Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Investing financially and emotionally in an eBook reader

by Rob - February 17th, 2009.
Filed under: ebooks.

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 (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

Leave a Reply