in eBooks, Libraries/Info Sci, Ramblings, Tech

The ubiquitous book – anytime, anywhere

I recently finished reading Cory Doctorow’s latest novel, For The Win. I’m not crazy about the book itself (a topic for another time), but the reading experience was different, more fluid, and ultimately better than what I’m used to.

Thanks to publisher Tor’s generosity at ALA 2010 last month I have a copy of the book in hardcover. And thanks to Doctorow’s business model of giving away free ebook versions of his works I had the text in e format too. This is the first time I’ve read a book while having access to both e and print versions at the same time.

As much as I enjoy my Sony Reader, a print book is still my personal ideal for most of the novel reading I do. I use the Sony primarily for convenience, like when I don’t want to carry a large hardcover on the bus. But if I’m sitting on the couch I still prefer a standard print book experience. With access to both print and e versions I was able to jump back and forth between the two, using whichever provided a superior experience at the moment.

And actually I had 3 options – Hardcover, Sony Reader, and the Aldiko ebook reader app on my phone. (Doctorow provides his ebooks in a variety of DRM-free formats compatible with a large number of devices.) I read the hardcover on the couch, the Sony on the bus, and a few pages here and there on the phone whenever I had some waiting in line time. It was convenient, easy, and I got through the book much faster than I would have otherwise.

But now I’m spoiled! Doctorow’s ebook give-away model is pretty unique, not many other authors do it. I’m not going to buy a book in both print and e, and library ebook options are pretty anemic. The only way this would happen again is if I pull titles from Project Gutenberg. But I’m not much of a classics reader, and Gutenberg doesn’t have a lot from my to-read list.

While I don’t think it’ll ever happen, I’d love for a purchase of a print copy to come with a free ebook counterpart. I’d even pay a little extra for the option, and the bonus to researchers of having a searchable text to supplement the print could be a considerable advantage.