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If you have a computer, you can read a book electronically. But this also means that you'll be sitting at your computer... desktop or laptop. You'll need to be online to access the books, but some books are downloadable, meaning that you can read them when you're offline.
Once you are a subscriber to Books 24x7... you can search for keywords across hundreds of titles, bookmark books, keep track of what chapter you are on, etc. Even if you prefer to read a printed book, engines like Books 24x7 can help you filter through an enormous amount of content to find the best book for your needs.
All IBM Employees have a subscription to the electronic books found on Books 24x7. You can get to this site via employee home pages. I've found that many schools are going this route as well, so if you are in school, see if they offer you a subscription to Books 24x7. All IBM Press books are on this site as are books from many publishers.
Safari Books Online
Safari Books Online is another electronic book engine, and is essentially the same as Books 24x7. Again, all IBM Press books are here as are Pearson Education and O'Reilly titles. If you are looking for a personal subscription, the prices for Safari are pretty reasonable... and if you're lucky you can find a free trial to Safari Books Online.
Electronic Book Readers
These readers are relatively new and this is where I need to do more research. These are handheld devices that were designed specifically for reading books. That means that they are roughly the same size and weight as a book and the text is easier to read than reading text on a computer. And best of all, they are portable.
The best known ones at this time are Amazon Kindle and Sony eBook Reader. Unfortunately I haven't had hands on time with either of these devices, but I've been talking to people who use them and have been reading what I can.
A friend of mine has an Amazon Kindle and finds herself trying to turn the pages with her finger as she would with a book. That must mean that the Kindle is so convincing that you feel like you're actually reading a book! The books I work on are technical books and I've been told that the Kindle is not the best tool to use for reading books with diagrams and technical text.
Amazon has just released Kindle 2... which was intended to fix many of the problems found in the first edition of the device. Unfortunately some of the early reviews are not very favourable for the new unit. DRM problems apparently.
Some more discussion about the topic from some of my friends:
Sony Reader Digital Book
The Sony folks have a new Reader and generally considered to offer a better reading experience. But their buying content experience is pretty bad.
PlasticLogic wins most intriguing reader but won't come to market till 2010 - there's a YouTube on it that is making the rounds.
iphone with Book App
Iphone getting lots of attention - of course, but all the ebook talk is for very flat content.
The next major development will be the Apple Tablet in Q3. It will come pre-packaged with educational functionality/apps and you know they will do a good job.
Here is one article that compares the Kindle to Plastic Logics.
Please join in this discussion... either here or on ChannelDB2! I'd like to know if you've tried any of these readers and if you see value in them. Point me to any other articles that you come across that you think are relevant.
Looking forward to hearing from you!