Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My lovely e-reader, at last. Yay.

I have my e-reader!
sony e-reader
I really, really will make good use of it - I've been wanting one for a while now because reading e-books and proofing manuscripts on the computer is just plain evil. I'm already spending too much time at my desk staring at a computer screen as it is. I want e-paper.

Well, I am happy. It does what I wanted it to do - I can read and annotate my own scripts, even the graphic novel script which I formatted into a table (dialogue one side, panel description the other). It's pretty and lovely and I can't wait to start reading my way through the Gutenberg Project. I'm going to feed it some home-made picture books and mini-comics, too. I'm going to highlight some things neatly and I'm going to scrawl insults over other parts with the dinky little silver stylus. I love it.

Tell you what though. I HATE THE SOFTWARE. It's a joke. I am actually insulted by the claim on the box that this gadget is mac-compatible as it is. The software this comes with works badly even when it's not broken for a minute, and it doesn't even have the decency to include a de-installer. (The only thing nearly as insulting is the not-included optional charger which was so expensive that I just laughed at it in the shop for a while.)
Luckily, there's a free alternative called "calibre" which totally wipes the floor with it - even though it also still feels very clunky in comparison to what's available to deal with music and image files. Isn't it strange that one of the oldest file formats - text files, like we all produced routinely before digital photos and sound files - is looking so confused at being put into a neat little box...

It was funny buying this thinking how ubiquitous and cheap these things are bound to become soon. This lovely over-priced beastie will look prehistoric... but when I walked home with it in my bag and past all those bookshops in Charing Cross Road I couldn't help looking at the tons of paper on display and thinking less about how lovely paper novels are as objects, but more about how strange it will seem to us that we lined our walls with all those paper bricks, some of which never even get read twice.

OK I'll have to live on baked beans for a month now I think.

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