Friday, June 09, 2006

A book on a stick?

The other day I came across a website advertising something called a BookFob--a little memory stick that holds an e-book and the software needed to read it. You can carry this little wonder everywhere, the ad copy tells us:

There is no e-book reader software or e-book content to download. Simply plug your bookfob into your computer and a built-in e-book reader pops up with your book contents. Attach it to your key chain, backpack, purse, or briefcase and carry your books with you everywhere!

Yeah, just be sure to lug along a computer, too. And make sure it's a Windows-running PC, not a Mac. Otherwise, you won't be able to read your books.

Why purchase an old heavy textbook or novel when you can now purchase a BookFob (digital book) that can be carried in your purse or pocket at all times?

Well, for starters, I can carry a paperback novel in my handbag, and that's a whole lot lighter and less bulky than my computer.

If I wanted to order an e-book, I could download it and read it right now. But if I wanted a novel on a BookFob, I'd have to order it online (and wait for delivery by mail) or find a brick-and-mortar store that carried the things. How is that convenient? Wouldn't it be simpler, faster, and cheaper to just stop by the drug store on my way to the dentist's office and pick up a paperback novel?

Look, I'll give these people points for creativity, but what good is a BookFob? Am I missing something?

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Neal said...

No, you're not missing anything. It's a feeble attempt to convince us that it's a good use for a USB stick.

Actually, I think you've given it a remarkably positive write-up. I had a quick look round the site (didn't take more than 30 seconds, since there's not much of it), and I picked up these salient facts.

The disk has some kind of copy protection on it. Apparently, this is good for me (the buyer) because it ensures I'm the legitimate owner of the "book". Rubbish. It's aimed at convincing authors that they should have their works published in this way. All it does for me (the buyer) is ensure I have a USB disk that is good for only one use. Thanks, I'll stick with the 512MB disk I've got that lets me put what _I_ want on it.

Their "library" consists of nothing but out-of-copyright works that you can download for free from project gutenberg anyway. Moreover, none of the "buy it now" buttons are actually links. There's nothing to buy.

There's no price information anywhere.

I think this is nothing but vapourware, designed to get people to make enquiries. There will never be an actual product to buy, and quite right too.

Kristi said...

Hmmm.. a book on a stick. To me, 'on a stick' means something a yummy. I like pretzels on a stick, hot dogs on a stick... but I can't say a book on a stick sounds nearly as tasty as curling up in my favorite chair with an ice cold orange crush and settling in for the ride.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I have to say I'd avoid this for the same reason I'm not too into eBooks. I like the feel of the book, the paper, turning the pages all of that. You just don't get the same feeling from clicking the next button at the bottom of the computer screen. And, I like to carry a book with me EVERYWHERE! I agree, lugging a laptop around everywhere just to read isn't convenient. Besides, it just doesn't work as well when you want to relax in a nice hot bath with a good book. LOL

Michelle's Writing Space

Brenda Coulter said...

It's aimed at convincing authors that they should have their works published in this way.

Yeah, I picked up on that, Neal. They're hoping to entice publishers to try this "safer" (non-copyable) version of e-books. But publishers aren't (usually) stupid and they'll know readers will never go for this sort of thing.

Kristi and Michelle, go back to your Orange Crush and your hot bath. I don't think we have to worry about BookFobs disrupting our lives.

Mom Nancy said...

I've written two books that were published by an epublisher and as far as I'm concerned, anything that makes reading them easier is great. I don't use a computer to read my books, but if this thing would fit my ereader, I'd be thrilled.

Brenda Coulter said...

That's the problem, Nancy. It won't work with your e-reader. You have to plug it into a PC, which is why I don't think it's likely to catch on.

Camy Tang said...

A book stick really doesn't make sense to me, either. Are people usually around computers, so having a book stick would make sense? Maybe AT WORK, where people should be working and not reading.

I much prefer my PDA with a teeny memory card. I have dozens of ebooks in that thing, I can adjust the font on the screen, and I can read in the dark thanks to the backlight. No computer required.