01 October 2007

. . . and while we're talking about ebooks . . .

i often hear complaints that ebooks are not user-friendly; that it's difficult/uncomfortable to read books off a screen; that the feeling of a book (holding it in your hand, turning the pages, etc) is as important as reading the thing.

About 3 years ago I bought a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 PDA. I don't use it as a PDA, but rather as an ebook reader: I find it is very comfortable to use. It has a nice large screen, and it runs Linux!

It's dead simple to get books for it (the Opie Reader application can read all sorts of file formats, but i normally only use ASCII text files or hypertext files) from sites like Project Gutenberg or any of the dozens of online text archives, newsgroups, blogs, online versions of newspapers, and so on, and so forth.

the Zaurus is now getting a little beat up and scratched, and some of the buttons don't work properly any more (evidence of heavy use, in this case), so i've been thinking of getting a replacement of some sort. Unfortunately, ebook readers are hideously expensive (I'm thinking especially of the electronic paper readers such as the Sony Reader), and PDAs are overkill (and hugely expensive) for what i need (especially the ones with screens big enough to read a book comfortably).

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