At David Rothman’s excellent suggestion, I went ahead and bought the eBookwise-1150 Reader for $99. That doesn’t include the cost of the CF memory card ($50ish) or the Reblibrarian software($12) to convert content from different formats. GEB eBook Librarian Site software ($15), which provides an easy interface for downloading free ebooks and converting ebooks from one format to another.
With thess conversion tool, you can now convert html, rtf, txt and doc files to the native .IMP and .RB file format and even migrate non-DRM ebook formats into .imp and .rb formats. (Oh, in 2 weeks, I’ll know all about this).
My only complaint is the content library client doesn’t exist for the linux desktop, but I’m already resigned to using the software on a work computer (the only purpose is to put content onto your memory card). But free sites like Blackmask and Project Gutenberg should provide enough content to make me happy.
Interestingly, although having the ability to put hundreds of ebooks on a flash card would be nice, one of my primary uses would be putting programming reference material and books (available as html pages free on the web) on the ebook reader by converting them to the ebookwise-friendly format. As a technical writer, it raises the question about why most documentation is rendered in the ebook-unfriendly PDF format.
So I’ve found a form factor for the ebook reader I want…and at a reasonable price, and a minimum amount of conversion hassle. I’ll be very interested to see how I actually use it. Quite frankly, I have enough paper books to keep me busy for a long time; what sort of reading activities will be convenient. Also, I’m curious about the quality of the type and the usefulness of the battery. I could be using this device a lot.
As an aside, let me mention that Teleread is an indispensable read for anyone interested in the future of literature. In addition to staying current on the compatibility wars and hardware products, Rothman is the only person I’ve seen on the net with more radical and extreme ideas about copyright than I do (although you can also find top-notch postings on Corante’s copyfight weblog.
The next step for me is buying a PDA over the holidays, and as stated before, I’ve leaning toward the high-end Dell Axim x50v or the HP ipaq 4705 if the price falls quickly enough.