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Progress in electronic books

No, this isn't about the latest innovations in making electronic book reading more pleasurable. Instead, John Quiggin at Crooked Timber is giving an honest, personal appraisal of how today's state of the art in e-books stacks up, overall, against printed books:

I've read about fifty pages so far, and my feeling is that, with a large flat-screen monitor, reading a good-quality PDF is comparable to reading a medium-quality printed book. Given the limitations, particularly the need to sit in one spot, I can’t see this become my preferred mode for a while. Still, there are a lot of advantages to consider, and in many cases, these will outweigh the negatives for me.

First, it means instant cheap access to new books published overseas. This is important for Australians... who often have to wait a long time for ‘colonial’ releases of books published in the metropolitan countries.

Second, there’s essentially no storage problem. Iron Council is 1.7 MB, so I could store about 20,000 similar volumes on an iPod...

Third, I can see big advantages for book reviewing of which I do a fair bit. I’ll easily be able to search for bits of text, cut and paste quotes...

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