Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Amazon's Mobipocket

Joey's bagAfter lugging around 1000-page books on the subway for a few months, I've come to realize that it's not a practical solution in the long run. It's a hassle even when the weather's fine, so I'll probably give up when winter starts. The problem is that a book this big doesn't fit even inside my relatively large pockets, which means I either need to go about my daily life one-handed while fumbling with the book in the other hand, or get a bag to put it in. As much as I love and respect Joey, I don't share his love for man's bags, stylish though they may be.

Enter technology. I remembered hearing about Mobipocket, an e-book reader that runs on your phone and enables you to read books in digital format. I visited Mobipocket.com and had a shiny new book on my phone within minutes. Yes, I actually bought a book almost immediately, which is unusual seeing how stingy I can be. I boycott restaurants that I think are too expensive, and I hardly ever buy anything if I don't feel that I really need it. Thing is, I couldn't pass up their deal on Peter F. Hamilton's Night's dawn trilogy. If I'd bought those three books in paper form for the cheapest price I can find in Sweden, they'd sum up to 340 SEK. At Mobipocket.com, the entire trilogy in digital form is 79 SEK. Three e-books, cheaper than a single paper book. The price was worth it to just try out the software and see if I'd be comfortable reading on my mobile phone.

As it turns out, I kind of miss turning real paper pages, and the glare of the LCD screen can be irritating at times. However, there are just so many benefits. The weight, for one. I recently moved, first to a new town and then to a new apartment in the same town within a year. During that same year, I helped my parents move. The experience convinced me that a box full of books must be among the heaviest things on Earth. If all my books were digital, they would all fit in my pocket and weigh next to nothing. Secondly, I now always have a book handy, since I always take my phone with me wherever I go. No more sitting on the subway (or toilet) longing for something to read. Actually, now I can even pretend to do something relatively important and relevant with my phone during boring meetings when in fact I'm engrossed in an epic battle between organic starships and their mechanical counterparts. Third, as I've already mentioned, the price is right. Mobipocket has apparently been acquired by Amazon.com, which started out as an online bookstore and thus should have some experience in the field. Finally, as if you even needed a fourth reason, you can never lose a Mobipocket e-book since you can simply download it as many times as you want from the website. Also, e-books don't tear or get soggy, and nobody can ruin them by scribbling in them or underlining entire passages of text. Well, Mobipocket actually lets you enter notes in books, but it's purely optional and you don't have to view them, which does make it a feature as opposed to the eternal scourge of booklovers everywhere.

The only problem I have now is that I have too many books to read. My latest impulsive purchase brings me to a total of eight unread sci-fi novels. I have some catching up to do.

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