Cory Doctorow on hardware e-reader devices

Boing Boing blogger, novelist and copyright warrior Cory Doctorow has weighed in on the multi-purpose device vs the dedicated e-reader and come down in favour of the former. In a round about way, he argues that hardware is still too expensive – and that Chinese factories are more likely to be persuaded to produce mass-market devices like cellphones than niche-market e-ink readers for the five or six people who still read books and aren’t wedded to the idea of paper. Software, not hardware is the solution:

As fierce as hardware manufacturing competition runs, it still creates a paradoxical abundance: an abundance of platforms that can run e-book-reading software. If you’re someone with a smarts, passion and vision, you can easily source some hackers to bang up an e-book business to run on a PC, phone, or other handheld…

 

And he’s right up to the point where we start talking about the hardware that might run that e-book business. Sure, the iliad, kindle, sony reader etc. play in way too small a niche to cross the chasm from early adopter to mainstream acceptance. But not many of us like reading books on PCs (desktop or laptop), only Japanese teenagers appear to want to read novels on their Nokia’s screens for the moment; and the rest of us a still tossing EeePCs, iphones, ipods and whatever else we can lay our hands on into the mix hoping that the magic sauce will emerge. Which will probably be something that everybody wants (because it plays Halo, Handel, Hitchcock and makes phone calls) – and as a bonus lets us read e-books.

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