Cheap E-books!

June 24, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Book Services | 3 Comments

It’s possible I’m the last person on the bandwagon with this e-book thing, and everyone else has already figured this out.  Anyway, you know the whole Sony Reader/Kindle battle?  Which high-priced, sexy bit of electronics are you supposed to buy if you want to read e-books?  I admit that I was starting to covet one, but I just couldn’t get over that whole price thing.  Sometimes even free is too expensive.

It occurred to me that I could use my old Palm Pilot as an e-reader, as I’ve already done with free e-books from for years now.  Sure enough, it is possible to buy books in the Palm OS format, using a free e-reader software.  I went to Fictionwise, which is apparently run by Barnes & Noble, and found the book I wanted (The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink).  I registered and downloaded the book in under 10 minutes, and it’s reading fine.  I compared prices, and while it was about $2 more than Sony’s price and nearly double Amazon’s Kindle price, there’s a kicker.

I bought my Palm for $50 nearly five years ago.  I checked current prices on eBay, and the same model now sells for $3.99.  That’s an awful lot cheaper even than buying the Kindle or Sony Reader devices on eBay at steep discount.  Even if you read a book a day like I do, it would take a pretty big stack of slightly cheaper titles to catch up to the initial investment in either higher-end device.  Besides, they’re all black and white.

The caveat is that my Palm m500 has about a 2″-square reading area.  But I’m used to it.  Plus I carry it in my purse anyway, as my calendar, address book, grocery list, cookbook, e-mail reader, game player, notepad, etc etc.  The battery life is amazing – I only charge it about once a week – and I know if I broke it I could replace it inexpensively and simply download the contents onto a new device.  I hate to say it, but it looks like 2009 is going to have to work harder to catch up to 2001.

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