I don’t need office candy. If a resource is available in an electronic format, I’m all over it. So the Microsoft Reader has been a fantastic resource. It’s basically an eBook reader that works with desktop and laptop PCs, tablet PCs, and my favorite edition of the software–pocket PC.
The beauty of it, especially with mobile computing, comes in multiple advantages: space, portability of large resources, searching, and integrated text annotation. There are disadvantages, of course. Not everyone will want to read palm-sized versions of their favorite texts. Some do have trouble with reading electronic text as opposed to words printed on a page. And truly, there simply is no substitute for the feel of a book in your hands and the turn of the page (I can’t imagine lying on a beach with an umbrella drink and my PDA).
Nevertheless, I find it to be a phenomenal resource. The interface is simple and user-friendly. For large texts I find that this scores above the traditional *.pdf format in its rendering of text for reading on a screen. The Reader software does its level best to mitigate the problems posed for those who have trouble with on-screen text.
TabletPC users likely have more familiarity and longer history with this Reader. Some newspapers have begun issuing downloadable (RSS) electronic versions to be read by eBook readers with the TabletPC user in mind. The formats I’ve seen have been easy on the eyes to say the least.
Many resources are available in eBook format. Microsoft’s catalog lists over 1500 titles available for free download. Not all of them are worth the download, but there were some provocative titles. This format also provides for relatively easy resource creation as well. For my own use (inspired by Ryan Schroeder‘s work in the e-Sword realm) I’m working on an eBook version of the English text of the Concordia Triglotta. I’ll post here again to signal its completion.
Printed books are not a thing of the past, and I would fight tooth and nail to prevent their going that direction. Electronic versions of texts have their limitations, place, and viability. A mix of both is certainly best, I believe, leaving the appropriate ratio to the individual reader.