To begin with, I am just a little bit appalled that I have not written any Bookish Bits & Bobs columns since my post about NaNoWriMo at the end of 2010. Does 'oops' adequately cover the situation?
Anyways, it's back, and reflecting on my 2009 post on 'going digital', I feel that the fast-moving nature of technology means that here in 2011 there is already a great deal more to add. In 2009, of course, we were in pre-iPad territory. Despite my slightly derisory comments about ebook readers in my original post, I probably already wanted one just a little bit then, and it's definitely growing on me now (for reasons that I will return to shortly). However, I have a second problem: I really really really also want an iPad. Or a Galaxy Tab. Or anything that will do what I want it to do (again, see below).

The reason I would like an ebook reader is because I frankly have silly amounts of physical books, and am beginning to realise the limitations of realising my 400-strong Amazon wishlist. Having an ebook reader would enable me to solve this problem, as I could purchase books to my heart's content (staying within the limits of my bank balance, natch) and not worry about where to put them or have the heart-wrenching feeling of selling them. The question is which one: do I get a Kindle, and potentially only be restricted to books from Amazon, or do I go for another brand, such as the Bookeen or an ebook reader by Sony, which may provide greater flexibility?

This is all in spite of the fact that I am well aware of the flaws in epublishing; I am somewhat consoled by the fact that the ebook market is unlikely to completely supersede the real book market until these kinks have been ironed out. In my review of An Odd Boy, by Doc Togden, I point out some of these issues.

My reasons for wanting an iPad are arguably more superficial: let's face it, they are just so damn cool. However, they are also expensive, so I would be equally willing to consider a Galaxy Tab or another type of tablet (even if it would be a bit of a wrench). My main motivation would be to get newspaper and magazine subscriptions on them - again, to combat the question of space. Ebook readers seem more portable, but it only seems natural to want to read newspapers and magazines on a bigger screen, even if it seems absurd to have two separate gadgets for two quite similar purposes. 

In either case, before making such a purchase there are concerns. How long before such a gadget becomes dated? How long will it last before breaking? And, indeed, particularly in the case of something like an iPad where an ongoing subscription fee is required, are there not better ways to spend money? (I was doing quite nicely saving up for a holiday in America, Australia or Japan for myself and my husband until the tax man took it all away again.)

Sensible me is saying that it may be best to hang on for a year or two more so that I can do the travelling I want to do, perhaps purchasing these gadgets in future when I am tied to the home with children. But then impulsive me says that these gadgets aren't getting any cheaper, and that frankly, the space situation is pretty desperate now (we literally wedge books and magazines into any available nook and cranny). 

In all likelihood, I will end up purchasing an ebook reader in the near future and allowing the iPad to remain a distant dream for now. All of this may seem shallow, but given the increasing digitisation of our world, it may soon move from being a somewhat superficial and unreachable desire to being an integral and affordable part of life - ideally, happily coexisting with the written word on paper.

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