Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An ebook ten years later

In 2001 I read the book  - Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing. It is a nonfiction book about a man that got a job as a guard at Sing Sing prison and recounts his experiences.

At the time I had a RCA REB 1100 ebook reader. The REB stood for Rocket eBook. Rocket was bought by RCA and the first RCA device was given a number as a name.

To buy books the device had an internal modem. There was a little flap that opened and there was a place that you could plug a phone into the reader. You then could download a book catalog using the modem. In the catalog you could put a check mark beside books you wanted to buy. You then connected the device to a phone line and the books you selected in the catalog were delivered to your device. You had to have an account for your reader and when you downloaded books your credit card was billed for the purchase.

Newjack was the first book that I read on an ebook reader. I was able to have an immersive reading experience using the REB1100. I actually found the REB1100 more comfortable to read with than a paper book because I did not have to hold the book open. I could also rest my thumb on the forward page button and moving through the book was very easy. Actually easier than turning pages of a paper book. I also used a large font when I read and this just made it easier to read. During this time I remembering reading a paperback book that had particularly small type and I remember being frustrated that I could not just click a button and have a larger font in the paper book. Paper books are not always what they are cracked up to be. Holy relics beyond reproach and criticism.

I am pretty sure that I paid $5.99 for the electronic copy of Newjack. Every month in the catalog there would be some books that were for sale and would be under $10. Books that were not on sale went for full hardcover price. To buy the ebook version of many books you had to pay $22 - $26. I never spent over twelve dollars and I only bought about 5 books from RCA. They folded in 2002 or 2003 so I was not able to buy books after that. There was a way to load text files on the reader so primarily the reader was used to read classics that I obtained from Project Gutenberg. 

The other day I was on Amazon and I stumbled across Newjack again. It is now available for the Kindle and is selling for $11.99. The paperback is $9.99. It was just funny to see a book that I purchased as an ebook over ten years ago selling on Amazon for more than paperback price.

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