By Celeste Fine
Dear Steve Jobs,
Yes, we are all excited about how fast the new iphone is!! And it’s cheaper. Yay! But please, please whip me up an ereader (and could it also have the internet and my Outlook calendar?). I promise people still read books, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, and their own documents. It doesn’t even have to be called an ereader: call it the iphone and make the ereader an application for all I care! Just please, please give me something portable that I can read and write on!
Over the past year, I have been on a quest for the perfect ereading device. I have had visions of my scouring the world of electronics and uncovering the golden ereader: perfect size for my tiny hands; let’s me edit and email; touch screen; impressive battery life; memory, oh does it have memory for all of my manuscripts and queries. I have imagined my importing some obscure contraption you can only find through hearsay from a guy who knows a guy who works in the depths of North Korea or finding parts I can order online from around the world and are welded together like a transformer by some NYU graduate student. I imagine my heading to a publishing party after work, no dirty, heavy manuscript bag to pile with the others taking up three or four seats at the table. A few people would bring up the Kindle or Sony reader, and I would smugly pull out my perfect little reader tucked away in my purse, glowing like the Pulp Fiction briefcase (yeah, you want to know what was in that briefcase—my ereader, suckers!!)—a device no one knew existed or ever thought to use as a reader. People would see me reading on the train and wonder, what is that wonderful toy?
The thing is, I am not one of those people, who has read everyone of your Apple development packs or subscribes to Wired or any of that. I have the electronic foresight of a mild-mannered consumer. So what I want in laymen terms:
• Size does matter: I want it to be about 7” by 3” and be all screen. It should fit in my purse and be able to be held securely in one hand. I could deal with one the size of a notepad, if it were light, and I could Velcro it into a trapper keeper, because I love trapper keepers. They keep things so neat and tidy. Ever thought of an itrapperkeeper, Steve?
• Screen: I don’t care about the special ink screen. I already do the majority of my reading on a computer screen. And just as I was willing to give up the sound quality for my mp3’s, I’m willing to give up paper quality for the mobility and convenience of not having to carry hundreds of pages. I just want it to be about the same size as the device, so it is readable, and I would love to have a touch screen, like the iphone.
• Memory: I want to be able to store at least 4 manuscripts at a time. More is even better. PDF’s would be great, but most of what I read is Word and I usually bring home 4 manuscripts/proposals at a time. I am sure there are more technical ways to discuss memory capacity, but in my world, this is how I measure memory.
• Applications: I want to be able to edit these manuscripts since a good portion of my reading is interactive (not in the computer sense but rather the editing sense) for projects I am going to sell or have already sold and are getting in shape for delivery. So I want Word. I want email too, but if I had to plug the device into my computer and download the manuscripts, I could make do with that. And I would love the internet, so I can look up information for the proposals I am editing. But again, I could live without it.
Steve, I’m not haphazardly begging you for an ereader. I have enlisted help from some friends—some members of the Facebook generation, Mac heads, other agents, publishers from Scandinavia and beyond—to research the competition that is out there already, and there is so much room for you to come in and clean up. We have visited tons of stores and sites around the globe and scoured ebay. Here are some sound bites from along the way:
• The Kindle: Let’s be real, Steve. It is so lame looking and retro (in a bad way). I just can’t believe in a million years that this is the best technology we can come up with. It is so Beta in a VHS world. (1.)
• Sony E-reader: Philip Sane, our fabulous co-agent, swears by the Sony ereader if you don’t want to look at PDF documents, which are troublesome to convert. Maybe it’s my own prejudices, but I’m not hugely confident that Sony is at the cutting edge of these ereaders. And you can’t write on it. Why can’t I write on it?
• The Iliad Ereader: I really like this one. It’s a lot more expensive, but the reviews are tremendous. But it seems like the writing function, which I love, is a little too Palm Pilot, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m leaning toward this one though.
• The Tablet: For months, I was convinced I wanted a tablet. A little bigger than the ereaders, in the same price range, but the touch screen and editing potential would give me a lot more of what I want. But when I played with them at the store, I left feeling unsatisfied. They were just too big and kinda annoying to maneuver.
BUT THEN, Steve, on a site called www.techcrunch.com, my techy friend found something totally cool: Next Generation OLPC.
Steve, could you make me one of these please—but iphone the heck out of it! Right now I’m rooting for Bill Gates, but if you make this for me, I promise, I promise I’ll trade in my PC for a Mac.
1. Laney Becker just got the Kindle for Mother’s Day, and since she and I share an office and her first blog ever was such a hit, I thought I would bring her back for a guest appearance:
Me: Hi, Laney! How do you like your Kindle?
Laney: I love its portability. I love, love, love that I can transfer submissions from my laptop to my Kindle so I can read electronic manuscripts anywhere and everywhere...including outside in the bright sunlight! I love the fact I can easily access amazon.com and download the first chapter of most books to sample for free.
Me: Any complaints?
Laney: I HATE the fact that there's no place along the side of the kindle that I can grab without turning a page. This is a *huge* design flaw IMHO. I'm still a little confused about how to take notes, access them, etc., and how to get the most out my Kindle, but that's just me. It's too expensive and am afraid someone is going to swipe it on the subway.
Me: Thanks, Laney. And congrats on the auction for Naseem Rahka’s new upmarket debut novel!
2. One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC) founder Nicholas Negrponte unveiled the design for the foundation’s second-generation laptop, which isn’t really a laptop at all but a double-screened, fold-up electronic book!! And it is supposed to cost $75!!! The press release was only last week, so I don’t know much yet (would love to know if you know anything more about this device’s capabilities—I’m nervous there is no memory on it). But it’s not going to be available until 2010!! But there must be one—where is that one that little boy is holding?!! I must have it!! I just must have it!! Maybe the developers want some people to test it out?
3. If anyone has any thoughts on other devices that I should look at or how right or wrong I am about the Kindle, the Sony ereader, or the others, or any ideas on how I can get this fabulous OLPC today, please, please let me know.
4. Some other interesting readers: Hanlin V3 (mostly because I love this guy's accent) and the Livre.
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