I’ve been thinking about getting a tablet or an e-reader for a while. My husband is firmly behind this – seeing my endless piles of papers and books, it just makes sense in so many ways – for the environment, for example. And now that I’m getting ready to move and having to pack said papers & books, I’m certainly coming around.
Here’s my problem: none of the e-readers on the market right now work great for academics. I held out for months, waiting for a e-readers that has what, to me, seem like a few simple features. Finally, two weeks ago as a gift for my dissertation defense, my husband got me a NOOK touch. It seemed like it had it all – an e-ink display (a must – I spend enough time with computer screens! – ruling out many tablets), a touch screen for easy highlighting, note-taking capabilities, reads pdfs. Great! But disillusionment quickly set in – you can’t highlight or take notes on pdfs using the NOOK. So I set out finding a pdf to epub translator and everyone suggested calibre. Only problem – it can’t deal with two-column pdfs, which is how most of the academic articles I read are printed. Further, Barnes & Noble doesn’t have a ton of academic books, limiting that source of reading material. Sure, the NOOK works great for regular books (as my husband can attest to) – but realistically, as an academic, most of my reading ISN’T for fun.
So, now I’m pinning my hopes on a rumored Amazon Kindle touch that might come out in October (and Hans gets the old NOOK – great gift, right?). Amazon definitely has the advantage of greater selection in academic books – but can they do the pdf’s right? Or come out with a pdf-to-epub translator that works?
I don’t think I’m asking for much – an e-ink display and let me highlight and comment on pdfs! – or make it easy for me to get it in a format I can. I’m willing to pay for these services, hoping to save money on paper and ink – and space from these endless binders. Academics, by their very definition, do a lot of reading – and I don’t think my e-reader requirements are a-typical. So why is e-reader market missing out on this great source of revenue?!
**Thanks to a commenter, this post has been edited to reflect the differences between tablets and e-readers and clarify my complaints.
UPDATE: I updated this post on July 16, 2012, including more information about e-reader options: http://emilyk.vraga.org/blog/2012/07/16/still-missing-a-market-academics-e-readers/