Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Investing financially and emotionally in an eBook reader

An interesting phenomenon has emerged with discussion of ebook readers. You see it over on the iRex discussion forum, and in the hardware-specific topics on Mobileread.com (the Kindle section, the Sony Reader section, and so on), and elsewhere: any criticism of the device (the hardware, the availability of content for it, and so on), is taken as a failing of character on the part of the person making the criticism, with sinister suggestions made about hidden agendas. It actually makes those discussion forums rather less pleasant -- and less productive -- than they should be.

My own take is this: people invest so much money in these devices (a Sony Reader is around US$300, a Kindle around US$350, an iRex iLiad around US$600) that it was a difficult purchase to make financially and psychologically, and they don't want anything said after the fact to instill or enhance regret.

Nothing new about this: we saw it for years in Mac / PC wars, we see it now in iPhone / Blackberry debates, and so on.

As long as the hardware is expensive, people will respond emotionally, rather than rationally, to discussions of the device they themselves have sacrificed to buy.

I hope the hardware prices will come way, way down in the next couple of years so that people will comment on and respond to the actual functioning of the device and not their financial/emotional investment in it.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site



At February 17, 2009 12:53 PM , Blogger Ken McConnell said...

I wonder if the ebook reader market is just like the hardback book vs a paperback book market. The reader will buy the shell that he/she most desires to read the story in. The market will bare what people will buy.

So on the high end will be the Kindle type devices and on the low end will be the browser or cell-phone. Each end of the market will have its proponents and detractors.

I'm on the sidelines though, I can't afford any of the readers.

At February 17, 2009 7:49 PM , Blogger Jen said...

I completely agree. I've stopped reading the iRex discussion forum because any time anyone had some constructive criticism, someone would immediately start an aggressive and unpleasant argument which often became needlessly personal. I love my iLiad and have no major issues with it, but I acknowledge it's not perfect and still enjoy reading other people's opinions and suggestions for improvement.

At February 17, 2009 8:20 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

I love my iLiad, too, Jen, and left that forum for the very same reason. :)


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