About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Game of Leapfrog

I think that my Kindle was/is better, certainly for me, than the first generation of the Sony Reader.  But I was playing around some with the new and improved Sony Reader at the Borders in Manchester, CT on Saturday night, and I think Sony has leapfrogged over the Kindle in many significant ways with their 2nd generation reader.

Instead of using buttons to move the pages back and forth, you can do that kind of iPhone touchy thing and drag across the screen to move forward or back a page.  Sweet!  The touch screen also can become a keyboard for searching for text.  Theoretically you can also bring that keyboard up to annotate text, but the fact that I wasn't intuitively able to figure out how to do that with the demo model suggests they might be able to improve upon that a tad (unless I was pressing the right buttons but the demo models don't let you do that so some 12-year-old won't look at the notes and find a pornographic treatise, which I'm thinking is a possibility?).  I worry some about the use of touchscreens, as I'm sure anyone would who's tried to use one at an ATM and found the corner with the button you need won't let itself be touched no matter what, but then again the little keyboard on my Kindle isn't exactly like new after eight months of vigorous annotating.  

The Kindle still has kind of a killer app with the whole wireless thing, while the Sony Reader requires hooking up to a computer as well as 3rd party intervention for use with Mac OSX.  And the subscription feature of the Kindle was a major plus for me as well.  I love having a Wall St. Journal and a Washington Post sent to my Kindle every morning; the Post is cheaper for a month on the Kindle than the NYC newsstand price of 3 Sundays.  And when I'm on the road I like being able to buy a full single issue of the NY Times instead of having to walk around with the National Edition in newsprint without the full NYC and Sports sections.  

So I'm not saying the Sony is a hands-down winner, because at least for me the overall functionality of the first generation Kindle still rates ahead of the Reader.  But if all you want to do is get books and read them, Amazon isn't the only player in this game right now, and we at JABberwocky may think on buying a Reader for my #2 for his manuscript reading using the 3rd party software that Charles Stross suggested in comment on my first Kindle post.  If Amazon gets too complacent about rolling out a new and improved 2nd generation Kindle, this is definitely NOT going to be a one-player game.

(All that being said with the caveat that playing around with the Sony Reader in its display at Borders may not be the same as the experience of actually using it, but even added display cuddliness is not a minor thing.)

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