Not all ereaders are the same

As we count down to end of 2009, the emerging star of this year's holiday shopping season is shaping up to be the electronic book reader (or e-reader). From Amazon's Kindle to Barnes and Noble's forthcoming Nook, e-readers are starting to transform how we buy and read books in the same way mp3s changed how we buy and listen to music.

Unfortunately, e-reader technology also presents significant new threats to reader privacy. E-readers possess the ability to report back substantial information about their users' reading habits and locations to the corporations that sell them. And yet none of the major e-reader manufacturers have explained to consumers in clear unequivocal language what data is being collected about them and why.

As a first step towards addressing these problems, EFF has created a first draft of our Buyer's Guide to E-Book Privacy.

ebook privacy graph

Like I was saying not all ereaders are the same and for me the Sony is the logical way to go.

I just upgraded from the Sony PRS 505 to the Sony PRS 600 which is better known as the Sony Touch Reader, due to its touch screen. My only regret is the screen on the touch isn't as nice and shiny as the 505, in actually fact when put side by side its quite bad, as this video show. But on the plus side, the refresh rate is 3x as fast, I can now search and make notes alongside my ebooks. Also I'm glad to say the Sony Touch reader keeps all the open features of the 505, aka no spying on what books I'm reading or even the need for software to transfer books. What really impressed me however, was the format of the notes and annotations. Yep thats right all in XML and easy to get at because the device mounts like a USB drive. So I'll be writing some TomboyNotes converter/transformer via Conduit soon I expect. And if that wasn't enough, the freehand sketch notes on the touch reader are also in XML/SVG. Which means with a bit of work, it should be easy to convert/transform a rough sketch in a meeting into something which I could use in Inkscape later. Very impressed that Sony kept things simple, open and transparent.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.