Why aren’t ebook readers sold here?

I had planned to write a dazzling defense of ebooks for years now, but had never had the chance to really sit down to get it done (I know exactly how long I’ve been meaning to do it because I keep track of almost everything in my organizer).
I’ll get to it, as I’ve picked up the writing again recently, what with the recent surge of interest in debating about ebooks with the release of Amazon’s Kindle. I’ll post my thoughts on ebooks readers later, but a quick sideswipe is I think the Sony Reader looks much better than the Kindle, although feature-wise it does lose out to Amazon’s device. I’ll get to them later.
But most of all, I’m just wondering why ebook readers are not really sold here. Ever since the Rocket e-Book Reader was announced oh-so-long ago, I’ve been pining for one, but being in an out-of-the-way country does hinder shipping and handling. I want to see it in a store. I want to hold it, be impressed, be blown out of the water, be simply mesmerized by the physical presence. I can order it online, but then there’s this agonizing wait, and the hope that the shipping doesn’t shatter the precious cargo. Then of course there’s the issue of being able to buy ebooks for these devices from outside of the States. I’ve not hopped over to Amazon yet, but like iTunes Store, the Sony eBook Store doesn’t cater to us over here.
This is like opening a can of worms, I had intended only to write a little, but here I am being compelled to ensure there’s no confusion on the technologies.
I must clarify that for these dedicated ebook readers, the users are typically forced to go to the respective vendor’s ebook stores to purchase their ebooks, which is in a proprietary format that will only play on that particular device (i.e. Kindle only reads ebooks purchased from Amazon’s ebook store, Sony’s only from their store, and they are *not* interchangeable). For generic ebook reader software, however, such as those which can be installed on devices such as PDAs (for example Microsoft Reader, Palm Reader or Acrobat Reader), then the ebooks may be purchased from any vendor that peddles in these respective formats. This is precisely the reason that if you purchase a Sony Reader here, you’ll have problems getting ebooks because the Sony eBook Store, which is your sole avenue for ebook purchasing, doesn’t sell to those outside of the States.
As it stands right now, I’m pretty satisfied with my current ebook reader, my Dopod 838Pro aka HTC TyTN. It’s small, and I carry dozens of books with me as long as I have my mobile. It’s not ideal, but it’ll do for now.
I’ll be back with the whole ebook mess.


4 Comments

  1. From the discussion which has gone on over at Sharon Bakar’s blog, it would seem Malaysians prefer the old-fashioned printed book, whether hardcover or paperback. That could explain why ebook readers are not available here – there is little, or no market.
    As for me, I’ve read ebooks for many years, but I don’t use a dedicated ebook reader. Instead, I use ebook reading software in my Palm TX. These days, I read a mix of printed and electronic books. When I travel, I carry just one printed book as the majority of my reading material is in my TX, which cuts down on luggage weight!
    The size of the TX is like a mini paperback, and the screen is very easy to read. I use two types of software – the proprietary eReader (started as PeanutPress before being sold to Palm and renamed PalmReader, and then renamed again to the current eReader), and iSilo which lets me make reading material from web pages using iSiloX.

  2. I want an ebook reader! But not at $300.
    I’d love to have one for taking on trips. I usually bring two or three books with me on any given trip which takes up a lot of space (not to mention the weight of lugging them around).
    But why are the readers so expensive? Do you think the price will ever get down under $200US? I also don’t like the idea that you can only buy the books from the particular vendor associated with the brand.

  3. i stumbled unto your blog while doing an online search for an ebook reader here in malaysia.. its nice to see that there are others which looking an ebook reader here and has the same frustations… i do hope someone would this stuff here ..

  4. direstraits

    Thanks for your comments, wan. Unfortunately the system for ebooks is pretty bad at the moment – no standards, closed platforms, proprietary formats, and worse of all, lock-ins for any books that you purchase.
    Still, getting my grubby hands on a Kindle or a Sony eReader would make me pretty damn happy. šŸ™‚

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