ARCreader: not just in it for the freebies

Monday, May 4

as i've been preparing for the ABA's Day of Education panel on Digital Content, i've been thinking a lot about the best way to talk about digital content -- including digiARCs. and it occurred to me at some point that i have a pretty clear stake in my modest proposal for the ARCreader: i'm looking for a handout. 

regardless of my motivations, be they green, efficiency-centric, techno-centric, whatever, at the end of the day it may be easy to dismiss it all as "oh, well, she just wants a free ebook reader." so i decided to take myself out of the equation. i'm not exactly rolling in dough,* so i took a good, long, hard look at the options and made a few discoveries along the way. based on those discoveries, meet my ARCreader: the iPod Touch.

not your first thought for an eReader, right? well, here's the deal:
  1. the Kindle is ruled out right from the start, for obvious reasons. in case you don't know those reasons, here they are: AMAZON and PROPRIETARY. as an indie bookseller, i can't in good conscience support a system that doesn't allow any other source of books to customers. there may be ways around that, but that brings us right back to AMAZON. also, MY GOD IT IS EXPENSIVE.
  2. the Sony eReader is, as someone put it on Twitter the other day (i'd attribute but can't remember who it was), a one trick pony. it reads books. which is great and all, but when you've got little money to spend and you're not even going to give me WiFi for what i can afford, well, that puts you out of the running.
  3. all those other Readers (of which there are many and soon to be even more) may be cheaper, but will they work? i couldn't find reviews compelling enough to take chances on companies i don't know and devices i haven't heard much about.
which leaves us with Jessica's request that publishers buy her an iPhone. i have to admit, when i read that i was pretty skeptical. not only because of the insanely expensive data plan you have to have with it. but really? reading on what i considered a teeny tiny LCD screen? for serious?

enter a family wedding in AZ. i spent four days with my family, three of whom own iPod Touchs (Touches?). and of course i already had iEnvy, since i am a big fan of most things Mac. one morning at a coffee shop i was poking around on my dad's iTouch and discovered WattPad, which happened to have a copy of The Lightning Thief that someone pirated. i've always wanted to pick the book up but never quite got around to it, so i thought "hey, why not?"

26 pages later, it was time to go, and i hadn't even realized how long i'd been reading. and that's when it hit me: i could buy an iTouch and get lots of other bang for my buck, aside from reading books. i could have email at BEA! a calendar of all the appointments and parties and panels! my very own virtual koi pond! i could finally play with the IndieBound app! AND, last but most important, i could have an ARCreader.

so i did it; i bought one. i won't get to go shopping or get a haircut for a while (that scruffy girl shuffling around the Javits Convention Center at the end of the month? yeah, that'll be me) but so far, it's totally worth it. i've been working my way through the digiARCs that one rep so kindly sent me (shout out to PGW) and so far am thoroughly satisfied with the experience. 

is it the final solution? definitely not. i can imagine a better reader, an ARCreader that has a bigger screen and WiFi and maybe even a normal OS and a touchscreen and USB ports for keyboards, etc. (i'm referring here to the fabled Mac tablet/reader). as Alex Beckstead, Drew Goodman, Rich Rennicks, and Patrick from Vroman's and i were discussing this morning on Twitter, everyone has their own idea of the perfect reader, and the technology still has a ways to go. but for now, it's a start.

so publishers, be on notice! i'm not just in it for the freebies. now if only you would send me some digiARCs.... over to NetGalley i go!


*i should mention here that my employer pays me plenty -- really, they are fantastic! however my significant other works part time to give him more time to write, so that puts a little more pressure on the budget.