Brave New eWorld

by Terry Oliver on January 2, 2011

About this time last year I was agonising over whether to buy an ebook reader or not. In the end, I opted not to do so. For a variety of reasons, the main ones having to do with prices (too high), availability (Nook, my favourite choice, only for sale in the US), but mainly for  lack of  what is called ‘open source’. Which means that the manufacturers wanted to operate a monopoly on where you could get your ebooks from – i.e. them. If, for example, you bought a Kindle ereader you had to buy everything from Amazon.

Being from a generation who prefers bargains and freedom of choice, I am mistrustful of anything that smacks of monopoly.  So I waited, biding my time until somebody broke ranks and sold an e-reader that had an ‘open source’ capability.

And this Christmas I was rewarded. A company called Kobo came out with the cheapest and to my mind the best new e-reader on the current market with the coveted ‘open source’ we’ve all been waiting for.

So for $149 I am now the owner of my very first e-reader, complete with a pre-loaded library of 0ne hundred classic books – everything from Huck Finn to War and Peace. And all this before I ever need to download a single ebook from the wealth of free material waiting out there in cyberspace.

Having sampled the first few chapters of Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence, I realised that she is not only worthy of the Pulitzer Prize (1924) but is also a worthy successor to Jane Austen. How many more of the great unread classics will I re-discover and present to your wondering gaze?

I left Edith, to browse through Google Books to test their claims to having put online most of the world’s library – much of it for free. The Gutenburg Project has over two million books waiting for us eager ebook readers searching for free material.

And although I haven’t yet sampled their delights, I’m told there are dozens of other online free ebook libraries offering an Arabian Nights’ worth of stories and books to keep me occupied into my dotage.

All of which I can load – again for free – into the slim little paperback sized Kobo e-reader and take it off to Mexico with all the other Canadian snowbirds lugging heavy suitcases full of books to while away the winter.

So if you’ve been dragging your heels about buying an e-reader, wondering whether this is just another passing fad, you need stall no longer. Ebooks are not only here to stay, they are taking over more and more of the publishing market and authors are stumbling over themselves to get their books available for this blossoming ebook reader audience.

And just to prove it, you can have both of my novels as ebooks from this website and my soon-to-be published final book of the 3RD AGE TRILOGY – A SINGLE STEP will also be available as both a paperback and an ebook (at less than half the price) in early 2011.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and happy ebook reading.

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